By HCR Staff | Nov. 4, 2019
Here are some observations of head coaches from around the NFL prior to HCR’s Week 9 rankings:
Don’t count out Anthony Lynn’s Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers are returning to health and availability, as the presence of running back Melvin Gordon and tight end Hunter Henry is transforming the team. While those player additions are important, it was the Chargers’ crispness and tempo that stood out to us. In their best performance of the season, the Chargers played with excellent and consistent energy throughout the game on both sides of the ball. The Chargers also seemed to play with a higher degree of discipline and dedication to assignment. As a result, the Chargers completely controlled the game from start to finish–something that is difficult to do against a good Green Bay Packers team that was playing in front of a pro-Packers crowd. If the Chargers can bring this type of execution to their remaining schedule, it would not surprise us if they run the table.
Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears has a potentially career-defining decision to make. We still feel that Matt Nagy is a promising head coach, but he certainly is confronted with a potentially career-defining decision, and that is whether or not to bench current starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. It’s very clear to any observer that Trubisky is not improving–at the moment, at the very least. Perhaps if Trubisky sits for a stretch, it actually might help him in the long run. Either way, it’s a difficult decision that Nagy has to make, and thus far, he still seems firmly in Trubisky’s corner, even though Trubisky is not passing the eyeball test. Whether it is fair or not, Nagy’s career could be defined by this singular decision. The division still is up for grabs, and while the Bears’ defense has not performed at its highest level, it still is formidable enough to contend.
The New York Jets have some good young talent, but it is not being served well by head coach Adam Gase. Of course, this statement may be accused of stating the obvious, but Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins was an embarrassment. Jets head coach Adam Gase simply has not created an environment that produces a professional result. Other than the personal efforts of the players–and they should be commended–there is no rhyme or reason to what the Jets are doing. Their game plans are far too ambitious, particularly considering they have not proven they can simply line up the most basic plays and produce results. Franchise QB Sam Darnold’s fundamentals are completely frazzled, and we are fearful he will lose confidence and regress. The circumstances surrounding Gase’s hiring at the Jets were strange to begin with, and it is not surprising that the results he is producing also are far beyond the norm.
Bill O’Brien’s Houston Texans are finding an identity and settling into a rhythm. The Texans are growing by leaps and bounds in the right direction, and the credit goes to their head coach Bill O’Brien. What we see is a team that has found its identity, and knows exactly how to move the ball, and what it wants to do on defense. That creates a team that will be dangerous in the playoffs. QB DeShaun Watson is a legitimate MVP candidate, and his comfort in the talent around him and the system, is now second nature. On defense, the Texans play as a sound and disciplined unit, and most importantly, play with great passion. All of this adds up to an organizational confidence that is trending in the right direction. There’s no more “hoping” in their play. The Texans know how to get on top of an opponent, and they also know how to close out a W now.
The NFL game is all about matchups, and in last night’s Ravens-Patriots game, the matchups favored the Ravens–for now. John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens coaching staff and players brought an excellent performance to their victory last night over the New England Patriots, and it was largely due to a matchup advantage in personnel. The Ravens like to blitz a lot, principally because they have to help a defensive line that cannot generate pressure on its own. Last night, the Ravens were able to get away with this defensive tactic because, from a matchup standpoint, the Patriots don’t have a burner on the outside to threaten the end zone. Consequently, the Ravens could sell out with minimal risk, and the strategy worked well. Earlier in the season, the Ravens defense was torched for 40 points by the Cleveland Browns. Why? Well, the Browns have speedster WR Odell Beckham Jr., and that creates a completely different problem for the Ravens. Bill Belichick’s Patriots won’t stand pat, however. Rookie WR N’Keal Harry wasn’t active last night, and while he isn’t a top-level burner, his future presence in the offense will change the dynamic. Patriots opponents know the Patriots cannot threaten them over the top, so for the remainder of this season, Belichick will have to scheme around this limitation–which he created as he was wearing his GM hat.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has the Steelers playing a more complementary style of football. While we don’t believe Mike Tomlin will ever grace the top of our HCR rankings given his in-game judgment ups and downs, he has done a good job of motivating a young Steelers roster and bringing them together to play a complementary style of football that is producing great results. Interestingly enough, the Steelers had in recent years become so proficient on offense, that the defense had become an afterthought. Now, however, it is not a given that the offense will score 35 points, so Tomlin and his staff have to manage the game differently, and much of that depends on not putting the defense into bad positions.