Here are some observations of head coaches from around the NFL prior to HCR’s Week 2 rankings:
- Kyler Murray vindicates Cardinals GM Steve Keim. Trading a top 10 draft pick after one season (Josh Rosen) was an amazing admission of failure, but at least the play of Kyler Murray is redeeming Cardinals GM Steve Keim…to a degree. If Murray can stay healthy, it appears as if they have stumbled upon a franchise quarterback. Murray has a natural savvy that can’t be coached. Add in his physical talent, and you have a winner’s makeup. Now they have to do a good job of surrounding him with a lot more talent.
- DC Mike Pettine continues to impress. Notwithstanding two injuries in his secondary, Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine continues to do an impressive job of remaking the Packers defense. Pettine is well respected throughout the league, and if the Packers’ season continues its upward trajectory, we can see Pettine on a list of 2020 head coaching candidates.
- Colts showing the resiliency needed to win in playoffs. Colts general manager Chris Ballard is building his team to win championships, not to merely make the playoffs. In their victory against the Titans, the Colts showed a toughness and resiliency that is emblematic of champions. Coming off a tough week one loss at the Los Angeles Chargers, the Colts bounced back in a physical road game at Tennessee. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett won’t win any pageantry points with his physical skills, but he will win games with his grittiness. The Colts are a very balanced team, and that is a recipe for success in the playoffs.
- Jay Gruden needs a change of scenery. The Redskins loss against the Cowboys was another typical Jay Gruden performance. He did his best, shorthanded, to put his team into a competitive situation, but he simply is out-manned from a personnel standpoint. No NFL coach of the last five years has had the kind of bad luck that Jay Gruden has suffered through. The amount of injuries and other off-field incidents that have plagued his organization is mind-numbing.
- No adjustments from Raiders DC Paul Guenther. We know that the Raiders lost starting safety Jonathan Abram to a season-ending shoulder injury, but to see the Raiders let the Kansas City Chiefs get behind their secondary time after time, was alarming. DC Paul Guenther had no answer or meaningful adjustment when it mattered.
- Kyle Shanahan is developing well as a head coach. Shanahan already is one of the top five offensive minds in football, but he is continuing to develop his head coaching abilities as well. Even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals are not among the top echelon NFL teams, Shanahan managed his team to impressive road victories to begin the season. It should never be underestimated how difficult it is for West Coast teams to play in the Eastern time zone – especially in back to back weeks. Shanahan decided to keep the team East after the week one victory against the Buccaneers, but it still requires a great deal of effort and focus to practice away from home, and the head coach is responsible for all these protocols. He did that successfully in Youngstown, Ohio for the week. If the 49ers can get past the Steelers this week at home, they have a real chance to contend for a playoff spot.
- One question about the Jaguars: Where is Tom Coughlin?
- Patriots look good now, but we have concern about their offensive line. The Pats are now down three starters on their offensive line, and their key backups joined the team just prior to week one of the season. No matter how good offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is, this bears watching.
- Bills winning ugly…but also learning how to win. We simply don’t care how the Bills look as they win, because we know that they are improving in learning how to win and close out games. This is a team with a dangerous defense, and a talented defensive line in particular. If the Patriots offensive line does not get healthy in a hurry, the first match up against the Bills will be very interesting to watch.