The offseason for many of the teams in the National Football League began on Monday, December 30th, 2019 which is the day after the 2019 – 2020 NFL regular season ended. Five franchises decided to fire their head coach and start interviewing new candidates to fill the vacant positions.
These five teams include the Washington Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys, the Carolina Panthers, the New York Giants, and the Cleveland Browns. In just over one week’s time four of the five organizations have hired a new head coach. The only team yet to do so is the Cleveland Browns, but they now have no rush and sound like they are taking their time making their decision. Let’s take a look at the four new head coaches in the NFL along with the situations they have inherited with their new teams.
The Washington Redskins Hired Ron Rivera
The Redskins had another very poor season in 2019. They let go of their former head coach, Jay Gruden, after beginning their season with a 0 and 5 record. They also fired Bruce Allen who was their team president. The Redskins ended up finishing 3 and 13 last year which results in Washington having the second overall selection in the upcoming 2020 NFL draft.
Ron Rivera was recently hired to be the next head coach of the Redskins. Previously he was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, but he was fired from that position on December 3rd, 2019. At that time Carolina was 5 and 7, and they were seemingly not going to make a run at the playoffs during the last NFL regular season.
Rivera had three winning seasons out of the eight full years as the coach of the Panthers. He led them to the playoffs 4 times as well as winning the NFC South Division three consecutive seasons. In 2015, “Riverboat Ron” took the Carolina Panthers all the way to the Super Bowl 50 although they lost that game to the Denver Broncos 24 to 10.
Overall, Rivera’s record as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers was 76 – 63 – 1. Prior to coaching the Panthers, he was the San Diego Charger’s defensive coordinator from 2008 to 2010. Before that he was the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2006. The Bears also reached the Super Bowl in 2006 ending in a losing effort to the Indianapolis Colts.
I believe that Rivera is a great coach, but I am not sure that he will be successful as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. Washington’s franchise needs a major culture change that Rivera should be able to help provide. The problem here involves not having the right players in order to compete in the landscape of the NFL. The Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder, has a reputation for taking too much control over personnel decisions, and he does not bring in the correct guys to get the job done on and off the field.
The Carolina Panthers Hired Matt Rhule
After the firing of Rivera, the Carolina Panthers have just recently reached an agreement with Matt Rhule to be their next head coach. Reportedly he received a seven year contract worth $60 million, and this new deal can max out at $70 million with the incentives built in. Previously Rhule was the head coach of the Baylor Bears college football team in the Big 12 conference of the NCAA. The Carolina Panthers had to pay Baylor $6 million to buy him out of his contract with them.
Matt Rhule drastically turned around the football program at Baylor over the three seasons as their head coach. In 2017 the Baylor University Bears went 1 and 11 and did not qualify for a bowl game. The Following season in 2018 they went 7 and 6, and they won the Texas Bowl. Last year in 2019 Baylor was 11 - 3 and lost the Sugar Bowl, but the 11 victories tied Baylor University’s single season record for the most wins in school history.
Prior to Baylor, Rhule was the head coach of the Temple University Owls from 2013 to 2016. He had a similar track record there as well by turning around the program immediately. His first year resulted in a record of 2 and 10. In 2014 he led the Owls to a 6 and 6 record. He followed that up by going 10 – 4 and 10 – 3 the next two seasons. His only NFL experience can in 2012 when he served as an offensive line assistant coach for the New York Giants.
It is tough to say that he can turn around the Carolina Panthers in the same fashion as Rhule did coaching in the NCAA. Most college football coaches that try and go right into a head coaching position in the NFL have very limited success and do not last long. It will be interested to see if he stays with an RPO or run pass option offense with the Carolina Panthers. That style offense has been known to be effective in the college game, but rarely works well at the professional level. Although that ideology has been changing lately with the mobility and athleticism of quarterbacks in the NFL.
"We met last night. Things happen very fast," says Rhule. "In that conversation the things that are important to me are important to them. The decision was a really, really hard one. I feel like I left the program better than we found it."
"He dresses like [expletive] and sweats all over himself. He dresses like me, so I have to love the guy," David Tepper remarked jokingly. "I was a short-order cook, he was a short-order cook. Nobody gave him anything, nobody gave me anything.
"He had to work hard for everything he got."
"He's impressive in player development and sports science -- recovery techniques, intensity of training, integration with the strength program; stuff most NFL teams don't come close to doing," Tepper stated. "He started talking about how he develops players and how he's going to pick his staff and we all went from being in interview mode to recruiting mode. Everybody just knew. We switched without a word being said."
"I came here for a purpose," Rhule explained. "I felt like I was called here for much more than just coming to coach football. I felt like I was here more than anything else to get the football program back in line with the university. I know we've done that. I felt like we had really done that after the first year."
"What I walked into was a disgrace. It was really, really bad. We fixed that. I'm at peace with it. I hope the players are, too.''
"We are grateful to Matt Rhule for all that he has done for Baylor Football and for the University over the last three years," says Baylor athletic director Mack B. Rhoades. "Together, he and his staff have moved the program forward both on and off the field. While our hope was that Matt would be our coach for many years to come, we knew there was a possibility that the NFL would come calling."
"The football part of it for me is trying to go coach and compete at the highest level," Rhule exclaimed. "It's really about nothing else. It's not about money or fame. It's about having a chance of everyone having the same rules, everyone having the same players, being at the highest level."
The Dallas Cowboys Hired Mike McCarthy
Former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett, was finally fired at the conclusion of the last regular season after coaching the team for the last 9 years. The Cowboys decided to hire Mike McCarthy as their new head coach. This former head coach of the Green Bay Packers reportedly received a 5 year contract, but they did not disclose the details yet such as how much McCarthy will be paid.
As the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, McCarthy obtained a record of 125 – 77 – 2, and won the NFC North division 6 times. During his 13-year tenure coaching the Packers, he made the NFL playoffs 9 of those seasons including 8 consecutives years. He led his organization to 4 NFC Championship games as well as a Super Bowl XLV championship during the 2010 – 2011 NFL season.
Prior to becoming a head coach in the National Football League, McCarthy was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in 2005. He was the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints from 2000 to 2004 too. McCarthy served as the quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers in 1999, and the quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1995 to 1998.
Out of all of the newly hired coaches so far this offseason, McCarthy has inherited the franchise with the most talent and potential at the moment. The Dallas Cowboys have great players like quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and tight end Jason Witten. Knowing the history of the Dallas Cowboys McCarthy should have ample time to produce the quality results they are looking for as the Cowboys don’t fire their head coaches often. In fact, Dallas has only had nine head coaches in the long and historic existence.
The New York Giants Hired Joe Judge
After only 2 seasons as the head coach of the New York Giants Pat Shurmur was relieved of his duties on December 30th, 2019. The Giants hired Joe Judge as their next head coach on Tuesday, January 7th, 2020. The contract details have not been announced as the agreement is still being finalized, but the length of the deal and how much he will be paid should be released to the public shortly.
Judge is only 38 years old, but was highly regarded by the legendary head coaches he worked under such as Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. Judge began his NFL coaching career with the New England Patriots in 2012 as a special teams assistant coach. In 2015 he was named the special teams coordinator in New England, and last season he was also the wide receivers coach of the Patriots.
Prior to coaching under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots, Judge was a football analyst and special teams assistant coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide for three years under their head coach Nick Saban. He highly excelled at both of those previous positions, and he definitely gained the recommendations of Belichick who is considered the best NFL coach ever and Saban who is respected as the best college football coach ever.
The New York Giants have a record of 12 and 36 since the start of the 2017 – 2018 NFL season which is the worst mark in the National Football League over that stretch of time. Judge has a reputation for being a no nonsense coach who is not afraid to come down on players that are not doing their jobs. This may be good for the Giants who seem to underperform and consist of players that don’t work hard or up to their potential. Hopefully Judge can turn the culture around in New York.
One of the bright spots for the New York Giants as well as their new head coach involves having one of the best running backs in the NFL in Saquon Barkley. Their rookie quarterback Daniel Jones showed promise of developing into a solid starting QB in the NFL as well. Hopefully Judge can get the New York defense to improve, and the Giants can acquire some better weapons and talented players to improve their organization on and off the field.
“Redskins set to hire Ron Rivera as coach; fire president Bruce Allen”, espn.com, December 30, 2019.
“Sources: Baylor's Matt Rhule to be Panthers' next coach, gets 7-year, $60 million deal”, David Newton, espn.com, January 7, 2020.
“Cowboys to hire Mike McCarthy as new coach, Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator”, Todd Archer, espn.com, January 6, 2020.
“Giants to hire Patriots' Joe Judge as head coach”, Jordan Raanan, espn.com, January 7, 2020.