Ranking the Offensive Coordinators for the new Head Coaches
By: Menachem Ickovitz (Twitter: @menudo_man)
There are seven teams that hired a new head coach this off-season. While a lot of attention is paid to the head coach often the coordinators and position coaches get overlooked. In this article we will rank the seven offensive coordinators for these new coaches.
A few things to point out; first of all, I actually believe that all seven are good and while someone will be ranked as seventh, doesn’t mean they are bad, they are just not a proven as some of the other options.
Second of all, when we look back at this list at the end of the season it will be interesting to see how far off the rankings actually are.
7. Shane Steichen, Philadelphia Eagles
Shane Steichen has been coaching in the NFL since 2011. He has worked his way up from being a defensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers back in 2011. He has worked under head coaches Norv Turner, Rob Chudzinski, Mike McCoy and Anthony Lynn.
The best thing in Steichen’s favor is how well Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert played in 2020. Herbert was named Rookie of the Year after setting multiple rookie records including most passing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback with 31 touchdowns.
Whether the Eagles go with Jalen Hurts or draft a new quarterback with their sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, having Steichen is a big benefit.
The reason why Steichen is so low on the list is because he is an offensive coordinator to a new head coach who was an offensive coordinator in Nick Sirianni. Additionally, the rest of the offensive staff is underwhelming
And finally, all of these offensive coordinators will only be successful with great quarterback play and Hurts has more question marks than others we will see later in the list.
6. Dave Ragone, Atlanta Falcons
Dave Ragone has also been coaching since 2011. While Steichen spent some time as a quality control coach, Ragone, a former backup NFL quarterback has been a position coach. He has worked under Mike Munchak, Jay Gruden, John Fox and Matt Nagy.
There’s a lot of respect for Ragone in the Chicago Bears organization. He has worked with young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in his best years. Additionally, when John Fox was fired after the 2017 season, new coach Matt Nagy kept Ragone on the coaching staff.
Atlanta has the fourth overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. There has been some speculation that they will draft a quarterback as the heir apparent to Matt Ryan. A young quarterback with a new offensive coordinator is a perfect match but you don’t know what to expect yet.
Much like with Steichen above, Ragone is the offensive coordinator for a new head coach who was an offensive coordinator in Arthur Smith. Ragone and Smith worked together on Mike Munchak’s Tennessee Titans teams so they have some familiarity with each other.
Right now Ragone is ranked sixth, but within two years he will be a top candidate for a head coaching spot, while many others on this list will be lucky if they are still offensive coordinators for their current team.
5. Darrell Bevell, Jacksonville Jaguars
Darrell Bevell has been an assistant coach in the NFL since 2000 and an offensive coordinator since 2006. He has worked for Mike Sherman, Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, Pete Carroll and most recently Matt Patricia.
Now he has the opportunity to work for Urban Meyer. A lot was made of the hiring of Meyer but one thing that was seldom mentioned was that his success will rely on a strong coaching staff. Bevell is in a great situation working for Meyer and Meyer is lucky to have an offensive coordinator of Bevell’s experience.
The Jaguars have the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and they are expected to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars also have a few young offensive players to build around in running back James Robinson and receivers D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault.
4. Joe Lombardi, Los Angeles Chargers
Joe Lombardi has been an assistant coach in the NFL since 2006. He has worked for Jim Mora, Jim Caldwell and Sean Payton. Getting hired by the Chargers gives Lomabrdi the opportunity to work with last year’s Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert.
Herbert had a great rookie campaign and it will be up to Lombardi to help him take the next step. Herbert was on target for 76.5% of his passes. Lombardi will try to get him to improve on that and get closer to Drew Brees’ 2020 on target rate of 80.8% or better.
Two interesting facts about Lombardi are that he is the grandson of famed Green Bay Packers legendary coach Vince Lombardi and he is the most accomplished former assistant coach for the 2001 iteration of the XFL.
3. Anthony Lynn, Detroit Lions
After last season many people are down on Anthony Lynn. I believe that part of his issue last season was dealing with the things head coaches deal with, like time management, which he won’t be responsible for as offensive coordinator.
He has a few things going for him that put him so high on the list. He has been coaching in the NFL since 2000 and has been a head coach, which is a big benefit for new Lions head coach Dan Campbell.
Additionally, the Lions new offensive coaches working under Campbell and Lynn are former NFL players like Mark Brunell, Duce Staley and Antwaan Randle El. Many players like playing for coaches who suited up in the league as they feel a closer connection to them.
Lynn also played an instrumental role in the development of Chargers 2020 rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. The Lions currently have Jared Goff at quarterback and some time with Lynn as well as quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell will do some good for Goff.
2. Mike LaFleur, New York Jets
Mike LaFleur is another coach in the NFL who will be running the “Shanahan” offense, an offense he has been familiar with since he was an offensive intern with the Cleveland Browns in 2014. From 2014 – 2020, LaFleur has been an assistant for Kyle Shanahan.
He is well respected in the league and when his brother Matt LaFleur got hired by the Green Bay Packers to be their head coach in 2019, he wanted to bring his brother Mike onto his coaching staff and Kyle Shanahan wouldn’t allow the move.
Now with the Jets, he is working for a defensive minded head coach in Robert Saleh. This will allow LaFleur to run the offense as he sees fit. The biggest question for the Jets is who will be their quarterback?
Currently they have Sam Darnold on the roster but have been amongst the teams mentioned for Dashaun Watson. Additionally, almost every mock draft has the Jets taking a quarterback with the second overall pick, often Zach Wilson from BYU.
If the Jets can get the quarterback position taken care of, it will not be long until LaFleur is getting head coaching offers.
- Tim Kelly, Houston Texans
While most people would put LeFleur over Tim Kelly, the one big difference is that Kelly is in his third season as offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. Of course, with the recent trade rumors involving star quarterback Deshaun Watson, Kelly’s three years of experience as the Texans’ OC could be worth a lot less than if Watson stays.
In 2020 Watson had his best season yet, very much thanks to Kelly. However, the team was still 4 – 12 because Watson had little help. If the Texans can work things out with Watson and find a way to get some playmakers around him, Kelly is in a prime position to be the best of the offensive coordinators without a doubt.
However, if they do move on from Watson, Kelly’s #1 ranking will only work if they can get a good quarterback back in the trade. If, for example the Texans trade Watson to the Jets or Dolphins, getting back Sam Darnold or Tua Tagovailoa will be an important part of the return.
Kelly also gets a bump as he is the only coordinator who is with the same organization and within the same offense as he was last year. Besides the quarterback position, players lower on the roster have a knowledge and understanding of the current offense which makes his job a bit simpler.