NFL New Head Coach Rankings for the 2021 season: The cycle for 2021 NFL head coach hires cycle was busy — including a major hire by the Jacksonville Jaguars of former Ohio State star head coach Urban Meyer.
With a total of seven jobs open, we knew there was going to be a lot of movement. Some of the top candidates thrown out all season long did find jobs, while some of the more recent hirings have been puzzling, to say the least.
Here are my thoughts on the six coaches hired so far and how I rank them from 6-1. (Sorry, Houston Texans, we’ll get to you when you decide to hire one,)
NFL New Head Coach Rankings for the 2021 Season
6. Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions
Dan Campbell has had a strange path to becoming an NFL head coach. Campbell finished his playing career in 2008 with the Lions and then became a coaching assistant with the Miami Dolphins. He then served as the tight end coach from 2011-2015 before joining the Saints. Campbell coached with the Saints from 2016-2020, serving in the same role.
Campbell has no experience calling plays or even designing an offense. But the appeal to the Lions was that he’s not Matt Patricia.
Campbell is a football guy through and through, and his toughness and leadership are what attracted the front office to him. So far, he has said all of the right things in the media, and he is a coach that players will love to play for.
However, can he find ways to out scheme opponents on both sides of the ball? That’s where we have our doubts, as it’s just not something he’s had to do yet in his coaching career.
He received a six-year deal from the Lions, so the front office will give him time to turn things around. But of the six candidates hired this year, his resume and coaching chops leave a lot to be desired.
5. Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars
This club needed a splash, and the Jaguars certainly got one in Urban Meyer. One of the greatest college coaches ever, Meyer will now get the chance to show that he can win in the NFL. But can he turn around the Jaguars, who are devoid of talent on both sides of the ball and only have a few playoff wins this century?
The biggest question surrounding Meyer will be his offensive scheme. While it hasn’t been announced yet, Darrell Bevell appears to be the favorite to call plays. That is somewhat concerning after just middling success this decade as an offensive coordinator. His scheme requires elite quarterback play and doesn’t help young quarterbacks all that much.
Because Meyer is more a “culture" coach than a mastermind on one side of the ball, his coordinator hires will always be critical. He’s going to need to get those hires right in order to have success in Jacksonville. Meyer could be a massive success in the NFL, but color me skeptical that he will be great right away with the Jaguars.
4. Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
One of the most surprising, out-of-nowhere hirings that we had during this head coaching cycle was Brandon Staley.
A few days before the hiring was officially announced, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll appeared to have the job. With the work that he’s done with Josh Allen this season, that seemed like a perfect fit with up-and-coming star Justin Herbert.
However, the Chargers went in a different direction, hiring Staley away from the Los Angeles Rams.
Staley is just 38 years old and has been a coordinator in the NFL for only one season. However, he was impressive during that one year, leading the Rams to be the No. 1-ranked defense in both scoring and yards allowed.
But how much of a factor was that he had two All-Pros on his roster in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey? Certainly, that will make life easier on just about any coach. On the bright side, Staley’s aggressive blitz calls and ability to disguise coverages made that defense special.
The Chargers have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, but their defense just hasn’t been good enough over the last few years. If Herbert can continue to make strides on offense and Staley can coach up the defense, it’s not hard to see why this hiring might work out.