Ranking the NFL Head-Coaching Hires
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — There were seven different NFL head-coaching jobs open after the 2015 season and all of them have been filled with owners around the league trending toward offense as all the new hires have backgrounds on that side of the football.
First impressions say the 2016 class isn't exactly sexy and names like Gruden, Cowher and Billick were never really in play anywhere around the country, while other high-profile options who actually were interested in returning like Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren received a little lip service and not much more, although Shanahan at least got cursory interviews in both Miami and San Francisco.
So, who hit the home run and who struck out while flailing at strike three?
(Listen to John McMullen rank the NFL coaching hires)
Let's take a look by ranking the new hires from worst to first:
No. 7 - Mike Mularkey, Tennessee Titans - Wary of the money they still owe Ken Whisenhunt the Titans took the cheap route and simply removed the interim tag from Mularkey, who already flamed out in chances with Buffalo and Jacksonville.
Marcus Mariota's presence makes this a more desirable location than the record indicates and new GM Jon Robinson has a history with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels but the most important part of this for the Adams family was always ensuring one more year of modest pay for the guy in the big chair.
No. 6 - Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers - Chip finally has a quarterback whose skill set fits into his offense so this hiring is certainly the most compelling but the bottom line is that Jed York and Trent Baalke hired the guy who everyone disliked in Philadelphia after firing the guy everyone disliked in Santa Clara (Jim Harbaugh) after the 2014 season.
Between Baalke and Kelly, someone isn't surviving this and if you're going to Las Vegas to put down a little money, bet on both.
No. 5 - Ben McAdoo, New York Giants - Yeah, he has upped Eli Manning's completion percentage and cut down on his interceptions but where are the wins? The Giants are 12-20 since McAdoo replaced Kevin Gilbride and judging by its actions the organization believes a two-time Super Bowl winning coach was the biggest problem, not the wet-behind-the-ears McAdoo or the architect of some of the worst defenses in NFL history, Steve Spaguolo.
No. 4 - Doug Pederson, Philadelphia - He may have been Plan C or even Plan D, depending on who you want to believe but the Eagles could have done worse, especially if they pulled the trigger on McAdoo or Tom Coughlin.
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good and the Philadelphia search committee may have gotten it right by mistake with this "Back to the Future" hiring.
No. 3 - Adam Gase, Miami - Gase was extremely well thought of in both Denver and Chicago and although his work with Jay Cutler was a little overblown, a reference from Peyton Manning goes a long way with me as does the fact that multiple organizations were tripping over themselves to land the young upstart.
No. 2 - Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay - The strange timing and impetus for the Lovie Smith firing was because Koetter was generating interest outside of the One Buc Place after doing a great job mentoring No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston.
It’s clear the impetus for the Buccaneers is to maximize the enormous potential of Winston and shifting offensive coordinators in the all-important year No. 2 of a quarterback’s development didn't sound like a sound plan so they elevated Koetter and fired a defensive-minded coach, who still believes in running the antiquated Tampa-2 scheme when at all possible.
That's a solid move.
No. 1 - Hue Jackson, Cleveland - It's rare to see the Brows at the top of any list but Jackson is an inventive coach who is among the most creative in football using formations to mask intent. The ex-Benbals OC helped put Andy Dalton in the MVP conversation and is practiced in the art of accentuating the strengths of the talent he has on hand while masking as many deficiencies as possible.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen