A Quick Glance at the 2017 NFL Coaching Changes

An associate at work has recently rekindled my appreciation for The Who. Why do I bring this up? Each season a new batch of coaches are hired to turn around a struggling NFL franchise. Are the new coaches “a substitute for another guy?” “Are the simple things we see all complicated?” The optimist would say that a coaching change should bring improvement.

Let’s take a brief look at the resumes of the newly anointed substitute coaches to see what each brings to their respective NFL club since it has the most impact on our fantasy outlook.

Buffalo Bills

New HC: Sean McDermott – former Carolina Panthers DC.

  • NFL Experience: None as head coach.

New OC: Rick Dennison – former Denver Broncos OC.

  • NFL Experience: 9 seasons as OC for Denver (2006-2008, 2015, 2016) and for the Houston Texans (2010-2013)
  • Average offensive yardage rank: 12.8
  • Average offensive points scored rank: 16.5

It is worth noting that the 2016 Trevor Siemian led offense negatively impacted Dennison’s overall numbers. Otherwise he’d be top-10 in yardage. The player comparison between the Bills and Broncos may vary by position, more notably at the RB and QB positions. But you may be surprised to know that Dennison inherits a 16th-ranked Bills offense in yards and a 10th-ranked offense in points. Since both numbers are nearly identical to his career average, it wouldn’t surprise me that the Bills maintain similar offensive numbers. One big difference will be a more balanced play-calling, as former HC Rex Ryan notoriously ran more than he passed.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: Bargain

Denver Broncos

New HC: Vance Joseph – former Miami Dolphins DC.

  • NFL Experience: None as head coach.

New OC: Mike McCoy – former San Diego Chargers OC.

  • NFL Experience: 8 seasons total. Four as the OC for Denver (2009-2012) and four as the head coach of the San Diego Chargers (2013-2016)
  • Average offensive yardage rank: 12.6
  • Average offensive points scored rank: 16.3

McCoy inherits a Broncos offense that ranked 27th in yards and 22nd in points scored in 2016 during the post-Manning era. Since neither Trevor Siemian nor Paxton Lynch is Philip Rivers or Peyton Manning (yet), I envision the offense making limited strides of improvement. It may help, however, that the Broncos D will give the offense a shorter field.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: You Better You Bet

Los Angeles Rams

New HC: Sean McVay – former Washington Redskins OC.

  • NFL Experience: 3 seasons as the Redskins OC (2014-2016).
  • Average offensive yardage rank: 11
  • Average offensive points scored rank: 16

New OC: Matt LaFleur – former Atlanta Falcons QB coach.

  • NFL Experience: None as OC. In 2007, he was the OC for Ashland University.

McVay inherits a Rams team that ranked dead last in both offensive categories. McVay will arguably be short on player talent in Los Angeles, particularly at the QB and WR positions. The assumption is that LaFleur will be given a crash course in Sean McVay’s style of offense.

As far as improvement, it will be tough. Besides playing in a defensively tough division, the Rams offense would need to average 50 more yards and 3 more points in EACH game just so they don’t finish last again (based on 2016 numbers). One of the larger deficits in the rankings.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: Won’t Get Fooled Again

San Francisco 49ers

New HC: Kyle Shanahan – former Atlanta Falcons OC.

  • NFL Experience: 9 seasons. Two as the Houston Texans OC (2008-2009). Four as the Redskins OC (2010-2013). One as the Cleveland Browns OC (2014). Two as the Falcons OC (2015-2016).
  • Average offensive yardage rank: 9.7
  • Average offensive points scored rank: 17.1

New OC: None. Shanahan will call his own plays.

Shanahan inherits a Niners offense that ranked 31st in yardage and 27th in points scored. I can see improvement in the offensive numbers, but I temper the expectation based on the Niners talent. While in Cleveland, Shanny’s offense ranked in the 20’s – but it was also the worst ranking of his tenure. I also expect that points may be lean.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: The Real Me

Atlanta Falcons

New OC: Steve Sarkisian – former USC head coach and OC.

  • NFL Experience: None as OC.

Sarkisian was promoted to be Alabama’s OC and without calling a single play, was hired to run the Falcons’ offense nearly a month later. He inherits the top scoring offense and the number-two yardage offense. If the old adage is true that a team at the bottom has nowhere to go but up, then I’m banking that the opposite is true in Atlanta and expect some regression.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: The Seeker

New York Jets

New OC: John Morton – former New Orleans Saints WR coach.

  • NFL Experience: None as OC. (Was OC for USC in 2009-2010.)

Morton inherits a Jets offense that was ranked 26th in yardage and ranked 30th in points scored. Perhaps I’m biased, but it can be difficult for highly accomplished college coaches to turn their NFL experience into a successful run. One can hope that some of the Saints offensive schemes rubbed off on Morton.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: Who Are You

Oakland Raiders

New OC: Todd Downing – former Raiders QB coach.

  • NFL Experience: None as OC.

Downing inherits an offense ranked 6th in yardage and 7th in points scored. The former OC Bill Musgrave was let go this past January. The promotion from within may be prudent to keep the offense scheme in tact, but those rankings may have set the bar too high for a repeat.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New OC: Todd Monken – was head coach of Southern Miss (2013-2015)

  • NFL Experience: None as OC.

Monken’s Southern Miss offense ranked 22nd in yardage among division 1A schools last season, and ranked 41st in scoring offense, averaging 32.8 points a game. He inherits a Bucs offense that ranked 18th in both yards and scoring. Given the weapons and the modest ranking, I expect the status quo.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: I Can’t Explain

Washington Redskins

New OC: Matt Cavanaugh – was Redskins QB coach.

  • NFL Experience: 8 seasons. Two for the Chicago Bears (1997-1998). And six for the Baltimore Ravens (1999-2004).
  • Average offensive yardage rank: 21.3
  • Average offensive points scored rank: 18.8

This is another promotion from within, perhaps to preserve the scheme of the offense which was vacated by Sean McVay. Cavanaugh spent the last 8 seasons as QB coach for the Skins, Bears and Jets. He inherits an offense ranked 3rd in yardage and 12th in points scored. Unless there are some major shakeups with the QB position (rumored at the time of this writing), I don’t expect the Skins to miss a beat.

The Who song this is reminiscent of: The Kids Are Alright

Much of the success of these new coaches may depend on the value and talent of the people around them. It will be interesting to see what transpires once the free agent period begins, up through the NFL draft, and then into training camp. Deals will be made. One would hope that they will be the kind of deals that help an NFL franchise. Otherwise, all NFL coaches may be in for Another Tricky Day.


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Joe Mica

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Joe has been passionate about fantasy football since 2001. He has experience as an owner as well as a commissioner in H2H, auction, redraft and IDP leagues. He has written fantasy football columns since 2010. Submit any fantasy football questions you may have to me on twitter @averagejoem

One thought on “A Quick Glance at the 2017 NFL Coaching Changes”

  1. It will be interesting to see how much difference Kyle Shanahan can make in San Francisco. He apparently starting game planning for them at halftime of the Super Bowl, because he certainly wasn’t doing anything in that game during the second half.

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