Every team in the NFL is looking for their own Sean McVay. They’re not wrong to, either, as pairing a offensive minded head coach with a young quarterback is the best way to ensure prolonged success in the NFL.
The thing is, Sean McVay’s can come in many shapes and sizes, and just because you hire a guy who is young and promising, does not mean it’s going to work out once that person is in the head chair.
Many of these young guns are getting head coach interviews, such as Matt LaFleur and Zac Taylor, and others teams have discussed reaching out to Big 12 hot shots Kliff Kingsbury and Lincoln Riley. These guys all deserve consideration, but I think choosing them over an experienced coach like McCarthy would be a mistake.
McCarthy got a bad rap in Green Bay, often for being unimaginative or having an offense that did not change enough on a year to year basis. There are fair criticisms to be had here. The Green Bay offense for the past years has largely operated like a basketball team that looks for the best one on one match-up, and looks to exploit it with a classic Rodgers back-shoulder dot. This offense can be border-line unstoppable when you have talented, headdy veterans like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, and an up and comer like DeVante Adams.
With Nelson and Jones gone, and Cobb not exactly the same player, the onus has been on Adams alone, along with a motley crew of other receivers like Geronimo Allison or Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Simply put, what you ran back in the Packers offensive heyday is not going to work now.
On the other side of this though, is #12. Aaron Rodgers is immensely talented, perhaps the most talented person to ever play the position. He’s also a diva. To say Rodgers would be a hard guy to work with would be putting it mildly. This year alone, he threw his receivers under the bus to the media calling their effort in practice ‘piss-poor’ and saying they had one of the worst meetings he’s ever had in the NFL. Plenty of former teammates like Jeff Saturday and Greg Jennings came out of the woodwork to criticize Rodgers for his bad attitude and body language as things deteriorated in Green Bay. It’s also no secret that Rodgers isn’t exactly a great guy, or a great teammate.
Oftentimes Rodgers just extends plays for no reason. Watching the Packers offense it often feels like the receivers don’t even want to run their own routes, and just wait for Rodgers to inevitably break the pocket and play backyard football. Many times, he is magic, and creates the plays that the media and fans often fawn over. Other times, the offense becomes inconsistent because of it, and the optics of Rodgers constantly running around and playing hero ball plays badly for McCarthy, even if it isn’t his fault.
The Packers struggles are on both guys, and as well as management there for not doing enough in free-agency to fill in the holes from failed draft picks. As for who is most at fault is impossible to say, but I think both McCarthy and Rodgers will benefit from a change.
McCarthy isn’t the flashy hire, but it’s the right one. He’s the only coaching candidate to have a Super Bowl ring as a head coach, and he also totes a winning record in the playoffs as a head coach. Teams with young quarterbacks like the Browns, Cardinals, and Jets should be dying to land him.
My pick would be the Browns. Although it’s a tired comparison, Baker Mayfield is the closest thing I’ve seen to Favre. Let McCarthy come in and spin some magic.
Every season, NFL teams are overlooked. Whether it be an uneventful off-season, or not a lot of recent success, there are always a few teams who pleasantly surprise their fan base with a good season. The Eagles last year were one of these teams. Coming off a 7-9 year with a 2nd year coach and QB, not much was expected of that squad. 5 months later, rings were won. These teams below may not take home the Lombardi, but I see playoffs in their very near future.
1. New York Jets
With Teddy Bridgewater heading down to the Big Easy, this is now Sam Darnold’s team. He has looked more than competent in the preseason, and has Jets fans abuzz.
There are questions along the offensive line, but I think the skill position players will surprise. Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse are two solid receivers, Terrelle Pryor, Quincy Enunwa, and Ardarius Stewart are guys who can also contribute. Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell are not a sexy RB tandem, but they can get the job done.
On defense, they finally have moved past the Mohammed Wilkerson/Sheldon Richardson era. Leonard Williams and small-school standout rookie Nathan Shepard look to take this group into the future. At linebacker, a breakout season from Darron Lee would be appreciated, but veteran Avery Williamson was brought into town from Tennessee to balance things out. On the back end, bringing in Trumaine Johnson was a big signing and Morris Claiborne has proved to be a decent #2 option. Jamal Adams is a stud and a first-class human being.
2. Seattle Seahawks
All this hype in the NFC West for the 49ers and Rams, it’s almost like they forgot who their daddy is.
It feels weird putting the Seahawks as a sleeper, but this is a team who missed the playoffs last year and has lost a lot of key pieces from their Super Bowl runs. Despite this, Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll are still the best coaching and QB combo in the division, and the team is full of upstart guys looking to prove themselves and earn roles. The alpha-dog atmosphere in Seattle ran out of juice, it’s time for a revitalization of sorts.
The offensive line is still not great, but it should be halfway decent in 2018. Getting rid of Luke Joeckel was a huge addition. Wilson is an escape artist, and will be able to pull rabbits out of his helmet as always. Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett make up an underrated receiver group. Although I did not like Rashaad Penny, he was their first round pick at the running back spot, so they will have a talent at the position.
On defense, they still have Bobby Wagner and Frank Clark. It would be nice if Earl Thomas showed up to play, however that seems less and less likely by the day. Shaquill Griffin is an emerging star at corner, and veteran Byron Maxwell is looking to recapture the legion of boom magic from his early days in the pacific northwest.
The team has holes, but I think they have a chip on their shoulder that hasn’t existed in a while. A lot of the players like Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Cliff Avril, who never really seemed to forgive Pete Carroll for not running Marshawn Lynch, have left the building. What’s left is a rag-tag group of hungry ‘hawks, ones eerily reminiscent of these guys.
3. Indianapolis Colts
It’s almost like we all forgot how good Andrew Luck is.
Now he has a head coach who knows offense in Frank Reich, and an offensive line that shouldn’t give up 40+ sacks. Luck is far and away the best quarterback in the AFC South, and I expect this team to win that division in 2018. Offensively, some more receiver depth would be nice (@Dez Bryant), however T.Y. Hilton is among the best at his position and they will rely on a receiving boost from the tight end spot with Jack Doyle and the addition of Eric Ebron.
On defense, it looks shaky. However the departure of Antionio Morrison has opened up a spot on the starting D for Darius Leonard, a coverage specialist at the linebacker position that reminded many draft experts of Telvin Smith. Malik Hooker is a ball hawk, and if Quincy Wilson can break out at corner the secondary wont be so bad.
This team isn’t Super Bowl material, but in a weak AFC I think they have a real chance at a playoff spot.