We have six new NFL coaches in 2017, and five will be taking the reins for the first time. As you would expect, many of them take over bad teams. We can never really know how a coach is going to do until we see them in action - how often have guys who seemed like they couldn't fail fallen flat? That shouldn't stop us from speculating. As we sit in this quiet period on the NFL schedule waiting for the season to begin, this is a good time to look at the six guys, their chances for success, and whether they could each offer some betting value out of the gate.
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Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills: McDermott is a solid pickup in Buffalo - even if his Panthers were a disappointment last year. He is in a very tough spot, though, with questions at quarterback, roster issues in several spots, and two tough foes in the division - the Patriots will be the Patriots yet again, and the Dolphins should be solid. McDermott is young and coaching for the first time, so there will be a learning curve, and there are certainly some habits to change in Buffalo. The team could benefit from some sane, calm coaching after what came before, but it still seems more likely than not that there will be struggles. From a betting perspective, though, since people expect so little from the Bills this year McDermott should be positioned to at least match expectations.
Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos: I don't feel good about this situation at all. Joseph not only is making his head coaching debut, but he was a coordinator for only one year. He is taking over a team that shouldn't really be going through a coaching change, and he has to deal with a potentially thorny QB battle. I didn't like the hire at the time, and I am not optimistic now. With Oakland looking so strong and Kansas City maintaining their consistency, things could be tough for the Broncos this year. Count me as bearish.
Anthony Lynn, L.A. Chargers: The Chargers made a coaching change a year too late, but I don't like the choice at all. Lynn is a Rex Ryan disciple, and Ryan is just a disaster of a coach in my eyes - everything I wouldn't want in charge of my team. I'm not saying that Lynn is like his former boss, but he will have picked up habits. This is a very tough situation to step into. A veteran QB with a closing window who wants to win now. A roster with bright spots, but one that isn't uniformly solid. And the uncertainty of playing in a temporary home. It's all far from ideal, and not what I would want to hand to a first time coach. I would be pessimistic about the Chargers this year even in the best of circumstances, but this is far from that, and he is tough to like.
Sean McVay, L.A. Rams: He's the youngest head coach in history, and he is taking over a bad team while saddled with the pressure of making sure that last year's top pick is a franchise QB and not a bust. McVay is smart and talented, but I have never done badly doubting the prodigies, and I'm not worried that I will be now. McVay is too talented to be a total disaster, but he certainly won't exceed expectations.
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers: I've been largely negative up to this point, but that ends here - I love this hire. Shanahan grew up around the game, and he has paid his dues as an offensive coordinator in a variety of settings. The Niners desperately need some stability and non-flashy leaderships after the Chip Kelly era and all of the debacles that came before it since Jim Harbaugh left town. Shanahan faces some obvious and massive hurdles - like the lack of a decent QB and some real questions elsewhere in the lineup - but he is going to do well with this squad, and he is going to get more out of this team than any expect. They will be bad but not nearly as bad as they could be, and they could even threaten the Rams for third in the division. Shanahan will make patient and choosy bettors some money this year.
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars: Marrone technically isn't new because he was the interim coach for the team for one game last year after the coaching change was made. That doesn't really count, though. I am optimistic about this situation as well. The Jaguars aren't getting enough respect in the division, and they offer some nice value - they are at +600 to win the division at BetOnline while other three teams are each +200. Marrone has coached before, and he will have learned lots about what works and what doesn't from his time in Buffalo. He needs to get better QB play this year, but adding Leonard Fournette will help the offense, and there is solid talent on both sides of the ball. Marrone spent two years as an assistant with this squad, so he knows what he has and what needs to be done, and he can hit the ground running. Marrone is going to offer bettors a lot of value out of the gate.
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