NFL Coaching Futures Predictions: First Fired, Coach of Year
The NFL is such an interesting place when it comes to head coaches. They either get blamed for everything and are gone in an instant, or they last forever. There are seven guys who have been with their teams since at least 2011, and Andy Reid is an honorary member of that group as well - he has been with the Chiefs since only 2013 but is on his second team since 1999 and has coached continuously in that time. And then there are eight guys entering their first year with their team, and 19 guys are in their third year or fewer. Coaches are mostly hired to be fired. And we can bet on their misery. We're going to look at two different and very opposite props - the first coach to be fired or resign, and the Coach of the Year.
First coach to be fired or resign
Jay Gruden, Washington (+450): There are two things that could save Gruden here. First, he is likely to be breaking in a rookie quarterback. As long as Dwayne Haskins can show real progress, that can buy a coach some breathing room. And second, he has already somehow lasted since 2014, so he knows better than most how to stay in a job he doesn't deserve to keep. But he has a .444 winning percentage, and the team is going to be lousy this year. He is a deserving favorite.
Pat Shurmur, New York Giants (+700): Shurmur lost 11 games last year in his debut and could very easily lose more than that this year. It's a mess in New York, and he gets his share of the blame for that. Like Gruden, though, he has a couple of things working in his favor. First, he is also going to be transitioning to a young QB at some point, and that could buy him some time. And the Giants also are likely to look in the mirror and see that they don't want to be a total joke. They just fired their last hire, Ben McAdoo, just 28 games into his career. It would be really ugly to do the same thing again. The team is enough of a farce already - they don't need to add this to it.
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville (+900): I think that this is a horrible bet. But maybe that's what makes it good. Marrone won the division in his first year. Then he had a disastrous second season. The team had a good offseason, he has a much better quarterback situation, and I am reasonably bullish about things in Jacksonville - especially now that divisional rival Indianapolis has some QB questions. So, I think Marrone is in for a good year. But if the team really stumbles out of the gate, and it quickly looks like they could be on the way to another lost season, then Marrone could be the quick fall guy. I actually don't hate this price.
Bill O'Brien, Houston (+1200): I find it hard to judge O'Brien objectively. He's a guy I would have fired long ago. He's only 42-38 in five seasons, and he just isn't moving forward with the team. And I am not confident that he ever will. But he has made it this far, and his team is a contender in the division again. I really struggle to see him the first guy gone.
Coach of the Year
This award is interesting because it often goes to the guy of the moment rather than the guy who keeps getting it done. Bill Belichick hasn't won since 2010. Sean Payton hasn't won since 2006 and has as many awards on his shelf as Matt Nagy and Sean McVay do.
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco (+1000): This is a sound pick as the favorite. Shanahan faced high expectations last year, but that was derailed by injuries at QB. The team had a strong offseason, and they could easily contend in their division if all goes according to plan. If the team wins 11 or 12 games, then Shanahan would be very hard to beat here.
Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland (+1100): I'm skeptical. The expectations are sky high for this team. Unreasonably so despite a solid offseason. Kitchens has already shown that he has an odd way of handling some situations, and that makes me question what he will do when he faces some inevitable adversity. If the team wins the division, and has the year people expect, then Kitchens will be tough to beat. But this price doesn't offset the risk in my eyes.
Bill Belichick, New England (+1200): Belichick has won three times, but not since 2010. And it's tough to imagine what he would have to do to get enough attention to win another one. By this point, we just expect his team to win the division, contend for the Super Bowl, and break the spirits of fans of most other teams. In order to win again, he would need something dramatic to happen - like a division win after an early Brady injury or something. We can't bet on that at this price.
Sean McVay, L.A. Rams (+1200): McVay is already at the stage in his career where it is tough to stand out in this category. He won the award two years ago when the team exceeded expectations. Last year he made the Super Bowl. And this year he has much the same roster and faces significant expectations again - another Super Bowl berth would be far from a shock. He has to overcome the potential Super Bowl hangover, and that will take some coaching, but expectations just feel too high for him now to win this award.
Frank Reich, Indianapolis (+1400): Things are tougher for Reich with the uncertainty around Andrew Luck, but he is still a solid value at this price. Last year was a huge surprise, and he could easily have won last year if Nagy wasn't so impressive in Chicago. But it is much tougher to match or exceed a surprise season than it is to have the surprise season in the first place. If Reich has a strong season again, then he will really have proven himself. Solid value.
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