Sean McVay and Matt LaFluer

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NFL Head Coaching Carousel

Openings are starting to close.

January 09, 2019 - 9:30 am

The NFL head coaching openings are starting to close. Bruce Arians to Tampa, Matt LaFleur to Green Bay, and Kliff Kingsbury to Arizona. And if you’re tripping about the last two, you shouldn’t be. In fact, you shouldn’t be tripping over any of them. 

Because all three of these guys have one thing in common – they know how to work with quarterbacks. Bruce Arians has a track record a mile long when it comes to quarterbacks. And if you’re Tampa Bay and you desperately need somebody to turn Jameis Winston around, Arians is your man. Not just because he’s worked with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer; and not just because he and Winston go way back. And it’s not just because he’s gone viral legend for having one of the greatest reaction shots ever. 

Nope, there’s more to it than that. BA isn’t just a quarterback guru or quarterback whisperer. He has an incredible approach… and swagger for days that impacts the whole team. He gives you a spark. It’s not often you can say that about a head coach, but Arians is one of those guys. 

He’s got the look, the lid, and the attitude that commands respect the moment he walks into your facility. No wonder the Bucs were willing to essentially trade a sixth round pick to Arizona for Arians and a seventh. And no wonder they had Cubs manager Joe Maddon, a friend of BA’s, recruiting him as well. When you have a shot at him, you have to take it. SHOOT YOUR SHOT! SHOOT YOUR DAMN SHOT.

And then there’s Green Bay, who hired Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to be their head coach. Look, everyone wants Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay. But you aren’t going get those guys, so what’s the next best thing? A guy who worked for…wait for it….Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay.. LaFleur and McVay. worked together in Washington and when McVay.  got the Rams gig, one of his first moves was to hire LaFleur as his offensive coordinator. There are endorsements and then there’s that level of an endorsement. 

Have you ever wondered what Aaron Rodgers could do if he was in a scheme like Sean McVay.’s? I guarantee Aaron has. Well, bring in a guy who has a scheme like Sean McVay.’s.

And yes, it might seem like Sean McVay has suddenly become the general manager of about a dozen teams in the National Football League based on how often his name is being included in coaching searches. Notice I said included in, not linked to, coaching searches. Because McVay.’s not available, but by getting someone like McVay, you might get some of that McVay Magic.

Which brings us to Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals. And I know what a bunch of you are thinking: Arizona just hired the guy who Texas Tech fired. They’re hiring a guy who had a losing record as a head coach and was fired by his alma mater. Right. They also just hired the guy who coached Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel, Davis Webb, Baker Mayfield, and Patrick Mahomes. 

He just did the Reverse Pete Carroll: fired in college, taking a head coaching job in the NFL. Here’s another thing to note: success in college does not translate to success in the NFL and vice versa. Exhibit A: Nicholas Saban. Followed quickly by Steve Spurrier and Lou Holtz. Three of the best college coaches ever and complete disasters in the NFL. 

Right, Rome, but they just hired a guy with no NFL head coaching experience. Correct. You know who else didn’t have any head coaching experience when he was hired? Wait for it…Sean McVay.. And did you see what McVay did with Jared Goff in his second year. 

You think the Cardinals might be interested in some of that McVay Magic for Josh Rosen in his second year? You know it.

Given the way the league is headed, with more college schemes, you think they might want the guy whose college offense never finished outside the top 20 in six years as the head coach in Lubbock? Makes sense. 

And Kingsbury comes with more than just the youth, the Hollywood good looks, and quarterback coaching pedigree that McVay has. He comes with the McVay.  Endorsement. McVay reportedly wanted him to join the Rams as a consultant for the stretch run and the postseason, but Kingsbury turned it down to take the USC offensive coordinator gig.

And that’s where it really gets interesting. Because after Kingsbury was fired by Texas Tech, his name was linked with a lot of jobs. And he took the USC offensive coordinator job. 

It was a huge moment for the program and for Trojan fans who were bitter about going 5-7, losing five of the last six games and getting smacked around by just about every good team they faced. If you were bent about retaining Clay Helton, and Trojans fans were, you had to feel a helluva lot better about it knowing that Ryan Gosling lookalike was coming in to coach J.T. Daniels up. 

Especially when you consider the fact that as good a job as the USC offensive coordinator job is, and it’s one of the best coordinator gigs in the country, it’s a tough sell when the head coach is on thin ice. 

But they landed the biggest fish possible. USC fans were pumped. They just got the hottest coach out there and he was going to be their OC? There was life and juice back in the program. 

And now, a few weeks later, he’s gone. And it’s gone. And they have nothing to show for it other than Kingsbury’s $150 grr buyout: jack he was probably was walking around with. More on the Trojan aspect of this later on.

As for the Cards: yes, it’s a big swing.  Hell yes, it’s a big gamble: but that’s why I like it.  They’re not afraid. And they’re not looking at who fired him or what his record was in college. They’re looking at who he has worked with, what quarterbacks he has helped develop and the fact that he’s the guy to come in and develop theirs, Josh Rosen.

I don’t know that he’s the next Sean McVay.; there may not be another one of those guys.  I don’t know that Kingsbury will be a great or even a good head coach. But I do like this hire. A lot. This is where the league is headed, with more and more college schemes; and they just hired one of the best offensive minds when it comes to that. Surround this dude with a good offensive line coach, a good dee coordinator and some other veteran assistants, and you could once again have some juice in the desert. Either way, it’s a big swing, it’s exciting, it’s not a safe, cover your ass hire: I’m into it; and can’t wait to see how it goes.