Predicting the Head Coach Class of 2022

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It’s time to predict the head coaching class of 2022. After the infamous ‘Black Monday’, 8 teams have parted ways with their head coaches – so far. Here we predict who will fulfill these NFL vacancies and shaped the coaching landscape until the middle of the decade.

January can be a win or a home business in the NFL. Eight head coaches have found this stretches throughout the season. Eight. That’s right, a quarterback in the league currently has vacancies for their best gig. Add to that, four general manager roles in half of those teams as well. With these 12 roles to fill in the NFL, this recruiting cycle will shape the sport through the middle of this decade. So, as with any hiring, these teams must ensure that they make the right choice. We looked at the candidates and where they might end up over the next few weeks. Four of those candidates were on playoff teams prior to the Super Wildcard weekend. So expect more movement in the 2022 coaching class as teams are knocked out of the playoffs.

Raiders – Rich Bisaccia

The biggest highlight on this list. No one expected Rich Bisaccia to get a head coaching role this offseason when he replaced Jon Gruden. Instead, it went 7-6. Yes, an average record. However, for the first time (interim) head coach without a pre-season, let alone Henry Riggs and Damon Arnette, keeping the team competitive was a bonus. Bisaccia used all of his 40 years of experience to bring the team together. He’s borderline Coach of the Year with everything that’s happened – and he still took the Raiders to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The team is playing for him and they won four straight games to make the playoffs. . Let’s see what he can do with the keys to the franchise.

If the Raiders leave with someone else, expect Bisaccia to get a head coaching role elsewhere.

Broncos – Nathaniel Hackett

Hackett has done wonders for Green Bay, winning 13 games in each of the last three seasons. A buyer beware over Hackett, however, as well as Byron Leftwich and Eric Bieniemy, Adam Gase was once a highly sought-after head coach – twice. It’s hard to separate a superstar QB’s success from his OC. That said, Nathaniel Hackett got the most out of Aaron Rodgers, coaching him to at least one MVP and motivating him despite the off-season soap opera. The offense was balanced, with Jones and Dillon in the backfield. After knocking out Vic Fangio, Denver will clearly want someone who can maximize their considerable weapons at skill positions and get the most out of their QB, whoever he is next year.

Dolphins – Jim Harbaugh

Someone is going to make a move for Jim Harbaugh in this coaching class. Dolphins owner and Michigan alum Stephen Ross said he wouldn’t be the man to take Harbaugh out of The Big House. It’s all in the posture. Would it really be a surprise if the Dolphins worked on the move in the background? Maybe the weaker Harbaugh wants to go to Florida. Miami loves a big-name hire and Harbaugh wants another crack at the NFL. What better way to sell it to him than to resurrect one of the league’s most lost franchises to create a dynasty. Additionally, Harbaugh has fixed a struggling QB in the past. Alex Smith was a bust for the 49ers but created a second career after two years under Harbaugh. Tua Tagovailoa is doing well so far but a third OC and a second head coach could help him develop as a passer.

Harbaugh is successful, he builds a team. But it is also combustible. The Dolphins have played in just three playoff games this century and haven’t won a playoff game since 2000. It’s certainly worth stroking for Harbaugh to achieve success, however fleeting.

Jaguars – Byron Leftwich

Leftwich is the hot candidate. It looks like the Bucs are destined to lose their OC after the playoffs. The Jags are desperate for someone to change the culture in Jacksonville. Urban Meyer couldn’t do it. It didn’t even last a year. So maybe this isn’t a rookie head coach’s house. But Jacksonville added motivation to sign Leftwich, having drafted him seventh overall in 2003. The narrative is all set for him to come home. That in itself is not a reason to go for Leftwich, but an added bonus for signing the man everyone wants. Leftwich was the mastermind behind Brady’s Bucs, as well as Jamies Winston’s best season in Tampa, and is highly regarded in coaching circles. Now is the time for him to get the best gig.

Texans – Brian Flores

In my opinion, Miami definitely shouldn’t have fired Flores. He had built a good team. Although there were some clashes with the coaches, he was an effective head coach. Houston needs to reinvent a winning culture and Brian Flores has a (short) proven history of it. The main reason though is that Deshaun Watson seems desperate to play for him wherever he goes. Assuming the Texans want to keep Watson, signing Flores is a must. Watson may be suspended for the year or even jailed, but Flores’ credentials – and star players’ desire to play for him – should not be ignored.

Bears – Brian Daboll

Matt Nagy did not work in Chicago. The Bears twice drafted an exciting QB prospect who had raw talent that needed to be developed. Neither Mitch Trubisky nor Justin Fields, admittedly the first year, were able to realize this potential. Chicago will be looking for the best coach to nurture Fields as a talent, ironically the man currently coaching Trubisky. Brian Daboll developed Josh Allen from an inaccurate running threat to a superstar, MVP contender. Not only that, but he also created an unstoppable offense. The Pats, who have a solid defense, gave up 480 of 480 possible yards. It’s a small case study, but what Daboll has done with the Bills offense over the past four years is incredible.

Vikings – Kellen Moore

Kellen Moore has been on a watch list for a few years because he’s the key to the Cowboys offense. He was phenomenal at times last season, although he struggled later in the season and eventually in wildcard play. Moore is the up-and-coming coach in this coaching class and has created a juggernaut with Prescott, Elliott, Cooper and Wilson. He can now work with Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson. The Vikings’ defense needs to be developed, however, and Moore may need to bring in an experienced defensive coordinator, say Vic Fangio, like Sean McVay did with Wade Phillips at the Rams. It would lighten Moore’s weight as he develops as a head coach and make him a very exciting candidate.

Giants – Doug Pederson

The Giants have always sought experience. They prefer seniors over juniors in the draft and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them sign someone with experience as a head coach. The obvious candidate in the market, assuming they don’t win the contest for Jim Harbaugh, is Doug Pederson. The Giants have seen the success he had in Philadelphia firsthand. He could resuscitate the career of Daniel Jones, but also play a team. He’s finally become obsolete in Philadelphia, but a Super Bowl-winning head coach deserves a second chance. With that in mind, Pederson could round out this year’s coaching class. Plus, he’s proven he can handle a tough media market.

Main image: Jim Harbaugh with the Michigan Wolverines. Image from USA Today.

About Betty J. Snyder

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