Cardinals and Giants Finalize 2018 Head Coach Class

With the announcement Monday that the Arizona Cardinals had reached a deal with former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to be their next head coach, the 2018 head coaching class was finally set.

Earlier Monday, former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was officially named the new head coach of the New York Giants in what has been an open secret for at least  a week.

“We are pleased to welcome Pat to our organization and look forward to the leadership he will provide for our team,” the Giants said in a release. “He has an outstanding track record in developing young players, and it is clear his players respond to his guidance and direction. We interviewed six talented and qualified candidates, and we feel like Pat, with his vision and experience, is the right person to lead our team.”

While you could argue that the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts haven’t set their hires in stone, like Shurmur and the Giants, everybody already knows that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will take over the Colts and Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will assume head man duties in Detroit.

As for Wilks, I summed up my thoughts on his head coaching prospects in my complaint about the Titans hiring Mike Vrabel, thusly…

Like Vrabel, he (Wilks) too had just been a DC for a single season. The difference is his team was No. 7 this year in total defense and No. 11 in points allowed. They were the third best NFL team in sacks. Without looking, name two Panthers defensive linemen. If Julius Peppers is one of them, name two more.

Instead of some stooge like (potential Titans offensive coordinator Ryan) Day, reportedly Wilks was bringing Philadelphia Eagles quarterback coach John DeFilippo to be the offensive coordinator. This was the guy that’s spent the last couple of season crafting Carson Wentz into an NFL MVP candidate. He’s the guy that’s helped rebuild Nick Foles from the shellshocked Jeff Fisher disaster to a quarterback that can take his team to a championship game. What would DeFillipo do with a guy like Marcus Mariota?

I would have made that hire, easy.

For guys like Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback coach (as of right now) Steve DeFillipo, that means they’ll have to wait until next season when jobs open up in Cleveland, Washington and Tampa Bay. Yeah, I’m calling some fired coaches at those spots. Mainly because all those guys should have been fired this year.

With Jon Gruden taking over the Oakland Raiders, Matt Nagy in charge of the Chicago Bears and Mike Vrabel running the Tennessee Titans, our bracket is now set.

STAFFS TAKING SHAPE

Hue Jackson was true to his word that he would hire an offensive coordinator and stop calling plays for the Cleveland Browns. Monday, the team announced they had hired former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley to take that same position with the Browns. With Haley calling plays, the Steelers finished in the Top 10 in total points over the last four seasons.

What’s really interesting about this move, to me, is that Le’Veon Bell will be a free agent this season and will probably not be franchised again. That means the Browns, and Haley, could make a play for him and pay him whatever he wants with an insane amount of available cap space. That, plus, say, signing Kirk Cousins, is an immediate gamechanger for the Browns’ offense. Plus, there’s a good chance the Steelers cut Martavis Bryant this 0ff-season, so there’s a starting outside receiver opposite a healthy Corey Coleman.

The Carolina Panthers promoted defensive line coach Eric Washington to defensive coordinator, replacing Wilks. Washington has been with the Panthers since 2011. Under Washington’s tutelage, the Panthers’ defensive line has produced 280 total sacks, the best in the NFL since 2012. It’s the second year in a row head coach Ron Rivera has lost a DC to the head coaching ranks. There’s a good chance Washington will be next.

Matt Nagy has his top coordinators in place in Chicago. The Bears hired former University of Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as their offensive coordinator and retained defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Fangio got a new, three-year deal to stay with Da Bears. Helfrich was out of football last year after spending the previous seven at Oregon as its offensive coordinator and head coach. It’ll be interesting to see if he tries the Chip Kelly-style offense or is smart enough to adapt it to a more pro style like Andy Reid uses in Kansas City.

To the shock of absolutely no one, new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel decided not to retain defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, sending the 80 year-old Hall of Famer packing. LeBeau has already made it known that he would likely retire if such a decision were made.

The Steelers replaced Haley with quarterback coach Randy Fichtner. Fichtner has been with Pittsburgh for the last eight seasons.

After re-assigning former offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen to the director of football and player development position, the Miami Dolphins hired former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to take over the OC job. The Dolphins also hired Jeremiah Washburn as their new offensive line coach and fired defensive back coach Lou Anarumo, running backs coach Danny Barrett and defensive line coach Terrell Williams. Loggains was head coach Adam Gase’s QB coach his one season with the Chicago Bears.

Todd Bowles may have landed an extension with the New York Jets, but he’s not taking all his coaches with him. The team fired offensive coordinator Joe Morton after one season. While Morton’s offense finished ranked No. 28 overall, quarterback Josh McCown had his best season as a pro, throwing for 2,926 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine picks.

The Buffalo Bills hired former Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to take over their own offence, replacing fired Rick Dennison.

The Green Bay Packers hired former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin as their new offensive coordinator, a job he’d held during the Packers’ Super Bowl run a few years ago. Former Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine took the job as defensive coordinator.

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About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a writer and photographer based out of East Tennessee. His work has appeared in USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Cubs Vineline Magazine, AskMen.com and many other publications.

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