Leftwich, Moore and Hackett tick the boxes for Vikings head coaching job
Choosing a new coach is a tricky beast in the NFL. Teams have taken all kinds of different approaches and none seem to be completely correlated with success or failure – well, except maybe the Belichick tree.
Some people believe you shouldn’t be hiring retread coaches, but Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys are 12-5. Stay away from college coaches! Okay, but Pete Carroll had a lot of success in Seattle and Kliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals are a legitimate contender. You need attacking-minded coaches these days, don’t you? But what about Sean McDermott? Nobody wants more uncompromising footballers! What about Mike Vrabel?
There is no perfect role model for choosing a successful coach. However, there are some lessons we can learn from recent unsuccessful hires that might point us toward the qualities we need and point us toward some of the most likely candidates to be successful.
For example, putting someone over their head doesn’t seem to work particularly well.
The New York Giants hired Joe Judge despite having only been special teams coordinator for four years. Prior to that, he was a special teams assistant with the Patriots and Alabama. From day one, when the judge refused to admit that Daniel Jones was his starting quarterback, it appeared that his perception of how NFL head coaches acted was far from reality. This resulted in silly practices like forcing players to do highs and lows and declaim for 11 minutes at a press conference.
Anyone with common sense could have seen the Urban Meyer disaster coming because he had no NFL experience. He was asked to manage a group of adult men when he had only ever bullied college kids. Meyer’s academic career has also been marred by drama and dysfunction. It’s another red flag. If the rumors of the Vikings’ interest in Lane Kiffin are correct, that particular danger exists in hiring him. There’s even a 2017 article titled “The Wild History of Lane Kiffin’s Dramatic Coaching Departures.”
In Cincinnati, things calmed down around Zac Taylor due to Joe Burrow’s emergence as an elite quarterback this year, but in his first two seasons the team struggled with culture and communication. Taylor had been bumped from coaching QB Sean McVay to a head coach in just a few seasons.
Adam Gase’s tenure in Miami has been volatile with a report coming after his dismissal that he “yelled at the owner to know more about football than he did.” Multiple sources say a high-ranking club official had to intervene. Gase’s first press conference with the Jets was bizarre, and his tenure turned into a hilarious coaching parody.
Matt Patricia was a self-centered bully who hid a sexual assault accusation from his team during the interview process. Yet the Lions have always kept it.
If we sift through the resumes of successful recent recruits like Frank Reich at Indianapolis, Matt LaFleur at Green Bay, Sean McDermott at Buffalo, you’d be hard-pressed to find any previous dramas or red flags.
So if the criteria for averting disaster is finding head coaches who are prepared for their roles and inexperienced with glaring issues, who does that leave us?
Well, a good number of candidates. Three that stand out in particular are Byron Leftwich, Kellen Moore and Nate Hackett.
Leftwich, who played in the NFL for five different franchises before moving on to coach QBs and then OC, was chosen by Bruce Arians to lead Tom Brady’s attack in Tampa Bay.
“I was very, very upset that Byron didn’t at least get an interview this year. For the work he did. . . I think I get way too much credit, as does Tom Brady for the work that Byron did,” Arians said this week.
While having Brady is a huge plus, Brady’s numbers have also exploded over the past two years. He led the NFL by the way with 312 yards per game while Leftwich has, so to speak, collaborated with him on the Bucs’ offense.
This is another potential pitfall when hiring coaches. They all present themselves as wanting to empower those around them, but having a track record of doing so is supportive. Leftwich’s experience in the NFL would seem to make her less likely to potentially alienate players.
The same could be said for Kellen Moore of Dallas, who served as a backup QB and then immediately jumped to OC. Moore has now worked under two different HCs, which is rare, and has been successful offensively with both.
Hackett, the current OC for the Packers, slowly worked his way into head coaching positions, from quality control in the early 2000s to OC positions with the Bills, Jaguars and Green Bay.
Granted, Aaron Rodgers, like Brady and Dak Prescott, helped put Hackett at the forefront of conversations for a head coach position, but the Packers revised their offense when LaFleur and Hackett arrived and helped bring Rodgers back to the top of the MVP race.
Brian Daboll from Buffalo could be included in this category. He did what the Vikings refused to do with Stefon Diggs. Indy’s Matt Eberflus and Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy are also proven coordinators without our aforementioned red flags.
Doug Pederson had some drama at the end of his time in Philadelphia, but his resume includes a Super Bowl ring with Nick Foles, hence the reason he will be a sought-after candidate. He falls more into the Mike McCarthy or Bruce Arians category as coaches who have proven they can win in the NFL. There aren’t many on the market each year.
As the Vikings prepare to hire a general manager and head coach, we can all agree that predicting whether the franchise’s next leader will be a home run or a strikeout isn’t easy, but whether their chances of Getting a quality trainer can increase focusing on the types of things they don’t want as much as the traits they want.
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