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DeMarco: Ranking The 2021 NFL Coaching Hires (So Far)

Greg DeMarco ranks the first five NFL head coaching hires of this offseason, including Urban Meyer, Robert Saleh, and more!

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Greg DeMarco ranks the first five NFL head coaching hires of this offseason.

The NFL coaching carousel provided us with seven vacancies this offseason, and five of them have been filled. While the General Manager position is equally important in most of these locations, head coaches is what most of you want to read about, right? That works out well, since it’s what I want to write about, too!

As we expand our offerings here at The Chairshot, you’ll be hearing more from some of us on topics other than wrestling–and the NFL might be the biggest. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how I look at the NFL, and what to expect. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback, so hit me up on social media @ChairshotGreg or even email me at gregdemarco@thechairshot.com. And if you are looking for a home to cover the NFL, hit me up.

We have two vacancies remaining that I will cover in another article (the Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles), but here are the five so far, with my analysis and rankings.

(San Diego) Los Angeles (Super) Chargers hired LA Rams Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley

You know when a team makes a draft pick based on talent and not need? That’s what this looks like to me. Staley is a defensive guy, with a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks. I love me some defensive football (run the ball!), but his success or failure will come in large part to the offensive staff he puts together to support second year quarter back Justin Hebert and the young offense.

Detroit Lions have all but hired New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach & Tight Ends Coach Dan Campbell

I love this (potential but likely) hire. LOVE IT. One phenomenon that I can’t really get with in the NFL is hiring an “offensive/defensive minded head coach.” If I were making a hire, I would look for the CEO type to lead the football team, and make sure we have the best coordinators in place. That likely means paying a high price for those coordinators, but that’s what it takes to be successful. Dan Campbell is a charismatic leader, and will build a culture. He can’t do it all (very few can), so you do need to surround him with the best people. But he’s already better than Matt Patricia.

Atlanta Falcons hired Tennessee Titans Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith

Smith had a really great two years under Mike Vrabel in Tennessee, and Matt Ryan can still go–giving him time to draft a quarterback now and sit him for a year–but I have to be honest here: Arthur Smith strikes me as a guy who will turn out to be a better coordinator than head coach. And there is nothing wrong with that, NFL coordinators make more than the majority of Americans and then some. There are plenty of clichés that we can throw out for Arthur Smith to be successful, but to me comes down to one thing, at least on the offensive side of the ball: can Todd Gurley be Derrick Henry? Because as great as Smith did in Tennessee, he did it on the legs of Henry’s 3500 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground (even more when you add in his receiving numbers). That’ll make any coordinator look great.

New York Jets hired San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh

A player’s coach, Robert Saleh is a blue collar guy who I think the New York fanbase will love. He’s also the first Muslim American NFL head coach, a milestone that shouldn’t be ignored. He looks the part, talks the part, and from what I can tell, coaches the part. He’s bringing Mike LaFleur with him to be the Offensive Coordinator (and he’ll probably lose him in the next two years to a head coaching job), and if these two take off in their upgraded roles, this could be a hiring that rivals that of Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh in 2007. Good for the Jets.

Jacksonville Jaguars hired Urban Meyer

I could call him “former Ohio State head coach” Urban Meyer, but I could also list Florida, Utah, and Bowling Green. While Meyer has his issues (leaving jobs high and dry, even if it’s for a good reason), this hire is a slam dunk. Urban Meyer plus Trevor Lawrence is going to be great, they have a ton of salary cap available for 2021, they seem to have just over a million picks in the upcoming draft (okay, eleven), and simple math will really help this team: cap space + head coach + no state income tax = desirable free agent destination. This team can be a contender in two years.

How do I rank them? I’ve already clued you in to how I think, so you may have figured some of that out. Either way, here is the answer:

  1. Robert Saleh, New York Jets
  2. Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions
  3. Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
  5. Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Time, and not just one year, will tell if these coaches are successful in their new homes. All are first time NFL head coaches, and some of the best (Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, for example) didn’t find major success in their first head coaching gig. For all of these hires, the potential is there. The law of averages tells us not all five will be major successes, but it also tells us some likely will.

How would you rank the hires?


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Cook’s Top 5: Atlanta Falcons Quarterbacks

Steve Cook continues his look at each NFL franchise’s best QBs with his Top 5 Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks!

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Steve Cook continues his look at each NFL franchise’s best QBs with his Top 5 Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks!

We continue our look at the Greatest Quarterbacks of each NFL franchise with another humdinger of an assortment of talent. The Atlanta Falcons have made two Super Bowl appearances during their existence, winning neither. Their first couple of decades were mediocre at best, but the 21st century has seen a reversal of fortune. The Falcons have at least seemed relevant more seasons than not.

Today we look at the top 5 Falcons quarterbacks of all time.

5. Chris Miller

Taking a look at Miller’s numbers gave me one thought: there could have been something there. He certainly wasn’t bad, with the exception of two really bad performances that consisted of his rookie season, Miller had decent enough numbers for a not so great collection of Falcons teams. He still has the third-most passing yards & is tied for the third most passing touchdowns in Falcons history.

Things improved through Miller’s time there. 1991 was his best season, throwing for over 3100 yards, getting 26 passing touchdowns and making the Pro Bowl. It seemed like Miller had a future…until two severe knee injuries led to his departure from Atlanta. He signed with the Rams in 1994 and dealt with a new recurring problem: concussions. Miller suffered 5 concussions in 14 months, with nasty side effects that led to him retiring from football.

He attempted a comeback with the Denver Broncos in 1999, but a concussion early into his tenure there led to him going back into retirement. Miller could have lived up to the high expectations people had for him coming out of Oregon, but we’ll never know.

4. Chris Chandler

Prior to arriving in Atlanta, Chandler was the definition of a journeyman. He played for five teams in the first nine seasons of his career. Chandler couldn’t catch on anywhere until he signed with the Falcons and obtained the coaching services of Dan Reeves. Business picked up then.

Chandler made the Pro Bowl in the 1997 & 98 seasons. 1998 was the season of the Dirty Birds’ 14-2 regular season and trip to the Super Bowl, where they got the honor of laying down for John Elway in his last game.

The Falcons & Chandler came back to earth in the years afterward, and it was decided to bring in a new young arm. After a year backing Chandler up, it was Michael Vick’s team. Chandler went on to the Bears & Rams in completely forgettable stints.

Chandler can say something that only one other man can: he quarterbacked the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl.

3. Steve Bartkowski

Like most NFL franchises, the Falcons got off to a slow start. Ok, maybe a bit slower than most. Atlanta struggled through their first few seasons, trying to find a way to become relevant. Then, as now, one of the best ways to become relevant is to draft a franchise-level quarterback.

Atlanta found theirs with the first pick of the 1974 NFL Draft. Steve Bartkowski, who had led the nation in passing during his senior season at Cal. Bartkowski would make the Pro Bowl in 1980 & 81, and would take the Falcons to their first playoff appearance in 1978. The Falcons were such an afterthought at this time with a revolving door of head coaches, that even getting to the playoffs was one heck of an accomplishment.

Bartkowski lasted eleven seasons with the Falcons before ending his career with the Rams in 1986. He would have played more games and racked up more stats if not for the seven knee operations he went through during his career. His QB record with Atlanta was only 55-66 and he only had two winning seasons, but It’s hard to see too many people from that era doing much better with those teams.

Up until the Falcons found their current quarterback, Steve Bartkowski held every relevant Falcon passing record. He sits on the team’s board of directors, is part of the Falcons Ring of Honor and has had his jersey retired. It was a pretty solid run, and up until this century the best in Falcons history.

2. Michael Vick

Many have chosen to leave Vick off of their lists of great players due to the situation that led to his departure from Atlanta. The dogfighting ring. Don’t get me wrong, it was disgusting and Vick got what he deserved for taking part in it.

That being said, Vick has shown regret for his actions and has avoided further problems since. Football has shown a tendency to be more forgiving than other sports, people aren’t outcast forever or denied consideration for the Hall of Fame for a mistake. Vick’s play while wearing an Atlanta Falcon uniform was notable, and you can’t really tell the story of the Atlanta Falcons without mentioning him. Other than Vick, the only Falcon that ever really got mainstream coverage was Deion Sanders.

You might argue that I shouldn’t rate him over Bartkowski due to Steve’s importance to the franchise’s early days. I can only say that Vick was the most exciting quarterback I ever watched up until seeing Lamar Jackson at Louisville. What Vick lacked in passing yardage (his besy season in that category is 23rd in Falcons history), he made up for with the rest of his game.

Honorable Mention: Jeff George

George was considered an absolute bust after getting drafted first overall by the Colts in 1990. They couldn’t wait to get him out of the city after getting to know him, and the Falcons would do the same after two pretty solid seasons. George did throw for over 4,000 yards in 1995, and guided the Falcons to the playoffs for the first time since 1991. If George hadn’t made June Jones mad, he might have been in Chris Chandler’s spot for the Falcons’ first Super Bowl trip.

1. Matt Ryan

Ryan arrived in Atlanta from Boston College as the third pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. In the ensuing years, Ryan has gone on to shatter every Falcon passing record and see the team through more success than any previous quarterback. He’s played in eighty-two more games than any other Falcons QB. Completed nearly 3,000 more passes. 193 more touchdowns than second place. Over 32,000 more passing yards. Ten of the top eleven passing yardage per season totals belong to Matty Ice.

It’s not really fair to compare Ryan to his fellow Falcons. Where does he compare with his current peers? He’s never led the league in touchdowns or passing yards. He’s been to four Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in 2016. That was Ryan’s best season to this point, culminating in Ryan becoming the first Atlanta Falcon to win the Most Valuable Player award. There was also a trip to the Super Bowl that the Falcons should have won. You know, considering they were up 28-3 and all that. The Falcons had a winning record each of Ryan’s first five seasons, which was the first time they managed to have five straight winning seasons.

Ryan will be thirty-six years old when the 2021 season starts. His current contract will expire after the 2022 season. Will the Falcons keep him around so he can keep adding to his Atlanta legacy? Time will tell.


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3 Man Weave: JJ Watt, NBA All-Star Weekend

UFC 259 will see three titles defended in one evening, JJ Watt to the Cardinals and NBA All-Star weekend peek the interests of 3MW this week.

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3 Man Weave: JJ Watt, NBA All-Star Weekend

UFC 259 will see three titles defended in one evening, JJ Watt to the Cardinals and NBA All-Star weekend peek the interests of 3MW this week.

#ChairshotSports presents 3 Man Weave. Join Rey Cash @itsreycash PC Tunney @PCTunney and Christopher Platt @therealcplatt as they give their unique perspectives into the American and global sporting landscapes. This week on @3_ManWeave…

  • JJ Watt Sign w/ Cardinals
  • UFC 259
  • NBA All-Star Weekend

For the latest, greatest and up to datest in everything pro wrestling, sports and entertainment head to TheChairshot.com ALWAYS #UseYourHead

About the Chairshot Radio Network

Created in 2017, the Chairshot Radio Network presents you with the best in wrestling and wrestling crossover podcasts, including POD is WAR, Women’s Wrestling Talk, The #Miranda Show, Badlands’ Wrestling Mount Rushmores, The Outsider’s Edge, DWI Podcast, Bandwagon Nerds, the Greg DeMarco Show, 3 Man Weave, Five Rounds, Turnbuckle Talk, The Reaction and more! You can find these great shows each week at theChairshot.com and through our distribution partners, including podcasting’s most popular platforms.


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