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Which new NFL coach will make the biggest impact? How all five hires could fare

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  • Contributor to FootballOutsiders.com

Hiring a new head coach is one of the highest-variance changes an NFL team can make. With largely the same offensive line talent, for example, the Arizona Cardinals went from 31st in rushing DVOA in 2018 to second in rushing DVOA in 2019. Kyler Murray being a running threat at quarterback helped, sure, but the main change here was bringing in Kliff Kingsbury. We have much left to discern about Kingsbury’s future as a coach, but one thing we know is that he coached a different brand of offense than former Arizona offensive coordinator Mike McCoy did — one that worked much better in today’s NFL.

Let’s look at how each team changes under new management. If we have statistics that matter from their coaching careers, we’ll use them. Keep in mind that many coaches are really in charge of managing just one side of the ball, and they leave the other side of the ball to their head coordinator. We’ll take a look at that as well.


Carolina Panthers

Outgoing head coaches: Ron Rivera/Perry Fewell

Incoming head coach/important staff: Matt Rhule, Joe Brady (offensive coordinator), Phil Snow (defensive coordinator)

Rhule is certainly the most fascinating coach to project to the next level, and by far the biggest hire he made is former LSU passing game coordinator Brady. Brady coordinated an astonishingly good offense in Baton Rouge, where presumptive No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow broke the NCAA record for completion percentage, and where the Tigers averaged 395.4 passing yards per game. Brady spent time with the Saints before jumping on to the Tigers’ staff, and should give Carolina’s lagging offense a real boost with an offense that excels at getting the ball to playmakers in space.

Defensively, Snow and Rhule have proved adaptable. They mostly scrapped the scheme that Rhule ran at Temple and focused instead on building around Iowa State’s inverted Tampa 2. The disguises that this look allowed got Baylor to 29 turnovers, an average of 2.07 per game that ranked fourth nationally. They also allowed just 1.2 adjusted points per drive, ninth-best in the NCAA.

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