Rookie NFL Coaches: Odds on the 2017 Crew

You know when everything in your life is going great and you think to yourself, “I should change something really important just for kicks.” No, you don’t, and neither do NFL teams.

When you’ve made the playoffs for eight straight years (New England, Green Bay) or five straight years (Seattle), or even just three (Pittsburgh), owners and management tend to be pretty tickled and don’t make sweeping organizational changes.

On the other hand, when you haven’t been to the playoffs in 17 straight years (Buffalo) or are coming off a 2-14 season (San Francisco) or went from Super Bowl champs to a distant third in your division (Denver), adjustments tend to follow.

And so it is for this year’s crop of first-year head coaches. To varying degrees, they are all walking into operose situations. Some undoubtedly have it worse than others. Kyle Shanahan is taking over one of the most talentless rosters in the league in San Francisco, while Vance Joseph has a Super Bowl-ready defense at his disposal in Denver and just needs a serviceable QB/run-game to make it work.

The other four — Doug Marrone (Jacksonville), Sean McDermott (Buffalo), Anthony Lynn (LA Chargers), and Sean McVay (LA Rams) — all fall somewhere in the middle of that Niners/Broncos continuum.

Each coach is going to alter the fate of his new franchise, for better or worse. Who’s going to reach the mountaintop and who’s going to dig themselves a hole so deep that they pop out on the other side of the globe coaching in the Central European Football League?

2017 First-Year NFL Head Coach Odds

Most Wins in 2017 Season

Kyle Shanahan during his time with the Browns
Kyle Shanahan. Photo: Thomson200 [CC0]
Vance Joseph (Denver): 9/5 (+180)
Anthony Lynn (LA Chargers): 5/2 (+250)
Doug Marrone (Jacksonville): 7/1 (+700)
Sean McDermott (Buffalo):  7/1 (+700)
Sean McVay (LA Rams): 16/1 (+1600)
Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco): 19/1 (+1900)

Denver really needed to improve its o-line (particularly the run blocking) heading into 2017, and they look to have done that with the additions of Ronald Leary (Cowboys) and Garret Bolles (first-round draft pick). Now they just need CJ Anderson to keep churning his legs and get some elusive longevity from aging free-agent acquisition Jamaal Charles. Oh, and some above-average quarterback play from either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch would be lovely.

The Chargers grabbed two NFL-ready players in the first two rounds of the draft: WR Mike Williams shores up a receiving corps that was already pretty deep but was hit hard by injuries, much like the entire roster the last two seasons. If they can finally stay healthy, and Philip Rivers isn’t overly generous with the football, the Chargers will challenge in the stacked AFC West. Both the Broncos and the Chargers would have even shorter odds here but for the fact that they play four games apiece against KC and Oakland.

Marrone has a couple things going for him in Jacksonville: first, his roster is loaded with talent (Allen Robinson; Leonard Fournette; Brandon Albert; Malik Jackson; Calais Campbell; AJ Bouye; Jalen Ramsey; Dante Fowler Jr.); second, he has the advantage of playing in the lugubrious AFC South, where nine wins have been enough for the last two division crowns. But Marrone also has the massive disadvantage of Blake Bortles as his quarterback, which proved an insurmountable hurdle for Gus Bradley.

Sean McDermott should get better QB play out of Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo, and second-round WR Zay Jones will be a nice addition to a lackluster passing game. But the Bills’ run-first style will struggle to keep up in shootouts, and the defense surrendered nearly 24 PPG last year and was 26th in the league in defensive efficiency, per FootballOutsiders. Playing in a division with the Jets helps; facing the Patriots and burgeoning Dolphins twice a year does not.

As for the Rams and 49ers, they’ll battle for third in the NFC West, and the victor will feel like the loser when the 2018 draft rolls around, because the only thing worse than winning two games in the NFL is winning three.

First Coach Fired

Doug Marrone (Jacksonville): 5/2 (+250)
Vance Joseph (Denver): 4/1 (+400)

Sean McDermott (Buffalo): 9/2 (+450)
Anthony Lynn (LA Chargers): 11/2 (+550)
Sean McVay (LA Rams): 8/1 (+800)
Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco): 11/1 (+1100)

With great expectations comes a shorter leash. Vance Joseph will be expected to win from day one. Marrone, too, unfair though that might be. The Jaguars have been awful for far too long and won’t give Marrone as long a leash as they gave Bradley, who went 14-48 over four horrible seasons.

At the other end is Kyle Shanahan. He’s the hottest name in coaching after building the Falcons’ offense into a (nearly) unstoppable steamroller. There are zero expectations that he’s going to win right away with this roster, and owner Jed York finally seems to understand that you can’t go changing head coaches every year if you want to build a winner. New GM John Lynch will be on the same page.

First Coach to Win the Super Bowl with Current Team

Vance Joseph (Denver): 4/1 (+400)
Anthony Lynn (LA Chargers): 7/1 (+700)

Sean McDermott (Buffalo): 7/1 (+700)
Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco): 8/1 (+800)

Sean McVay (LA Rams): 15/1 (+1500)
Doug Marrone (Jacksonville): 20/1 (+2000)

None: 2/1 (+200)

Most NFL head coaches never win the Super Bowl. Marty Shottenheimer never won one. Bruce Arians doesn’t have a ring as a head coach, and neither does Bruce Arians. These days, the average NFL head coaching job lasts about four seasons, according to Business Insider. The odds that any of these guys turns his current team into a Super Bowl champ before getting canned is low … because Tom Brady is never going to retire and doesn’t like to share.

AlexanderP

Alexander is the MTS editor-in-chief. Frank, Alex, and Geoff brought him in when they realized that their betting expertise far surpassed their grammatical abilities. He loves overanalyzing college basketball trends. Talking to him during the first weekend of March Madness is like talking to a wall. A very focused wall, but a wall nonetheless.