New Coach Roundup

The hiring cycle for new NFL Head Coaches is finally complete. It took a while, months for some of these squads, but the five vacancies have now been filled. Below I take a look at the new Head Coaches, their fit and the biggest challenge before them in 2023. Let’s dive in. Coaches will appear in the order they were hired.

Frank Reich, Carolina Panthers

Where Have I Seen Him Before: Reich served as Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2018 until last season, when he was let go mid-season. He was 40-33-1 as Head Coach. Prior to that, he was the Offensive Coordinator for the Chargers and Eagles.

Why It Works: Reich is a talented offensive mind and the Panthers could use a boost on offense. They have to figure out how to compete and have something of an opening in the uncertain NFC South.

Biggest Challenge: Reich needs to find his quarterback. Since appearing in Super Bowl 50 with Cam Newton, the Panthers have struggled to find the guy at quarterback. Former Head Coach Matt Rhule tried a different option—sometimes more than one—each season with no success. Reich is no stranger to quarterback woes, as that plagued him in Indianapolis. The inability to solidify that crucial position doomed him with the Colts, so he needs to get it figured out with the Panthers.

Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

Where Have I Seen Him Before: Payton was the long-time coach of the New Orleans Saints, serving as Head Coach there from 2006 through the 2021 season, compiling a record of 152-89 and winning a Super Bowl.

Why It Works: The Broncos need a spark and some direction. After a succession of first-time coaches that fizzled, the team was looking for a veteran coach that had success in the past. Payton fits the bill.

Biggest Challenge: Getting the most out of the roster. The Broncos haven’t made the playoffs since winning Super Bowl 50. That’s a long drought. During that time, they’ve frequently boasted a talented young roster but haven’t been able to put it together. Even after acquiring Russell Wilson last off-season to solve the quarterback riddle, the Broncos ended up with one of the worst records in the league. Payton’s job is to take the talent on the roster and maximize it on the field.

Demeco Ryans, Houston Texans

Where Have I Seen Him Before: Ryans has been a coach since 2017, all with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s been a defensive assistant and served as Defensive Coordinator the past two seasons.

Why It Works: Ryans was a hot name on the coaching circuit after the work he’s done with the 49ers’ defense, helping the team make it to two straight NFC Championship Games. He’s also a former player, who actually played for the Texans, giving him a strong connection to the franchise.

Biggest Challenge: The Texans have been mired in the muck the past few seasons. The team needs to find direction and build a winning culture, which is job one for Ryans, the fourth Texans Head Coach in as many seasons. The franchise needs stability and to show a spark. This is a re-building project, and one that likely won’t be solved in one off-season, but Ryans can give the team a win if they look better week-in-and-week-out.

Jonathan Gannon, Arizona Cardinals

Where Have I Seen Him Before: Gannon broke in as an NFL scout before working as a defensive coach. He did stints with the Titans, Vikings and Colts before spending the past two seasons as the Defensive Coordinator for the Eagles.

Why It Works: Gannon’s defense with the Eagles was one of the league’s best, a ferocious and opportunistic unit. The hope is he can bring that heart and passion to the Cardinals.

Biggest Challenge: The Cardinals are a team that needs an identity. Gannon was impressive in his opening press conference talking about his time as a scout and how it’s helped him recognize the kind of players needed to succeed. The Cardinals have myriad challenges, including the likelihood of selling off veterans this off-season for something of a rebuild. It’s also unclear when Kyler Murray will be back at 100 percent following his ACL injury. It’s possible 2023 will be something of a down year in wins, but if Gannon can put his stamp on the roster and on the team’s playing style, that will help build the foundation for future success.

Shane Steichen, Indianapolis Colts

Where Have I Seen Him Before: Steichen has been a long-time offensive coach in the NFL, working for years with the Chargers before spending the past two seasons as the Offensive Coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Why It Works: With young quarterback Jalen Hurts, Steichen helped build one of the most explosive offenses in the league. The hope is he can work similar wonders with a rebuilding Colts offense.

Biggest Challenge: Since Andrew Luck retired prior to the 2019 season, the Colts have had a revolving door at quarterback. Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger have all had turns starting games. Nothing has stuck for the Colts. Job one has to be finding a franchise quarterback and building the offense around him.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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