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NFL Draft

TDN Scouting: Overrated, Underrated NFL Head Coaches And More

  • The Draft Network
  • August 4, 2020
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It seems like the 2020 NFL Draft just happened, but we move fast here at The Draft Network.

Currently going through summer evaluations for the 2021 NFL Draft class, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts. New to TDN is a daily scouting roundtable where we go through and identify the most important points of conversation from that day’s meeting.

Recently, our staff began to go through their NFL assessments. After discussing quarterback situations last week, they flipped the script this Monday and have now begun conversations on current coaching situations. Here are some of the key talking points mentioned during the meeting today.

Is Vic Fangio Underrated?

He might best be known for his current role as the Denver Broncos’ head coach, but Vic Fangio has had quite the NFL coaching career. Leading No. 1 defensive units at his last two pit stops (San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears), Fangio has had a remarkable 25-plus year journey. Harris went in-depth to discuss Fangio’s merits and detailed why they’re so impressive.

“He’s not going to be on any top 10 list, but if you read about what (Fangio) has done as a coordinator, outside of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, this guy will probably go down as one of the greatest defensive minds in the history of the game,” Harris gushed. “People don’t know it because he hasn’t (yet) been successful as a head coach, but he’s turned around every single defensive program he’s been a part of for like the last 20 years. If you read the things he’s done, it will shock you.”

Mike McCarthy got stale

Despite being fired from Green Bay roughly two years ago, Mike McCarthy is now back in a head coaching role with the Dallas Cowboys. Our entire staff was in agreement that it was a very good decision, as he ranked within the top 15 on our coaching board.

“Nine postseason appearances and only three losing seasons in 13 years. That’s impressive,” Marino noted. “The problem is he just got stale. Thirteen years is a long time.”

How will Mike Vrabel function without Dean Pees?

Legendary defensive coordinator Dean Pees hung up the clipboard after the 2019 season, announcing his retirement after two terrific years in Tennessee. At 70 years old, it was clear that Pees would be leaving sooner rather than later, but head coach Mike Vrabel didn't officially replace him with anyone after his retirement. Likely to coach plays himself, Marino notes this may be a big adjustment for Vrabel as he tries to prove himself as one of the league’s best.

“I like Mike Vrabel. I think he’s close to (the top 15). I’ll be interested to see how that defense picks up the defense without Dean Pees, who they didn’t hire a replacement for,” Marino stated. “You’ve got to love a guy who won two road playoff games last season and that means something to me, but with some of his game-day management decisions, I’d rather have (Ron) Rivera, (Sean) McDermott, or (Anthony) Lynn, to be honest.”

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Evaluating Bill O’Brien (the coach)

It’s no secret that Bill O’Brien has struggled when making personnel moves with the Houston Texans. It’s also important to note that his success as a coach is no laughing matter. Coming from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, O’Brien led a resurgence at Penn State and now with the Texans, claiming four of the last five AFC South titles in the process. Marino elaborated on this success, discussing why O’Brien has impressed from a coaching and play-calling perspective.

“Bill O’Brien has coached the division champion four of the last five years in the AFC South, and he’s had some bad QBs (throughout that time),” Marino noted. “I know he’s been the butt of a lot of jokes with his personnel moves, but as a coach, the guy wins football games.”

Is Matt LaFleur Overrated?

We’ll start with the positives. Our staff was in full agreement that first-year head coach Matt LaFleur leading the Green Bay Packers to a 13-3 season was extremely impressive. Marino (and most of our staff) did have some reservations about anointing him as a top-tier head coach, though, and Marino explained as much during the discussion.

“I don’t think I'd pick Matt LaFleur to be my head coach,” Marino bluntly stated. “I mean, I’m not sure how many head coaches wouldn’t have finished with the Packers’ (13-3) results last season. I understand that walking into Aaron Rodgers has its own set of challenges, but I don’t know how different they would have been with (anyone else) at head coach. The only year he was a coordinator in Tennessee he was 25th in total yards and 27th in points. That’s not impressive.”

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