How Many Wins Is a NFL Coach Worth? Rating Impact of Biggest Coaching Staff Changes
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How Many Wins Is a NFL Coach Worth? Rating Impact of Biggest Coaching Staff Changes

Oct 10, 2023

An NFL franchise can be galvanized by the right coaching hire.

For example, a 5.5-game positive swing for the New York Giants led to first-year head coach Brian Daboll capturing last season's NFL Coach of the Year trophy. The team overcame its shortcomings and worked its way into a postseason berth.

The difference between Daboll's staff and the Giants' previous leadership became immediately known.

"When we started in OTAs all the years before, we didn't start off on the same page," defensive back Xavier McKinney said during an interview on The Pivot. "I think everyone was kind of coaching in different directions, and I think a big reason to that was because of the coaching staff that we had.

McKinney added, "That was the good part when Dabes and the crew that's there now came in because we talk to them, they actually listen."

Every year, new coaching hires—whether they're a new head coach establishing a different standard and philosophies or the right coordinator addition to maximize the talent already in place—change the landscape of professional football.

Six particular hires this offseason set the stage for what could be a significant swings for their respective clubs.

2022 Record: 4-12-1Projected 2023 Record: 7-10Difference: +2.5

The Indianapolis Colts served as the best example of what not to do last season, when the team fired Frank Reich midseason, hired Jeff Saturday as interim head coach and played the shell game with the quarterback position.

The team looked in complete disarray entering the offseason, until the organization hired Shane Steichen as its head coach then paired him with rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Indianapolis knew it needed an offensive-minded head coach. Chris Ballard's propensity toward drafting uber-athletes, with a massive decision looming at quarterback, eventually lad to Richardson's drafting.

Steichen's previous stops allowed him to work with Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert. The coach knows how to build a strong run game and integrate a quarterback's strengths into the scheme.

But the new head coach's standing isn't just about the marriage between quarterback and play-caller. Steichen preaches accountability, and it's quickly taken root.

"It just gets you excited hearing the confidence in his voice," Pro Bowl guard Quenton Nelson said, per The Athletic's Zak Keefer. "Him saying, 'This is what we're going to do, this is how we're going to do it.' You say, 'Yeah, OK, I can see that.'"

The Colts are young in certain areas, but the roster features capable veterans, who can keep this team competitive.

2022 Record: 10-7Projected 2023 Record: 13-4Difference: +3

Todd Monken's hire as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator is all about unlocking the Super Saiyan-version of quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Previous play-caller Greg Roman helped devise a historic run game, but the unit never rose above a rudimentary aerial attack.

Jackson summed up the biggest difference between the two rather succinctly when he told reporters at minicamp that there will be "less running and more throwing."

The previous statement's simplicity doesn't quite encompass the potential dramatic on-field effects.

According to the quarterback, Monken is "basically just giving us the keys to the offense, really."

Jackson continued, "You can change things when you want to. You see the defense, and it's not looking right to you. You see some guy blitzing, you might want your receiver to do something different. Coach is giving you the free will to do whatever you want to."

A well-rounded Ravens offense can be dynamic. The additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and first-round rookie Zay Flowers at wide receiver should go a long way to upgrading what was one of the league's worst position groups. Plus, a healthy Rashod Bateman returns after last year's season-ending foot injury.

Monken's vertical-based passing attack will help stretch the field and create even more opportunities for everyone in Baltimore's offense.

2022 Record: 7-10Projected 2023 Record: 11-6Difference: +4

Nathaniel Hackett's hire as offensive coordinator basically served as a cheat code for the New York Jets.Granted, Aaron Rodgers' inclusion will go a long way from taking the Jets out of the AFC East's basement to a potential playoff-bound squad. However, Rodgers' acquisition may not have happened without Hackett.

"A big reason I'm here, I gotta mention, is Nathaniel Hackett, who is here," Rodgers said during his introductory press conference. "Hack and I became really close friends for three years in Green Bay. I love him like a brother. And I believe in him. And I'm really happy to be back working with him."

It almost feels unfair to point out Hackett's short-lived tenure as the Denver Broncos' head coach that turned into an utter disaster. But last year's embarrassment took a fortuitous turn.

As a result, the Jets offense should look drastically different this fall.

"I have spent a lot of time after hours just going back through certain concepts that we like," Rodgers told reporters at the start of minicamp. "Renaming a few things, subtle adjustments we might have done that (Hackett) forgot about and then reintroducing some new concepts that he's brought back at other places he's been. … It's a conglomeration with all of the different things, with it based on a West Coast offense, so him and I have commonality with the language. It's been great."

2022 Record: 7-10Projected 2023 Record: 11-6Difference: +4

Despite a heavy emphasis on the quarterback position in Cleveland, the Browns' biggest issues over the last three seasons involved a soft defensive interior and consistent coverage breakdowns.

Even with Jacoby Brissett leading the way, Kevin Stefanski's offense operated efficiently. Yet the consistent issues found under previous defensive coordinator Joe Woods undermined any progress.

Jim Schwartz's hire brings a proven defensive scheme coupled with a more aggressive approach.

"I think as you guys hear Jim talk, he'll talk about being an attack-style front," general manager Andrew Berry told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. "So, guys that really do get up the field, penetrate, really use either quickness or power to create disruption behind the line of scrimmage. So that's the general picture that you'll get from our defense."

Said cornerback Denzel Ward, "I think with this new system that coach is bringing in, it's going to take out those 'if ands' and kind of those questionings. You know what you're doing and you just go do it."

An improved roster will certainly play a part as well. Dalvin Tomlinson's signing gives the Browns their best defensive tackle since Stefanski became head coach. Cleveland recently traded for Za'Darius Smith to upgrade over Jadeveon Clowney. The free-agent acquisition of safety Juan Thornhill should be an improvement after two disappointing seasons from John Johnson III.

2022 Record: 3-13-1Projected 2023 Record: 8-9Difference: +4.5

The Houston Texans organization has been a mess since the team named Bill O'Brien its official head coach/general manager during the 2020 offseason.

O'Brien didn't even make it to Week 5 of the following season. Since his dismissal, the Texans hired then fired David Culley and Lovie Smith after only one year each at the helm. The Texans posted a record 11-38-1 between the start of the '20 and end of the '22 campaigns.

New head coach Demeco Ryans brings hope. More importantly, he should create stability.

At the very least, the Texans no longer appear directionless, and they're aggressiveness during April's draft is an indicator that they're ready to compete after drafting quarterback C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick and trading up to the third selection for the class' top-rated prospect, edge Will Anderson Jr.

"They were sitting out the last few years and now they've re-entered the world," an NFL executive told The Athletic's Mike Sando.

Ryans adds instant credibility to the Texans locker room. He's a former standout player with 10 professional seasons and two Pro Bowl nods under his belt. He's also one of the game's best defensive minds after leading the San Francisco 49ers to last season's No. 1-ranked D. Veterans within the locker room are already buying into the coach's approach.

2022 Record: 5-12Projected 2023 Record: 10-7Difference: +5

At this time a year ago, general NFL conversation centered around the projected meat grinder that the AFC West was supposed to become. Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs captured their seventh straight division title by four games.

Whereas, the Denver Broncos turned into the league's biggest disappointment after trading for veteran quarterback Russell Wilson. The Broncos managed just five wins. First-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett didn't make it through the entirety of the season. Sadly, the offense led by Wilson was painful to watch.

In a drastic move to get the most out of Wilson and an overall talented group, the organization traded for former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Payton brings a Hall of Fame pedigree, with Super Bowl-winning experience. After stepping away from the game for a year, his presence can be felt throughout the Broncos organization because of a concentration on the little things.

"He's intense, he's focused, he's such a great teacher of the game," Wilson told reporters at minicamp. "All of us are learning every day, more information, learning how to play the game the right way. How to practice at the highest level. That's what we're focused on right now."

In 15 seasons with the Saints, Payton's teams won at least nine games in 10 of them. Considering the current state of the Broncos' roster, a significant improvement over last year should be expected this fall.