By: Edwin Duodu
Black Monday is long gone in the NFL, with six teams in need of a new head coach. The Jaguars, Jets, Texans, Lions, Falcons, and Chargers are all starting over and need to start from scratch for next season. Each of these teams has its own set of issues to deal with, but which one is worse off than the others? Which organization has the least work to do heading into this offseason? Which teams have the most resources surrounding them to be relevant in their divisions again?
We’ll start with the Jacksonville Jaguars since they are the sole owners of the first overall pick for the upcoming draft. This position alone makes the head coaching offer that much attractive. Imagine coaching a generational talent whos 6’6 and mobile. That may be every coach’s dream. In addition to having the first overall pick, the Jaguars have abundant draft capital this year. They have Ram’s first and fourth-round pick from the Jalen Ramsey trade. Trading Yannick Ngakoue brought back a second-round pick in return. That equates to four choices in the first two rounds and a total of 10 picks for the whole draft. Add these young players to compliment the talents of DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and James Robinson, and the future looks bright. Jacksonville does have the most cap space going into the next offseason, which means that they could make their lives much easier come draft day. The Jaguars still have a massive job to complete on their hands to fill in many of the team’s holes. However, rest assured that they have the tools to do so.
After winning two of their last three games, the New York Jets own the second overall pick. Unlike the Jaguars, their search for a head coach will be much harder to navigate this offseason. Adam Gase is officially gone. However, other than the Jaguars, the Jets probably have the most complicated issue at quarterback. Do they keep Sam Darnold, or do they draft a new quarterback and start over. These are questions that Joe Douglass and the new coach will have to answer in the next couple of months. On the bright side, New York does have nine picks for this year’s draft, owning four in the first 66. They also have the second-most cap space in free agency this season to solve most of their issues before draft day. Regardless of the unknown situation at quarterback, New York has the tools to make this offseason successful.
Finishing 4-12 this season, the Atlanta Falcons will be in uncharted territory. This year will be their first pick in the top since 2015. Whoever comes in to replace Dan Quinn will have some excellent pieces on offense in Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Todd Gurley. But the new coach will be tasked with elevating the play of a defense that finished 29th last year. Matt Ryan is aging, and the Falcons can entertain the idea of drafting a quarterback in the first round for the first time since 2008. Whatever work that needs to be done this offseason will need to come in the form of the draft because Atlanta is in the bottom half of the league for cap space, sitting at 30th. They do own the fourth overall pick and ten picks in total for the whole draft to make up some ground here. The defense needs to be the focus of this draft for this team to reach new heights next season. However, for this team to take off, their new general manager will need to scout properly and evaluate talent.
The Lions own the seventh pick overall this draft. This year will mark the third straight time the team is selecting in the top 10. After making the bold decision to fire Jim Caldwell and replace him with Matt Patricia, who eventually got fired this season, Detroit needs a complete rebuild. The defense was atrocious last season, finishing dead last in the league. After a 5-11 season, a new coach is needed, but he needs to figure out how to improve this defense. Matthew Stafford, like Matt Ryan, is aging but still may have something left in the tank. For the best chance to succeed, he would need a team that’s better in many phases. But the Lions only have five picks and come into the offseason with around 12 million in cap space. Whatever moves the organization makes, they need to plan it out wisely.
The Chargers and the Texans may be the only teams in this group set at quarterback. Justin Herbert looks like a stud and already is one of the best young talents in the league. Now he needs a coach to help continue his nurturing process. The Chargers finished with a top 10 defense this season. They also have great pieces on offense with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Justin Herbert. Los Angeles also lands in the top 10 for cap space this offseason, coming in at eighth. They also own the 13th overall pick and have nine total picks in this year’s draft. For a team that finished 7-9 this season, with many of their losses coming in the form of one-score games, the Chargers could be a surprise playoff contender by next season. They have the best team out of the whole group and will only continue to build upon that. Oh, and let’s not forget the return of All-Pro safety Derwin James.
Alright, Texans fans, brace yourselves because this may be tough to hear. The team hadn’t been appropriately managed under Bill O’Brien in recent years. He’s finally gone now. But the team is in turmoil and may have the worst situation out of all the teams mentioned before. The Texans have Deshaun Watson, fair enough. Houston has no first-round pick and will have to find talent in the later rounds. The bright side is that the team has eight picks, which should hopefully improve the team for next season. However, the Texans have the 26th most cap space for this season, which means that they’ll need to cut some players to free up much-needed funds. The coach and general manager are the most critical factors in this offseason. If Houston can find a head coach that can improve the team on both sides of the ball while finding a general manager who can make the most out of their eight picks, the offseason may not be as terrible as it looks. Until that happens, the Texans need serious help.