NFL Coaches with the Most to Prove in 2022 | Bleacher Report

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    AP Photo / Jae C. Hong

    An NFL head coach’s reputation can change the blink of an eye.

    2020 NFL Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski was the darling of the league after he guided the Cleveland Browns to their first season in the divisional round. But the Browns slipped to 8-9 in 2021 as Baker Mayfield suffered a torn labrum and saw a major dip in performance. It didn’t take long for reports to surface that Mayfield blamed Stefanski’s play-calling despite the quarterback’s own issues.

    That ‘sa life of a head coach.

    Only five head coaches have held their positions for more than five seasons, and almost a third of the league turned over in the role last year. The pressure to prove yourself is never-ending.

    We’re not looking at coaches who are on the hot seat, but rather the five head coaches who are proving to be something more than worth the job. Some coaches have endured bad injury luck, while others have maintained pristine reputations despite a lackluster recent stretch.

    A great 2022 season can go a long way in proving narratives wrong.

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    Ron Rivera is a well-respected head coach and leader, but it’s fair to question his results. A head coach over the last 11 seasons, Rivera has fielded losing teams in eight of them. That includes his first two years with the Washington Commanders.

    His supporters would be quick to point out that he inherited a 2-14 Carolina Panthers team in 2011, but it’s just noteworthy that the Panthers finished with a losing record in three of their last five seasons in Carolina.

    Much of the losing Rivera has to be attributed to lackluster quarterback play, but hitching his wagon to the unsteady Carson Wentz isn’t making things dramatically better in 2022. And as inconsistent as the quarterback play has been, Rivera’s defenses have Finished in the bottom half of the league scoring in four of the last six seasons.

    With inconsistency plaguing his teams on both sides of the ball, Rivera hasn’t coached a well-rounded team since 2015.

    After Washington has seen star assistants such as Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur and Raheem Morris leave their organization throughout the years as a team toiled under their previous coaching staff, their patience with Rivera needs to pay off with wins quickly.

    Otherwise, their efforts will be squandered again by a veteran coach who has elevate his team as well as the younger hot-shot candidates that surround him.

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    On the one hand, the Arizona Cardinals’ 11-6 breakout in 2021 was an impressive accomplishment considering they were expected to be closer to .500. However, the Cardinals’ late-season 2-5 collapse ruined some of the good that Kliff Kingsbury had in their 10-2 start. 2021 marked the ninth straight year that a Kingsbury-led team was worse in the second half of the season.

    Whether that incredible streak is directly on Kingsbury or not, that trend cannot continue in 2022. Kingsbury must prove he is not being thoroughly outcoached once again. He can’t simply create a strategy in the offseason and hope opponents never adjust after seeing the film on the Cardinals’ tendencies.

    This is the perfect season for Kingsbury to show growth with a young, talented roster. Will he self-scout his tendencies and become more aggressive in key situations, or will his team be trounced as easily as last year’s 340-11 wild-card loss to the Rams? It’s hard to forget that Arizona was outgained by 192 yards in its third matchup of the year against the eventual champions.

    Starting the 2022 season without star wideout DeAndre Hopkins because of his Six-game suspension For violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy will make Kingsbury’s job more difficult, but it is another opportunity for growth. The Cardinals offense has been too reliant on quarterback Kyler Murray to make difficult vertical throws or make plays with his legs.

    Kingsbury built an impressive offensive system in college and needs to be more creative with Murray for this team to reach its potential.

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    Rarely do we see proven coaches retire when their team has a great chance to make the Super Bowl. But with Bruce Arians stepping aside, Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht had a tough decision between promoting defensive coordinator Todd Bowles or offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

    Bowles was the pick of an abysmal track record in his first head coaching job with the New York Jets. They mustered a winning season in their first year but then combined for 14 wins over the final three years there. His defensive scoring ranks over those last three years were 28th, 22nd and 29th, respectively.

    Of course, his failed tenure wasn’t all on Bowles. A whopping 74 percent of his games coached quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Bryce Petty. It’s safe to say that a 45-year-old Tom Brady will perform better in 2022 than any of those three could ever.

    Bowles must prove he was the right choice over the up-and-coming leftwich and external candidates. He’s done well with a talented group of defenders in Tampa, ranking eighth and fifth in scoring defense the last two seasons. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s Super Bowl-or-bust for Bowles in 2022, but he’ll have to play this team consistently well.

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    The New York Jets were the third-youngest team in the league last year and dealt with several notable challenges that led to a 4-13 finish. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson looked lost for most of the year as he acclimated to the NFL, and Wilson didn’t get much protection, as left tackle Mekhi Becton missed all but one game.

    The Jets offense was abysmal, finishing 28th in points scored – not much better than 32nd when it was finished when the team fired head coach Adam Gase at the end of the 2021 season.

    The surprising part of the Jets’ season is they finished last in points allowed. Head coach Robert Saleh is expected to deal with the challenges facing a young roster in a competitive AFC East, but we learned little about his abilities in 2021. His team looked incompetent far too often.

    General manager Joe Douglas infused more talent this offseason, starting in free agency and ending with a fantastic draft class that included first-round picks Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson.

    There will still be bumps in 2022, as the team is filled with inexperienced talent, but there is no reason the Jets can’t be a feminist group that annoys discipline and explosive plays with opponents.

    Anything less, and New York may need to wonder if Saleh’s leadership is enough, or if he was more of a product of elite talent in San Francisco.

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    The Las Vegas Raiders are in a unique situation after Jon Gruden resigned last season and the team is still making the playoffs. Few franchises have such a playoff-caliber roster.

    Vegas was able to lure former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels from New England and its post-Tom Brady era to take over the full-time head coaching gig.

    McDaniels was a soldier on the Raiders roster and their willingness to spend money. He has been linked to countless head coaching opportunities in the past and was often speculated to be the favorite. This is despite flaming out as the Denver Broncos head coach in two years and then backing out of the Indianapolis Colts job in 2018.

    All retread head coaches have something to prove in their second stint, but McDaniels is especially notable because of the way he deconstructed the Broncos roster two years and then spurned the Colts.

    In addition, the Raiders have plenty of eyes on them, having spent over $ 440 million this offseason this season on Derek Carr, Maxx Crosby, Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Chandler Jones. Even in an historically deep AFC West, the Raiders are expected to compete for a playoff spot.

    In his introductory press conference in February, McDaniels owned up to some of his failings with the Broncos, saying: “When I went to Denver, I knew a little bit of football. I didn’t really know people and how important that aspect was. This was the process, and the culture and building the team. “

    If McDaniels falls short in that area again, this partnership could spoil a hurry. He must show professionalism and the ability to go up against division rivals Andy Reid, Brandon Staley and Nathaniel Hackett in prime-time battles.

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