We have seven new head coaches joining the NFL ranks in 2021. Some coaches are pure upgrades, while others look like total downgrades.
Either way, you’ll also find yourself tempted to place a solid futures bet on at least one of the teams listed below—whether it’s for the division, the over, or perhaps a deep playoff run. Because odds are, at least one team makes “the leap” while the others struggle to keep up.
Today’s post will give you an idea on which teams with new head coaches make for the best and worst futures bets in the NFL. This post isn’t telling you what to do or even making predictions. Instead, it’s providing information on all seven teams that will help you make an educated wager.
1 – Atlanta Falcons – Arthur Smith
It’s early April, and it appears that the Falcons will keep their puzzle pieces in place. Whether they draft a marquee quarterback of the future will decide on whether they’re a solid futures bet or not. If they build around quarterback Matt Ryan, however, their futures outlook became relevant.
One major help for the Atlanta Falcons is that they no longer need to deal with Drew Brees twice a year. However, they must continue to deal with Tom Brady, a quarterback that Father Time forgot about.
Look for who the Falcons pick up in the NFL Draft. If they draft for the future, their futures outlook in 2021 will tank, but it may look good for 2022. If they continue to draft puzzle pieces, you can hold cautious optimism.
Also, they will look better than both the Carolina Panthers and the Saints on paper unless the latter pulls off a blockbuster deal for quarterback Russell Wilson. If the Saints do, the Falcons’ stock further dropped—especially if they drafted for the future.
2 – Detroit Lions – Dan Campbell
Athlon Sports had the audacity to label Jared Goff a “bridge quarterback.” It’s farfetched. But if Dan Campbell wants to draft his own guy and use future draft picks to build around him, toss the Lions’ futures outlook out the window in 2021.
In fact, they’re nothing more than a viable bet for the under. Plus, they’re dealing with strong teams in the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. If in the future the Chicago Bears give up a king’s ransom for Russell Wilson, the Detroit Lions are a better bet to contend for the first overall pick in 2022.
They just lost six games to their NFC North rivals in 2021 without needing to take the field.
Also, Campbell has never even been an offensive coordinator in the league, let alone a head coach barring his brief stint as an interim coach for the Miami Dolphins. He faces a learning curve in Year 1, and the Lions have a lot of puzzle pieces to put together.
3 – Houston Texans – David Culley
You must feel for David Culley and the Houston Texans. Like Campbell, Culley has never been the league’s most relevant name and he could not have been the Texans’ first choice. If he was, I’d be shocked. And if Deshaun Watson refuses to play or is even suspended (see his 16-plus lawsuits), the Texans are done.
So much so that they may as well as take the season off because they’ll be a safer bet on becoming the NFL’s third 0-16 team, or if it passes, the league’s first ever 0-17 team.
And by looking at the number of trades and signings in Houston, there is no one even close to relevancy here. Nope, this is a total rebuild. And unfortunately for David Culley, he’ll get zero respect for the thankless job he’s about to do—coach an unwinnable football team, at least in 2021.
4 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Urban Meyer
The Jaguars are the Texans’ foil for 2021. While it’s true that Urban Meyer has never coached a down of professional football at any level—either as a position coach, head coach, or coordinator—his popular name brought players to Jacksonville.
Plus, the Jacksonville Jaguars were never as bad as their 1-15 record showed in 2020. They have at least two good receivers, a good running back, and perhaps the league’s youngest and most inexperienced defense. However, their defense may make the leap in Year 2 or Year 1 of the Urban Meyer Era.
Best yet, the Jaguars have landed the first overall pick for arguably the best prospect since John Elway nearly 40 seasons ago. Unlike Elway, it looks like Trevor Lawrence is gung-ho about playing for Urban Meyer. And why wouldn’t he?
The Jaguars’ expansion brethren Carolina Panthers went from 1-15 in 2001 to NFC Champion in 2003. They also took a major leap forward in 2002, the first season of the John Fox Era.
While we’ll never know for sure if the Jaguars will follow the Panthers, we know that they’re in perhaps the best position of any NFL team with such a poor record in recent memory to at least make things interesting.
Maybe they’re not a good futures bet for the division in 2021. But they will at least threaten the Over/Under and perhaps sneak into the playoffs.
5 – Brandon Staley – Los Angeles Chargers
Brandon Staley may be the missing puzzle piece to take the Los Angeles Chargers over the hump and go head to head with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
While the Chargers boasted a good team over the past two seasons, they finished just 11-21. Goodbye Philip Rivers and Anthony Lynn, and hello Justin Herbert and Brandon Staley, your next phenomenal head coach-quarterback combination.
While the Chargers’ competition with the Chiefs and a talented Las Vegas Raiders team may render you to think twice about betting on them, it’s also more than possible that they will join this dogfight in 2021.
If Herbert makes The Leap, which should rival the one Mahomes made in 2018, you may reward yourself for making such a gutsy futures bet. Especially since teams now know how to stop Mahomes, given the blueprint from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
6 – Robert Saleh – New York Jets
Saleh is the defensive-minded coach the New York Jets needed to compete with their AFC East rivals. However, they’re just too far behind the 8-Ball in 2021. While they may surprise us in 2021, at least in the over/under category, it comes down to who they’ll play at quarterback.
If they stick to Sam Darnold and continue to draft talent around him, either at tackle or the skill positions, expect this team to outperform expectations. However, if they replace Darnold with Justin Fields or Zac Wilson, expect their stock to plummet.
It depends on who lines up under center. If they give Darnold one more season to prove himself, he may reward them. And he’ll reward you if you took the risk and placed the bet.
However, you must also monitor their defensive progress. Saleh did an impeccable job during his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers. However, he has more than a fair share of his work cut out for him. Sure, he added a few puzzle pieces and has one returning from an opt-out.
But he and the Jets remain light years behind the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills. Sit and wait on the Jets and see what they can do in 2022.
7 – Nick Sirianni – Philadelphia Eagles
Sirianni does not differ from Chris Palmer and Dom Capers, former head coaches of the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans during the teams’ expansion seasons, respectively.
The Eagles are banking on the arm and legs of Jalen Hurts, who you can compare to Tim Tebow given his playing style and accuracy issues. They have also given star tight-end Zach Ertz permission to seek a trade, and they now hold the 12th pick in the NFL Draft.
If you’re looking to talk about the ultimate tank job not seen since the 2016-17 Cleveland Browns, this is it. The Eagles, barring divine intervention, may have the worst futures outlook of any team on this list.
Sure, anything can happen. But if you’re serious about placing any futures bet on the Philadelphia Eagles, your best bet, no pun intended, is to bet the under in the over/under category. Again, anything can happen.
But what do you think will probably happen?
Especially with the team competing with a growing New York Giants team plus the talent-laden Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys.
As you can see, some Year 1 coaches find themselves in much better positions than others in the futures department. Guys like Nick Sirianni, David Culley, and Robert Saleh have more than a fair amount of work cut out for them.
However, when you look at Urban Meyer, Brandon Staley, and Arthur Smith, things look far brighter, even if they too won’t lead a team worth betting it all on at least in 2021.
Anything can happen and again, use today’s post as a guide or a starting point if you’re thinking of betting on a head coach enjoying the first season of their respective tenure.
Which first-year head coach do you like the best? Tell us your opinion in the comments, and we are looking forward to reading your thoughts.
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