Ranking new NFL head coach hires based on Sean McVay connections8 hours ago

Is your NFL head coach a young, good-looking, offensive-minded guru who has had coffee with Sean McVay at least once?

No? Then you made a bad hire.

In this new age of the National Football League, a team needs a high-powered offense to have success, as McVay has proved in his brief stint as the leader of the Rams. We've already seen other teams try to follow that same path during the 2019 coaching free agency frenzy.

But some connections are much stronger than others. So let's take a look at the recent head coaching hires and determine whether they are good decisions based on how well the coaches know McVay.

MOCK DRAFT 2019:
Cardinals, 49ers go for defense; Broncos, Giants, Dolphins go QB

1. Bengals: Zac Taylor

Although this hire is not official yet, it certainly seems like Taylor will be headed to the Bengals once the Rams' season is over (NFL teams can't hire coaches from teams currently in the playoffs).

Taylor gets the top spot because he's the youngest (35), has had perhaps the most limited experience (only served as an interim offensive coordinator in the NFL) and comes directly from the McVay tree as he was the quarterbacks coach for the Rams this season after being the receivers coach for LA in 2017.

I mean, who better to hire than someone McVay himself hired? This is how you set your franchise up for success. I'm honestly shocked all of the Rams' assistant offensive coaches haven't been hired yet. The Bengals get two thumbs up for this hire.

McVay connection grade: A

2. Packers: Matt LaFleur

LaFleur is 39 and was the offensive coordinator under McVay in 2017 with the Rams. He also worked with McVay on the Redskins' staff for a few seasons. After LaFleur was hired, McVay praised the hire by Green Bay during his press conference with reporters.

"He is one of my closest friends, so to see that for him, you couldn't be more excited," McVay said. "He's a great football coach. Got a great understanding from offensive football. He's just such a great guy. He cares about people."

The duo shined in their lone season with the Rams, turning the offense around from last in scoring (14 points per game) to first (29.8). The rise in points led to double the amount of wins, taking LA from 4-12 in 2016 to 11-5 in 2017.

McVay connection grade: A-

3. Cardinals: Kliff Kingsbury

While Kingsbury and McVay have not worked together professionally, they are close friends. Don't believe us? Just read the Cardinals' initial press release:

(Arizona later deleted that part.)

Sure, Kingsbury went 35-40 as head coach at Texas Tech while putting up a 3-22 record against ranked teams and a 4-31 record against Big 12 teams with a winning record, but he knows McVay. And that's all that matters. Plus, he looks good, so that has to mean something, right?

Kingsbury worked with several talented quarterbacks in the college ranks, including Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel, Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb. At Texas Tech, Kingsbury had high-powered offenses that put up over 30 points per game in all six of his seasons, topping 40-plus points per game in two of those seasons.

He's under 40, as well.

McVay connection grade: B

4. Jets: Adam Gase

Gase re-joins the 40-and-under coaching club and he was sort of McVay before the Rams made McVay a thing. He was a 36-year-old offensive mind with limited experience. The only difference is Gase went 23–26 in three seasons with Miami and McVay went 24–8 in two seasons with Los Angeles.

And while there are plenty of differences, Gase appears to want to do things similarly to McVay. Just check out this quote after Miami's Week 16 game.

There aren't any direct connections to McVay, but there are enough similarities between the two for Gase to end up at three.

McVay connection grade: C+

5. Browns: Freddie Kitchens

Kitchens is not friends with McVay like Kingsbury or LaFleur, but he is the closest comparison of the remaining coaches. Kitchens has a somewhat similar background in the sense that he doesn't have much experience calling plays.

Last season was his first as an NFL offensive coordinator, and it only happened after Todd Haley was fired by the Browns in October. But the turnaround on offense was real, and it's somewhat similar to the turnaround we saw from Jared Goff once McVay arrived.

Let's take another look at the numbers:

McVay connection grade: C+

6. Dolphins: Brian Flores

Although not official, there are three reports saying Miami plans on hiring Flores once the Patriots' season ends.

Based on the Sean McVay Connection Scale™ this is a bad hire for Miami. The current wave in the NFL is to go for OFFENSE. Flores' last three positions with the Patriots have been defensive assistant, safeties coach and linebackers coach. He does have a brief history in offensive coaching as his title in 2010 was assistant coach offense/special teams, but he's mostly a defensive guy.

He sort of has a similar background to McVay in that he's young (37) and he has limited experience. He never held the title defensive coordinator, but he did call defensive plays for the Patriots in 2018. So in a way he can be viewed as the McVay of defense.

McVay connection grade: C

7. Buccaneers: Bruce Arians

As you can see, Arians and McVay once touched hands, which has to bode well for Tampa Bay. Who knows what kind of wisdom McVay parted to Arians during this brief postgame handshake. Surely whatever was said, Arians can use it to his advantage in 2019 with the Bucs.

Arians is 66, and he didn't become an NFL head coach until he was 60. It's basically the opposite of McVay's career, which is why Arians ranks so low. But he is an offensive-minded coach and a quarterback whisperer, so it could be worse.

McVay connection grade: C-

8. Broncos: Vic Fangio

While other teams are going for young coaches and/or high-powered offenses, Denver went with a 60-year-old, defensive-mind coach. It's like the Broncos want to fail.

Although, it is worth noting McVay is a fan of Fangio. Prior to the Rams' December game against the Bears, the young guru praised Fangio's defense.

"He’s great; he's an excellent play-caller," McVay said. "Coach Fangio does an excellent job of mixing it up. He’s one of the coordinators I have as much respect for as anybody in the league specific to calling defense. It’s going to be a great challenge not only for our football team, but for our offense going against him."

But outside of that praise, there's not much connecting these two.

McVay connection grade: D

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