It’s that time of year where rankings in the NFL take a hold of the offseason.
In this edition, let’s rank the NFC North’s head coaches.
The Detroit Lions were the only team in the division to change head coaches heading into the upcoming season. Obviously, that creates a bit of an unknown. No matter the case, let’s get to the rankings.
4.) Dan Campbell – Detroit Lions
Overall record: 5–7
It’s rather unfair to judge a head coach with as little of a sample size as Campbell. Still, Campbell has never been known to be one of the greatest X’s and O’s minds in the NFL. He was brought into Detroit to be a leader and jumpstart a complete cultural transformation.
Luckily, for Campbell, his high-energy and charisma landed him plenty of bright, up-and-coming assistant coaches, as well as some with veteran experience. That’s part of being a head coach -- having a reliable, well-rounded staff. Not every great play-caller is a great head coach, and not every head coach is a football-IQ wizard. There is more than one way to be successful.
For Campbell, the Lions don’t necessarily care how he does it. Just win. At this time, the cold-hard evidence is just not available to crown Campbell anything more than fourth in the division. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t change quickly, if Campbell can boost the Lions' rebuild sooner than expected.
3.) Matt Nagy – Chicago Bears
Overall record: 28–20
Nagy is another coach who got off to an impressive head coaching start but has fizzled of late.
The quarterback position has been the Bears' biggest downfall. The Bears wasted a couple of seasons of an elite defense, and now will rely on rookie quarterback Justin Fields to get Nagy’s coaching arrow pointed back in the right direction.
It’s tough to truly evaluate the offensive-minded Nagy when he hasn’t even had average play from his signal-callers. Like Zimmer, Nagy very well could be on the hot seat if he can’t quickly turn the ship around.
2.) Mike Zimmer – Minnesota Vikings
Overall record: 64–47–1
Zimmer may not have all the postseason success that you would want in a coach, yet he has kept the Vikings stable and consistent on a yearly basis. In a league of parity, it’s not necessarily easy to float around .500 at a minimum, with a few double-digit win seasons mixed in.
Unfortunately, for Zimmer, after a nice stretch of success on the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings are on a downward trajectory in that department. It will be on the offense to do a little more of the heavy lifting.
It’s very possible Zimmer could even be a bit on the hot seat, if the Vikings underperform again -- relative to expectations in 2021.
1.) Matt LaFleur – Green Bay Packers
Overall record: 26–6
LaFleur has gotten off to an extremely hot start, two years into his stint with the Packers. It definitely helps to have a future Hall of Famer at quarterback who was the MVP of the 2020 NFL season. However, depending on how the whole Rodgers trade scenario works out, LaFleur could be given his first true test.
For the time being, it’s tough to argue with LaFleur’s record. But, it’s tough to not look good with the talent he has had on the roster – especially at quarterback – over the last two seasons.
Perhaps LaFleur's biggest decision to date has been opting to kick a 26-yard field goal, instead of going for it while down a touchdown with two minutes left in the NFC Championship Game. In the end, it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who advanced to the Super Bowl -- and not the Packers. Who knows how it would have played out if he had decided otherwise, though.
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