The Divisional Round matchups didn't quite live up to the hype, but loyal listeners know the Weak-Side Podcast doesn't concern itself with hype. This week, Conor and Jenny discussed...
*Which of the four teams that lost this weekend—the Rams, Ravens, Browns and Saints—has the brightest future.
*Grades for each of the new head coach hires so far (hint: the once-retired college coach did not fare so well) as well as the NFL's continued dearth of Black head coaches.
*A Bills-Chiefs Preview: The Chiefs wait for news on Patrick Mahomes' health after he was placed into the concussion protocol following a hit in Sunday's game, and Conor's optimism for the Bills is unabated.
*A Bucs-Packers preview: Loyal listener Pete was way ahead of the Weak-Side Pod in his Tampa Bay enthusiasm—but Conor and Jenny still can't pick against the Packers this week.
*If Deshaun Watson is really on his way out of Houston, and which teams are possible trade destinations (aside from, you know, all of them).
Conor Orr [00:26:29]So, Brandon Staley, we talked about this a little bit. Now, it's hard because I think that under different circumstances if the league was properly represented, if Anthony Lynn was given a proper runway here to run the team the way he did, I would have said that I thought this was a good hire. Because I think that I've always advocated for teams to take more chances. And I do think that this is a big chance. But I think what's interesting about Staley and his background as a former quarterback, who became obsessed with Vic Fangio and in his defense, which he learned from scratch and worked his way up through the NFL that way. It was a rapid rise, he knocked Sean McVay out during his interview and they stopped the search for a defensive coordinator after that. All that stuff is well known. And so I think in a different circumstance, I would have given this an A plus. I would probably tone it back just based on the circumstances like we talked about. I think this is a B plus hire. I think he's one of the better hires of this cycle. I think that the problem is, like we said, it doesn't feel totally right under the circumstances. And maybe we'll see it. It's up to him now to take this defense in L.A. as he did with the Rams and totally maximize it. And now the Rams were on a historic pace this year. I think outside of the last game or two, they were going to set the record for fewest second-half points allowed in the NFL, which if you're a defensive coordinator and you're judging somebody on something, it's probably your ability to make adjustments at halftime and then to come out and do that. But I don't know altogether. It's like we said, not the best of circumstances, but I do think it is an interesting hire in a different world. [112.4s]
Jenny Vrentas [00:28:23]So I'm going to give it a B minus. I think what I was trying to say earlier in terms of the quick rise, as you know five years ago he was defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the John Carroll Blue Streaks, which also happens to be where Tom Telesco went to college, the GM of the Chargers. But again, not saying that a quick rise is not necessarily a good thing. And you're right, Conor, we do advocate coaches going out of the box, but I'm going to give it a B minus. And I think one of the reasons is kind of the uncertainty at the offensive coordinator position. I saw NFL Network said he might go after Rams OC Kevin O'Connell, but if not, the fallback plan would be Shane Steichen. So there's not a clear plan for the offensive side of the ball. And I think usually that's worked out in the hiring process, so that is one concern. And generally, when you're hiring a younger coach as your head coach, the staff is really important. And so it seems like all of that hasn't been worked out one hundred percent before the hiring was announced. [63.2s]
Conor Orr [00:29:26]Isn't that where everybody else gets beaten up? You know what I mean? [3.1s]
Jenny Vrentas [00:29:30]Exactly, their staff wasn't good enough or something along those lines. So I just find it a little bit strange that the OC hire is still up in the air. And so that's one reason that I'm just not sure how this will work out for the Chargers. [11.3s]
Conor Orr [00:29:42]Yeah, Robert Saleh is the last one, and I feel like this was the best hire of the cycle. I know that Jenny and I were both together [covering the team] during the Rex Ryan era. You can see the power of a coach that comes into this market, with a personality and has the ability to galvanize the locker room, I think the Jets desperately needed that. They went with more low-key personalities with the next two hires after Rex Ryan for a good reason. Maybe they just wanted to recover for a little while. But I think that Saleh is all of the good things that you got from Rex, the gregarious personality, the motivating, the fact that he's very close to all of his players without the side effects. I don't think you have to worry about him going off the rails. I don't think you have to worry about him saying something completely insane, all that kind of stuff. And you get one of the two offensive coordinators from San Francisco. And in that way, I think that's a slam dunk. You get to run a great offense. You get that good defensive head coach. But really, the CEO guy you're looking for. I really like this hire for the Jets. I thought that was a good job. [74.4s]
Jenny Vrentas [00:30:57]Yeah, I would also give the hire an A, certainly how the quarterback situation works out with any job is a major factor in their success. So there is some uncertainty there. Will it be Sam Darnold moving forward? Will they go in a different direction in the draft? But I think Saleh is well respected by his players. He had success last year on the 49s’ run to the Super Bowl. But he also ran a successful defense this year despite losing key players, which is another selling point for a coach. And exactly as you referenced Connor, the staff is so important. Mike LaFleur is an excellent hire for OC, and that's a fantastic tandem going into New York together. So that's another reason why I think the hire is a good one. [46.6s]
Find recent episodes on SI.com