NFL New Coach-Quarter duos list of 2023: Jets, Panthers lead 11 teams that underwent changes

The 2023 NFL offseason saw many big names switch places in the most important spots: head coach and quarterback. Indeed, 11 different teams, more than a third of the league, will open the new season with a new duo.

So which new duo is more promising? We are ranking all 11 as summer approaches. Some clarifications:

  • A team only needs one new starting quarterback OR head coach to qualify (i.e. Kyler Murray was Arizona’s signalman for three years, but teamed with Jonathan Gannon for the first time). Last year there was only one team that had both. There are three this year, with the Colts, Panthers and Texans all zeroed out.
  • Who qualifies as the “new” QB? Any starter predicted that he didn’t start more games for his team the previous year.
  • We are ranking duos, not their respective teams. That said, QB-HC duos can be a good indicator of a team’s standing. Chances are, if your favorite team’s pairing tops the list, they’re in a better position to overcome other weaknesses on the roster.

Now let’s get to it:

*New to the team

How the mighty have fallen. Two years ago, this was a Tom Brady-Bruce Arians duo fresh off a Super Bowl run. Bowles can still coach a defense, but his otherwise conservative leanings don’t necessarily sit well with the scattered Mayfield, a journeyman favorite to beat Kyle Trask as Brady’s successor.

Like Bowles, Rivera remains a top-end defensive mastermind, but his QB management left a lot to be desired. That extends to Howell, who is essentially entering unchallenged after a single bumpy start to Week 18 as a fifth-round rookie. He can throw a deep ball and scramble with the fight, but it’s wholly unproven.

9. Cardinals: Kyler Murray (QB), Jonathan Gannon (HC)*

Talent-wise, Murray belongs much higher up. Trouble is, talent has rarely translated into pace or reliable results with the former No. 1 pick. 1, and is now entering 2023 after a year-end ACL tear. That’s a concern for a player so addicted to out-of-the-pocket freestyle, and that he’s now playing with a defensive head coach for the first time.

Stroud is arguably the finest pocket passer Houston has had since Deshaun Watson’s peak, but he has yet to make an NFL snap, let alone behind such a shaky inside line. Ryans, meanwhile, is shaping up to be a strong signing thanks to his positive and energetic leadership, but his experience is also on the defensive side of the ball.

7. Colts: Anthony Richardson (QB)*, Shane Steichen (HC)*

Texan fans may rebel at the suggestion that Richardson, a far less polished passerby than Stroud, deserves higher billing. But elite mobility does so much to the QB (see: Justin Fields keeps the Bears far more competitive than expected in 2022), and Steichen, his boss, excelled at growing Jalen Hurts’ once-uncertain arm in Philadelphia .

Don’t mistake this group for the 2014 Patriots. In all seriousness, their familiarity from New England is a plus, and Garoppolo has proven he can lead a playoff run. But removed from 49ers-level protection, his already tarnished durability could be a big deal. McDaniels, meanwhile, has yet to thrive outside the Pats system.

Technically Carr is in a better position, losing the often poor O-line he endured with the Raiders. But his nine-year career has been more courageous than confident, and while Allen is still capable of leading an elite defense, he now has 15-38 years as boss, often adopting an overly conservative approach.

Perhaps the biggest wild card of the bunch, Wilson topped last year’s list thanks to his teaming with Nathaniel Hackett, only to sleepwalk through a dysfunctional Denver debut. Payton is a firm leader who should reset the culture and bring Wilson back to an action game approach; the question is how much Wilson has left in the tank, especially as a play-extender.

This is a big bet on a signal-caller with the same number of career starts as Sam Howell. But the Packers previously traded to make Love a first-round pick for a reason, and his arm looked especially lively in relief of Aaron Rodgers last season. His supporting cast is young, but we are convinced that his three years behind Rodgers will indeed affect his own rise. It helps LaFleur know how to build a ground game and is still an underrated 47-19 in four years of running the show.

2. Panthers: Bryce Young (QB)*, Frank Reich (HC)*

Both of these men are entering their prime years at Carolina, but Panthers fans should be absolutely elated. Yes, Young is a rookie and has unprecedented size. But he’s the full package as a passer and decision maker, with wisdom beyond his years of him. He is perfect for Reich, whose best quality besides offensive experience in big games is balanced leadership. Hopefully the trial with Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and a battered Cam Newton will soon be forgotten.

1. Jets: Aaron Rodgers (QB)*, Robert Saleh (HC)

It’s the stock answer because of Rodgers’ branding, but that doesn’t mean it has no merit. The Packers’ longtime quarterback wasn’t its MVP in 2022, but his move bears many similarities to Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay in 2020, which came after a slow Patriots finish and preceded a rejuvenated run in the title. A motivated Rodgers is a dangerous Rodgers, and he still has the vision to elevate a playoff-caliber roster, as well as allow Saleh to focus more on a rising defense.

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