Are New NFL Coaches Really Bad? Week 1 Marks Worst Record for Debuts Since 2001

Being an NFL coach is no easy task. Dealing with capricious superstars and shouldering the pressure of having to deliver instant improvement makes being in charge of one of the 32 franchises a turbulent ride.

If Week 1 is anything to go by, however, remaining on board the NFL coaching rollercoaster could be harder than usual this season.

Of the seven teams with new head coaches—New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans—none recorded a win. As if that wasn’t bad enough, five teams—Detroit, the Giants, the Colts, Arizona and Oakland—lost the opening game of the season at home.

Of the seven new coaches, Matt Nagy came closest to beginning the season on the front foot, as the Bears surrendered a 20-point lead at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers, as Aaron Rodgers produced one of the greatest performances of his career.

If Chicago will rue the missed chances, the Lions will be hoping to forget Week 1 as quickly as possible after being thrashed 48-17 by the New York Jets on Monday night. Matt Patricia’s first game as head coach could hardly have gone much worse, as the Lions were sliced apart by Sam Darnold in his first NFL game, while Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions.

To make matters worse for Patricia, Jets linebacker Darron Lee revealed the Jets’ defense knew what was coming their way.

“We were calling out their plays as he was getting up to the line,”  he told reporters. “We knew his signals. We knew everything. That’s just preparation as a defense […] It seemed like we were in his head as a defense.”

According to NFL Research, the combined 0-7 record is the worst for a group of new coaches since the 2001 season, when the debutants went 0-6 in the opening weekend.

Strictly speaking, Jon Gruden is not a newbie as he returned from a 10-year hiatus to take charge of the Raiders for a second time. Even discounting him, the 0-6 record makes for poor reading.

Back in 2001, the Jets and the Lions were two of the teams with a new head coach, along with the Bills, Cleveland, Kansas and Washington.

Even more interestingly, Washington’s new head coach was Marty Schottenheimer, who played the role of the TV analyst-turned-coach that has been filled by Gruden this season.

Unfortunately for the seven coaches, things could get even worse in Week 2 as none of them are scheduled to cross paths with each other until Week 3, when the Cardinals host the Bears.


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