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Going into the 2019 NFL season we will see eight new head coaches attempt to turn things around and lead their teams to victory. Bruce Arians (Buccaneers), Vic Fangio (Broncos), Freddie Kitchens (Browns), Zac Taylor (Bengals), Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals), Brian Flores (Dolphins), Adam Gase (Jets), and Matt LaFleur (Packers) all have the chance to become the third straight first-year head coach to win the NFL Coach of the Year award. Coaching changes can dramatically change the outlook of a team as evidenced by 2018 coach of the year Matt Nagy and the way he was able to lead the Bears to an NFC North title in his first year.
When looking at the betting board, we see newly hired coach Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns is the betting favorite. The way he was able to turn around the Browns’ 2018 season after the firing of Hue Jackson and the team’s newly added talent in the off-season set him up very well to succeed. However, the additional coaching changes around the league should really benefit some teams and there is a case to be made for a few other NFL coaches as candidates for coach of the year this season. There are also some second-year coaches that make strong candidates after successful first years with their teams. With more familiarity and key pieces returning or added to the team, they could very well take a big step forward en-route to winning 2019 NFL Coach Of The Year.
Let’s check out the odds courtesy of DraftKings:
|NFL Coach of the Year Odds|
|Bill Belichick||+1400||Sean McVay||+1400|
|Sean Payton||+1400||Doug Pederson||+1400|
|Adam Gase||+2800||Pat Shurmur||+5000|
Freddie Kitchens (CLE): +900
I am incredibly optimistic for this Browns team going into the 2019 season with Kitchens at the helm. They added arguably a top-3 receiver in Odell Beckham Jr., and Pro Bowl defensive ends in Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon. Nick Chubb is the real deal, and the Browns added Kareem Hunt to add another dynamic element to their offense when he returns from his eight-week suspension. Add these pieces around a second-year stud quarterback in Baker Mayfield and you should find success. While Freddie Kitchens certainly has the talent around him to get the job done, he must do a good job of managing some of the big personalities in this locker room. If he can foster a team culture of camaraderie, this Browns team could really take off this year.
Along with Freddie Kitchens, newly hired offensive coordinator Todd Monken is an awesome fit for this football team. Since Kitchens took over coaching duties last year, Mayfield averaged 8.6 yards per pass attempt and was number seven in pass attempts over 20 yards. This pass-heavy and aggressive coaching style is something that Monken showed with Tampa Bay last year as well. Expect Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to thrive this year under the new coaching staff. Cleveland should be able to improve on their 7-8-1 record and push for a playoff berth this year, making Kitchens a good bet for 2019 NFL Coach Of The Year.
Frank Reich (IND): +1000
In his first season with the Colts, Reich was able to lead the team to a 9-1 finish over their last ten games. They became one of the stingiest teams on defense, as they allowed the fewest points in the league over the second half of the season. The Colts were able to add a couple of big pieces during the offseason in Devin Funchess (WR) and Justin Houston (DE). They have arguably one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and a world-class quarterback in Andrew Luck.
If the Colts are able to push forward and win a competitive AFC South division, then I like Reich’s odds of winning coach of the year. His Colts already showed that they can battle through adversity after a dismal 1-5 start last year, and the team even beat the rival Texans in the first round of the playoffs. Much of this year’s success will hinge on a healthy Andrew Luck, but this Colts team is battle-ready and their competitive urgency is high.
Kyle Shanahan (SF): +2000
This is a great number to get as I have seen some sportsbooks list him as the betting favorite to win the award this year. Shanahan and the 49ers get star QB Jimmy Garoppolo back after missing a full season due to a torn ACL injury. Do not underestimate how big this is for this 49ers team, as Garoppolo put up some massive numbers in 2017 in limited games (he went 5-1 over the last six games). Shanahan is considered one of the brightest football minds in the game, and he will have some new offensive firepower to work with and improve upon their 4-12 record.
Newly acquired running back Tevin Coleman appears to be in a nice position to lead the backfield in carries to begin the season. George Kittle cemented himself as one of the games best tight ends last year and will now have a better QB under center. Dante Pettis really took off as a receiver in the second half of last year, and the team also added Deebo Samuel, who could make an immediate impact. The speedy Marquise Goodwin will be happy to have Garoppolo back as they showed great rapport in 2017. The 49ers improved their defense in the offseason, adding talented pass rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa to solidify their defensive line. While Shanahan will have his work cut out for him, I expect this 49ers team to be better than .500 this year and they will surprise many people.