Three Thoughts – The NFL, plus Cavs and Indians

Are NFL teams falling in love with the unknown?

James Rapien
January 10, 2019 - 8:05 pm
Zac Taylor, Freddie Kitchens, Matt LaFleur and Kliff Kingsbury

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – NFL teams are falling in love with the unknown and it's going to cost them moving forward. No, this isn't an anti-Freddie Kitchens article. In fact, it's quite the opposite. 

The Browns got their coach. Someone who showed he can get the most out of a talented rookie quarterback like Baker Mayfield. Kitchens also helped the rest of the offense evolve. Everyone improved when he took over – from Jarvis Landry to Breshad Perriman, the Browns' offense was one of the best in the NFL. This is about the rest of the league. How in the world are some of these guys landing head coaching jobs? 

Kliff Kingbury never won more than eight games in a season at Texas Tech and finished with a 35-40 record. He may be a bright offensive mind, but why would the Arizona Cardinals think he’s the answer at head coach?

Is it the Sean McVay effect? Are these organizations hoping to find the next young, hot offensive mind that can win right away? It sounds like a great idea, but McVay didn’t do it alone. The Rams are a Super Bowl contender because their front office was aggressive. They surrounded the young coach with a great staff. They spent the 10th pick on Todd Gurley and drafted Jared Goff first overall. They traded for Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Aquib Talib, Marcus Peters and others within a 14-month span. They were active in free agency, signing talented veterans like Andrew Whitworth, Ndamukong Suh and John Sullivan. Are the Cardinals willing to give Kingsbury that much talent?

Arizona isn't the only team rolling the dice on an unproven coach. The Bengals are expected to hire Zac Taylor to be their next head coach. The 35 year old was an offensive coordinator for five games during the 2015 season in Miami. His offense averaged 17 points per game. He was an offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati in 2016. The Bearcats averaged 19 points per game. Outside of that, he’s been a quarterbacks coach at the NFL level. Maybe he’s the right man for the Bengals, but it seems like a stretch, even if he spent one season on McVay’s staff in Los Angeles.

Green Bay hired Matt LaFleur to be their head coach. He was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee last year. They finished 25th in total offense and 27th in points scored. How in the world could they have looked at the Titans’ offense and thought, “Yep, that’s our guy?”  

These NFL organizations are overthinking it. Imagine having interest in LaFleur or Taylor, but not even contacting Bruce Arians. Did Mike McCarthy suddenly forget how to coach? Fans will say the game has passed him by, but hiring him makes more sense than a college coach who was fired by his alma mater.

Half of these coaches won’t be with the team that hired them in 2022. That may have been the case anyway, but it feels like some of these organizations are doomed from the start.

In other news, the Cavs’ injury woes continue. Larry Nance Jr. will miss 2-4 weeks after spraining the MCL in his right knee. The team hopes to end an 11-game losing streak in Houston on Friday. This team is going to get worse before they get better. The trade deadline is on February 7. Would anyone be shocked if they dealt Tristan Thompson, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks or Kevin Love – assuming he’s healthy?

General manager Koby Altman might not be as busy as he was last year at the deadline, but the Cavs are going to make moves. That is and will be one of the most interesting things about this team over the next three weeks. Who gets traded and what do the Cavs get in return?

Tribe Fest is Saturday, which means Indians of the past and present will be on hand. Current players include Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber. It seems like both will start the season with the Indians after an offseason of trade rumors. Cleveland was open to dealing one of them, but a trade never felt imminent.

Here’s a list of the other players and Alumni scheduled to appear:

Greg Allen, Cody Anderson, Carlos Baerga, Len Barker, Jake Bauers, Shane Bieber, Bobby Bradley, Carlos Carrasco, Adam Cimber, Mike Clevinger, Jon Edwards, Nick Goody, Eric Haase, Brad Hand, Francisco Lindor, Kenny Lofton, Jordan Luplow, Leonys Martin, Tyler Naquin, Tyler Olson, Dan Otero, Kevin Plawecki, Roberto Perez, Adam Plutko, Jose Ramirez, Jefry Rodriguez, Danny Salazar, Carlos Santana, Bradley Zimmer.

Saturday should be a great time. Check out the Indians’ website for more details. I’ll be down there and hope to meet as many fans as possible! If you can’t make it, I’ll be covering it all day long at 92.3TheFan.com.