Heading into an NFL season, there are usually a handful of coaches who are faced with the responsibility of elevating their team to a point in which they have never reached before. Depending on how many years they have been there, the talent on their roster, etc. these expectations can vary from team to team.
It could be anything from a winning record, a playoff appearance, winning their division, a playoff victory, Conference Championship appearance, a Super Bowl appearance, and even winning the Lombardi.
3 NFL Coaches Feeling the Pressure
What is interesting about this year is that there are coaches who have gotten it done in the past, but are faced with pressure based on the circumstances surrounding them. Below are my top three coaches who are faced with the most pressure heading into the 2021 NFL season:
It is almost impossible to believe that a coach who has reached back to back NFC Championships in his first two years on the job is faced with pressure heading into his third year at the helm. Nonetheless, that is the case with Matt LeFleur in Green Bay.
After a reported rift with management, reigning MVP quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, publicly made it clear that he wants to play elsewhere this season after sixteen years. Once this report was out there, the entire organization has been faced with questions as to how to repair the relationship and if not, what is plan B?
Many point to last year’s draft where they took quarterback prospect Jordan Love, as Rodgers future predecessor as the breaking point. It is plausible to believe that he took it as a sign of disrespect. After all, it was Green Bay’s first offensive player drafted in the first round since 2011.
To make matters worse, some people point to LeFleur’s decision to kick the field goal in the fourth quarter of last year’s NFC Championship game as opposed to going for it.
Nobody is questioning LeFleur’s ability, leadership, knowledge of the game, etc. What they are questioning however is his ability to develop a young quarterback in Jordan Love which he has never done before, and galvanize his troops around them. After all, it will be Love at quarterback for Green Bay in all likelihood considering Rodgers just turned down a contract extension to stay with the team.
After trading up to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, many have questioned not only general manager Ryan Pace, but Matt Nagy as well. In that draft, they ended up taking him over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.
Despite making the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace have made one last push to save their jobs when they traded up to select Justin Fields in this year’s draft.
Many consider him as the second-best quarterback prospect coming out of college behind Trevor Lawrence. The Bears have not had a pro-bowl caliber quarterback since Jim McMahon in the 1980’s. If Nagy fails to develop Fields, his job as well as general manager Ryan Pace, will surely be vacant next offseason.
Kyle Shanahan has been known throughout his coaching career as a great play-caller and brilliant football mind. His time thus far in San Francisco has only cemented that. As he enters his fifth season calling the shots, there are some that believe Shanahan must deliver a super bowl, especially after making the bold decision to trade multiple picks to draft Trey Lance third overall.
Unless the 49ers completely collapse, I do not see Shanahan being in danger of losing his job. After all, he took the team to the Super Bowl just two seasons ago.
The biggest thing to watch this season is to see how Coach Shanahan will approach the quarterback situation. Who will start Week 1? When/if will he give the reins to Lance? How will he develop him, etc.
These sorts of questions are extremely relevant heading into this season.
One big knock on Shanahan is his tendency of getting too conservative offensively in the biggest moments. As the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, he decided to call a cautious gameplan despite holding a 28-3 lead and the rest is history.
In the Super Bowl vs. the Chiefs, he decided to run the ball at the end of halftime instead of throwing it. As far as the end of the game went, he drew up a perfect play call which got Emmanuel Sanders open on a deep ball. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo however overthrew him which many point to as the turning point to look elsewhere at the position.
Trey Lance was the guy San Francisco went after. If Shanahan can find a balance between developing Lance yet consistently winning football games, I see the 49ers having great success. It will be interesting to watch how it all plays out.