Democracy Dies in Darkness

Early Lead

New NFL coaches had a historically bad Week 1

September 11, 2018 at 10:46 AM

Jon Gruden’s face speaks for all seven NFL head coaches who made their debuts in Week 1. (Ben Margot/Associated Press)

Monday was a bad night for first-year NFL head coaches, with Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions falling all over themselves in a 48-17 debacle against the New York Jets and Jon Gruden not faring much better in his return to the Oakland Raiders’ sideline, suffering a 33-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Really, it was a bad weekend all around for the newcomers: Seven coaches made their debuts with their new teams, and not a single one of them won.

It’s been a while since that happened.

It’s also the first time since 2013 that new coaches failed to accrue a winning record in Week 1. Here’s how first-year NFL head coaches have done in their Week 1 debuts over the previous five seasons, plus the number of new coaches who made the postseason in their first year.

2017: 4-2 (3 made playoffs)
2016: 4-3 (2 made playoffs)
2015: 5-2 (1 made playoffs)
2014: 4-3 (1 made playoffs)
2013: 3-5 (3 made playoffs)

Here’s a game-by-game snapshot of each coach’s Week 1 loss:

Matt Patricia, Lions: Patricia became the first coach to lose his debut by at least 31 points since Tom Cable — a midseason replacement for Lane Kiffin in Oakland — lost by 31 to the Saints in his first game as Raiders coach in 2008. That Detroit lost to a Jets team featuring a rookie quarterback made it all that much worse: Sam Darnold became the first quarterback to win his first career NFL start by 31 points since Tom Brady in 2001.

Jon Gruden, Raiders: The Raiders had 10 penalties for 145 yards — more penalty yards than in any game last season — in the first half of their loss to the Rams.

Pat Shurmur, Giants: Ereck Flowers, playing his first game at right tackle after moving over from left tackle after New York acquired Nate Solder in free agency, committed penalties on two of the game’s first three plays in a 20-15 loss to the Jaguars.

Matt Nagy, Bears: Nagy’s last two games on an NFL sideline have featured a blown 21-0 second-half lead (as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator in last season’s playoff loss to the Titans) and a blown 20-0 second-half lead (in his first game as Chicago’s head coach, Sunday night’s 24-23 loss to the Packers).

Steve Wilks, Cardinals: Arizona quarterback Sam Bradford completed 20 passes in his team’s 24-6 loss to the Redskins. Only three of them gained more than eight yards.

Frank Reich, Colts: Indianapolis blew a second-half lead in nine games in 2017. The Colts led the Bengals 23-10 midway through the third quarter on Sunday but lost, 34-23.

Mike Vrabel, Titans: Not that Vrabel can control either the weather — Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Dolphins was delayed multiple times — or injuries, but Tennessee came out of the game limping on offense: quarterback Marcus Mariota, tight end Delanie Walker and left tackle Taylor couldn’t finish the game because of injuries, and Walker is out for the season.

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Matt Bonesteel spent the first 17 years of his Washington Post career writing and editing. In 2014, Bonesteel pivoted from the newspaper to online and now he blogs for the Early Lead and other Web-based products owned by The Post.

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