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The 2022 NFL season is officially in the books, at least for non-playoff teams. The 2023 head coaching cycle is also underway, with the Texans dismissing Lovie Smith on Sunday to kick off yet another search for a new leader. With all that said, how did this season's first-year head coaches fare? A whopping five of them are still on the sidelines, ready for postseason action. But with the regular season in the books, we've had enough time to assess most of their first years on the job.

Here's how we'd grade each of them, including both rookie coaches and veterans who got fresh starts in 2022:


Brian Daboll Getty

Brian Daboll (Giants)

Record: 9-7-1

Regardless of what happens in the opening round of the playoffs, New York was never supposed to be in the playoffs this year. It's a testament to Daboll's seamless takeover that the Giants' biggest concerns -- O-line and cornerback depth, consistent downfield passing -- are primarily personnel issues stemming from a tight salary cap. The ex-Bills coordinator has rejuvenated Saquon Barkley, turned Daniel Jones into a high-efficiency decision-maker, and rebuilt the culture with smarts and physicality.

Grade: A-

Kevin O'Connell (Vikings)

Record: 13-4

By nature of their improbable point differential, and the fact their few losses have been total clunkers, it's hard to assess whether O'Connell has actually turned the Vikings into a title contender. But even if Minnesota goes one-and-done in the postseason, what's undeniable is the positive voice O'Connell's brought to a locker room that had soured on the previous old-school regime. For the first time in a long time, this team has proven both resilient in tight spots and unafraid to embrace the aerial attack.

Grade: B+

Mike McDaniel (Dolphins)

His spoken vision and transparency are second to none, and he deserves a ton of credit for the way he unlocked quarterback Tua Tagovailoa -- both physically and mentally -- to start the year. But since Tua's timing was disrupted by superior defenses, and the QB was then lost to multiple concussions, McDaniel has struggled to generate much of any offensive rhythm; his club averaged just 19 points per game during a 1-5 stretch to close the season. Finding sustainable QB play will be key to his future.

Grade: C+

Matt Eberflus (Bears)

So much of his debut, fair or not, was going to be about Justin Fields and the QB's painfully obvious lack of help -- an issue stemming more from general manager Ryan Poles' focus on a potential 2023 spending spree. And yet it's very possible, if not probable, that Eberflus would've gone winless if not for the QB single-handedly emerging as a Lamar Jackson-esque ball-carrier, even as the coach repeatedly reinserted the signal-caller under center as he battled injuries.

Grade: D+


Doug Pederson Getty

Doug Pederson (Jaguars)

Record: 9-8

The Jaguars won 10 combined games from 2019-2021 under Doug Marrone, Urban Meyer and Darrell Bevell. They're one playoff win away from matching that total in Pederson's first year on the job. Like Daboll in his old NFC East stomping grounds, the ex-Eagles coach has brought genuine fight and belief to a roster in transition. Best of all, he's got QB Trevor Lawrence on the upswing after the former No. 1 pick endured a lost rookie season. The AFC South may well be his for the foreseeable future.

Grade: A-

Dennis Allen (Saints)

Record: 7-10

Allen compounded the front office's curious win-now offseason gambles with conservative tendencies, and his offense never once emerged as a steady threat. But how much of that has to do with Andy Dalton/Jameis Winston and an aging, injury-prone supporting cast headlining his lineup? His signature, the defense, was a bona fide force down the stretch, limiting opponents to an average of 13 points per game from Thanksgiving on. But that isn't necessarily the best recipe for success in 2023.

Grade: C-

Todd Bowles (Buccaneers)

Record: 8-9

On one hand, Bowles has battled an injury-plagued front and occasional, uncharacteristic listlessness from Tom Brady to return Tampa Bay to the postseason. On the other, he and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich have often seemed to handicap Brady and an elite receiving duo with predictable, play-it-safe reasoning. If not for the NFC South's collective woes, he might be staring at a one-and-done run as Bruce Arians' successor. Maybe his "D" can force an early-playoff upset as redemption.

Grade: D+

Josh McDaniels (Raiders)

Record: 6-11

Like Allen in New Orleans and Bowles in Tampa Bay, the ex-Patriots coordinator was always going to have some trouble lifting the offense off the ground without reinforcements in the trenches. But both mettle and strategy are rightful concerns thanks to Las Vegas' inability to put away sizable leads during a 2-7 start. And though Derek Carr was probably ripe for a breakup anyway, his failure to squeeze even career-average production from the QB before broadcasting Carr's exit isn't overly encouraging.

Grade: D+


Steve Wilks USATSI

Steve Wilks (Panthers)

Record: 6-6

Wilks was always a battle-tested defensive mind, but in addition to keeping Carolina's front feisty, he got far more energy and efficiency from the QB position than expected, even considering Sam Darnold's Week 18 dud. Whereas Matt Rhule needed 18 games to reach six wins, he needed just 12. At the very least, he's stated his case as a leader of men.

Grade: A-

Jerry Rosburg (Broncos)

"Incomplete" is the more accurate grade for Rosburg, the longtime Ravens special teams coordinator who got just two games as Nathaniel Hackett's replacement. But those two games were encouraging: Russell Wilson appeared the closest to his old self as he had all year, playing looser under center, and Denver not only upset the Chargers but nearly did the same to the Chiefs.

Grade: B+

Jeff Saturday (Colts)

He's been the laughingstock of interim hires ever since his arrival from the broadcast booth, but that's more on Colts owner Jim Irsay, who put the former Pro Bowl lineman in an impossible position, replacing Frank Reich with a battered O-line and revolving door at QB. Still, for as beloved as he may be in the locker room, it's hard to justify some of his biggest moments, such as turning to Nick Foles behind a faltering front or overseeing the biggest blown lead in NFL history against the Vikings.

Grade: D+