The 2023 NFL offseason saw plenty of big names swap places at the most important spots: head coach and quarterback. In fact, 11 different teams -- more than a third of the league -- are set to open the new season with a new pairing there.
So which new duo is most promising? We're ranking all 11 as the summer draws near. A few clarifiers:
- A team needs just one new starting QB or head coach to qualify (i.e. Kyler Murray has been Arizona's signal-caller for three years, but he's teamed up with Jonathan Gannon for the first time). Last year, there was only one team to have both. This year, there are three, with the Colts, Panthers and Texans all resetting.
- Who qualifies as a "new" QB? Any projected starter who didn't start multiple games for his team the year prior.
- We're ranking duos, not their respective teams. That said, QB-HC duos can be a good indicator of a team's standing. Chances are, if your favorite team's pairing is high on the list, they're better positioned to overcome other weaknesses on the roster.
Now let's get to it:
*New on team
11. Buccaneers: Baker Mayfield (QB)*, Todd Bowles (HC)
How the mighty have fallen. Two years ago, this was a Tom Brady-Bruce Arians pairing fresh off a Super Bowl run. Bowles can still coach a defense, but his otherwise conservative tendencies don't necessarily mesh with the scattershot Mayfield, a journeyman favorite to beat out Kyle Trask as Brady's successor.
10. Commanders: Sam Howell (QB)*, Ron Rivera (HC)
Like Bowles, Rivera remains a higher-end defensive mind, but his QB management has left a lot to be desired. That extends to Howell, who's essentially entering unchallenged after a single, erratic Week 18 start as a fifth-round rookie. He can throw a deep ball and scramble with fight, but he's wholly unproven.
9. Cardinals: Kyler Murray (QB), Jonathan Gannon (HC)*
Talent-wise, Murray belongs much higher. The issue is, talent has rarely translated to reliable rhythm or results with the former No. 1 pick, and now he's entering 2023 coming off a late-year ACL tear. That's a concern for a player so dependent on freestyling outside the pocket, and now playing under a first-time defensive head coach.
8. Texans: C.J. Stroud (QB)*, DeMeco Ryans (HC)*
Stroud is easily the most polished pocket passer Houston's had since peak Deshaun Watson, but he's yet to take an NFL snap, let alone behind such a shaky interior line. Ryans, meanwhile, profiles as a great hire due to his positive, energetic leadership, but his expertise is also on the defensive side of the ball.
7. Colts: Anthony Richardson (QB)*, Shane Steichen (HC)*
Texans fans may rebel at the suggestion that Richardson, a much less refined passer than Stroud, deserves higher billing. But elite mobility goes such a long way at QB (see: Justin Fields keeping the Bears far more competitive than expected in 2022), and Steichen, his boss, excelled at growing Jalen Hurts' once-iffy arm in Philadelphia.
6. Raiders: Jimmy Garoppolo (QB)*, Josh McDaniels (HC)
Don't confuse this bunch for the 2014 Patriots. In all seriousness, their familiarity from New England is a plus, and Garoppolo has proven he can shepherd a playoff run. But removed from 49ers-level protection, his already-spotty durability could be a major issue. McDaniels, meanwhile, has yet to thrive outside the Pats system.
5. Saints: Derek Carr (QB)*, Dennis Allen (HC)
Technically Carr is in a better spot, shedding the frequently shoddy O-line he endured with the Raiders. But his nine-year career has been more gutsy than trusty, and though Allen is still capable of guiding an elite defense, he's now 15-38 as a head man, frequently adopting an overly conservative approach.
4. Broncos: Russell Wilson (QB), Sean Payton (HC)*
Maybe the biggest wild card of the bunch, Wilson topped last year's list thanks to his team-up with Nathaniel Hackett, only to sleepwalk through a dysfunctional Denver debut. Payton is a firm leader who should restore the culture and push Wilson back into a run-first, play-action approach; the question is how much Wilson has left in the tank, especially as a play-extender.
3. Packers: Jordan Love (QB)*, Matt LaFleur (HC)
This is a big bet on a signal-caller with the same number of career starts as Sam Howell. But the Packers previously traded up to make Love a first-round pick for a reason, and his arm looked especially lively in relief of Aaron Rodgers last season. His supporting cast is young, but we're of the belief that his three years behind Rodgers will indeed influence his own emergence. It helps that LaFleur knows how to build a ground game and is still an underrated 47-19 in four years running the show.
2. Panthers: Bryce Young (QB)*, Frank Reich (HC)*
Both of these men are entering their first years in Carolina, but Panthers fans should be absolutely elated. Yes, Young is a rookie, and he has unprecedentedly small size. But he's the total package as a passer and decision-maker, with wisdom beyond his years. It's a perfect fit for Reich, whose best quality besides big-game offensive experience is even-keeled leadership. If all goes well, the trial runs with Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and a battered Cam Newton will soon be forgotten.
1. Jets: Aaron Rodgers (QB)*, Robert Saleh (HC)
It's the stock answer because of Rodgers' name brand, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hold merit. The longtime Packers QB wasn't his MVP self in 2022, but his relocation has a lot of similarities to Tom Brady's 2020 Tampa Bay relocation, which came after a sluggish Patriots finale and preceded a rejuvenated title run. A motivated Rodgers is a dangerous Rodgers, and he's still got the vision to elevate a playoff-caliber roster, as well as enable Saleh to put more of his focus on an ascending defense.