The Next Offensive Wunderkind: Is Joe Brady Ready To Be A Head Coach?
By Tayyib Abu
The NFL’s coaching carousel is now in full swing. Black Monday wasn’t as ruthless as in previous years. However, it still conjured up exciting job opportunities. The Jags, Jets and Chargers all dispensed with their head coach. Those three firings create six openings in total – The Lions, Falcons and Texans all began their searches several weeks ago.
As always, there are a lot of names linked to these jobs. Some are obvious such as Robert Saleh and Eric Bienemy. Conversely, there are some obscure names like New Orleans’ Dan Campbell and Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell. There is one though, that should be on everyone’s list; Carolina’s Joe Brady.
The NFL Is Trending Towards Offense
Since Sean McVay’s arrival as a head coach, all teams are eager to find the next young, dynamic leader, and ideally offensive-minded. Since McVay took the Rams job, Kyle Shanahan, Matt Nagy, Kliff Kingsbury, Kevin Stefanski, Zac Taylor and Matt LaFleur have all become head coaches. This year it looks like Eric Bienemy and Arthur Smith will join that group. However, there should be a consideration for Carolina Panther’s offensive co-ordinator Joe Brady.
Proven At The College Level
Joe Brady was the offensive coordinator last year at LSU. That offense spawned Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ja’Marr Chase. Two of those players set the NFL alight this year, while Chase will be in the 2021 draft.
We also have not spoken about Joe Burrow. The Bengals quarterback enjoyed the finest college season in living memory. Brady’s spread offense used many of the same concepts that the top offenses use in the NFL. With Brady, Burrow became a Heisman Trophy winner as the LSU Tigers marched their way to the College Championship.
Brady’s job did not go unnoticed when Baylor’s Matt Rhule got the keys to the castle in Carolina; he duly appointed Joe Brady as offensive coordinator for the Panthers.
The Step Up Into The NFL
Outside of Christian McCaffrey, this Panthers offense is short of blue-chip, quality players. McCaffrey spent most of the season out injured, making Brady’s job even harder. With his best player out, Brady needed to adapt, and he did very well. Robby Anderson started the season in excellent form, while he got ample help from DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel and Mike Davis. That quartet would all break the 1000 yard barrier. That is testament to Brady’s smart, creative play design. Carolina’s receivers excelled with Brady.
Sadly, one cannot say the same about Teddy Bridgewater. The former Vikings man saw his form sink in the second half of the season. After going 5-0 for New Orleans in 2019, Carolina hoped the veteran would provide stability under centre. Unfortunately, Bridgewater provided wild inconsistency in 2020. There were good moments; for example at Kansas City. But there were also some dreadful performances such as the game against Chicago where he threw for multiple interceptions. In the end, Bridgewater finished with more interceptions and fumbles than touchdowns. Carolina ultimately benched him for PJ Walker.
I feel Brady and Bridgewater were a poor match, especially with no McCaffrey. Teddy Bridgewater is a small-ball quarterback – ‘dink and dunk’ if you like. That isn’t what these new style coordinators like to call. The LSU offense was a big play, pass-heavy offense. Brady displayed his inexperience or naivety in not adapting his playcalling to the players available. Sean Payton did that for Bridgewater in 2019. Sean McVay is doing it this year with a hurt Jared Goff. Joe Brady needs to develop that skill before he takes on a big head-coaching job.
Where Could He Go?
Now that there are seven head coaching jobs, Brady will get linked to several positions. He ticks many of the modern day boxes for owners and GMs in what they want for a head coach. Atlanta, Philadelphia, Jacksonville or New York would be good fits for Brady. Those teams would love Brady to come in and potentially work with a young quarterback. After seeing the success of McVay, Shanahan and Lafleur, organisations will be desperate to hire the man that seems to be the next big thing.
As of the time this article was written, Brady has already completed interview with the Falcons, Texans, Chargers and Jets for their vacant head coaching positions.
Is He Ready?
In a word, no. Brady’s one year at the NFL level is not sufficient to become a head coach. It’s not enough to learn the nuances of managing a game, as well as leading a grown group of men. Prior to Carolina, Brady spent one year as an assistant in New Orleans, but most of his experience lies in the college game. In comparison, Sean McVay spent over five years in various positions at Washington before taking the Rams job.
There is no doubt Brady will be a head coach in the NFL, but now might just be too soon for him. That probably won’t stop teams from considering him in their coaching searches though; they know full well that if they pass on the NFL’s next wunderkind, someone else will hire him and make them pay.
Tayyib is an avid NFL fan and, as a follower of the detroit lions, is a permanent resident in the honolulu blue heartbreak hotel. writing football articles since 2019, tayyib loves everything about the sport except that wins are not a qb stat. follow him on twitter @TayyibABU1