The season may be nearing its end but we’ve got no plans to slow down here. We’ve got loads of content planned as the NFL kicks the offseason into gear, including:
- The biggest question for every NFL team going into 2021: Part I
- The Lions are trading Matthew Stafford. Who can put up the best offer?
- Grading the seven new HC hires
The Big Picture: 32 Questions For 32 Teams, Part I
For 94 percent of the NFL, the 2020 season is over and the focus has turned to the future and the promise it brings. In a league designed to promote parity, even the top teams have question marks that will need addressing in the coming months.
We’ll have a more in-depth look at the needs for every team in the coming weeks, but consider this an overview of the biggest uncertainties facing each team as it heads into 2021. Due to length, it’s been split into two parts, with the other half coming next week.
Bears: Can they find a quarterback?
The Bears’ issues at the position date back ages, almost throughout the entire history of the franchise. As an illustration, Mitchell Trubisky, who’s on the outs with the team, is a top-five quarterback in the team’s 101-year history in a number of major statistical categories.
The team has seen great defenses, great running backs, even a great wide receiver, though that’s another item on their to-do list. But Chicago’s never really been able to do better than Jay Cutler or Jim McMahon at quarterback. To save their jobs, that’s probably what GM Ryan Pace and HC Matt Nagy have to find this offseason.
Lions: Is there more than meets the eye with Dan Campbell?
Detroit’s new boss certainly made an impact with his — let’s go with grisly — introductory presser. His soliloquy about gnawing off body parts sparked eye rolls and skepticism, as plenty of coaches have talked a big game and then been unable to back it up with actual results. It would be easy to dismiss Campbell as just a meathead, and some are already doing that. But the parts of his introductory presser that didn’t get clipped out and put on social media showed some real potential, like focusing on maximizing talents like RB D’Andre Swift and seeing the big picture of building a team. Campbell has amassed a strong staff on both sides of the ball to help him do that.
Strip down the gory details of his speech and it was really about building a tough, gritty culture that fits the city of Detroit. That all sounds great in theory. We’ll see if he can execute it.
Packers: Can they get this team over the hump with their cap situation?
The Packers were a popular pick to take a step back in 2020. Instead, they finished 13-3 and made the NFC Championship game for the second year in a row. They’ve been near the top of the mountain the past two years, but just haven’t quite been able to get over the summit. This offseason will be geared toward picking up the final few pieces to propel Green Bay to another title.
Unfortunately, the Packers’ cap situation is an anchor that could pull them back. Green Bay is currently projected to be $30 million in the red. It’s not the worst cap situation in the league, though it’s within shouting distance. But unlike the other teams heavily in the red, the Packers don’t make a habit of pushing a lot of money into future seasons. This offseason they might not have a choice. They can cut a handful of veterans and extend WR Davante Adams to lower his $16.787 million cap hit. That should get the Packers into the black. From there, LT David Bakhtiari and QB Aaron Rodgers are two prime restructure candidates that could push the Packers above $20 million in cap space.
That’s not bad but it’s also not a lot of margin for Green Bay to bolster the roster in addition to weathering the attrition that happens every offseason. The Packers have proven they shouldn’t be underestimated. But they face a much more challenging offseason in 2021.
Vikings: What is this team’s ceiling?
NFL teams will talk in circles around the most basic things, but they can’t lie with their actions. The Vikings’ actions last offseason indicated they thought they could rebuild on the fly and still be competitive in the NFC. They shed a lot of salaries and tried to get younger, but they also doubled down on Kirk Cousins and swung a big trade for Yannick Ngakoue. A 1-5 start showed just how misguided that belief was even though they were able to claw back into the playoff picture late in the year.
Now going into 2021, the Vikings once again will be fancying themselves as contenders. Their offense is largely set, with the offensive line a weakness but one they’ve poured resources into addressing. The defense will be getting back key veterans who were out in 2020 and have more seasoning for young players who should have the benefit of experience and more time being tutored by HC Mike Zimmer. If the Vikings don’t make a deep playoff run, it will be fair for ownership to question just how high the ceiling of the current regime is given how the past few years have played out, and whether or not some kind of reset is justified.
Bengals: Can they protect Burrow?
A horrific hit ended what was an exceptional rookie season for the Bengals No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow after just 10 games. His charisma and playmaking had reinvigorated a franchise that had fallen on tough times and still has relatively little in terms of success to point back to compared to other organizations. It’s fair to say the Bengals will go as Burrow goes for the foreseeable future.
To that end, Cincinnati absolutely cannot allow Burrow’s supporting cast to let him down like it did last season. The injury was a freak occurrence, but Burrow took far too much punishment before that hit. Reinforcing the offensive line, adding to the receiving corps and making sure RB Joe Mixon comes back healthy and at full strength are imperative objectives for the Bengals this offseason to capitalize on the hope Burrow’s arrival has brought.
Browns: Are they for real?
Simply making the playoffs for the Browns in 2020 was a momentous accomplishment. Winning their first postseason game since 1994 was gravy on top, as it ended a drought that’s older than I am. I can no longer write the Browns have not won a playoff game in my lifetime.
Now, what’s next? Cleveland’s history is pockmarked with momentary success that’s then ripped away tragically. The Drive. The Fumble. The Other Fumble this year in the divisional round against the Chiefs. The Browns under HC Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry have made a terrific first step in bringing the franchise into happier days. But can they sustain it this offseason or will their past suck them back in? They appear to be committed to QB Baker Mayfield on offense, so his continued development is imperative. They also have to improve a defense that was more liability than asset last year.
Ravens: Can the passing attack evolve?
In 2019, the Ravens proved a lot of naysayers wrong by running over and around the NFL with a rushing attack ripped straight from the college ranks. But the league always adjusts and it’s up to innovators to stay a step ahead. Baltimore didn’t do that this past year and now it’s imperative for them to adapt or die in 2021.
The responsibility for that falls on a number of shoulders. Ravens GM Eric DeCosta will have to navigate a tricky financial situation to bolster the offensive line and receiving corps. John Harbaugh and the rest of the coaching staff have to develop players who are already there. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has to look and see if he can bring the same creativity and effectiveness that his running game has to his passing attack which drew criticism from a number of sources for being too basic and predictable. And QB Lamar Jackson has to take another step forward as a passer to complement his electric rushing ability.
Steelers: How much gas does this team have left?
Pittsburgh had a really good team in 2020. Not much of that will be left in 2021, however, as the Steelers could be looking to replace about half of their starters from this past season in addition to other key role players. The team has limited cap space to work with to bring in reinforcements as well. Barring some unexpected developmental leaps, it’s hard to see 2021’s version of the Steelers being better than the one that petered out toward the end of this season.
It appears that QB Ben Roethlisberger will be returning to give it another go in 2021. The numbers were good for most of last season for Roethlisberger, as he finished with 33 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions. But it’s also fair to question how much longer the soon-to-be-39-year-old can remain effective, particularly as his passes started to come closer and closer to the line of scrimmage last year. The Steelers are clearly gearing up for one last ride. But they might not have much left in the tank.
Buccaneers: Can they keep Brady’s supporting cast strong?
As long as Tom Brady is in Tampa, the Buccaneers have an open Super Bowl window. That was made clear this season no matter what happens in the big game. Given Brady’s long-stated goal of playing until he’s 45, that gives the team two more years to try and win as much as possible. With a 68-year-old head coach in Bruce Arians, it’s fair to expect the Buccaneers to be the NFL team that lives the most in-the-moment for as long as they’re together.
That means using every available financial and draft resource to put the best team possible around Brady. The 2021 salary cap drop puts a bit of a wrench in that, however, as it could mean some tough decisions for the Buccaneers on bringing back a cast of free agents that includes WR Chris Godwin, OLB Shaquil Barrett, WR Antonio Brown, TE Rob Gronkowski, RB Leonard Fournette and more.
Falcons: Are they rebuilding or reloading?
New Falcons GM Terry Fontenot and HC Arthur Smith inherit a roster that is stuck in no man’s land. Atlanta has wilted with slow starts each of the past three seasons, going 7-9, 7-9 and 4-12 in that time span. Team owner Arthur Blank acknowledged the talent level of the team was probably closer to 7-9 despite the 4-12 finish last year, but he still thought some kind of fresh start was needed. The roster is incredibly top-heavy and in need of a rebuild.
However, guys like QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones aren’t going anywhere because of their contracts and don’t fit the profile of a rebuilding team. This makes for an interesting quandary to navigate for Fontenot and Smith. Committing too much in either direction of rebuilding or competing would be unwise but teams that try to do both end up doing neither well.
Panthers: Can they find a franchise quarterback?
By the end of the season, it was pretty apparent the Panthers were souring on QB Teddy Bridgewater despite hand-picking him in free agency to lead the first chapter of the team’s fresh start under HC Matt Rhule. Bridgewater deserves all the credit for overcoming his knee injury to make it back to the field but he looked like the same limited quarterback he was before his injury. His 0-8 record in opportunities to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter loomed large and it’s clear the Panthers are looking to do better.
The good news for Carolina is that this is the offseason to make a big move at quarterback if you’re going to do so. Watson and Stafford headline the stars potentially available and there’s a handful of promising options in the draft. But quarterbacks rarely fall into your lap, so it’s up to the Panthers to be proactive and find a better option at quarterback.
Saints: What do they look like without Brees?
Drew Brees hasn’t made it official yet, but at this point, it would be a major upset if the Hall of Fame Saints quarterback returned in 2021. So that means New Orleans will turn the page at the position and the next men up at the position look to be Taysom Hill and apparently Jameis Winston.
Winston isn’t technically under contract but he signed with the Saints last year presumably to have a chance at this exact opportunity. The Saints have talked him up publicly and behind the scenes, along with HC Sean Payton’s long-lost Mormon son, Hill. How the Saints proceed and what the results look like on the field will be fascinating. Can Hill build on his relief performance this past season as a full-time starter? Has Winston fixed his issues turning the ball over? Do Hill and Winston compete for the job, or does Payton unveil some sort of week-by-week platoon to shock the NFL with how much of a mad scientist he is?
The Saints will look extremely different, it’ll be fascinating to see if they can still be effective. Oh, and there’s the matter of the $100+ million salary cap hole that the team needs to dig out of to field a roster around either Hill, Winston, or both. Can’t forget that.
Colts: Can they find a quarterback?
You’ll notice a consistent theme this offseason about quarterbacks and it’s rightfully the biggest question for a number of teams. Colts GM Chris Ballard has steadily built quite the team in Indianapolis. They’re stocked with young talent on both sides of the ball and not over-leveraged in terms of cap space or draft picks. But what they lack the most is a quarterback to put it all together and turn the team into a true contender, as Ballard has yet to recover from the gut-punch that was Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement.
The Colts have the most to gain and the most to lose of any team aside from the Texans in this year’s quarterback roulette. With one quarterback under contract and a pick that doesn’t come until No. 21 in the first round, Indianapolis will have to be aggressive to get its next starter. That could come via trade for an established starter like Stafford, or a huge move up in the draft for a prospective young franchise quarterback. Comments from Ballard and owner Jim Irsay to the press have suggested the former is a preferable course of action, but no matter what the Colts do, it won’t be cheap.
Ballard has been measured and calculating his entire tenure, but the time is now for him to be aggressive. How well he does will determine if the Colts can challenge the Chiefs for the AFC throne or if their current window will be wasted.
Jaguars: What does Urban Meyer coaching an NFL team look like?
Meyer has long had a fascination with the NFL, where the rules are weighed much more to promote parity than they are in college. In his seven years at Ohio State, Meyer lost nine games as he regularly recruited better players than all but two or three of the teams they played against. There’s a strong chance he tops that total next year with the Jaguars alone, and how he reacts to that will be interesting.
But for a Jaguars franchise desperate for relevance, adding Meyer and Trevor Lawrence in one offseason is a massive shot of notoriety. Who knows if it will work, but people will definitely be watching either way. And for Shad Khan and Tony Khan, that’s a win.
Texans: How ugly will this get?
A little over a year ago, the Texans were up 24-0 on the Chiefs in a playoff game. It’s hard to fathom just how far the organization has fallen since then. Each successive wave of news seems to push Deshaun Watson further out the door, but it also overshadows how much is truly going wrong with the franchise. The Texans have a host of holes and little cap space or draft capital to fix them. They traded their best players and the ones they hung on to want out now. Owner Cal McNair and EVP Jack Easterby only cling tighter to each other the more it’s revealed just how thoroughly out of their depth they are running an NFL franchise.
It’s already bad and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. Even a week ago, it felt like hanging on to Watson was a possibility. But as the chances of that start to look slimmer and slimmer, the biggest question facing the Texans is how far they have to go to hit rock bottom, and what they can salvage out of it when they do.
Titans: Will the brain drain catch up with them?
The NFL coordinator and coaching staff landscape is pretty fluid at this time of year as new coaches fill out their staffs and current ones tweak things. But the Titans stand out with vacancies at both offensive and defensive coordinator. Tennessee has suffered a heavy brain drain the past couple of seasons. They’ve lost Matt LaFleur and Arthur Smith to head coaching jobs and venerable DC Dean Pees retired going into this past season and chose an offer from the Falcons to join Smith instead of coming back this year.
Titans HC Mike Vrabel has shown himself to be one of the more competent leaders in the league with his work the past few seasons. But their pipeline has been hit hard and he needs to reload it before turning his attention to rebuilding the defense and maintaining their effectiveness on offense even without Smith.
This Week In Football
- Well, the milk has been spilled, the cat is out of the bag and the seal to the seventh level of hell for Texans fans has been broken. Deshaun Watson officially requested a trade on Thursday, though technically he requested a trade weeks earlier and it was reported Thursday. The pressure continues to build and I can’t help but notice how it’s been a steady drip of leaks, presumably from Watson’s camp, this month. It definitely supports the idea that Watson’s differences with the franchise are irreconcilable, as it shows a clear, calculated agenda to get him out of Houston.
- There’s much, much more quarterback drama to get to. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers drew attention when he made a point to include himself in a discussion about players with uncertain futures in Green Bay. Given how measured Rodgers is with his words, it drew attention and caused a huge stir for about 48 hours. Two important things came out of it: Rodgers wants a new contract as a way of knowing where he stands with the organization, which currently could move on at any time after drafting Jordan Love as the heir apparent in the first round last year. But no one with the Packers, including perhaps most importantly Rodgers, thinks that will lead to a divorce this year. So save your Rodgers trade scenarios for next year at least.
- Other comments that drew attention came out of Los Angeles regarding QB Jared Goff, as both HC Sean McVay and GM Les Snead refused to commit to him as the team’s starter going forward. Snead was almost literally begged to provide more clarity in his presser but declined. That came later, as it was reported the team plans to hold a competition between Goff and former AAF QB John Wolford, who the team was smitten by in his very limited appearances this past season. That brings up what appears to be the legitimate possibility of Goff becoming a $34 million a year backup.
- Things between the Lions and QB Matthew Stafford appear to be much more amicable even if both are going their separate ways. Stafford approached the Lions about a trade at the end of the season and the new regime of GM Brad Holmes and HC Dan Campbell appears to be on board with it. The veteran is looking for a fresh start and a chance to compete, while Detroit can use picks to juice their rebuild. Even with the knowledge the Lions have to trade him, Stafford is still garnering significant interest with up to a third of the league calling Detroit.
- Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is not ready to retire just yet it appears. Both he and the team have expressed an interest in another year together, the lone holdup for Pittsburgh is his $41.25 million cap figure in 2021, which is just untenable. Fortunately, Roethlisberger says he’s willing to do whatever he can to help the team free up financial flexibility.
- Roethlisberger will have to play without his trusted C Maurkice Pouncey in 2021, who is believed to be leaning toward retirement. Fellow Steelers TE Vance McDonald also announced his retirement, and he was joined by Seahawks TE Greg Olsen and Cowboys TE Jason Witten in calling it a career this week. Olsen will move to a broadcast role while Witten, having been down that path, looks to be getting into coaching.
- The Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl but not without a cost, losing LT Eric Fisher to a torn Achilles. Not only does that leave Kansas City potentially shorthanded against a ferocious Buccaneers pass rush, but it also creates a potential hole in 2021, as now both of Kansas City’s Week 1 starting tackles in 2020 are dealing with significant injuries.
- NFL teams continued to round out their coaching staffs and front offices, and there were a number of notable and significant hires made:
- Marty Hurney to Washington as an EVP/player personnel
- John Dorsey to the Lions as a senior executive
- ILB coach Rob Ryan to the Ravens
- Matt Patricia back to the Patriots as a defensive assistant
- OC Anthony Lynn to the Lions
- Assistant HC/RB coach Duce Staley leaves the Eagles, joins the Lions
- OC Darrell Bevell to the Jaguars
- OC Shane Steichen to the Eagles
- OC Matt Canada officially promoted in Pittsburgh
- OC Shane Waldron hired by the Seahawks
Around The Trade Block: Matthew Stafford
EDITORS NOTE: This was published before Matthew Stafford was traded to the Rams Saturday night
Lions QB Matthew Stafford was the first domino to fall in the quarterback market this offseason as he officially requested a trade from the Lions, who indicated they plan to oblige.
Stafford has never won a playoff game and comes with a hefty injury history, though he’s one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league and has gutted out a number of those injuries to still play at a high level. But he’s 33, has a reasonable contract and is seen as a potentially very good to elite talent by many NFL evaluators across the league.
Even with the announcement, the Lions should have a strong market with multiple teams bidding for Stafford. He’ll cost less than Watson will, he’s actually on the market right now and he presents a more compelling option for teams that need an immediate starter but don’t want to trade a lot of assets to take a chance on a rookie.
At this point, the possible destinations for Stafford are pretty well known. So I thought it would be more instructive to take a look at those teams and the potential best offers they could bring to the table to see what the Lions will be choosing between.
2021 1st (No. 21)
The Colts might need Stafford the most out of all of these teams considering they don’t have any other real fallback options at this point. Indianapolis makes a ton of sense as a landing spot for Stafford but a very real challenge will be how late the Colts’ pick is in the first round. Nearly all of the other teams who are interested pick higher, so the Colts will have to compensate to beat out the pack.
The baseline cost for Stafford is generally seen as a first-round pick-plus, meaning a first and another likely Day 2 pick. The Lions would likely try to get both Indianapolis’ first-rounders for 2021 and 2022 given both would be expected to fall late in the round. Depending on how desperate the Colts are to land Stafford, they might be willing to go up that high. But Colts GM Chris Ballard is also not the type to overpay.
2021 1st (No. 12)
2021 3rd (comp pick, likely in the 100 range)
San Francisco’s first-round pick falls right in that sweet spot where it’s far enough outside the top ten to not necessarily be guaranteed a shot at an elite player or quarterback but high enough to make it quite compelling to the Lions. Detroit could do a lot with the No. 7 and No. 12 picks, including adding both the top defender they would have taken had they kept Stafford and a successor at quarterback.
Because this first is so strong, the 49ers might only need to chip in the compensatory third they’ll get for the loss of Robert Saleh to seal the deal. That’s not a bad haul to upgrade at quarterback and shouldn’t dramatically limit their ability to address other holes on the roster. For that reason, giving up their second this year would be a tough sell for the 49ers, though they could perhaps be talked into making the third a future second if the bidding is intense for Stafford.
2021 1st (No. 15)
The No. 15 slot also isn’t bad for the Lions, though it’s starting to approach the territory in the draft where teams’ grades start to flatten out. Should the Patriots keep this pick, there’s a good chance they trade down with it in fact. But it’s a solid chip to move to the Lions, who can use it to trade down themselves potentially to recoup any assets they have to give up in a potential move up from No. 7. Or they can sit and take any player who surprisingly slips on draft night.
The Patriots are projected to receive a compensatory third-round pick but don’t otherwise pick in that round. With how many other needs New England has and its documented distaste for having large gaps between picks, that takes its second-rounder in 2021 off the table. They can compensate with a second in 2022 if they’re really sold on Stafford.
2021 1st (No. 19)
2021 3rd (No. 74, from SF)
While Washington faces a similar problem to the Colts with a pick in the back half of the first round, they do have the advantage of extra picks to work with a quantity over quality approach. In this scenario, Washington sends the third it picked up from the 49ers for trading LT Trent Williams last April and a future third to the Lions for Stafford. Detroit needs a lot of help all over the roster and more picks could be appealing.
Should Washington need to bolster its offer further, it also happens to have a surplus on the defensive line that could be directed the Lions’ way, including players like DTs Tim Settle or Matt Ioannidis.
2021 2nd (No. 39)
Carolina has made it clear they’re looking to upgrade at quarterback but they just might not be a fit for Stafford. Giving up the No. 8 pick is a steep price to pay when they already have Bridgewater effectively tied to the team, and while Campbell is familiar with him from their time together with the Saints, he’s not really a trade asset on his current contract. It makes more sense for the Panthers to use their first on a rookie this year to groom behind Bridgewater.
The best the Panthers can probably do in an offer for Stafford is their second-round pick this year plus their first-round pick next year. It gets the Lions a valuable second in this class but Detroit will likely have better offers that don’t ask them to defer the first a year.
2021 2nd (No. 40)
John Elway is no longer in charge, but he still will have input in how Denver proceeds. He found more success when he went with established veteran quarterbacks over unproven youngsters. This Broncos team is built to win now and might not have time for Lock to figure things out. Still, the former second-round pick is talented and his time frame might be a better fit for Detroit as they look at a longer rebuild. Meanwhile, Stafford steps into a situation with great weapons, a promising line and a chance to push for the playoffs.
Like the Panthers, giving up a top-ten pick is a little rich for the Broncos. But in addition to the second, Denver could make up the difference by adding Lock to the package. Detroit would have a year to evaluate him plus an extra first-round pick in 2022 to go get their quarterback of the future if they see a compelling option.
2021 1st (No. 28)
2021 2nd (No. 60)
Realistically the Saints are a longshot to trade for Stafford. Fitting his contract would be a challenge, though not one that’s impossible. More than anything, Saints HC Sean Payton appears to be genuinely confident in having a replacement for Drew Brees between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, both who will make far less than Stafford. New Orleans can’t ever be ruled out of making an aggressive move but those picks might serve them far better if they can hit on cheap, rookie contract starters.
Pros/Cons: Grading The Head Coaching Hires
One thing about the NFL coaching cycle is no one really has any idea how these hires are going to pan out. Take for example the 2015 cycle, six years ago at the midpoint of the last decade. There were also seven coaches hired.
- Dan Quinn, Falcons
- Rex Ryan, Bills
- Jack Del Rio, Raiders
- John Fox, Bears
- Todd Bowles, Jets
- Gary Kubiak, Broncos
- Jim Tomsula, 49ers
None of those coaches are still with those teams. Tomsula lasted one year, Kubiak and Ryan two, Fox and Del Rio three, Bowles four and Quinn was just fired this past season. Some had legitimate success. Kubiak won a Super Bowl in his first year and Quinn made it to the big game a year later. Others, like Tomsula and Ryan, were disasters. No one at the time had any idea who would be which.
So I’m not going to give a grade on any of the seven hires that were just made official this month. Instead, I’m going to give a reason or two why this coach could be successful and the same for why they might not. Then we’ll all watch to see how it plays out.
Jaguars: Urban Meyer
Pros: Impeccable collegiate record, CEO-style program builder, history of developing offensive talent
Cons: Rocky health history with curious timing at the least; can he relate to professionals after coaching amateurs?
Jets: Robert Saleh
Pros: Esteemed leader of men, strong track record of defensive success
Cons: Runs a defensive scheme that’s only really worked with overwhelming talent; can he fix/develop the quarterback?
Falcons: Arthur Smith
Pros: Offensive innovator, humble approach, hard worker
Cons: Not the most riveting personality, at least compared to a Saleh
Chargers: Brandon Staley
Pros: Defensive innovator, brings potential to be on cutting edge in an area of the game that’s fallen behind. Former quarterback, so also has offensive background.
Cons: Inexperience. Risks lack of continuity from having play-callers poached.
Lions: Dan Campbell
Pros: Former player, previous head-coaching experience, strong staff, scheme flexibility, fits CEO overseer model.
Cons: Rah-rah style could be exposed, lack of discipline, no set system to build identity.
Eagles: Nick Sirianni
Pros: Offensive background to fix the QB
Cons: Inexperience, has never even called plays full-time before
Texans: David Culley
Pros: Decades of NFL experience, well-regarded across the league. Plus motivator and calming presence
Cons: Limited or questionable coaching resume, few identifiable major accomplishments. 65 years old and had little to no interest up until now. Inherits a dumpster fire of a situation where even the best coach would find it challenging to have success.