5 NFL Teams That Need to Make Major Offseason Changes
With four weeks left in the 2021 NFL season, a handful of clubs should contemplate changes for 2022.
Toward the end of a disappointing campaign, we can see the writing on the wall for some teams.
Perhaps a general manager and head coach needed a playoff berth or winning season to strengthen their job security but fell short of expectations. Quarterbacks have limited time to prove they're the long-term solution at the most important position in the sport. Veteran signal-callers must lead their teams to wins or else lose a grip on starting roles as well.
When a team falters, its decision-makers often consider major changes at three key positions: general manager, head coach and quarterback.
With that in mind, we'll look at five teams that should bring in new leadership for at least two of those roles to change the trajectory of the roster and franchise.
The Chicago Bears have their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields, who's shown some improvement under center, throwing for 224-plus yards in two of his last three games. He exited early because of a rib injury in one of those contests.
However, the Bears should upgrade their coaching staff and front office to give Fields a better chance to develop in his second season.
Under head coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, Fields has thrown for six touchdowns and 10 interceptions with multiple passing scores in just one game. The Bears' lead skipper gave up his play-calling responsibilities, but the rookie quarterback has taken baby steps as opposed to leaps in his development.
Going into a Thanksgiving matchup with the Detroit Lions, Nagy dealt with rumors about losing his job (h/t ESPN's Adam Schefter), but the Bears have issues that start above him.
As the Bears' general manager, Ryan Pace has a 46-63 record (0-2 in the playoffs) that includes just one winning season. While we can give him credit for moving up to select Fields in this year's draft, he's yet to show the ability to build a consistent contender.
In order for Fields to flourish, he needs a new play-caller and roster architect to build a strong supporting cast around him.
After a four-game losing streak in October, the Denver Broncos have rattled off wins in four of their last six games, but the team should move on from head coach Vic Fangio if it falls short of a playoff berth for a third consecutive campaign on his watch. He's 19-26 as the team's skipper.
Fangio, who has a great deal of experience as a defensive coordinator, elevated the defense, which allows the second-fewest points and seventh-fewest yards. However, his offense continues to list in the bottom half in yards and scoring. He's worked with two offensive coordinators in Rich Scangarello and Pat Shurmur, but neither play-caller moved the needle with the talent on the roster, which leads us to a discussion about the quarterback position.
The Broncos have started underwhelming passers under center, transitioning from Drew Lock to Teddy Bridgewater this season. The former turned the ball over at a high rate, averaging one interception per game, and the latter has a low production ceiling.
With a high-level pass-catching group that includes Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Noah Fant, Bridgewater's passing numbers look modest. He's averaging 227.2 passing yards per game, which is slightly better than his rookie term with the Minnesota Vikings (224.5). He also has his lowest QBR as a full-time starter (48.7).
George Paton, who took over general managerial duties last offseason, will likely handpick his head coach and quarterback in 2022.
Despite the Broncos' improvement on defense, Fangio seems best suited for a coordinator position. We should expect turnover on both sides of the ball and at quarterback under a new coaching staff in Denver.
The Houston Texans need a complete roster makeover and a new head coach with a proven track record in leading a team.
During an interview on Sports Radio 610 (h/t The Athletic's Aaron Reiss), general manager Nick Caserio provided a noncommittal response to a question about head coach David Culley's future with the Texans.
"I'm not going to make any comment on what's going to happen after the season," Caserio said.
Culley, who signed a five-year deal with the Texans, has served as an assistant with various NFL teams since the 1994 term. Caserio could have a change of heart about his skipper amid a season with little signs of growth or progress.
Going into Week 15, the Texans have scored the fewest points and accumulated the fewest yards, though that's not completely Culley's fault.
With Deshaun Watson inactive as he faces 22 civil lawsuits and 10 police complaints from women accusing him of sexual assault or misconduct, Houston has started journeyman quarterback Tyrod Taylor and rookie third-rounder Davis Mills under center. With bottom-tier passers, the Texans offense predictably struggled to move the ball.
On the other side of the ball, the Texans parted ways with star defensive end J.J. Watt, Pro Bowl linebacker Benardrick McKinney, starting cornerback Bradley Roby and budding defensive lineman Charles Omenihu over the past 10 months.
With all that said, the Texans have the league's worst point differential (minus-179), which raises major concerns even with a depleted roster. Caserio has a lot of work to do, but he must sort out his quarterback situation and find the right head coach to put the pieces of this rebuild in place.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders need to make major changes in the front office and coaching ranks while keeping an open mind about their quarterback situation.
The Raiders have lost five of their last six contests under interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who replaced Jon Gruden after his resignation. They're 6-7 and in the middle of their third consecutive late-season collapse.
Following another post-Thanksgiving slide, the Raiders must shake up the decision-making process from the general manager to the coaching staff. According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, people around the league expect owner Mark Davis to "clean house and start over."
GM Mike Mayock had input on some first-round whiffs, including defensive end Clelin Ferrell, safety Johnathan Abram and cornerback Damon Arnette, who's no longer with the team.
Beyond the front office and coaching staff, the Raiders should consider an upgrade at quarterback.
Last offseason, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers garnered trade buzz. If either or both signal-callers finish the 2021 term with misgivings about the direction of their teams, the Raiders should swing for the fences in an attempt to land one of them. Both have extensive playoff experience and a Super Bowl victory.
Vegas can win a lot of games with quarterback Derek Carr if the front office surrounds him with a strong supporting cast, but the Raiders have failed to do that in recent years. If the team cannot build a contender, it needs a star quarterback to mask some of the roster deficiencies.
New York Giants
The New York Giants must refresh their roster-building philosophy.
As the Giants' general manager, Dave Gettleman has a 19-42 record, finishing with six wins or fewer in three of his first four seasons with the team. Going into Week 15, Big Blue has a 4-9 record and lost three of its last four contests in a downward spiral.
According to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano, head coach Joe Judge seems likely to outlast Gettleman as the Giants look toward the future:
"Judge is widely expected to be brought back for his third season with the Giants, despite an immensely disappointing season and a dismal 10-19 record as a head coach overall. Though nothing is final until [John] Mara and Steve Tisch say it is, multiple team and league sources said the belief is Judge's job is safe – and that's even if, as expected, ownership nudges GM Dave Gettleman into retirement at the end of the year."
Assuming Judge keeps his position, he should hire a new offensive coordinator to succeed Jason Garrett, whom the team dismissed after Week 11, and open the search for a new quarterback.
This season, quarterback Daniel Jones has thrown for 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions through 11 starts. He's missed the last three outings because of a neck injury, but the third-year signal-caller didn't show much progression from previous campaigns while healthy.
If the Giants plan to compete for a playoff spot next year, Judge and a new general manager would have to upgrade the quarterback position in hopes to take pressure off star running back Saquon Barkley, who's missed 21 games since the 2019 term.
Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.