Yesterday, the Falcons made it official, firing both their head coach and general manager. However, if you’ve been watching all season, you knew it was just a matter of time before Arthur Blank decided to end the Dan Quinn era, and our own Jake Gordon recently did a piece highlighting his dream head coaching candidates. There are many promising names on that list, like Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy; however, the guy I like to take over wasn’t even mentioned in that article. He actually made Jake’s list of dream offensive coordinators — Joe Brady.
Yes, the man who just called the plays against the Falcons this past Sunday is a name that I believe they should seriously consider for their head coaching vacancy. I’m not saying he should be the favorite. It’s hard to overlook a guy like Eric Bieniemy, who has much more experience and has been coaching under an offensive genius for the last several seasons. Still, Brady has found success at every stop over his young career, and he could be the next Sean McVay-type coach to take over the reins of an NFL team.
The 31-year-old Brady actually began his coaching career as a linebackers coach at William & Mary (his alma mater) in 2013. From there, he moved to Penn State as a graduate assistant before receiving his big break and becoming an offensive assistant in 2017-2018 with the New Orleans Saints. It was there where you started to hear the worlds “Joe Brady” and “protégé” tossed around quite often.
Before the 2019 season, Brady decided to make another jump, but this time to the college game, taking a job 45 minutes down the road, becoming the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at LSU. Prior to his decision, Saints head coach Sean Payton told him he was making a mistake, but it turned out to be the best decision of his young career.
The 2019 LSU offense will go down as the most prolific in college football history, as Joe Burrow broke nearly every single-season passing record on his way to the Heisman Trophy, National Championship, and a perfect season.
While Brady may not have been calling all the plays, he was an integral part of changing LSU’s offensive culture after years of refusing to adapt to the modern era of football under Les Miles. His presence not only turned LSU into an offensive powerhouse overnight, but it also set up the future for their program on that side of the ball, which is important because it didn’t take long for others to take notice and poach him from the Tigers coaching staff.
Despite LSU offering Brady a substantial pay bump, he decided to make another jump, this time back to the NFL, following Matt Rhule to Carolina and becoming an offensive coordinator for the first time in his career.
Unlike at LSU, Brady isn’t benefitting from talent that is simply overwhelming to his opponents. The Panthers, especially offensively, came into this season thought to be rebuilding, and that was with their All-Pro running back Christian McCaffery. McCaffery has been out since Week 2, but that hasn’t stopped Brady from keeping the train moving.
With Mike Davis as Carolina’s featured back, they have been able to pick up three wins in a row and vault themselves to the top of the NFC South — a position nobody outside of their organization could have foreseen coming into the season.
Brady’s offense has been electric. The Panthers are 6th in passing yards with Teddy Bridgewater slinging the rock, who wasn’t even perceived to be an NFL starting quarterback until this season. They are 14th in rushing yards behind a below-average offensive line, and they are 11th in total yards. Offensively, the Panthers are beginning to look like a well-oiled machine, thanks to Joe Brady, and they are just getting comfortable in a completely new system.
There will be some that claim he’s too young or doesn’t have enough experience, and there is some weight to those arguments. Brady will overtake Sean McVay for the title of the youngest head coach in the NFL if the Falcons were to hire him, but McVay’s turned out pretty well for the Rams, and he was hired at the same age.
And I get it: everyone today is looking for the next Sean McVay, and we’ve seen a countless number of organizations waste years hiring coaches who have no business being in charge. However, Brady has proven to be among the best in his profession at every stop of the way. He was highly regarded at Penn State and with the Saints and helped turn a pre-historic LSU offense into the best of all-time in just one season. Now, he’s working magic with a Panthers offense that was expected to be an afterthought this season, and he’s doing it without their best player.
Brady is an offensive genius, and his youthfulness should only make him more attractive. Imagine finding the next Sean Payton, Sean McVay, or Kyle Shanahan at 31 and having him as the head man for the next ten, twenty, or even thirty years? There is a risk with every head-coaching candidate, but the reward with Brady could be potentially franchise-altering.