NFL coaches on the rise and decline: Jaguars’ Doug Pederson trending up, Bengals’ Zac Taylor sliding


Just two weeks are not enough time to judge a coaching staff, let alone a team. But in the NFL, every week matters. And some coaches — both first-year hires and longtime veterans — certainly did more to help their teams than others in Week 2.

Approaching Week 3 of the 2022 season, here’s a look at which prominent coaches are on the rise and decline:

Trending up

Jaguars HC Doug Pederson

Season: 1st with Jaguars | Last Game: 24-0 win vs. Colts | Team Record: 1-1

Is it possible the Jaguars are suddenly the favorites in the AFC South? With Dougie P at the helm, yes. While the Titans pick themselves up off the mat after a Bills beatdown, and Jim Irsay starts eyeing his next quarterback, and the Texans fail to move the ball in ugly games, Pederson has revived Trevor Lawrence’s confidence and allowed first-time defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell to turn his young pass rushers loose. Doug was already a beloved leader; now he’s showing early results.

Giants DC Don Martindale

Season: 1st with Giants | Last Game: 19-16 win vs. Panthers | Team Record: 2-0

“Wink” has single-handedly enabled Giants fans to forgive the fact that Daniel Jones is still under center, running a scattershot offense best known for pinning Kenny Golladay to the bench. Even with his top edge rushers banged up, the former Ravens DC has dialed up blitz after blitz to rattle the Titans and Panthers in back-to-back weeks. Once Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari are in the lineup, Martindale should have even more flexibility to keep New York competitive.

Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon

Season: 2nd with Eagles | Last Game: 24-7 win vs. Vikings | Team Record: 2-0

After failing to scheme up late-game pressure on Jared Goff in a Week 1 battle with the Lions, Gannon upped his blitz count in Monday night’s home opener, and Eagles fans ate it up. Why? Because it worked, forcing Kirk Cousins into one desperation throw after another. With top-level personnel at every level of the defense, Gannon has no excuse but to deliver, and his guys were both tenacious and opportunistic when faced with one of the NFL’s top skill groups in prime time.

Trending down

Bengals HC Zac Taylor

Season: 4th with Bengals | Last Game: 20-17 loss vs. Cowboys | Team Record: 0-2

He doesn’t deserve all the blame for the perpetually shoddy offensive line in front of Joe Burrow, but as the CEO of their on-field operation, he’s not exactly propping up his best weapons. The play-calling has been suspect since Cincinnati’s Super Bowl loss, and it’s ultimately on him to ensure Burrow gets rid of the ball before absorbing big hits or forcing high-risk throws. After falling to Cowboys backup Cooper Rush, he’s got the explosive and/or motivated Jets, Dolphins and Ravens up next.

Ravens DC Mike Macdonald

Season: 1st with Ravens | Last Game: 42-38 loss vs. Dolphins | Team Record: 1-1

Martindale’s successor, Macdonald fared just fine overseeing a Week 1 rout of the Jets, but everything came apart on Sunday against Miami. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle aren’t the easiest wideouts to defend, of course, but the way the Ravens secondary folded was an eyesore. Not a single big name, from Marcus Peters to Marcus Williams, seemed in sync or fully dialed into Macdonald’s strategy as Tua Tagovailoa unloaded one deep ball after another.

Vikings DC Ed Donatell

Season: 1st with Vikings | Last Game: 24-7 loss vs. Eagles | Team Record: 1-1

The 65-year-old former Broncos DC got the best of Aaron Rodgers in Week 1, but he deployed a similar sit-back approach against Jalen Hurts on Monday night, and the mobile Eagles QB proved early he would pick it apart. The worst part is that Donatell seemingly didn’t make any adjustments thereafter, relying almost exclusively on two-high Cover-3 lineups. The only reason Philly didn’t have an even more lopsided victory is because it went more conservative in the second half.

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