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EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Grading NFL head coach hires in 2021: Brandon Staley to Los Angeles Chargers, Arthur Smith to Falcons, more

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Chargers hire Rams DC Brandon Staley as new head coach (0:54)

Lindsey Thiry breaks down the Chargers' hiring of Brandon Staley and how he can improve a team with Justin Herbert and Joey Bosa. (0:54)

Seven NFL teams fired their head coaches in this cycle -- three during the 2020 season and four after the regular season -- and now the first hirings of 2021 have been confirmed.

The Jacksonville Jaguars zeroed in on former college coach Urban Meyer, who was announced as the new coach Thursday. The New York Jets announced on Thursday night that they had reached an agreement to hire former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. The Atlanta Falcons reached an agreement with former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith on Friday afternoon. And the Los Angeles Chargers hired former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley on Sunday night.

How did the Chargers, Falcons, Jaguars and Jets fare with their hires? We asked ESPN national NFL writers Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler to discuss each move and give their grades, starting with the most recent at the top. They'll grade more hires as they happen over the next few weeks.

Jump to a team:
Chargers| Falcons | Jaguars | Jets

Los Angeles Chargers hire Brandon Staley

Background: Defensive coordinator for Los Angeles Rams (2020); outside linebackers coach for Denver Broncos (2019); outside linebackers coach for Chicago Bears (2017-18)

Fowler: Gotta say this was unexpected. I heard great things about Staley through the process, and it's hard to argue with the Rams' performance in his first year as defensive coordinator. But all signs pointed to Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll getting the job, and a Daboll-Justin Herbert combo would have been lethal.

Graziano: There's no general manager in the league who likes keeping secrets more than Tom Telesco does. I know his mentor Bill Polian would be proud. I'm with you, Jeremy: I don't know a ton about Staley other than that he was a popular name in terms of teams' interest this time around. I thought the Eagles were serious about him. He has never been a head coach, and he has been in the NFL for just four years. But the work he has done as a defensive assistant and in his one year as coordinator has clearly stood out, and he must make a strong impression in interviews. I guess the question now is who's coming with him to run the offense and shepherd Herbert's development, right?