NFL Coaching Carousel: New Faces In New Places

New Year, New Coaches: A few weeks ago the NFL saw a total of 7 head coaches fired by their old teams. Those teams were the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Diego Chargers. Since then all 7 coaching vacancies have been filled. Here’s a rundown of who was hired:

Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Arians, who led the Colts to an 11-5 record as interim coach in the absence of Chuck Strong, who battled Leukemia last season.

Buffalo Bills: Doug Marrone, former Syracuse Orange head coach, went 25-25 in four seasons with the Orange and has 7 years of NFL experience with coaching staff stints with the New Orleans Saints 2006-2008 and  the New York Jets 2002-2005.

Cleveland Browns: Rob Chudzinski, former Offensive Coordinator for the Carolina Panthers and also was OC for the Browns in 2007-2008.

Chicago Bears: Marc Trestman, former CFL coach for the Montreal Alouettes winning two Grey Cup titles, also has 17 years of NFL coaching experience spending most of that time as an offensive coordinator for a number of NFL teams.

Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid, Former Philadelphia Eagles Bench Boss, spent 13 years with the Eagles, leading them to five NFC Championship game appearances and a Super Bowl in 2004, he finished last season with a record of 4-12.

Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly, former Oregon Ducks head coach, went 46-7 while helping to turn the Ducks into a college football powerhouse. Kelly also led the Ducks to a BCS National Championship in 2011. Kelly has no previous NFL experience.

San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy, former Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator who helped the Broncos along the way to a 13-3 season that ended with a playoff loss to Baltimore last Saturday (January 12th).

Best and Worst Hire: From the list of recent hires above, here’s my choice for who nailed it and who should have kept looking:

Best: The Arizona Cardinals have earned my nod for the NFL’s best off-season coaching move with the hire of Bruce Arians. I chose the Cards over Kansas City hiring Andy Reid for a few reasons.

1. Arians led a Colts team that nobody had winning more than 4-5 games to an 11 win season and a playoff berth. 2. He coached on a team with a green-horn QB in Andrew Luck and found ways to win. 3. He displayed leadership all season long as he stepped in for Chuck Strong, and picked up the teams spirits to push forward.

It’s all of those reasons that I have Arians having success in Arizona with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Kevin Kolb/ John Skelton, Adrian Wilson, and Patrick Peterson.

Side note on Arians: To have success, he will need to address the teams QB situation. Last year Kolb and Skelton shared duties in leading the team. The Cardinals have the 7th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Which could give them the option to go for either Geno Smith of West Virginia or Matt Barkley of USC (then again, Matt Leinart didn’t exactly workout in Arizona). Any way you slice it though, Arians will need to resolve that position if he is to ultimately succeed.

Worst: This one is pretty clear cut in my mind. The Philadelphia Eagles took a gamble on hiring Chip Kelly and that’s exactly what Kelly will be in Philly, a risk. Kelly certainly isn’t the first college head coach to try his hand on the NFL Grid-iron.

Some college head coaches like Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers head coach) Pete Carroll (recently with the Seattle Seahawks) Tom Coughlin( New York Giants 2 Super Bowl Rings) and Jimmy Johnson (Dallas Cowboys Head coach in the 90’s who won 2 Super Bowls) are having/had great success in the NFL . However, more often than not, “The Old College Try” doesn’t pan out so well for most NFL teams. Here’s a list of college coaches who weren’t so hot in the NFL:

Steve Spurrier (Washington Redskins for 2 years going 12-20 before retreating back to college ball)

Nick Saban (Miami Dolphins for 2 years going 15-17 before taking the Alabama job and building a college dynasty)

Bobby Petrino (Atlanta Falcons for 13 games of the 2007 season left with 3 games still to play, the Falcons finished with a 4-12 record. Petrino returned to college to coach Arkansas)

Rich Brooks (St. Louis Rams for 2 years going 13-19 and was fired, which allowed him to return to college and coach Kentucky)

Unlike Harbaugh, Carroll, Coughlin, and Johnson, I forsee Kelly falling into the same category as Spurrier, Saban, Petrino, and Brooks. I just don’t see his offensive schemes working at the professional level.

Also, unless Kelly, an offensive minded guy, can somehow work wonders with his defensive coordinator and the Eagles defense (who gave up an average of 27 points per game last year and ranked 23rd in rush defense with 126yds per game) things will not get any better in the city of brotherly love.

Final Thoughts: With the new coaches in place, it will be interesting to see what these new bench bosses can do next season. Which coach do you think will have the best season? Who will have the worst season? Leave a comment below.

2012 NFL Awards: Handing Out the Hardware

The votes for this years NFL awards including MVP, Comeback Player Of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Player Of the Year, and Rookie Of The Year have to be in by this week. Like most years the voting is intense, but this year we may see the closest race yet in nearly all the above categories. Let’s take a look at the awards and their nominees:

NFL MVP: The Nominees: Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and J.J. Watt.

Of the nominees, two men stand above the rest. Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to home-field advantage in this years playoffs by going on an 11 game winning streak to finish the season tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the leagues best record at 13-3 overall. Manning has also done all of this coming back from a neck injury that kept him out all of last season.

Adrian “All Day” Peterson. Peterson much like Manning, had a simply phenomenal comeback season this year. Last year Peterson was out due to a knee injury. Some wondered how Peterson would respond this season. Needless to say, Peterson answered all the questions and then some. Peterson put on a rushing clinic this season eclipsing the 2,000 yard mark, a feat only 6 other NFL running backs have done in the history of the league. Peterson finished the season with 2,097 yards, just 9 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’ record of 2,105 set back in 1984. All Day’s performance this year has helped put the Vikings in the post season.

My Pick: I have to go with Adrian Peterson. The fact that this man came back from reconstructive knee surgery, and nearly broke a 28-year-old NFL rushing record is enough for me. The selling point on Peterson to win this award though, rests in the fact that he helped lead the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs.

A feat few thought to be possible when the season began so many weeks ago. Peyton has no doubt had a great year, and is vital to the Broncos success, but Denver could have made the post-season with someone else at quarterback, especially with the awful play by the rest of the AFC West this year. The Vikings don’t do much of anything without Adrian Peterson this year (or any year for that matter).

MVP is the Most Valuable Player award, and in my opinion there’s no one whose been more valuable to a team than Adrian Peterson this year.

Peyton Manning - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

Comeback Player: This year the award for Comeback Player Of the Year is probably the most clear cut award as only two players fit the bill. The two men mentioned in the paragraph above, Manning and Peterson, have both done more than what anybody expected from them. Both have had great seasons. Both have their teams in the playoffs. Both came back from career jarring injuries. However, only one of them can win the award.

My Pick: I’m choosing Peyton Manning for this one. Peterson could very well win this award, but I’m giving it to Manning because he not only had to comeback from an injury, but he had to comeback with a brand new team, brand new offensive sets, brand new targets to throw to, brand new everything. Manning not only came-back as the Manning we all know, but he made us nearly forget he ever left. With that, Manning is my choice for Comeback Player Of the Year, hands down.

Offensive Player Of The Year: The Nominees: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson.

Like the first two awards this is another one that either Manning or Peterson could win, but given they both may win one of the two aforementioned awards Brady, Rodgers, and Johnson have a higher chance at this award.

Brady and Rodgers have both had solid seasons. Brady threw for 4,827 yards with 34 TDS while Rodgers threw for 4,295 yards and 39 TDS. Both are essential to their offenses overall success. However, I’d like to argue my pick for Offensive Player Of the Year, Calvin Johnson.

My Pick: Johnson has been nothing short of amazing this season. Johnson not only had the most receiving yards of any wide receiver this year, he broke Jerry Rice’ single season record for receiving yards with a 225 yard 11 catch performance against the falcons in week 16 against Atlanta. “Megatron” finished the season with 1,964 yards. Johnson averaged 115 yards and 7 catches per game this season. Those numbers are certainly award worthy. Of course, it will be hard for Johnson to beat out the likes of Brady and Rodgers, but he should absolutely be considered and is my pick for this year’s Offensive Player Of the Year.

Defensive Player Of the Year: The Nominees: J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Aldon Smith.

All of the nominees are no doubt a quarterback, heck lets be honest, these guys have any one on offense scared to death on any given Sunday. But, like any award, only one of them can bring home the hardware. Let’s go to the stats:

J.J. Watt- NFL season sack leader with 20.5 sacks, 81 combined tackles, and 4 forced fumbles.

Aldon Smith- Finished second in total sacks with 19.5, 66 combined tackles, 3 forced fumbles and 1 interception.

Von Miller- Finished 3rd in sacks with 18.5, 68 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, and 1 interception.

My Pick: Again, all of these men wreak havoc on opposing offenses week in and week out, but I have to choose one. My choice has to be J.J. Watt. Watt burst on to scene last year in his rookie season with his tenacious play in the regular season, and really broke out in the Texans playoff win against the Bengals with an interception return for a TD. Watt has , asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with this year in the NFL and has earned the right to this award.

Rookie Of The Year: The Nominees: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson.

The three rookie QB’s listed above have all had incredible seasons in their own right. Each of them have led their respective teams to the playoffs. Here’s the numbers on these newbies:

Luck: rookie record for passing yards with 4, 374 and 23 TD with a 76.5 QB rating.

RGIII: 3,200 yards passing with 20 TD and  102.4 QB rating, Griffin also rushed for 815 yds and 7 TDS ranking him in the top 20 in rushing yds in the NFL.

Wilson: tied Peyton Manning’ rookie record for passing TDS with 26 and threw for 3,118 yards. Wilson also had 489 rushing yds with 4 TDS.

My Pick: My choice for Rookie Of the Year would have to be RGIII. No disrespect to Andrew Luck, but at the end of the day it’s hard for me to not pick a rookie stud who finishes in the top 5 for QB rating with the likes of Rodgers and Manning. Plus with his versatility in the pocket as a rushing threat he is hard to ignore.

Final Thoughts: Almost forgot an award. Coach Of the Year. Mike Shanahan (Redskins), Leslie Frazier (Vikings), Pete Carroll (Seahawks), and Bruce Arians (fill in for Chuck Pagano and the Colts) all up for the honor. I believe for what Arians accomplished, in Pagano’ honor while he battled Leukemia, is more than deserving of the award and has undoubtedly earned it. Who do you think will take home the NFL Hardware? Leave a comment below.