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.