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A Toast To New NFL Coaches
by Jim Feist - 08/04/2012
Certainly coaching in football, more than in any other sport, is essential to a team's success. New York fans have called for Tom Coughlin's ouster a few times over the last six years, and yet he has helped deliver two Super Bowl titles, while Bill Belichick has had one losing season (his first, 2000) since taking over the Patriots, winning three championships and taking them to five Super Bowls.
In the NBA, any team that has Shaq and Kobe or Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, for instance, would be a very good team, and likely a dominant one. Even Brian Hill, a weak NBA coach, got to the NBA Finals in 1995 with a 22-year old Shaq in the pivot. In baseball, a team is essentially only as good as its starting pitching (or payroll). Joe Torre won four World Series with the Yankees, but many forget he was run out of town after coaching the Mets and Cardinals to poor seasons.
Football is very different. There are so many players involved on the field that it requires an excellent coach and coaching staff to teach, motivate and organize into a successful unit. Think for a moment about football on-field personnel: 11 starters on offense, 11 on defense, special teams players, and even specialized personnel, such as third-and-long defensive backs or running backs used only in short yardage situations. It takes hours of time, patience and talent to organize players into an effective group. As preseason kicks off this weekend, here are some teams that made coaching changes to try and upgrade weak areas.
NY Jets: Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow open the preseason this weekend against the Giants. Ryan brings in a new offensive coordinator in Tony Sporano, the fired Dolphins' coach. The Jets are a ground-and-pound football team and it’s clear Ryan wants to go back to running the pigskin more, though did someone point out to him passing of all the rule changes it's a passing league? Presumably they will run the Wildcat more, which Sporano introduced at Miami with some success (until defensive coordinators starting planning for it). And let's face it: the Dolphins were no offensive dynamo when he was head coach. This has HMMMM written all over it.
Falcons: Atlanta added WR Julio Jones last year to a stocked offense that seemed to have it all, balance, big play capability and QB Matt Ryan. The numbers say they were pretty good, but the Falcons flamed out in close games and against good teams, losing 25-14 to Green Bay and two crushing defeats to the Saints, 26-23 in OT and 45-16. That preceded a 24-2 playoff loss to the Giants.
So a change was made, bringing in a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, who likes to throw the football. He has plenty of tools to work with. Note that last August the Falcons went 0-4 in preseason as the offense was anemic. Think the new OC wants that to happen again?
Cowboys: Speaking of throwing the pigskin Dallas Coach Jason Garrett brings in Bill Callahan to run the Dallas attack after an 8-8 season when so much more was expected. Callahan coached the Raiders from 2002-03, guiding the club to the Super Bowl after his first season. He coached Nebraska from 2004-07. He is a proponent of the passing attack and Dallas was seventh in the NFL with 262.6 yards in the air per game. Keeping QB Tony Romo (31 TDs, 10 INTs) upright and healthy will be a priority. Dallas carries a 9-3 run under the total into the new season.
Bucs: Greg Schiano is the new head coach after he did wonders at Rutgers. Tampa Bay is loaded with young players, so a college coach with his resume doesn’t seem like a bad move. His first priority is to fix both lines. The defense struggled against the run because of injuries and the offensive line did a poor job all last season. This team needs an attitude adjustment, carrying an 0-10 SU, 1-9 ATS run into the new season.
Rams: Jeff Fisher did a terrific job for years with Tennessee and was the prize offseason coach on the free agent market. He won with a great QB (Steve McNair) and won with a bad QB (Vince Young). He inherits QB Sam Bradford and a team with a lot of holes. Fisher also brings in Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator, a curious move as Schottenheimer often seemed in over his head when it came to matchups and play calling. The Rams (2-14 in 2011) carry a 0-7 SU, 2-5 ATS run into the season, but you probably forgot they were 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS last August.