“NFL Coaching Hires-Surprises Everywhere”
There were 8-head coaching openings when the week started, we now just have 3-vacancies left. Reacting to what we have seen and heard.
CLEVELAND….The Browns job was the most lucrative, and the ownership there, the strangest. Rumblings everywhere about a power struggling involving GM-Jhn Dorsey, owner Jim Hallam, and analytics whiz Paul DePodesta. The end result, they bypass a proven winner in Mike McCarthy, the ex Packers head coach, to stay within house to promote coordinator Freddie Kitchens. No doubt a (5-3) end of season surge cast favorable light on Kitchens relationship with rookie QB-Baker Mayfield, whose numbers rockets up once Hue Jackson was ousted. There are four former Packers execs, who are part of the Cleveland front office. They all knew McCarthy, so something about past relationships had to weigh in on all this. The other stunner, Gregg Williams, the defense coordinator, who led the team to those 5-wins as interim coach, was fired after Kitchens was promoted. They do things in a strange way on Lake Erie, don’t they?.
GREEN BAY….Legendary QB-Aaron Rodgers will be asked to learn something new, maybe change his ways, with the decision to hire Matt Lafleur from the Tennessee Titans. The surprise final decision on Lombardi Way is not just the Lafleur hiring, considering that the Titans had an erratic offense for a couple of years under his guidance, but also that Josh McDaniels of the Patriots did not land the job. Maybe McDaniels failures in Denver, and what he did to the Colts, by backing out of the job last year, damaged his reputation. Maybe McDaniels is the coach in waiting once Bill Belichek steps down. Shall be fun to examine whether Rodgers will be able to change his ways and work with an untested head coach going forward. Can you teach an old dog-new tricks? Stay tuned.
TAMPA BAY….Right guy, right place, right situation. There is no doubt that this will be Bruce Arians team, and the highly volatile play of QB-Jameis Winston will be coming to an end. Winston is developing quite a reputation as a coach killer. Tons of passing yards, lots of turnovers, and a bucketful of losing seasons. The hiring of Arians, and the then followup signing of Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, means a total personality change in the Buccaneers locker-room. Strong, firm, fiery leadership is coming with these coaching hires. The culture will change, and so will the won loss record. Next season will be the last season for Winston if he cannot harness all this raw talent into wins.
DENVER….Almost from the start you knew GM-John Elway was going to structure the coaching staff differently. They went defense with longtime coordinator Vic Fangio, and Gary Kubiak is coming out of the front office to return to the field as offensive coordinator and play caller. It will be almost as if they have two head coaches in Denver. Fangio has been on lots of short lists in recent years, coming close, but never getting hired. He will have an impact on the Von Miller led defense. Kubiak’s history of success should have some effect on QB-Case Keenum, though the Broncos needs some more skill around that quarterback. Good chemistry should evolve with this new mix of Denver leadership.
ARIZONA….This hire of Kliff Kingsbury better work out, or this franchise could be forever buried under Michael Bidwill’s ownership. Yes he was fired at Texas Tech after going (35-40), but his body of work in the ‘Air Raid’ offense, once designed by Mike Leach cannot be denied. He grew Baker Mayfield. He developed Patrick Mahomes. His whole career has been designed to get to the NFL, where throwing the football is so critical to survival. Year two of the Josh Rosen era has to be better, because this past rookie season was terrible. Kingsbury needs lots of talent upgrades on offense, to help the kid QB, running back David Johnson and the mixed bag of receivers there. Hiring this coach is item one. Getting better players this off season is likely now more important.
MIAMI…For such a passionate successful businessman as Steven Ross is as an owner, this is hard to believe, the failures of his Dolphins team. And now that a lot of the offensive gurus are off the coaching board, Ross may be left with having to choose a young unproven coach. Some think Kris Richard from Dallas, regarded but unproven. Eric Bienemy of the Chiefs, had a flurry of interviews, but his name has dropped out of the spotlight. Who knows where the Dolphins go next? And if that’s not enough, they have the other elephant in the room question, are you keeping QB-Ryan Tannehill and his 20M cap figure contract next year?
NEW YORK JETS….The last big name veteran coach out there wanted the job, and Mike McCarthy seemed to be a great fit to work with the bright young QB-Sam Darnold. It did not happen. Adam Gase, bounced out of Miami after two non playoff seasons, got the job instead, his credentials not sullied by failures with the Dolphins. Maybe the constant injury issues to Ryan Tannehill is the rationale for the Miami mess. But if McCarthy was so right, why hasn’t he been hired? Everybody is under fire there in New York, from the family ownership to the GM. Gase might not be a reach, but he’s not as proven as McCarthy’s 135-wins and playoff record.
CINCINNATI….. The question here isn’t who Mike Brown hires to take over this struggling team, but rather who wants to go work for Mike Brown and a poorly run franchise. I don’t know how you sell Vance Joseph to fans in the Queen City, after he went (11-21) and was axed in Denver after two non playoff years. Don’t know how you consider Hue Jackson, (3-36-1) in Cleveland. Brown’s ownership has seen the team go (0-7) in postseason over the last 12years. In fact the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in 28-years, 1990 to be exact.. The Paul Brown era is forever in the rear-view mirror.Would Brown hand over the reigns to an old warrior that wants to coach again, Jeff Fisher, Mike Shanahan, Rex Ryan?. Doubtful, but strange things always happen in Cincinnati.