As the highly anticipated 2013 NFL season kicked off over this past weekend, we got our first look at the new coaching changes and an early look to how they are going to impact their teams. Between the end of the 2012 season and the start of a new season, the NFL witnessed a total of eight head coaching changes, equaling the total of changes seen the previous year, but a significantly high number historically. Yet more so than last year, this year’s class of new head coaches brings a nice mixture of personalities/coaching styles. From a household name in Andy Reid, to a college football offensive guru in Chip Kelly, to a CFL legend in Marc Trestman, the NFL was ready for change and change is what it received. However, even though a coaching change can be crucial in turning around a franchise, it does not always result in instant success, and more often than not, it takes time. That being said, I will preview and rank each of the new head coaches and how they will make
8. Coming in at last, more by default than by his coaching ability, Gus Bradley, who looks to turn around the troubled Jacksonville Jaguars. A defensive specialist, Bradley was the defensive coordinator for Seattle, which had arguably the best defense in the league last year and instilled a level of physicality unseen throughout the NFL. As much as I love his intensity, energy and defensive schemes, the majority of the problems for the Jags is on offense, and it’s not expected of them to be any better on that end of the football. The Jags posted a dismal 2 points in Week 1 and for the first half of their game failed to move the ball fast their own 35. It looks like it’s going to be another tough year for the Jags who might just end up playing for the
Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes instead.
7. There is not much separation between the coaches at 7-5, who I think will all make a positive impact for their teams, but just simply don’t have enough talent to make the playoffs, at least this year. That being said, I rank the Cleveland Browns’ new head coach seventh in my poll. The Browns made a serious push for the revered Oregon coach Chip Kelly, but failed. As a result, they turned to Rob Chudzinski who not only failed to impress as the offensive coordinator in San Diego and Carolina, but also was not really being looked at by any other teams. Never a good sign. Even though the Browns have some talent in Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden, their division is just too tough for them to break through this year, as “Chud” will unfortunately settle for a losing season as his first year as head coach.
6. Coming in at six is Mike McCoy, the new head coach of the Chargers and the ex-offensive coordinator for the Broncos. In Denver, he made Jake Delhomme and Tim Tebow look like viable NFL quarterback in a way, and did pretty well with Peyton Manning; but then again, who doesn’t? I like what he can bring for Philip Rivers, who had a down year last year, but the lack of weapons on the offensive end will make it difficult for him to look good, especially with the loss of Danario Alexander for the year and an aging Antonio Gates.
5. Again, like the two aforementioned coaches, the new Bills coach, Doug Marrone will have a difficult task in front of him, except I like the Bills’ roster a lot more than the Chargers’ and the Browns’, especially after seeing how well they played against the Patriots. Marrone, the former Syracuse coach, is already beloved in upstate New York and will have no problem winning over fan support, especially with how well they played in Week 1. E.J. Manuel is legit, and C.J. Spiller is ready to take off. If Buffalo can beat out their weak division foes, the Jets and the Dolphins, are the playoffs possible?
4. Next up is Marc Trestman, who finds himself in the best situation because of the teams’ personnel. The Bears are a legitimate contender for the NFC North crown and looked solid in their Week 1 comeback against the Bengals. However, with Trestman, there are some question marks regarding his background, whose main experience was from the CFL. Going from Lovie Smith to Trestman could be tough for Bears fans, but I like his expertise at the quarterback position and I think he can really help out Jay Cutler, who never fails to disappoint.
3. Coming in at third is Bruce Arians, who I believe is a perfect fit in Arizona. With Carson Palmer now at the helm, Arians can do exactly what Arians loves to do: throw, throw and throw some more. Oh, and it helps when some guy named Larry Fitzgerald is on the receiving end. Arians stepped up big as the interim head coach of the Colts last year and showed he can deliver in the passing game and that’s exactly what Arizona will do. Looks for a style reminiscent of Kurt Warner, who believe it or not, brought them to the Super Bowl. Although they fell to the Rams this past Sunday, the Cardinals showed some life and gave the St. Louis Rams a run for their money under Arians. I’m not saying they’re Super Bowl material but look for a much improved Arizona team thanks to Arians, Palmer and Fitz.
2. What may be the biggest question mark of this year’s coaching class, Chip Kelly also brings the most upside. The former Oregon Ducks coach, Kelly brings an up-tempo offensive that the NFL has yet to seen. We know it’s going to be fast, and we know he’s going to take his shots. With Michael Vick behind center, LeSean McCoy in the backfield and DeSean Jackson to stretch the field it seems that Kelly will have everything in place to succeed, but who knows when it comes to the Eagles? It’s hit or miss for Kelly, but I believe he will drastically improve that offense and more importantly Vick, who struggled with turning the ball over. It also helps when your entire offensive line is uninjured as well. Kelly led the
Eagles to a big Week 1 win against RGIII; look for him to make the Eagles another can’t miss-team in the NFL.
1. The leader of the pack and the most successful and experienced coach of the group goes to Andy Reid, the new coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Reid overstayed his welcome as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, but now takes over for the Chiefs. The Chiefs were dismal last year, but with the underrated Alex Smith behind center and with Jamaal Charles another year removed from his ACL tear, the offense looks to be greatly improved. The Chiefs are a sleeper team in the AFC and have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs if they can score enough points. Andy Reid has found a way in the past to get the best out of his teams, especially during this week’s win against the Jaguars. Only time will tell is Reid is able to revamp the Chiefs, but Week 1 was a good sign that they’re definitely better than last year.
Contact Kevin Mahoney at