In case you’re already suffering from Super Bowl Fever and haven’t been paying attention to the happenings involving the 30 NFL teams not still playing football, we should point out that the final three vacant head-coaching jobs were filled this week when Chuck Pagano was hired in Indy, Greg Schiano was hired in Tampa and Dennis Allen was hired in Oakland (thanks to Sean Tomlinson, who only has Bieber Fever, for covering the coaching beat throughout the week).
But there are still a slew of coordinator positions in the process of being filled league-wide. Here’s the latest on who’s getting those jobs. It’s cool, because it’s sort of a natural web, with each move leading to the next. So follow along as we start in Miami and head down whatever path is created from there.
Miami: New head coach Joe Philbin left Green Bay (creating an opening there). But less than a week after he was hired, Philbin has hired both coordinators — Mike Sherman takes over the offense, while Kevin Coyle will run the D. Another west-coast guy with Green Bay roots, Sherman was actually Philbin’s boss between 2003 and 2005. With Sherman and Philbin working together, the offense will be in great hands. Now I wonder what they’ll do at quarterback. Philbin undoubtedly wants Matt Flynn, while Sherman might want to draft Ryan Tannehill, whom he coached at Texas A&M. Coyle comes from Cincinnati, where the secondary he was in charge of was one of the team’s strongest assets year in and year out. He’ll bring a ton of experience and knowledge to Miami’s already-superb defense, which shouldn’t have much trouble transitioning back to a 4-3.
Green Bay: Like I said, the Packers now have an opening at offensive coordinator. Naturally, the assumption is that quarterbacks coach Tom Clements will get that job, but based on the work Clements has done with Aaron Rodgers and Flynn, he’s a hot commodity right now. If the Packers don’t promote him, he might be considered in Tampa or Pittsburgh. Speaking of which…
Tampa Bay: Schiano will be expected to re-tool a messy defense, but he’ll probably hand the keys to the offense to John McNulty, who worked with him at Rutgers before joining the Cardinals to coach the receivers in 2009. No word on what Schiano will do with the defensive coordinator opening, but expect it to be a Scarlet Knight-filled staff.
Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger is pissed that Bruce Arians was essentially forced out despite the fact the Steelers offense has been quite productive during his reign. Now there’s an indication that they want to return to their old, blue-collar identity, which makes zero sense to me.
Arizona: Now there’s word that Arians could team up with his former colleagues Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm in Glendale. If McNulty joins Schiano in Tampa, that’d make a lot of sense. Arians has a history as a receivers coach, but it wouldn’t shock me if they demoted Mike Miller either.
Baltimore: Technically, not much has changed here. But that’s the news. It’s no surprise that they’ve once again promoted from within (Dean Pees) to fill Pagano’s defensive coordinator role (it’s been 10 years since they hired an outside candidate for that role), but Cameron was thought to be out of chances after another mediocre offensive season. Joe Flacco had a bad year and despite some quality weapons, Baltimore’s offense finished just 15th overall and 12th in terms of points scored. Plus, Cameron’s play-calling ability has been criticized over and over again.
San Diego: John Pagano was promoted from within to replace defensive coordinator Greg Manusky (fired after only one season) and Hal Hunter was promoted from within to replace Clarence Shelman. With Norv Turner back, it’s close to the status quo in San Diego.
Cleveland: Brad Childress is back, baby. But this time, he won’t have the ability to destroy the chemistry of an entire team. Childress will have to check his ego at the door as he runs Pat Shurmur’s west coast offense exactly the way Shurmur wants it run. I get the feeling Chilly is set up to fail here.
New England: Their attention is elsewhere right now, but Bill O’Brien will be coaching his last game with the Patriots next weekend. But it’s a given that the team is leaning toward promoting Josh McDaniels back into the offensive coordinator role once O’Brien leaves for Penn State.
New York Jets: Earlier this month they booted Brian Schottenheimer and replaced him with Tony Sparano, which is sort of like getting rid of the shingles and then contracting mono. We’ve already voiced our displeasure on that development.
St. Louis: It’s a bit of an all-star coaching staff now in St. Louis, with Jeff Fisher running the show and big names Brian Schottenheimer and Gregg Williams coaching the offense and the defense, respectively. But I’d argue that all three coaches are tremendously overrated. I think Fisher and Schottenheimer could be a disaster, while Williams won’t be able to do much more than Steve Spagnuolo was able to.
New Orleans: The Saints replaced Williams with Spagnuolo. So expect big-time changes on the New Orleans defense, as Spags probably won’t rely on the blitz like Williams did. I also expect this D to get beat less often on big plays. The transition could take a year, but I’m excited to see what Spagnuolo brings to the Bayou.
Jacksonville: Mike Mularkey leaves Atlanta for his second crack at head coaching. We’re excited to see what he can do. The Falcons and Jags essentially made some coaching trades, and Mularkey brought Bob Bratkowski with him to take over the Jacksonville offense. Those two will work in tandem.
Atlanta: Meanwhile, the Falcons have replaced Mularkey with former Jags offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. They continued picking up Florida coordinator scraps by hiring Mike Nolan, who ran out of time in Miami. (Former Atlanta D coordinator Brian VanGorder bailed for the same position at Auburn). Don’t expect either move to have much of an impact — Mularkey was good at his job and Nolan will be neutered by the defensive-minded Mike Smith. In fact, Atlanta’s sticking with the 4-3 defense.
Oakland: Dennis Allen takes over as head coach, which opens up a void in Denver. He’ll probably retain offensive coordinator Al Saunders, while I’m expecting new GM Reggie McKenzie to push for Winston Moss to take over as defensive coordinator. Let’s face it: this’ll be Allen’s defense.
Denver: With Allen gone to the rival Raiders, the Broncos are looking for a new defensive coordinator. Everyone expects Jack Del Rio to join his old pal John Fox in Denver, and that makes a lot of sense.
Philadelphia: It’s still unclear whether Juan Castillo will return as Andy Reid’s defensive coordinator. This late in the game, he’ll probably stay put.
Indianapolis: This is the most interesting situation still up in the air. Pagano takes over, but he won’t be stealing his brother, John, away from San Diego — even though that would seem to make perfect sense. He’ll likely hire someone familiar to help transition to a 3-4 defense that does a lot more in terms of disguises and blitzes than the old Colts did. As far as the offense goes, Jim Irsay and Ryan Grigson will probably involve themselves in the search for a quarterback-friendly coordinator. It’s possible Clyde Christensen sticks around, or maybe they still push for Marc Trestman or Hue Jackson. Hell, maybe Peyton Manning takes over.
Chicago: Another intriguing situation here, but only because Lovie Smith isn’t locked in until they hire a new general manager. So this thing could erupt any day. As of right now, Mike Tice is set to take over the offense from the “retired” Mike Martz.