I am incredibly thrilled to see that the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens were the two teams to advance to the Super Bowl this year, as they were the teams I initially picked at the beginning of the week. I am personally rooting for the Baltimore Ravens, because they have more to play for, specifically that this will be the final game in Ray Lewis's life. Linebacker Ray Lewis has been with the team since the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 to become the Baltimore Ravens, named for Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "The Raven," because the team could not take the Browns team name and instead settled for an ode to a nineteenth century writer. He was the team MVP following their victory in the 2000 Super Bowl and has been the consistent reminder of the team's origin. The 49ers continue to be unbeatable in the Super Bowl, which means we'll have to see whether or not history drastically changes. There are no more players from the 1994 team, as the last one retired around 2007.
With that being said, all of the new head coaches have been named for their respective teams. It's interesting that no one waited until the NFC and AFC Championship games resolved, especially since there are plenty of desirable nominees from each team, primarily Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, the offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively, on the San Francisco 49ers. However, the coaching selections were quite decent and should make for intriguing futures. The grading order will be roughly based on when they were hired and the grades will come down to how reasonable the selection was and what the future should hold.
Andy Reid to the Chiefs- I was positive that if Andy Reid were to be let go by the Eagles, he would immediately have a job with another team, because his record was irresistible for a coach on the market and he has reached a Super Bowl and five NFC Championships (even if it meant a 1-4 record during this round). I was guessing that the Browns would have had a better chance at taking him, but the Chiefs I suppose see him as an asset. The Chiefs are in a similar position as the Eagles in the way that they have plenty of talent, but the talent just cannot perform. What this team needs is a sense of direction and if Andy Reid could give this team a sense of direction, they should perform decently. My prediction is that the Chiefs are able to reach the playoffs under Andy Reid, but both the Chiefs and Andy Reid will see similar results from their pasts. They could win their first postseason game since 1993, but it won't be by a lot. Perhaps a visit to the divisional round seems likely under Reid's tenure, the AFC Championship the absolute furthest (though the chances are unlikely), but I see Reid's run to be shorter than with the Eagles. He'll instate a bit of more consistency, but that's about that. The Chiefs stand as the only team to pick a coach with previous experience as a former NFL coach, which should do them well. B+
Doug Marrone to the Bills- Marrone was the head coach in Syracuse before accepting the job as the Bills head coach. There, he did quite mediocre despite coming off a hot season. He's from the area, which provides someone interested in coaching a team from such a cold area that isn't the center of attention. Whether or not he will move the team forward is to be seen, but the Bills had a lot of other options they could have went with. They could have very easily either selected Lovie Smith, who can coach in this weather and knows how to win or they could have went with their second option from 2006, and went with Mike Sherman, who had a positive streak of consistency with the Packers before getting fired after a one-season slump... which brings me to the fact that Mike Sherman coached the Packers... cold weather! Back to Marrone, I either see him contributing to the current trend or improving it, but only marginally so. My prediction is that Marrone sees about three seasons with the team, an 8-8 season will be the shiniest possibility on his radar. Whether it be Chan Gailey, Dick Jauron, or Marrone, the team is only seeing similar, mediocre results. I would have really went with someone who has a record of bringing reform to a team. I just don't see Marrone as the guy. C
Rod Chudzinski to the Browns- Chudzinski was a hot candidate for a head coaching position during the last few years for what he has been able to do with Cam Newton. This season was quite a weary season to choose with that regard. However, what I see as his saving grace is that he has great selections for offensive and defensive coordinator. Norv Turner is one of the great offensive coordinators in the NFL today and this is where he truly belongs. Not as a soft-spoken head coach, but as an offensive coordinator that concentrates on the area he excels at best. On defense, Ray Horton could have easily been named the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, but was instead let go in favor of a more familiar coordinator to the new coach. While Childress and Jauron could have done better, what this will come down to is answering the question of Brandon Weeden's performance level and how the existing talent should be used. This team will likely reach .500 once, perhaps even a playoff visit, but a very quick one. Chudzinski and the Browns are going to look like Jim Schwartz and the Lions. They are going to return to some form of conversation, but it's not going to really help them excel. My prediction is that Chudzinski sees about four or five seasons with the team before a realization comes about with regard to his mediocre coaching. Not the long term for them. B-
Mike McCoy to the Chargers- This seems like just the match for the team. While the Chargers are looking at their offense, that's exactly what they need to order to resurrect them to their original form. Mike McCoy was able to create schemes that fit Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning appropriately, and doing the same with Rivers will be his key task. I believe that McCoy will be able to accomplish such a task and the team will be back competing for the division, most likely with the Broncos and on few occasions the Eagles. Between McCoy and Reid, the difference between the hires is that McCoy needs to resurrect an offense, which is identical to what he had to do in Denver. It's not like he's dealing with the exact same problem that got him fired from his former team, which is what Reid and the Chiefs face. My prediction is that McCoy sees plenty of visits to the playoffs and about ten seasons (maybe more) as the coach of the team. There's a new general manager, so there shouldn't be surprises like there was with Marty Schottenheimer. Good to see he landed somewhere, the Chargers were quite the landing. A-
Marc Trestman to the Bears- This, in my mind, was the most underrated coaching move that may see a major change to the consistency of QB Jay Cutler. Trestman has a history of being able to turn quarterback's into the major force that they should be to the offense. He worked with Steve Young on continuing to make him the relevant player that he is and then went to the Raiders and polished veteran QB Rich Gannon into a star player and league MVP. Now, he has the same opportunity to turn the inconsistent Jay Cutler into the elite quarterback he was intended to be. Trestman has everything set up in Chicago and selected an offensive coordinator that knows more about the offensive line, while Trestman will be able to work with turning the offense into a top of the line offense in the league. The defense just needs to keep doing what it's doing and doing it well. If the offense can improve, the team could definitely see deep runs into the playoffs. This team should like see the most immediate improvement, because they were already doing quite well and lost out by the skin of their teeth, making Lovie Smith's firing the most shocking. My prediction is that Trestman will see immediate success and be a consistent playoff visitor for the next decade or so. The Packers and Bears will be the two teams constantly battling for the division and bring back a consistent battle that has existed for ninety years. The Bears are the team that seems the most set up to make a powerful run within the next decade and if Smith could remain with the team for nine seasons, Trestman should see just as much time, if not a few more years. A+
Chip Kelly to the Eagles- This was one of the shocking hires, because Kelly had flirted with joining either the Browns or Eagles, then decided he was going to stay in Oregon. He changed his mind again and decided to join the Eagles. Kelly sounds like the hottest name at the moment we speak and he has a lot he could contribute to this team and their elements that just won't form a chemistry. It will however, come down to whether or not the chemistry of this team is ready to come together and perform like the team we expect to perform year in and year out. It's getting difficult, too, in a division where Nick Foles will have to develop fast in order to keep up with current or upcoming elite quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III, or Tony Romo. If not, they could be on the outside looking in. I do, however, see Kelly as a coach with enthusiasm and will bring a consistently similar to Andy Reid's back to the Eagles. They should see some winning seasons again, as well as playoff games. I do not know how quick it will take for them to return to the NFC Championship or the Super Bowl, if they are destined to do it. My prediction is that Kelly at least makes them consistent playoff contenders. He'll be there for a healthy amount of time, but the exact number will all depend on his immediate success and if achieved, how long the Eagles remain relevant. An appropriate fit, I shall say. A-
Gus Bradley to the Jaguars- This move could work or this move could not work. The Jaguars are plagued with larger problems than the fact they can't win. They're also dealing with the fact they sell less tickets than any other team. They're in the direction of becoming the 1996 Houston Oilers, who eventually moved to Tennessee the next year, and then a few years after became the Tennessee Titans. Bradley is the only defensive coach to pick up a job this offseason and his performance as a coordinator in Seattle has proved quite successful. Whether or not he resurrects the team, starting on the defensive end, brings plenty of question marks. The bigger question marks have to do with why the new GM didn't bring Tim Tebow to the team. Sure, he's not a long-term decision, but he's a short-term decision and a very good short-term decision at that. The Jags need sales and Tebow will bring sales for as long as he remains relevant (which may fade away soon if nobody picks him up). Tebow played for the Florida Gators and the people in Florida would still enjoy seeing him, but passing him up could have very well caused the Jags to pass their time up in Jacksonville. They may have to make a move to Los Angeles when they get the chance at doing so, but we'll see. As for Bradley, my prediction is that elements improve, but it only makes the team slightly better. The Jags will surely see more wins, but I think 8-8 will be more likely, and Bradley's run with the team will be fairly short. The Jaguars made the right move, but they need to think about attracting fans and usefulness first. B-
Bruce Arians to the Cardinals- If any coordinator deserved a job from the get-go, it was Bruce Arians. Arians was the offensive coordinator of the Colts that had to inherit the head coaching position from Chuck Pagano, after he had to go for treatment for his leukemia. Arians would lead the team into the playoffs, which is a rare task for an interim head coach. The head coach in sickness debate does not even apply, because there are plenty of teams that faltered for that very reason. Mike Martz went out on sick leave in 2005 and the team drastically faltered. Arians never treated himself to head coaching luxuries, which shows the kind of interim and man that he is. As for the job up and coming, he inherits a team with a powerful defense and an enigmatic offense. The first question he'll have to answer is the quarterback question. If he could do that, the team will be heading back in the right direction. At 60 years old, Arians is the oldest hire, but it should and will mean nothing to the direction of the team. My prediction is that the NFC West will turn in to a shootout between four teams and consistently so. It will become the hottest division and Arians and the Cardinals should have some say every so often. Once they find the right quarterback for them, the playoffs will be a destination of regular visitation. If Arians could do this, he will likely determine how long he stays with the team. Good choice! A-
Another topic to note about these coaching coaches is that none of them were black, which stirred controversy due to such a decrease within recent seasons. There were five black coaches last season, now there are three. Currently, there is the "Rooney Rule," which requires every team to interview at least one minority candidate, which refers to coaches of different races (Black, Hispanic, etc.). My honest opinion, with all due respect, is that the coaches that were selected were selected in the right matter. Selections should be based off of merit, not skin color. Sure, Lovie Smith was a reasonable candidate for a job opening, but he didn't fit the needs of the individual team. In that case, he wasn't chosen. Choosing a coach based off of appearance is more biased than not doing so, thus this is the path that should be followed. Even Perry Fewell could have been a hot coaching candidate. Unfortunately, the Giants defense could not keep up and he'll have to wait until his defense does seek a revival. Smith, Fewell, Ray Horton, and Winston Moss are all potential head coaching candidates. Even Hue Jackson could see a second chance. There just happened to be other coaches that held strengths that were more attractive and that's what needs to be the deciding factor. That is the true nature of equality. All coaches are initially equal and their talent is what distinguishes one coach from the other. That and connections, which could be a wild card to the search, but that's how all positions are filled.
The NFL will wrap up in thirteen days as the Niners battle the Ravens, which should be an exciting fight. That will be up and coming on the NFL radar and we'll just have to see what the game has to offer.