New Boss(es) in Town
Eric Mangini was hired to put the Browns back on track—just like the last 4 head coaches—and he could bring more defensive stability along with Rob Ryan, the new defensive coordinator.
However, their schemes are very opposite.
Mangini ran a 3-4 defense last season in New York, and the Browns will likely keep this scheme. To the contrary, Rob Ryan is used to working with a 4-3 defense. Also, Mangini will often blitz with an OLB while Ryan doesn't blitz at all.
The defensive scheme the Browns decide to use in 2009 will be a key component for drafting players. Almost everyone agrees that they need to draft a defensive player but which player will be the best fit for the Browns based on their new defense?
After the worst season in franchise history the Lions hired Jim Schwartz to be their head coach. He was the Titans' defensive coordinator for seven years and during that time he helped develop a lot of players and watched his unit become one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The Lions need a lot of help on both sides of the ball and having Schwartz will boost the entire defense. He learned how to run a team from Jeff Fisher and that is an insurance policy for a lot of people.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams went from being the "Greatest Show on Turf" to having consecutive seasons picking 2nd overall in the draft. If that was an evil plan to bring talented players to the team, I must say: they fooled us all.
Steve Spagnuolo was the man chosen to take the head coaching position, and he was a highly coveted coach after winning the Super Bowl last season and having one of the best defenses in the history of the New York Giants. He decided to pursue back-to-back championships with the Giants rather than accepting a head coaching job, and that says a lot about him.
Players like Chris Long and Adam Carriker will show their entire potential working under Spagnuolo and that will bring St. Louis the new kind of boss they desperately need.
New York Jets
After seeking prospects like Bill Cowher and Steve Spagnuolo, the Jets decided to hire former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. Coaching the second best defense in 2008 and taking Baltimore to the AFC championship was enough to make Ryan a hot prospect as a head coach.
He fits the 3-4 scheme that Mangini left in New York, and he could bring one of the 3 Baltimore linebackers that are free agents. Ryan will help develop Vernon Gholston and the young defensive backs that are on the team.
After the surprising departure of John Gruden in Tampa, Bucs defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was promoted to head coach. He was interviewed for a couple of jobs around the league but he didn't expect the kind of opportunity that arose.
A lot of changes in the coming months—and seasons—are going to happen in Tampa, especially after the departure of Gruden and Monte Kiffin, who accepted a job coaching along side his son at the University of Tennessee.
Morris will try to succeed but he will need to address a lot of weaknesses. First, he needs to find the right person to take care of the offense and a good assistant that can help him coach the defense.
The Bucs have a good defensive base but they will need to bring some offensive stability to the Bay. A franchise QB—no more than 35 years old—a reliable RB and a couple of WRs would certainly help.
So far, every team listed has hired defensive-minded coaches—except the Denver Broncos.
Instead, they went out on a limb to hire Josh McDaniels as their head coach. Some people—including myself—thought that the Broncos should have gone after a defensive-minded coach but they decided to go with the former Patriots offensive coordinator.
The Broncos have a good group of offensive players, including a young QB and two promising WRs, but their defense has struggled the last couple of seasons. McDaniels has already addressed those defensive woes by bringing in former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator.
There's still a lot of work to be done but with the right management they could be a top team in the upcoming years.
After hiring Scott Pioli as GM, the Kansas City Chiefs now need to decide the future of head coach Herm Edwards. There are reports that Bill Cowher will take the job in 2010, leaving Edwards as the head coach for 2009.
The only sure thing is that Edwards won't hold the head coaching position for much longer.
The Oakland Raiders are a mystery.
They have let a lot of coaches go this off-season—offensive-line, wide receivers, running backs, linebackers, etc.—but they haven't decided if Tom Cable will stay as the head coach for the 2009 season.
They could be waiting for Todd Haley, offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, but so far the Raiders are behind the rest of the teams in the NFL—including the Detroit Lions. Oakland doesn't have leaders, a face, or even players willing to play there, but with a lot of young prospects and millions of dollars invested, they need to put the franchise back on track.
[Special Mentions: Jim Mora, Mike Singletary and Jim Caldwell. They had their head coaching jobs secure before the offseason]