Ranking the 2012 NFL Head Coaching Class
As the NFL 2012 offseason unfolds, the busiest head coaches are the ones who were hired after the 2011 season came to an end. Teams who hired head coaches during the offseason are at a slight disadvantage as franchises that already have a set head coach had no problem making progress and plans since the first day of the offseason.
The new head coaches get a little bit of a late start. However, first impressions can be made as some of the head coaches hired in 2012 have some head coaching experience in the past.
Seven NFL head coaches have been asked to take over a franchise. Which head coaches will be the most prepared heading into the season?
St. Louis Rams: Jeff Fisher
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Previous Rams Coach: Steve Spagnuolo
Head Coaching Record: 142-120
Jeff Fisher is no stranger to football fans. Fisher spent 17 seasons as the head coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise including the 1994 season where Fisher was the interim head coach while serving as the defensive coordinator for the team after Jack Pardee was let go midway through the season.
Fisher found a lot of success with the late Steve McNair, leading the Titans to six postseason appearances, three division titles and one Super Bowl appearance. Coincidentally, Fisher and his Titans lost in the Super Bowl to the Rams, the team he is now with.
Although last season did not go well for the Rams, 2012 should be more watchable. Although the two quarterbacks are different in their own ways, Fisher hopes that his new quarterback, Sam Bradford, can have a successful career similar to McNair's.
Kansas City Chiefs: Romeo Crennel
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Previous Chiefs Coach: Todd Haley
Head Coaching Record: 26-41
Among the seven new head coaches in the NFL this year, Romeo Crennel is the only head coach who became an interim head coach the season before. Despite coaching the Kansas City Chiefs through only three games, he made a big impression.
Crennel turned his track record with the Cleveland Browns into a long-distant memory after coaching the Chiefs to a victory against the Green Bay Packers, handing them their first and only loss of the regular season. The most impressive part is, he had only six days to prepare for the Packers after Todd Haley was relieved of his duties the Monday before the game. Crennel went 2-1 with the Chiefs to give them a 7-9 record, falling one game short of winning the AFC West.
His head coaching record is not a fair representation of how good of a coach he is. No head coach has been able to succeed with the Browns. However, Crennel gave the Browns their first double-digit win season in 2007 and their first since 1994. As a defensive assistant, Crennel won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and three more with the New England Patriots.
As the head coach and the defensive coordinator of the Chiefs, he has a good chance of coaching his team to an AFC West title.
Miami Dolphins: Joe Philbin
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Previous Dolphins Coach: Tony Sparano
Head Coaching Record: N/A
Joe Philbin has no experience has a head coach. But out of the four new head coaches taking on a brand new challenge, Philbin is the most prepared after a successful tenure with the Green Bay Packers.
Philbin was hired as a Packers offensive assistant in 2003 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007. In his five years leading the Packers offense, he managed to keep the Packers in the top 10 in the league in total offense and in passing. During those five seasons, he played a big role in helping the Packers reach the NFC Championship game twice and win Super Bowl XLV.
The Miami Dolphins are hoping that Philbin can carry that over after the franchise selected quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the eighth pick in the draft. During Philbin's time in Green Bay, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers were two quarterbacks he got to work with. Philbin knows a good quarterback when he sees one and could see something in Tannehill that many may not.
In a competitive AFC East, Philbin will need a top-notch offense in order to help the Dolphins compete as long as he is running the team.
Indianapolis Colts: Chuck Pagano
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Previous Colts Coach: Jim Caldwell
Head Coaching Record: N/A
Chuck Pagano is coaching the Indianapolis Colts, the worst team from last season. Luckily, it was an ideal season for the Colts to clinch the No. 1 pick in the draft as it led to them selecting quarterback Andrew Luck, who is hyped to be the next big thing.
Pagano might be able to coach the Colts offense to a big turnaround in 2012. He may let offensive coordinator Bruce Arians have more control of the offense while he spends most of his time with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Pagano has been a defensive assistant coach since 1984 with Southern California. Pagano has moved around a lot and has finally found himself a head coaching job. He impressed the Colts while serving as the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens the season before. The Ravens defense finished third in total defense.
Pagano knows the Colts defense has only finished in the top 10 twice since 2000 and that the franchise is relying on him to help repair that.
If Pagano gives the Colts a stable defense, he has a great chance to turn Indianapolis into a three-dimensional football team with Luck for sure to lead the offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Schiano
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Previous Buccaneers Coach: Raheem Morris
Head Coaching Record: N/A
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were disappointed with Raheem Morris and his inability to coach quarterback Josh Freeman as they both became part of the franchise in 2009. Now, the Buccaneers are looking to Greg Schiano to take over and give the team a competitive spirit.
Schiano struggled in his first two years as the Rutgers head coach. The school went 3-20 with an 0-14 conference record in the Big East in 2001 and 2002 combined. But Schiano stayed with Rutgers and eventually flipped the switch. He finished with a 68-67 record, leading the Scarlet Knights to a 5-1 bowl record.
Schiano has an offense with great potential before him after the additions of wide receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive guard Carl Nicks. Freeman has thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes in two of the three seasons he has been in the league. But He now has a chance to turn that around with a talented group of players around him. Rookie running back Doug Martin could also help take away some pressure on offense.
Defensively, Schiano has big plans to rebuild the team with safety Mark Barron and outside linebacker Lavonte David taken fairly early.
In a division where the New Orleans Saints are suffering major consequences with head coach Sean Payton's season long suspension being one of them, the NFC South could be wide open, giving Schiano and the Buccaneers a chance surprise a lot of people.
Oakland Raiders: Dennis Allen
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Previous Raiders Coach: Hue Jackson
Head Coaching Record: N/A
Dennis Allen will be the first Oakland Raiders head coach under new general manager Reggie McKenzie after the passing of the late Al Davis. Although Allen is carrying a big title in a new Raiders era, it won't be an easy task. Allen's hire comes as a surprise after Hue Jackson was given only one year to be the head coach of the Raiders.
Unexpectedly, the Raiders released tight Kevin Boss, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, cornerbacks Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt, who were all under contract for 2012. In regards to free agency, Oakland was not very active. Perhaps the most noteworthy offseason addition was backup defensive end Dave Tollefson, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants.
The Raiders won't be getting much help from the draft either as their first selection came late in the third round after drafting offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom.
It is obvious that Allen has a lot on his hands and the pressure could be on quarterback Carson Palmer. The good part is, Palmer will have OTAs and training camp in his first full offseason with his new team after being acquired midseason. The bad news is that he will not have much help after a quiet offseason.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Mularkey
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Previous Jaguars Coach: Jack Del Rio
Head Coaching Record: 14-18
Mularkey was the head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and 2005. In his first season, the Bills went 9-7 but declined the following year with a 5-11 record. Mularkey was let go after the Bils finished in third place in the AFC East each season.
Since his departure from Buffalo, Mularkey has been an offensive assistant and has been the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons. The Dolphins finished 20th in total offense under Mularkey in 2006 and he was demoted after the season. However, Mularkey got a chance to redeem himself in Atlanta.
From 2008-11, he was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons. He helped the Falcons finish in the top 10 twice and never fell below the league average in total offense. Mularkey now wants a second chance as a head coach after being given a second chance as an offensive coordinator following his brief tenure with the Dolphins.
Mularkey is confident in Blaine Gabbert despite the Jaguars finishing last in the league in total offense and in passing. If given a couple of seasons, Mularkey might be able to help Gabbert improve and move the Jaguars toward the right direction.