After a topsy-turvey 2010 season in the AFC West, things were finally starting to fall into place in the division—and then the sky fell on everyone.
All of the teams in the division got at least one new coordinator and two of the four teams brought in a new head coach.
The 2011 season looks to be filled with super surprises as well as deep disappointments for AFC West fans. The following slides will break things down team by team and get you up to date on biggest moves in coaching in the AFC West.
The Chiefs had the least amount of coaching changes coming into the 2011 season.
They lost offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to the college game (University of Florida) and filled the vacant position with their O-line coach, Bill Muir. He, like Saunders in Oakland, will be more of a behind-the-scenes guy, giving play calling duties back to head coach Todd Haley.
I think Haley is the real deal, and this staff did a great job getting a young team to the playoffs already. I'm not thrilled about Haley calling the plays, but it's the most "intact" staff in the West.
Still, it's hard to shake what happened in the second half of the Chiefs' playoff loss to the Ravens in the 2010 season.
The Raiders fired head coach Tom Cable and promoted their offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to the head coaching position.
Jackson's old position was then filled by 64-year-old Al Saunders, who has been a bit of an NFL journeyman over the past 27 years. Jackson will still reportedly call the plays for the Raiders.
I don't know that getting rid of Cable was the right move, but Al Davis does whatever he wants.
Despite, the Raiders going .500 for the first time since 2002, Cable is out and Hue Jackson is the new guy. Jackson was responsible for running one of the league's most turned around offenses in 2010, and if they can get their QB situation figured out, Jackson may have something special brewing over there in Oakland...
The Broncos really shook things up as well, firing head coach Josh McDaniels and bringing in former Panthers head coach John Fox to run the team.
Fox brought in a couple of his assistants from Carolina and the team hired Saints secondary coach Dennis Allen as defensive coordinator. The Broncos were ranked dead last in defense in 2010.
It was only a few years ago that everyone was slurping up some John Fox. He's a VERY good coach and he's brought in a lot of his old staff.
Just keeping the Panthers into the conversation of NFL relevancy—not including a failed 2010 campaign—is impressive given their owner's lack of enthusiasm regarding bringing talent on for Fox to work with over the years. On top of that, the Saints secondary has been good at forcing turnovers when healthy and their secondary coach is now calling the shots as Denver's DC.
The Chargers took a hit by losing defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to a head coaching vacancy in Carolina. They then hired San Francisco 49ers castaway Greg Manusky to replace Rivera.
Their staff, like the Chiefs staff, will remain relatively intact going into the 2011 season.
That being said, I'm not sure it's a good thing.
The Chargers are the most talented team in the AFC West, yet they failed to get to over .500 until Week 12 while maintaining the league's top-ranked offense and defense. Their season was littered with countless mental errors, emotional breakdowns, turnovers on special teams and an overall lack of some sense of responsibility.
They look like a bunch of thugs out there some weeks, and these are all coachable problems. The inmates are clearly running the asylum in San Diego.
So that about sums up the coaching staff changes in the AFC West. Just when you think you have it all figured out, everything changes. I'm sure some of the change is for the better, as some is surely for the worst.
I have the teams ranked from 1-4 for all of the reasons I've laid out in the article.
1.Chiefs: Stability is the key to success in the NFL.
2.Broncos: John Fox is a class act, and he'll get them back on track or die trying.
3.Raiders: Tom Cable is gone, but Hue Jackson is one big reason for their 2010 success—he's still there.
4.Chargers: I've never had much faith in Norv Turner, and after the underachievers that were the 2010 Chargers, I'm not so sure that stability is a good thing in San Diego.
The Super Bowl is over and it's time to start looking into the NFL crystal ball. These coaching staff changes will surely be a big part of how the West is won.