Every offseason fantasy owners and football fans in general, tune in to find out which free agents are heading where. Signings like T.O. heading to the Buffalo Bills and TJ Houshmandzadeh's journey to the Northwest where he'll join the Seattle Seahawks, are analyzed and scrutinized by everyone from ESPN to the guy sitting in the cubicle next to you as everyone attempts to figure out how these new additions will fit in their new systems.
Strangely enough, the coaching changes that occur each and every offseason garner much less attention despite these holding much more significance. After all, the coaches are the ones devising the systems that guys like T.O. and Housh will be playing in. But don't worry, the Bruno Boys, as usual, have you covered as we take a look at the Coaching Carousel of the NFL, while breaking down all the important coaching changes division by division. This stop, the AFC South.
Houston Texans' Defensive Coordinator
Out: Richard Smith
In: Frank Bush Sr.
Offense wasn't a problem for the Houston Texans in 2008 as the team ranked 3rd in the league with 382.1 yards per game and managed to put up a healthy 22.9 points per game, not stellar but definitely respectable.
Defense, on the other hand, was a whole other story. Not only did the Texans allow their opponents 24.6 points per game, sixth most in the league, but they also extended their streak of finishing outside the top 20 for total defense to six years, coming in at number 22 in 2008. Thus, the Texans decided to part ways with defensive coordinator, Richard Smith, the man responsible for the Texans defensive game plan since 2006, and get some new blood into the position.
The Texans didn't exactly go far in search of that new blood, deciding to promote from within, moving Frank Bush Sr. from senior defensive assistant to defensive coordinator. Many have questioned whether the Texans should have gone out-of-house instead of handing the job to Bush, a man who had a hand in the Texans prior poor performances on the defensive side of the ball, but Bush has promised to be more aggressive than Smith was in his play calling. If that's the case, both Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye could benefit and see an increase in their sack totals.
Still, the Bruno Boys don't believe just being more aggressive is the answer to the Texans defensive woes; hence, you will probably want to pass the unit up on draft day 2009.
Indianapolis Colts Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator
Out: Tony Dungy (Head Coach) / Ron Meeks (Defensive Coordinator)
In: Jim Caldwell (Head Coach) / Larry Coyer (Defensive Coordinator)
Even though it was known that Tony Dungy, the "King of Class" when it comes to NFL head coaches, was going to hang up his clipboard following the 2008 season, it is still weird to consider that when the Indianapolis Colts take the field this upcoming season Dungy won't be there. After all, the man led the team to at least 10 wins and the playoffs (including one Super Bowl win) in each and every one of the seven seasons he manned the sidelines.
Attempting to fill Dungy's shoes will be Jim Caldwell, a man with no prior NFL head coaching experience. However, the Colts opted to hand the job to Caldwell rather than bring in a big name in order to keep a sense of continuity with the team. And that's the theme fantasy owners need to recognize. Caldwell is simply an extension of Dungy, learning directly from the man since 2001. Caldwell, along with holdover offensive coordinator, Tom Moore, will continue to rely on the arm of Peyton Manning and the Colts passing game to get wins.
Despite the emphasis on continuity, some changes have been made by Caldwell, including the switch from Ron Meeks to Larry Coyer as defensive coordinator. While Meeks did bring about improvement on the defensive side of the ball, the fact that the team ranked 24th against the run last season left something to be desired. As such, Caldwell, in looking for Meeks replacement, focused on finding a man that had a penchant for defensive designs meant to stop the run.
Coyer is that man. In fact, while serving as defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos from 2003 to 2006, Coyer's units finished in the top seven in NFL rush defense three times. If Coyer can work his magic and get the Colts to stop the run, the defensive unit will make for a border line starting fantasy squad.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive Coordinator
Out: Greg Williams
In: Mel Tucker
Defensive guru Greg Williams did not quite fill the void left last season when Mike Smith left his role as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars to take over the sidelines for the Atlanta Falcons. In fact, under Williams, the Jags dipped five spots in total defense from 12th in 2007 to 17th in 2008. That led to a parting of ways between Williams, who'll take his aggressive 4-3 scheme to the New Orleans Saints, and Jacksonville.
In hiring Williams' replacement, head coach, Jack Del Rio, brought in 2008 Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, an interesting choice considering the Browns finished nine spots below Jacksonville's defense in total defense in 2008.
So, why Tucker? There are a couple of reasons behind Del Rio's choice.
First, Tucker, not being a household name like Williams, will be more willing to take Del Rio's imput when it comes to the team's defensive game plan. No doubt something Del Rio wants in what could be a make or break year for the head coach.
Tucker, prior to being the Brown's defensive coordinator served as numeorus teams' defensive backs coach, has a very strong background when it comes to the secondary, an area that the Jags struggled in on the defensive side of the ball last season, finishing 24th against the pass. Improving the team's pass defense will go a long way to gaining back those five spots lost between 2007 and 2008 in the total defense category.
Tennessee Titans Defensive Coordinator
Out: Jim Schwartz
In: Chuck Cecil
Despite the trendy move to change defensive coordinators that took place in the AFC South this offseason, the Tennessee Titans would have been more than happy to keep Jim Schwartz aboard. After all, Tennessee gave up the seventh fewest yards and second fewest points to opposing offenses. However, success like that will boost a man's resume, something the Titans found out as Schwartz was offered the head coaching job of the Detroit Lions.
Rather than change things up and bring an outsider in to fiddle with the defense, the Titans decided to give the coordinator job to Chuck Cecil, a man who's been with the franchise since 2001. With that being the case, look for the Titans to employ a similar defensive attack to the one they utilized in 2008 with similar results, making them a top tier fantasy defense as we head into 2009.
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