Unless there is a surprise late firing, all NFL coaching vacancies have been filled. The Tennessee Titans made their decision over the weekend retaining interim head coach Mike Mularkey. What are some things that stick out about the coaching changes?
- Offense rules: All seven head coaching hires have a background on the offensive side of the ball. This is an era where finding and developing a quarterback is far and away the most important objective for any NFL team. Do these coaching hires reflect that? Maybe, but then again six of the seven coaches hired last year had a background on the defensive side of the ball. Was this just a case where teams went offense because most of the top defensive prospects were hired a year ago?
- Offensive continuity rules: On the same note, teams seemed particularly inclined to keep their offensive systems in tact for their franchise quarterbacks. If you count Mularkey, who served as interim head coach for the Titans at the end of the season, three of the seven teams simply promoted their offensive coordinator. In Tampa Bay, there are reports the biggest impetus for the coaching change was fear the offensive coordinator might leave them for a head coaching job elsewhere. I have to say this feels a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Yes, in an ideal world you don't want to change systems on your quarterback. Isn't it more important to have a head coach who knows how to manage, delegate, hire a staff, run the game, and perform all of the other duties of a head coach effectively, though? Plenty of great quarterbacks had to learn a new system at one point and did very well.
- The college trend is over (for now): This was the second straight year teams did not make a hire from the college ranks. Part of this might have had to do with the lack of interest from the top college candidate, David Shaw. In this day and age, the lines between a "college guy" and an "NFL guy" have blurred with coaches moving back and forth. Still, Bill O'Brien was the last NFL head coach hired directly from a college job.
- Patriots keep their coordinators: From a Jets perspective, this might be the most important takeaway. Patriots coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia did not get head coaching jobs. Part of it has to do with New England's success. Teams cannot hire an assistant from another team until that team's season is over. The Patriots are once again on a deep run. Teams like to have their head coaches in place around now. Assistant coaches are on the move. Hiring a guy after the Super Bowl might mean all of the top assistants have found jobs, making it difficult to build a quality staff. I think we should all be past the point of believing losing a coordinator would be a mortal wound to the Patriots, but a little less stability and experience in key jobs would not have hurt.