The 2009 NFL season will see no less than 11 teams total taking the field with new skippers manning the helm (6 AFC and 5 NFC), however, inside that number a deeper look-see reveals that a total of 7 NFL teams will begin the new season with a completely new staff with regard to changes made at not only the head coaching position but also at the offensive and defensive coordinator positions as well.
Interestingly enough 4 of the 11 new skippers heading teams this season were either in “interim” positions with the same team or were with the same team the prior season and designated as a heir apparent to the job (Jim Caldwell of the Colts, Tom Cable of the Raiders, Mike Singletary of the Niners, and Jim Mora Jr. of the Seahawks). Of the remaining 7 new NFL head men, three were defensive coordinators last season (Rex Ryan from the Ravens and now with the Jets, Jim Schwartz from the Titans and now with the Lions, and Steve Spagnuolo from the Giants and now with the Rams).
Two of the remaining new HC’s for this year are former offensive coordinators (Todd Haley from the Cards and now with the Chiefs, and Josh McDaniels from the Patriots and now with the Broncos), oddly enough while 10 of the 11 teams turned over the reins of their franchise to men that were either former NFL head coaches in the past (Jim Mora Jr with Seattle and Eric Mangini with Cleveland) or were in head coaching interim positions with the same team (Jim Caldwell of the Colts, Tom Cable of the Raiders, Mike Singletary of the Niners, and Jim Mora Jr. of the Seahawks) or were successful offensive or defensive coordinators from other teams…only one team of the eleven teams (Tampa Bay) chose to go to battle with a new head man possessing virtually no experience whatsoever.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneer brass must know something we don’t know that’s for sure with regard to placing their teams’ future in the hands of a guy (Raheem Morris) that has never held a head coaching position at any competitive level and has never advanced past the position of a defensive backs coach in the NFL. This is going to be a very interesting year for the Buccaneer faithful indeed with regard to having a new head coach that has virtually no NFL coaching experience who will turn 33 years young on September 3, 2009 while also having a new 63 year old defensive coordinator (Jim Bates) with 37 years of coaching experience.
Yup, Tampa’s new defensive coordinator has been coaching football for 4 years longer than the Bucs new HC has been breathing air, the Buc’s also have a new offensive coordinator (Jeff Jagodzinski) that has 24 years of total coaching experience in the College and Professional ranks including six years of NFL coaching experience and was a very successful head coach at Boston College but was fired for interviewing for the vacant New York Jets head coaching job. Yup, its certainly going to be quite interesting to see if young Raheem Morris listens to his more experienced assistants or not and also whether the new assistants give as much help as they are capable of as each of them surely must covet the head coaching job should Morris get kicked to the curb after this season.
Its obvious that the Tampa Bay brass wants to see new skipper Raheem Morris succeed as demonstrated by the experienced coordinators they brought in to help him, however, the Bucs’ didn’t fare so well in this past Aprils draft and the loss of eight starters from last years squad coupled with facing the NFL’s third toughest schedule this year in terms of facing teams that had a combined winning percentage of .580 will be too much to overcome and especially so when considering that three of their first five games to open the season are on the road and they will close out the regular season with four of their final six games away from home, and oh by the way…these Bucs will only have seven home games this season as they will be facing the Patriots in a game to be played in London England on October 25th and it counts as a home game for Tampa Bay.
On the flip side of things, as mentioned above there are a total of seven NFL teams for the 2009 season that will have totally new coaching staffs with regard to having a new head coach as well as new offensive and new defensive coordinators in place. Above I outlined which team (Tampa Bay), that in my opinion will have the worst season of any team with either a new head coach or a new coaching staff, with that being said I might as well give a synopsis of which team entering this season with a completely new coaching staff that in my opinion will do well and even surprise a few folks this season…drum roll please…it’s the Detroit Lions.
Will the Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl or make the playoffs this season? Probably not when considering that professional odds makers have installed the Lions as a 12 to 1 doggie to win the NFC North divisional title and the O/U on Detroits’ expected win total is only 5 games as of this writing, in the big picture who can really blame the odds makers or the public for lacking confidence in these Kitty cats?
After all, Detroit did post a winless mark of 0-16 last year and over the last three seasons have compiled a mark of 10-38, as a matter of fact the Lions were dead last in the NFL over the past two straight years in total defense and the 517 total points they allowed last year (which was an average of 32.31 pts per gm) was the second most allowed in NFL history. Detroit hasn’t been much better on offense either, mainly because of their terrible play along the offensive line which has allowed an eye opening 158 total sacks over the past three seasons making it no small wonder why they found it extremely hard to keep their QB’s and RB’s off the injury list.
However, the Lion brass FINALLY replaced GM Matt Millin and also brought a new sheriff to town and his name is Jim Schwartz, his newly appointed deputy on offense is Scott Linehan and his newly appointed deputy on defense is Gunther Cunningham. The Lions also cleaned house with regard to their player roster as they gave 20 players their walking papers and replaced them with 14 free agents and 10 draft picks.
Those that don’t know who is who might like to know that new HC Jim Schwartz was the Titans defensive coordinator for the past eight seasons and has been groomed for this position by one of the NFL’s best in Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher, meanwhile, new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was the Rams head coach from 2006 to 2008 and is one heck of a teacher, keep in mind that this is the same guy that while serving as the Vikings offensive coordinator from 2002 to 2004 turned QB Duante Culpepper into a passing machine as Culpepper averaged a 27 to 15 TD to INT ratio with 4016 passing yards and an average QB rating of 94.2 over Linehan’s time with the Vikes.
Needless to say its going to take some time for the new Detroit coaching staff to get to know one another as well as get to know what equates to an almost entirely new Lion team, however, my recommendation is to keep an eye on this team and especially after the first four weeks of the regular season when things start to gel together, in the end they might not win many games in straight up fashion but my money will be on them to cover the number in a few choice spots.
By Jim Campbell of http://www.FootballForecastor.com
Jim Campbell runs http://www.FootballForecastor.com which has been an internet based sports handicapping service since 1997, you will be hard pressed to find another handicapper that has had the kind of success Jim has had, over the past eight years he has maintained one of the very best winning percentages of any sports handicapping service.