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New Coaches – Let’s Rate Them

While this is a little late to the game, we’re going to examine the new NFL coaches and the affect they will have on their teams next season and beyond. These teams are the Cleveland Browns – Pat Shurmur; Tennessee Titans – Mike Munchak; Denver Broncos; John Fox; Dallas Cowboys – Jason Garrett; Minnesota Vikings – Leslie Frazier; Carolina Panthers – Ron Riviera; San Francisco 49ers – Jim Harbaugh.

Based off of the current teams as they are’s states, we’ll examine what to expect next season and then their overall impact on their teams. We’ll try to be as empirical as possible. However, this is going to be largely guessing and opinions because 1) we’re not experts (yet) and 2) this site is based off of opinions. Let’s be real.

Cleveland Browns: Pat Shurmur
Shurmur became a hot prospect this off season after seeing the Rams offense turn itself around. Sam Bradford turned into a budding star without having a #1 or even a #2 receiver. That was his first year with the Rams and he even was able to turn around Stephen Jackson and bring him back into the top running backs of the NFL question. Before that, he had spent time with the Eagles helping to shape a team that would make the NFC Championship game more than any other team during the 2000’s.

Next season he’ll be tasked with turning Colt McCoy onto the path of the elite quarterback and somehow find a receiving threat from the no-names they currently have. He inherits Peyton Hillis, the surprise and steal of 2010. He spent his first few picks working on upgrading the defensive line as they switch to a traditional 4-3 defense and adding a hopeful big name receiver. However, it remains to be seen if it will work in their favor.

Shurmur is make or break for Mike Holmgren. I think that Shurmur won’t be a bad coach, but I don’t think he’ll be the coach that finally turns Cleveland into a true playoff contender. The Browns will surge next season pulling out a 9-7 record and high hopes in a tough division. But the next season, they’ll fail to improve on that. Shurmur will get 5 total years and will mass no more than 10 wins and 1 playoff victory before getting replaced.

Tennessee Titans: Mike Munchak
Munchak has forever and always been a coach for the Titans, even when they were the Houston Oilers. He’s been their offensive line for the past 14 seasons. He’s a little under the radar mainly because O-line coaches don’t get much attention, so it will be interesting to see how he handles things. The good news: he’s been with the team for 14 years so he knows the current personnel and their tendencies.

He inherits a team that might be in the most shambles out of all of them currently listed. He has a running back who is spectacular but might spend a good amount of time holding out and who likes to talk. His best receiver spends more time in the court room than judges or lawyers (and also in the training room). They have huge question marks as to who will be under center. And his top defenders have image problems or are about ready to bolt to another team.

But this team is only 2 years removed from a 14-2. Hopes are high now that they’ve moved on from the Vince Young era. They’re looking to get back to the days when Steve McNair was under center and they were playing for the Super Bowl. But the team has been mired in mediocrity for too long, even with that 14-2 record. I don’t foresee Munchak being able to fully change the culture there. Next season they will be contending for the #1 pick in the draft. The seasons after, they will still be contending for the #1 pick in the draft. The Titans needed a full shock change, and Munchak won’t be able to do that. He’ll last 3 season.

Denver Broncos: John Fox
Fox made his name taking the Carolina Panthers and putting them on the map with stout defenses and off the back of a quarterback most wouldn’t consider better than middle of the road. A bit of a pitfall: he oversaw a 2-14 team last year as the head coach. He loves the fundamentals of football: defense, defense, defense and ground and pound. He’s old school. But he’s been successful.

He joins a team that has had so much trouble on defense they could have signed people off the street and performed better. They had a huge identity crisis as for the first time in forever the Broncos couldn’t figure out how to run the ball. Kyle Orton put up massive QB numbers and from 8 years of mediocrity to terrible-ness, Brandon Lloyd emerged. They are a team with only three assured positions, LT (Ryan Clady), RG (Chris Kuper) and LCB (Champ Bailey). The rest of the team will be up for evaluation. Oh yeah, they also have Tim Tebow, who played well at the end of the season.

John Fox may be too conservative. He will be tasked with molding a non-traditional QB into an NFL ready QB. He’ll have to change the mindset on defense (easy comings for Fox). But Denver is fickle. They don’t deal with failure for too long. And Fox isn’t a coach who can take a team to a Super Bowl. He’ll be gone after 3 seasons, even though in one of those seasons, the Broncos will make the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett
Technically, he was the head coach for part of last year on an interim level. But now he has the full title. He’s a rook at the head coaching role, but he was long rumored to replace Wade Phillips even before Phillips got too far onto the hot seat. He’s an offensive genius and helped a team with a bad offensive line and an injured star QB make a little bit of an end-of-season surge. He specializes in QB’s and is one of the main reasons why Tony Romo went from prized developmental no-name prospect to a household name. Seriously, other than people in Illinois, who’s heard of the Eastern Illinois Panthers?

He inherits a team with a lot of talent and probably the most star power. However, they have holes at very important spots. But the silver-lining is that while there are holes, there are prospects who could be ready to help out and a nicer free agent pool as well in case they want to play it safe. Oh, don’t forget, they have Jerry Jones, an owner/GM who refuses to see his team flounder (even though he should pass the GM duties onto someone with more football knowledge). He’ll have to ensure that Romo is the QB that can take them deep into the playoffs and figure out what is wrong with star, young wideout Dez Bryant.

Garrett is a players’ coach. And he also knows how to talk to Jerruh. He’s going to have a fairly long tenure (minimum 10 years from my point of view). The only thing that might halt his stay is if the NFC (B)EAST continues their arms race and they can’t keep up with the Giants and Eagles.

Minnesota Vikings: Leslie Frazier
Frazier is in my opinion the best coach to get a head coaching gig this year. He’s defensively focused and comes from a great lineage of mentors. He’s another HC rookie, but he received tutelage from Super Bowl winning coach Mike Tomlin and has been with winning programs his entire life. He did excellent work with the Eagles and helped make Bob Sanders into a household name when he was with the Colts.

The Vikings though are in a bit of trouble. They have a hole at a huge area in the QB department. But the good news is that they have a relatively stout offensive line and the best RB in the game in Adrian Peterson. Their defense is still stellar, but they’re aged or glassjawed at the defensive back side. He has his work cut out for him. But he has the capabilities to figure it out. He’ll have to convince Sidney Rice to stay or he’ll have to be a large part of bringing in another big, talented wide receiver to help out his rookie QB.

His fate might be tied to the success of Christian Ponder though. Ponder was considered one of the largest reaches of the draft. That with the fact that the Bears are surging and that the Packers are SB champions will make this task very difficult. However, Frazier is a bright mind and understands the intricacies. I suspect he’ll have a very long tenure in Minnesota.

Carolina Panthers: Ron Riviera
Some would say about Ron Riviera getting a head coaching job that it’s about time and well deserved. Others may not. He was instrumental in putting together the defense of the Chicago Bears when they made their Super Bowl run. And he has taken the Chargers’ defense of who-is-thats and good, but not great players into stellar defenses. He runs good schemes and knows how to bring out the best in his players.

He inherits the team with the worst record last year. And they are the team in the absolute worst shape. Their team is very young and inexperienced. They have a few bright spots and a few underrated players but not enough for a team playing on the professional level. They drafted Cam Newton to bring a different form of athleticism to the team. And let’s not make it a secret that I have large reservations about Cam Newton being able to play professionally. The order is tall, but Riviera could be the man who finds a diamond in the rough.

If Newton develops, Riviera’s job will be secure. However, if they have to spend a lot on another QB either through free agency or through the draft, Riviera will be gone quick. The Panthers’ ownership is also known for being penny pinchers. That can really mire a team too. If the Panthers fail, I don’t think it will be Riviera’s fault, but I don’t see them turning it around. And they’ll have a new coach in 5 years.

San Francisco 49ers: Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh has taken the Stanford and put them back on the football map. He developed Heisman runner-up Toby Gehrhardt and the most talked about QB prospect since Peyton Manning in Andrew Luck. He’s a QB coach and considered a rather bright mind. He has coaching in his blood as his brother Jon has turned the Raven franchise around and his dad was a coach for years.

His new team, the 49ers, haven’t been relevant since Jeff Garcia (really?) and Terrell Owens were on the squad. They are a team that has lost their identity. However, they are a team with a lot of nice pieces on both sides of the ball and they just seem to be a QB away from being a contender. That last part is the most telling. Frank Gore is a powerhouse, their offensive line is top notch and young, and they have the best linebacker in the game right now in Patrick Willis. There is no wonder why people believe this could have been a playoff team. However, they can’t seem to put that last piece in there to move them back into contendorship.

There’s something worth noting: college coaches aren’t normally successful on the NFL level. And that is what Jim has done his entire life. He’s going to have to find a QB to take this team higher. If he doesn’t do that, he’ll be out before very long. But with all of those points, Harbaugh looks like a coach, smells like a coach, sounds like a coach, he must be a coach. I think he’ll bring about the glory days of the 49ers again. Minimum 10 years with the program. Minimum.

Let’s keep in mind that these are just my personal observations. I could be very wrong about every single coach on here. Or I could be right. At least the teams that I rated their coaches rather low will hope that.

Written by Isaac Rickert, NFL Fan


What the Unsigned CBA Means for this Off-Season

Labor talks have resumed today between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. While both sides have said that progress has been made, with a few more days until the collective bargaining agreement ends, it’s looking more and more likely that we’ll hit a lockout for a period of time in the NFL. Whether or not it reaches the NFL season will remain to be seen.

We’re not going to explore the intricacies of the differences between the NFL and the NFLPA, what we are going to do is give you what you can expect during the next couple days and what will happen during the lockout.

First and foremost, expect more franchise tag and restricted free agent tenders to be issued to players. While the players don’t like the franchise tag designation, under the current CBA, it’s allowed, so in hopes of keeping their stars, teams will do do more tagging.

Also, with players such as LaMar Woodley signing their tenders, it looks to be a component of the CBA that will be around for years to come.

With the CBA ending, free agency won’t begin until it’s signed into effect. However, the free agents that do happen to exist right now will be able to negotiate with teams until the brand new extension expires. There won’t be too many signings, but it will still be more significant than in previous years.

Also, with free agency in flux and with teams unable to trade for players, the draft will become instantly more important to teams. I would expect more teams going for roster voids as opposed to the best player available.

This will become even more interesting with a draft class that is very top heavy with quarterbacks. Like every year, there are lots of quarterback needy teams. And while there are several players currently within contracts that could make interesting additions to teams, without a CBA, these players could end up not being traded as the teams in need may try to kick the wheels of rookies.

However, this draft isn’t exceptionally deep overall. While heavy in the QB and defensive linemen areas, it’s lacking in offensive line men talent, secondary talent, and a lot of the offensive skill positions.

Overall, it’s going to be pretty interesting. This article of course becomes moot if a new CBA is signed and a work stoppage is no longer needed. But for now, this is what our off season holds over us.

Written by Isaac Rickert, NFL Enthusiast

Mock Draft: January 27, 2010

Welcome to our inaugural Mock Draft. And by we, I mean Isaac as I’m doing this first. We’ll have a combined version for later, however, I figured I’d give it a first go, then listen to these other chuckleheads mock my mock draft. Let’s begin: 

1. Carolina Panthers: Da’Quan Bowers, DE – They already see what they lost in Julius Peppers, so I feel like they will be looking for his immediate replacement. Having a pincher attack of Charles Johnson and Bowers would be dangerous.
2. Denver Broncos: Nick Fairley, DT – Rumors are that the Broncos are switching back to a 4-3 defense. Since most of their D-line is more suited for 3-4, they’ll be looking for an immediate impact player to take at this spot.
3. Buffalo Bills – Trade to Tennessee Titans: Blaine Gabbert, QB – Gabbert’s been moving up the the draft boards and there will be several teams vying for him. The reason why I have Tennessee trading up is because they will believe that the Cardinals will draft him if available. And because Buffalo has a bunch of needs, they’ll stock up on picks.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green, WR – The Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens show is over. They’ll be looking for someone else here who can make big time plays. And he may be the one thing that keeps Carson Palmer in football.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Trade to Washington Redskins: Cam Newton QB – Mike Shanahan loves himself some mobile QBs with good arms. He also has a penchant of trading up when players could still fall to him. And Arizona will be trading down to catch value as no QB is worth the pick at this point in the draft.
6. Cleveland Browns: Marcell Dareus DT – With rumors of Shaun Rogers being on the outs, they’ll be looking for a big body. However, look for Dareus to be the bust of the top 10. He has some attitude and work ethic issues.
7. San Francisco 49ers: ┬áPatrick Peterson CB – They need some corner help and Peterson will be the best available at this point. They will consider Locker or Mallet, but if Peterson is here, they’ll take him.
8. Buffalo Bills: Stephen Paea DT – Paea is the best player available to better equip the Bills for their 3-4 move. There are some interesting players to take such as Von Miller, but I think they’ll go with bulk as there is slim pickins for 3-4 D-linemen.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara CB – Instead of going with an offensive lineman (a larger need in my opinion), Jerr-ah will go with the sexy Prince pick here. While CB is a need, if they played the 2nd round right, they could get a decent CB and have Nate Solder on their team.
10. Arizona Cardinals: Robert Quinn DE/OLB – The best available and also a player who can step in for aging Clark Haggans and Joey Porter. They would love to get a QB here, but they may also be throwing their hat into the ring for Andrew Luck next season.
11. Houston Texans: Von Miller OLB – They’re switching to a 3-4, so getting a pass rusher who is a bit more of an OLB mold will be a necessity. And with Mario Williams and Von Miller, their secondary will improve a bit.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Ryan Mallet QB – Ryan Mallet has some personal issues that make him drop some places. However, he had a good season at Arkansas and Leslie Frazier and his staff will be able to whip him into shape.
13. Detroi Lions: Nate Solder OT – They get their heir to Jeff Backus. A huge need for a team that has a young QB who hasn’t been healthy his 2 years in the league. And the fact that Jerry Jones will pass on him will make the Lions salivate with anticipation.
14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones WR – While Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson have shown promise, they both got injured early last season and the rest of the WR department is a bunch of who-is-that-guy’s. So Julio will be drafted to make a potent offense with Stephen Jackson, a stable O-line and Sam Bradford.
15. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Kerrigan DE – While they could look to blow up the wild-cat offense, I think they will look to improve their defensive line. And Kerrigan would give Cameron Wake more freedom to destroy QBs as he’ll command serious offensive line consideration.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Adrian Clayborn DE – They have Aaron Kampman, but I think they’ll be looking for another DE just because Kampman went down with an injury. And if there are two things that the Jags like to draft in the first round, it’s defensive linemen and terrible wide receivers. Don’t look for Jack Del Rio to all of a sudden change.
17. New England Patriots: J.J. Watt DE – They’re still looking for a replacement for Richard Seymour and Ty Warren hasn’t been as effective since Seymour’s departure. So look for the pick they used to trade away Seymour to pick up his replacement in Watt.
18. San Diego Chargers: Cameron Jordan DE – They need some big bodies to help stop the run. However, they may consider a long snapper here just because last year was so horrendous.
19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey C – Shaun O’Hare is an older player and Eli needs a good snapper to prevent Eli Manning Face from happening. They may consider Mark Ingram though as he is still there and both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs could be departing.
20. Tamp Bay Buccaneers: Akeem Ayers OLB – They will be looking to improve their pass rush as they currently have no one of value to get to the QB. Ayers is good at that and is best available.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyron Smith OT – The Chiefs’ offensive line has been serviceable. However, a ground and pound attack that averaged 4.7 yards per carry. This will also allow Brandon Albert to consider moving to a position he’s more suited for, such as right tackle or offensive guard.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo OT – The second OT taken in a run of three. The Colts had one problem, protecting Peyton Manning. And because they couldn’t do it, they had an early exit from the playoffs and almost didn’t make the playoffs. Offensive line will be the #1 thing they focus their attention on.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Gabe Carimi OT – The Eagles had the same problem as the Colts and it took its affects as the season wound down. If Michael Vick is given some time, he may break some records next season in passing yardage and DeSean Jackson will break some receiving yard records. By a lot. Enter Carimi, John Runyan-over 2.0.
24. New Orleans Saints: Corey Liuget DT – The Saints will be looking for run support, and pairing Sedrick Ellis with Liuget will give them a Williams Wall-esque defensive front.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker QB – The Hawks need to find someone to replace Matt Hasselbeck. While Hassellbeck can still play, Locker is from Washington and wouldn’t mind some time on the bench learning.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris CB – The only weakness they have on the D is the cornerback spot. If they aren’t able to get a huge name like Champ Bailey (or if the CBA isn’t signed) at CB, they’ll take Harris and sit on their laurels.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph TE – Matt Ryan has gotten used to a good tight end receiving threat in Tony Gonzalez. However, Tony’s getting up there in age and finding a replacement should be a top priority. Rudolph is the best TE option out there, so don’t be surprised if he’s chosen here over a WR.
28. New England Patriots: Justin Houston OLB – Their current OLBs are a bunch of no-names, so getting a better pass rush will be The Mastermind’s second point of business. Defense wins championships, after all.
29. New York Jets: Cameron Heyward DE – He can play 3-4, which is something that Rex Ryan may fall in love with. Also, their d-line is ancient. Getting some youth there is a must. Unless Darrelle Revis can play DE and put on 100 pounds.
30. Chicago Bears: Derek Sherrod OT – Someone needs to protect Jay Cutler. He got sacked more than any other QB this year. Sherrod is an immediate improvement to what is currently there. And Jay may finally look happy knowing someone has his back.
31.* Green Bay Packers: Mark Ingram – The former Heisman winner has fallen to the best possible opportunity for him. It’s unclear if Ryan Grant will be able to perform like he did before his injury and Brandon Jackson and James Starks as a combo isn’t that appealing. Ingram will provide an immediate spark for Aaron Rodgers and perhaps turn this team into a super team.
32.* Pittsburgh Steelers: Joseph Barksdale OT – With both Max Starks and Willie Colon coming off season ending knee injuries, the Steelers will be looking for a solid, young player to either replace one or be solid rotation for them. This may be the steal of the draft behind Ingram

Alright, let’s see what you guys have to say.

* Since the Super Bowl hasn’t been played yet, these 2 picks haven’t been decided yet.

Written by:
Isaac Rickert, NFL Enthusiast