Ranking The New Head Coaches...

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Ranking the new head coaches


Chiefs' Edwards has best shot at success

By Dan Arkush
July 11, 2006



There is certainly no end to the host of interesting topics worth keeping a close eye on during the 2006 NFL campaign that will begin taking shape in just a few short weeks, when training camps open en masse around the league.

Right near the top of the list, in my opinion, if not at the top altogether, is the fact that a whopping 10 teams — a little less than one-third of the league — will start training camp with new head coaches in charge, for better or worse.

Listed alphabetically, they are as follows: Brad Childress (Vikings), Herm Edwards (Chiefs), Dick Jauron (Bills), Gary Kubiak (Texans), Scott Linehan (Rams), Eric Mangini (Jets), Rod Marinelli (Lions), Mike McCarthy (Packers), Sean Payton (Saints) and Art Shell (Raiders).

It’s worth noting that seven of the 10 are first-time head coaches (Childress, Kubiak, Linehan, Mangini, Marinelli, McCarthy and Payton) — a very interesting factoid indeed considering that, before this coming season, recycling head coaches was an undeniably popular trend.

Will any of these 10 newcomers show up in the coming season’s postseason tournament?

Probably, taking into account the high number of so-called surprise teams that have managed to sneak into the playoffs with regularity in recent years, with parity looming so large in the grand scheme of things.

And let’s not forget that great equalizer, the dreaded injury bug, that consistently delights in stinging a good number of high-profile players whose teams end up suffering significantly without the benefit of their services.

At the moment, though, I am willing to predict only one of the 10, Edwards, as having a legitimate shot at surviving the regular-season wars. And the Chiefs are far from being a lock to accomplish that feat, considering that they play in the rugged AFC West and must overcome the league’s seventh-most-difficult schedule in terms of upcoming opponents’ winning percentage in 2005.

Here’s how I currently see the new head coaches on the NFL block faring in ’06, from most successful to least successful, accompanied by brief explanations to support my rankings:

(1) Edwards — The fiery Edwards enjoyed some impressive success with the Jets before a rash of injuries triggered a big-time meltdown last season. And his longtime alliance with Chiefs GM Carl Peterson should provide a nice comfort zone. There are many who believe the departure of highly regarded offensive coordinator Al Saunders to Washington will hurt the Chiefs, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, taking into account Edwards’ attention to “D”-tail, the lack of which has been a serious shortcoming in K.C. for some time now. A more defense-oriented personality could bode well for the Chiefs, who with RB Larry Johnson running wild and several holdover offensive assistants still on board should maintain plenty of firepower.

(2) Marinelli — One of the most enjoyable aspects of the NFL Scouting Combine in recent years is the opportunity the league offers to the national media to meet the new head coaches each season. No head coach made a stronger impression this past February than Marinelli, a tough, blue-collar grinder who I believe could work wonders with the Lions’ previously underachieving players that have talent to burn. With a new offensive coordinator in Mike Martz, who is much better-suited in that capacity than he was as a head coach (although I believe Martz got an unfair rap from a lot of my media cohorts), I would be hardly be shocked if the Lions steal a page from their baseball brethren and make their presence felt this coming season in a major way.

(3) Linehan — The energetic Linehan wasted no time creating a breath of fresh air in St. Louis, where Martz’s tense relationship with the Rams’ front office had become a real liability. Linehan’s supposed plan to install a run-first offense centered around third-year RB Steven Jackson, a player with immense potential, is a sound move indeed. And former Saints head coach Jim Haslett looks like a great hire as the new defensive coordinator replacing the woefully ineffective Larry Marmie. The Rams probably won’t make the playoffs this year. But wait ‘til next year.

(4) Childress — The former Eagles offensive coordinator who had been considered a hot commodity for a while now will more than earn his keep if he can remove the stigma carried over from last season’s unfortunate “Love Boat” incident on Lake Minnetonka. Obviously, Childress would like to do much more than that, but with aging Brad Johnson at quarterback and the Bears and Lions toiling in the same division, I envision a .500 record at best.

(5) Shell — A Hall of Fame offensive lineman, Shell has had some success coaching the Raiders before, leading them to an impressive 56-41 record as Oakland’s head coach from 1989 to ’94. But I see the Raiders again struggling more than a little in a division with the Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs, and recent reports that WR Randy Moss is already laying the groundwork for another change of scenery is cause for concern.

(6) Kubiak — There are a ton of Texans fans continuing to cry in their beer over the team’s decision to take DE Mario Williams with the top pick in the ’05 draft over QB Vince Young or RB Reggie Bush. But I’m on record as believing they made the right move. Kubiak knows what he’s doing, and that should become clear with the Texans tripling their ’05 win total and leapfrogging Tennessee in the AFC South. That said, the team still has a long way to go.

(7) McCarthy — From all accounts, McCarthy has made a decent impression so far in Green Bay. But his work as the Niners’ offensive coordinator before being hired to replace Mike Sherman left a lot to be desired, and, while it pains me a great deal to say this, Brett Favre is definitely on his last legs.

(8) Jauron — There isn’t a straighter shooter in the NFL than Jauron, but I found the fact that so many Bills players decided to bypass the Bills’ voluntary camp work earlier this offseason very disconcerting. Add Buffalo’s suspect QB corps to the mix, and you have five or six wins tops.

(9) Payton — Fellow newcomers Reggie Bush and Drew Brees will make the Saints as intriguing as any team in the league. But no team has a tougher strength-of-schedule situation, which is why they, too, will be lucky to string together as many as five wins.

(10) Mangini — Will QB Chad Pennington rebound from injury, or has he become the NFL’s answer to baseball’s Kerry Wood? Can RB Curtis Martin continue defying Father Time? Can the Jets’ defense do a better job of stopping the run and rushing the passer than it did last season? Suffice it to say it looks like a very shaky maiden voyage for the NFL’s youngest head coach.
 
My gut feeling says that Mangini won't make it as a head coach...but then again, I may be wrong.
 
Before I read what he has to say about the coaches, Edwards and Shell should be eliminated, they are not "New Coaches". They're retreads, as is Jauron. Back my regularly scheduled rant.
 
I agree, Mangini is probably a couple years ahead of himself.

Payton could be another no-nonsense head coach who will take a little time to get the ship righted. Does he have the chops for the big dance? Time will tell.

McCarthy? Hmmmmmmm. I just don't know.

Kubiak seems to make smart decisions. We'll see how well he does with the talent they have there. There are questions, but the OL could do well with a zone scheme (I think they were transitioning to one last year).

Childress has an uphill battle. I think they brought him in to revamp the offense. We'll see how quickly that roster becomes something viable.

I don't know about Linehan, but his right hand will help him through the rough patches, unless he goes Mike White on him.

Marinelli is poised for the quickest initial success. I don't know how Detroit remained so lousy with their roster. However, that also puts the pressure on him. If you can't succeed with that talent, it's the coach (cuz the makeup of the roster couldn't possibly be to blame :rolleyes: 3 soft-running 1st round WR's in a row).
 
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