Nothing puts a damper to your day like getting fired from your job. Just ask the likes of NFL Coaches like Jim Schwartz, Leslie Freizer, and Greg Schiano. But on the flip side, there's nothing like starting off the day right when you get that call from an NFL team to become their new head coach. Already we're into the new year and three NFL teams have found their new head coaches.
First we take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Under Greg Schiano, they went 11-21 in his two-year tenure. That includes this past 2013 season where they went 4-12 and had a falling out between the head coach and his players. So this past Thursday, they hired Lovie Smith to be their new head coach. For those who are not familiar with Lovie Smith, his style of coach is more of a 'player-friendly' style. He was also the head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004 all the way to 2012, compiling a 81-63 regular season record, a 3-3 postseason record, and a Super Bowl XLI appearance with the Bears back in the 2006-07 season.
More importantly, Lovie Smith has past ties to the Buccaneers organization. From 1996 to 2000, he was their linebackers coach during the Tony Dungy era. It was also during that time that Lovie and Tony developed the renowned Tampa 2 defense that is currently being used by almost every team that implements a '4-3' defensive front.
Then some 1,100 miles away in Houston, Texas, there were many speculations of who would take over the coaching reigns with the Texans. One possible candidate was defensive coordinator and interim head coach Wade Phillips, who already had head coaching experience in Dallas and prior to that in Buffalo from 1998-2000. Others said perhaps the recently fired Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan since former Texans coach, Gary Kubiak, essentially emulated his style of play.
Now at first glance, many would just assume Jay got hired because he shares the last name of John. However Jay is no stranger to the NFL. From 2002-2008, he was the Tampa Bay offensive assistant while his brother was the head coach. Then after 2008, Jay left the Buccaneers after John was let go. He bounced around the Arena Football League (AFL) before settling in as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator from 2011-2013. Before he got there, the Bengals were ranked 20th in total offense while being ranked 27th in rushing and 13th in passing. During his tenure, the Bengals were able to get a more balanced offense to the point where they were ranked 12th in overall offense in 2013, including 18th in rushing and 11th in passing.
Speaking of AFL, Jay Gruden also has some head coaching experience during his time with the Orlando Predators. His coaching tenure was from 1998 to 2001 and then from 2004-2008. During that time, he amassed an 82-54 (.603) record in regular season play and an 11-7 (.611) record in the postseason. Jay also won two ArenaBowl games (the AFL equivalent to the NFL’s Super Bowl) with the Predators in 1998 and 2001 while losing one in 2006. His 82 regular season wins, 11 postseason wins, and 93 total wins are all Predator highs. But can Jay succeed where a two-time Super Bowl winning coach failed? That is something that many Redskin fans and NFL goers will be focused on.
So with the Texans, Redskins, and Buccaneers coaching positions filled, the job vacancies have decreased significantly and the demand for a quality coach has increased immensely. There will be rumors and talk about which hot coordinator or popular college football head coach might be a best fit or get the job. But the clock is ticking away for the start of the 2014 NFL season. Teams like the Lions and Browns better find a coach soon or else another season will be lost to them.
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