This season an unprecedented eight NFL teams will have new head coaches. And for six of these coaches, it will be their first time running the whole show.
Bruce Arians has stepped out of the booth and back onto the field in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have floundered recently and Jameis Winston hasn’t grown or flourished the way we expected him to when he was drafted in 2015. Perhaps promoting former NFL QB turned offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will be the first step in turning Winston around.
But the seven other coaches have their work cut out for them. Let’s take a look at these “rookies” and, maybe the biggest key to their success, who will be under center as they take the field.
Let’s face it – the AFC North was a hot mess last year! With Le’Veon Bell sitting out, the once-dominant Pittsburgh Steelers had to root for the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 in order to make the playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens benched quarterback Joe Flacco and began the new era of Lamar Jackson football. Can Jackson keep being the leading rusher for this team and avoid injury?
The Cincinnati Bengals landed at the bottom of a division where the Browns had held that spot for too many years to count. But the once 0-16 Browns, under the leadership of rookie QB Baker Mayfield, are making their case to take over the division.
Let’s take a team-by-team look at the moves they’ve made so far to get ready for the battle to be “Kings of the North.”
With the success that the NFL’s youngest head coach, LA Rams HC Sean McVey, it was no surprise NFL owners wanted to try to find the same needle in a haystack. This offseason brought a fury of hirings of young head coaches. Smartly, those coaches are looking to veteran coordinators to fill out their coaching staff.
While teams like Tampa Bay decided to go with a veteran head coach in Bruce Arians, most other coach-needy teams decided to go young. Arizona, Green Bay, Miami, and Cincinnati have all hired coaches between the ages of 35 – 39.
Not that age has anything to do with coaching, but it does have to do with experience. Bringing in veteran coordinators and specialist not only is savvy, but it allows the HCs to be educated by some of the best.
Despite the win in Cincinnati, the Steelers still end up missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
First, we start the year with running back Le’Veon Bell holding out for a long-term deal instead of a franchise tag. While most felt that it was going to come together at some point, it didn’t.
But no one benefited from Bell’s absence more than RB James Conner. Conner finished the season with almost 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards passing and had 13 touchdowns. He stepped into the RB role and made it his own. Could Bell be changing the way that holdouts go? Is there anything wrong with betting on yourself? Should you think of your team?
It has been a long time coming, but the Cincinnati Bengals have finally parted ways with head Coach Marvin Lewis.
After 16 seasons, Lewis’ tenure is over in “Who Dey” nation. For the past several years there was speculation as to why the Bengals held on to Lewis for so long, but it was simply their trust and respect in how he managed to turn around this team, a team that sat below .500 for several years prior to 2003.
Lewis took over the head coaching job in 2003, when he replaced Dick LeBeau who tanked the Bengals for the worst win percentage in franchise history. Lewis improved the Bengals to winning seasons with a band of young players such as quarterback Carson Palmer and receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
He was voted AP Coach of the Year in 2009. His regular season record, 131-122-3, holding just above .500. But it was his postseason record, a sad 0-7, that was always black mark on his coaching record.
Cincinnati Bengals are off to a cool start with a 4-1 record heading into our sixth week. Although the path to victory has not been a smooth one the Bengals have managed to only fall behind the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, which puts them in second place in the AFC.
Examples of that “rocky path” are their defeat over the Atlanta Falcons by one point, and then having to overcome a 17-point deficit this past Sunday to beat the Miami Dolphins at home. Luckily, due to a couple of wild touchdowns from defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Michael Johnson, they were able to beat a team that was favored to win by six points in another come-from-behind victory.
This style of winning has caused some to be cautiously optimistic and not ready to declare this “the year”. In fact, most believe the Bengals should’ve dominated a team like the Dolphins, but let’s face it even good teams have off weeks. The difference between a legitimate contender and an average team is finding a way to win, even when they aren’t playing their best game. That is what Cincinnati did this week.
Last night’s preseason match-up between the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns was anticipated to be a huge offensive blow out. Instead, it became a tale of defense and injuries.
Browns cornerback Denzel Ward suffered a lower back injury in the first quarter that kept him sidelined for the remained of the game. He will undergo an MRI today.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, after scrambling on a 4-and-goal play, landed awkwardly on his wrist and is sent to the locker room for evaluation. In what fans are calling “True Hue Fashion,” he returned to the field and was put back into the game for three more series. It was clear that he was not 100% and that the wrist was bothering him, clear at least to fans and the Eagles defense. No one – myself included – can figure out why on earth the named starting QB for the season would be rushed back into a preseason game! Continue reading “Browns vs Eagles: Defense and Injuries”→
Cincinnati Bengals have started the season off on a positive note, with two games behind them and a win for each. That being said, their next move was a little puzzling as the Bengals release safety George Iloka and now list rookie Jessie Bates as the starter at free safety.
George Iloka was a fifth-round selection by the Bengals in the 2012 NFL Draft. Iloka had become a very important piece to the franchise and a leader on the Bengals defense since starting in 2013. Iloka’s performance included 227 tackles, 32 blocked passes, 9 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles since joining the Bengals. I am sure this will have big ramifications for the team moving forward.
The offensive line will remain a huge question for the Bengals as they get ready to meet up against the Buffalo Bills in their 3rd preseason game. During the Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys, the offensive unit seem to struggle throughout the game. Frank Pollack, the new offensive line coach, will have a lot to consider before this next game.
Earlier we had listed the first 15 draft picks with a trade. Let’s see what happens with the rest of the teams and who will get drafted from 16-32. So here is the final attempt in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.