New, Young Head Coaches Smart to Add Veteran Coordinators

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior Sports Reporter

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

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.

Kliff Kingsbury, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, is known for the quarterbacks he’s coached, Patrick Mahomes, Johnny Manziel, and Case Keenum to name a few. It was obvious when he was hired that defense was not going to be his strong suit. Enter former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph. Joseph was the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator in 2016 where the defense played a large role in the Dolphins being able to return to the playoffs. Kingsbury will be able to lean on Joseph to bring the Cardinals defense back to a level where they can keep up with the strong offenses of the NFC West.

In Miami, they have the opposite going on. New head coach Brian Flores comes over from the New England Patriots and was their linebackers coach. In order to add a boost to the offense, the Dolphins brought in former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach. By bringing in a man who has coached QBs Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford, it looks as that Flores understands exactly where he needs some experienced help. Caldwell will have a lot of influence as Miami figures out what they are doing with the quarterback position.

When Green Bay hired Matt LaFleur, they seemed to be looking for someone who could work with QB Aaron Rodgers without stepping on Rodgers’s toes. LaFleur was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans and the LA Rams, so he had worked with good quarterbacks before, but none with the stature of Rodgers. Green Bay decided to retain veteran defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. By keeping Pettine, the new HC can focus on the offense, while keeping consistency on the defense. However, the defense wasn’t stellar last season so it may end up taking some of LaFleur’s attention in the end.

And then there is Cincinnati. Many seem quite baffled at what is going on with the Bengals, but the picture got a little clearer on Thursday. New head coach Zac Taylor, who was the quarterbacks coach for the Rams last season, seemed to be having a problem finding someone to take over as defensive coordinator. After interviewing many respected veteran coaches, including Dom Capers, Jack Del Rio, Vance Joseph, and Dennis Allen, all either rejected offers from Cincinnati or were hired elsewhere.

But yesterday, the Bengals hired Lou Anarumo who spent last season with the NY Giants as the defensive backs coach. Anarumo and Taylor worked together in Miami a few years back. Having a history will definitely help the inexperienced head coach, but it will be interesting to see what will happen with the Bengals overhauling both offense and defense.

Experience mixed with new, fresh ideas. This seems to be the new favorite formula for NFL teams. Only time will tell if it will work anywhere outside of the Rams organization.

Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG

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