Reviewing the recent coordinator changes around the NFL
The biggest news of the past few days was the Chicago Bears hiring Matt Nagy, but I’m going to wait until they officially announce their coordinators before giving a full grade in the same way we did for the Oakland Raiders.
In the meantime, there were a few smaller moves among coordinators that merit some grades.
Baltimore Ravens, defensive coordinator
Out: DC Dean Pees
In: LB coach Don Martindale
This wasn’t a decision the Ravens wanted to make. Their veteran coordinator Dean Pees (68 years old) retired. In their place, they did what they usually do and stayed in-house with LB coach Don “Wink” Martindale.
To me, that’s an underwhelming hire. This Baltimore defense is chocked full of talent, so they could have made splashier moves by chasing bigger name coaches. If knowledge of the “system” and “culture” is key, then there are still a few names who would have fit that bill like Chuck Pagano and Teryl Austin (both of whom worked for Baltimore.)
Instead, they played it safe with Martindale. The 54-year-old coach certainly has experience in their system, but his DC experience is limited to one rocky year with Denver. He’s a stereotypical “tough guy” coach who doesn’t appear to offer many new ideas or insight from what I can tell (and obviously, my access to, and knowledge about assistant coaches is severely limited.) But if we’re going to make judgment calls despite that, I’d give this one a B –.
Miami Dolphins, offensive coordinator
Out: OC Clyde Christensen (sort of)
In: Chicago OC Dowell Loggains
If the team had hired the 37-year-old Dowell Loggains to fill an open post, we could be harsher on this hire. However, Adam Gase simply reshuffled his staff, keeping Clyde Christensen and adding Loggains in addition to him. Meanwhile, Gase will probably handle the playcalling anyway, so neither one may matter much.
Given that, there’s no harm in this move. Loggains struggled in his two previous OC stints, but those came in difficult circumstances (he got an OC promotion in TEN when he was 32 years old and not ready yet, and he got an OC promotion in CHI when his QB Trubisky wasn’t ready yet.) If you treat Loggains as a glorified QB coach, then this is a solid addition. B+
Cincinnati Bengals, defensive coordinator
Out: DC Paul Guenther
In: Detroit DC Teryl Austin
Paul Guenther is a fine defensive coordinator, illustrated by the fact that Jon Gruden wanted him in Oakland. However, he wasn’t a great coordinator by any means. He largely held down the fort after Mike Zimmer left, but couldn’t adjust to fix their weaknesses (which included a slower LB corps that struggled to defend RBs in coverage.)
Enter Teryl Austin, perpetual head coach interview. Austin’s Lions defenses were mediocre, but then again, he didn’t have much talent to work with. He’ll get an immediate upgrade here in Cincinnati with a stronger defensive line. If he can speed up their LB corps with a player like his past Lions rookie Jarrad Davis, then this D can take a jump up from here. He’s a very competent coordinator, whose charisma and presence may be the fresh blood that this staff and team needed. This is a big “get” for a franchise that needed some excitement. grade: A.