We review the new coordinator hires in Seattle, Buffalo, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh
Grab some booze and drink up, folks, because none of this is pretty.
Buffalo Bills, offensive coordinator
Out: OC Rick Dennison
In: Alabama OC Brian Daboll
Nothing shines up a coach better than some time with Bill Belichick. Brian Daboll’s few years as New England’s TE coach made him a “hot” name again, despite a very shaky resume before that. He’s served short stints nearly every time he’s had an OC job before: 2 years with Cleveland, 1 year with Miami, 1 year with Kansas City, and now 1 year with Alabama in college. His success in those stints leaves a lot to be desired. You may credit him for helping Alabama win the title, but his passing game was largely stagnant most of the year. I’m not convinced that leaving Bama was entirely his choice.
And if Daboll was intent on going back to the NFL, you have to wonder why he didn’t wait until Josh McDaniels left New England. That Patriots OC job is a juicy one. Perhaps he knew that offer wasn’t going to come.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m not high on Daboll. But who knows, maybe I’m biased. On a personal level, I’ve never liked him ever since I read stories about him being an ass to Colt McCoy in Cleveland, which feels like an odd way to develop your young quarterbacks. Hopefully, he’s mellowed his act some, because he’s going to have to develop more in Buffalo. grade: C –
Kansas City Chiefs, offensive coordinator
Out: OC Matt Nagy (hired away)
In: RB coach Eric Bieniemy
I appreciate that Andy Reid didn’t fall back on Brad Childress, who’s been on the staff for a while. However, this choice feels a little “safe” for my liking as well.
Eric Bieniemy is a really strong RB coach, but there are no signs that he’s a rising star at OC. He served in that capacity only once before, with a struggling University of Colorado team that combined for a 4-21 record during his two-year stint there.
More than anything, this suggests that Andy Reid will return to playcalling duties, which is a mixed bag. It’s not a disaster hire by any means, but it’s a little “meh.” grade: C+
Pittsburgh Steelers, offensive coordinator
Out: OC Todd Haley
In: QB coach Randy Fichtner
I truly don’t agree with the push to fire Todd Haley. In my offseason blueprint for the team, I went into more detail about why I believe Haley should be retained. Apparently, Mike Tomlin read that and disagreed with my bullshit, because he fired him the next day.
Like KC, the team decided to promote from within in order to keep some semblance of continuity in place. And again, I’m underwhelmed. Fitchner has been with the Steelers since 2007 and served as their QB coach since 2010. However, the fact that he’s never been poached away as an OC shows that he’s not a truly sought-after rising star himself. He doesn’t come across as all that innovative or bright in interviews either.
The best news to come out of Pittsburgh this week was that they were going to retain OL coach Mike Munchak, who’s a top 3 OL coach in the league. Munchak, and the overall talent on offense should keep their success going for 2018 and maybe even 2019. But when it comes time to develop a new QB, I don’t think Fichtner will be the man to do that. grade: B –
Seattle Seahawks, offensive coordinator
Out: OC Darrell Bevell
In: IND QB coach Brian Schottenheimer
Like Todd Haley, I believe that Darrell Bevell received too much flak from his fanbase. He was a very experienced coordinator who helped develop Russell Wilson from day one. And sure, the team struggled up front, but they also lacked offensive line talent. To me, he’s a fine coordinator.
And “fine coordinator,” or even “competent coordinator,” are words that have not been associated with Brian Schottenheimer so far. He’s been an offensive coordinator for nearly 10 years between the NFL and college and has yet to field an impressive unit yet. He leans too conservative and old-fashioned, as though he stopped watching football after his dad retired.
I’m a little less harsh on this hire than the numbers suggest, for two reasons. For one, I thought Brian Schottenheimer came across as affable and easy to work with on Hard Knocks back in the day. And again, that was 10 years ago. Perhaps he’s legitimately improved as a coordinator since then. Coaches — like players — can improve. Of course, that’s a projection that we haven’t seen yet. Until then, I have to give this a grade: C.
Seattle Seahawks, defensive coordinator
Out: DC Kris Richard
In: former OAK DC Ken Norton Jr.
This move may have been one of the more low-key surprises of the cycle so far. When Kris Richard got the promotion in Seattle, most of us presumed he would be on the fast track to a head coaching job like Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn before him. The Seahawks’ defenses have slipped some over the last few years, but a lot of that has to do with injuries and age. I personally thought Richard should have been retained.
And in his place, the team made another head-scratching decision with Ken Norton Jr., fresh off an awful run as the coordinator in Oakland. On paper, it appears to be quite a downgrade. However, Carroll has extensive experience with Norton from his USC days and in Seattle (where he served as LB coach from 2010-2014) so he should know the two men a lot better than we do. But for me, looking from the outside in, I can’t go higher than a grade: C+.