Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It All Starts Here: Rookie Head Coaches

As you know, much attention is focused on rookies during the preseason—how much they’re getting paid, how hard they’re working in training camp, how they’re adjusting to the pro level, and more. The spotlight is especially bright for those rookies who are named starters at their position—particularly if their position is quarterback, like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.


Today, though, I thought we’d take a look at those rookies who get far less attention from the public on a day-to-day basis than they should, considering that they will impact the direction of their team than anyone else.  Who am I talking about? The people who find themselves in a position that everyone else in their job had a one point or other—but that doesn’t make it any less frightening.  I’m talking about the four men who are entering their first seasons as head coaches in the NFL. These days when coaches' leashes seem quite short and owners (and fans) seem less patient each year, you might wonder whether you need to bother learning about these guys. Let me remind you about the case of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh (above): as a rookie head coach last year, he was one field goal shy of taking his team to the Super Bowl.
You’ll see that each of the men below came to his current job using a different path:  straight from the college ranks as a head coach, an assistant at other NFL teams, even going back and forth between college and pro jobs.  Three are defensive-minded coaches and one is an offensive specialist.  Their backgrounds may differ, but they all have one thing in common:  none have ever before held the post of head honcho in the NFL. 


Below is each rookie head coach with his resume to this point (an asterisk indicates a reentry into the college or pro level), his team’s 2011 record and previous head coach. By the way, this is a good segue for introducing a feature that you’ll see on Naptime Huddle’s  Facebook page soon:  each day during the regular season, I’ll randomly select a player in the NFL and post his picture, vital statistics and an interesting factoid (if I can find one). He could be a household name or a no-name player who made the final roster by the skin of his teeth. Either way, you’ll have one more weapon at your disposal for impressing family and friends or surviving an office cocktail party. To meet these Players of the Day, though, you have to “like” Naptime Huddle on Facebook first!



Head Coach, Oakland Raiders

Collegiate Resume

1996-1999:  Graduate Assistant Coach, Texas A&M University
2000-2001:  Secondary Coach, University of Tulsa

NFL Resume

2002-2005:  Assistant Defensive Coach, Atlanta Falcons
2006-2007:  Assistant Defensive Line Coach, New Orleans Saints
2008-2010:  Secondary Coach, New Orleans
2011:  Defensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos

Raiders 2011 Record and Head Coach:  8-8 under Hue Jackson



Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts

Collegiate Resume

1984-1985:  Graduate Assistant, University of Southern California
1986:  Graduate Assistant, University of Miami (Florida)
1987-1988:  Linebackers Coach, Boise State
1989:  Defensive Backs Coach, East Carolina
1990-1991:  Defensive Backs Coach (1990) then Defensive Coordinator (1991), UNLV
1992-1994:  Defensive Backs and Linebackers Coach, East Carolina
1995-2000:  Defensive Backs and Special Teams, University of Miami (Florida)
*2007:  Defensive Coordinator, University of North Carolina

NFL Resume

2001-2004:  Secondary Coach, Cleveland Browns
2005-2006:  Defensive Backs Coach, Oakland Raiders
*2008-2011:  Secondary Coach and Defensive Coordinator (2011), Baltimore Ravens

Colts 2011 Record and Head Coach:  2-14 under Jim Caldwell



Head Coach, Miami Dolphins

Collegiate Resume

1984-1985:  Graduate Assistant, Tulane University
1986-1987:  Offensive Line Coach, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
1988-1989:  Offensive Line Coach, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
1990-1993:  Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach, Allegheny College
1994:  Offensive Line Coach, Ohio University
1995-1996:  Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach, Northeastern University
1997-1998:  Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach, Harvard University
1999-2002:  Offensive Line Coach, University of Iowa

NFL Resume

Green Bay Packers:  Assistant Offensive Line Coach/Tight Ends Coach (2003-2005); Offensive Line (2006); and Offensive Coordinator (2007-2011)

Dolphins 2011 Record and Head Coach:  6-10 under Tony Sparano



Head Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Collegiate Resume

1989:  Graduate Assistant, Rutgers University
1990-1995:  Graduate Assistant (1990) and Defensive Backfield Coach, Penn State University
*1999-2000:  University of Miami (Florida), Defensive Coordinator
2001-2011:  Head Coach, Rutgers University

NFL Resume

1996-1998:  Defensive Assistant Coach and Defensive Backfield Coach, Chicago Bears

Buccaneers 2011 Record and Head Coach:  4-12 under Raheem Morris


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