By Brandon Niles EBS Sports Columnist
Just a couple of weeks into the NFL playoffs, head coaching positions that became available following the regular season were already filled. This was an interesting year for head coaching jobs, as three new-hires were promoted from within organizations, a rarity in the NFL. In most cases, coaches are hired from other franchises.
Seven teams will feature a new face at the helm next season: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, and Miami Dolphins. Oddly enough, it’s a common occurrence in today’s NFL: seven new head coaches were hired after each of the previous two seasons.
The Titans are promoting interim coach Mike Mularkey to the fulltime position. This is only the third time an interim coach has gotten the top job since 2010, and the results have been largely unsuccessful. The last coach to shed the interim tag was Romeo Crennel following the 2011 season, who was made head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and subsequently fired following a two-win 2012 season.
The Bucs and Giants promoted from within as well, hiring their own offensive coordinators. Dirk Koetter will take over in Tampa Bay, while Ben McAdoo will be calling the shots in New York. This kind of internal advancement is also rare – of the current head coaches in the league, only Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys has gotten his position in a similar way.
The reasoning behind the three internal promotions is likely related to strong quarterback play on each team. Maintaining the offensive system in place is a smart move for teams that already have successful passers.
The rest of the head coaching vacancies were filled by retreads and hot coordinators. Former head coaches Chip Kelly and Hue Jackson were hired by the 49ers and Browns respectively, and will be eager to show what they can do with new opportunities. Kelly in particular seems ideally suited for a 49ers roster that badly needs a new identity.
The Dolphins hired Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase to be their new head coach, hoping that he can help quarterback Ryan Tannehill develop into a more consistent player. Gase has worked with quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler, and Miami fans hope he can fix a team with plenty of talent that wildly underachieved in 2015.
Finally, the Eagles hired Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. An assistant in Philadelphia from 2009 to 2012, Pederson will take over a team in flux after Chip Kelly jettisoned four of their five best offensive players a year ago.
Each coach will bring a new era of hope and excitement to the respective fan bases. While Gase and McAdoo inherit the most talent, the best hire is Jackson, who will be counted on to provide the hapless Browns with much needed stability. Jackson spent the last four years as an assistant for the Cincinnati Bengals and is well regarded around the league.
Coaching turnover can be a necessary evil in pro sports, but the rampant disregard for continuity throughout the league is concerning. Looking to 2016, let’s hope these new coaches get the time and support necessary to build a competitive team, and that they aren’t among the names of coaches without jobs this time next year.
Brandon Niles is a longtime fan of football and scotch, and has been writing about sports for the past decade. He is a fantasy football scout for 4for4 Fantasy Football and is co-host of the 2 Guys Podcast.