New NFL Coaches: Bad Results ATS
by Trevor Whenham - 9/15/2009
As has become the norm in professional sports these days there are a whole lot of new faces roaming the sidelines as head coaches this season. Eight head coaches made their debut with their teams this weekend, and six of them were coaching their first game. That's fully a quarter of the league that made a change. Change is often a good thing, and it usually brings hope to teams and fans, but the early results of these changes weren't pretty - the new coaches were 3-5 straight up, and an ugly 2-6 against the spread. Ouch. It seems you might want to be patent before you trust your bankroll to these guys. Here's a look at how each of the newbies fared:
Rex Ryan, New York Jets - The former Baltimore defensive coordinator was by far the star of the new crop in the opening week. He not only won and covered, but he did it on the road against a Texans team that was supposed to be good, and he did it with a rookie QB. As impressive as the offensive effort was, what really stuck out was the defense. The Jets' players were flying to the ball like they haven't recently, and they were ferocious. It's clear that Ryan's influence has been felt on that side of the ball already. A very promising start for a guy who seems destined to succeed as a coach.
Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts - Following a guy like Tony Dungy is a thankless task. Caldwell, who had long been the man waiting in the wings for this opportunity, got the opening win, but it wasn't pretty. The defense was pretty solid, but the offense certainly lacked crispness against a Jacksonville team that should have been vulnerable. Plus, the team lost Anthony Gonzalez, probably their best all-round receiver now that Marvin Harrison is gone. Caldwell will have to have this team ready to play sharper football before I believe that this isn't a team poised to take a step backwards this year.
Jim Mora, Seattle Seahawks - Mora is another guy who was waiting in the wings. He got a ridiculously easy win over the Rams, but it's hard to judge where the team is at based on that game - they will have tougher scrimmages than that game. What does stick out, though, is that the team already seems more focused than they were last year. Injuries and a lame duck head coach made this team look lethargic and unmotivated, but Mora has already remedied that.
Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs - Haley failed to win or cover, but he still gets a lot of credit. They lost by two touchdowns, but they were tied until the closing minutes, and that was with a backup QB at the helm. The team was surprisingly tough and gritty on both sides of the ball, and they took aggressive risks that were completely missing in the Herm Edwards era. It's a tough decade to be a Chefs' fan, but this has to give fans a hope for the mid-term future.
Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns - In New York Mangini showed that he isn't a great head coach. In Cleveland he seems determined to leave no doubt about that. His decision to hold off on announcing a starting QB was idiotic, and was perhaps a contributing factor to the offensive unit's total ineptness. The defense was up against the best running back in the world, but Adrian Peterson isn't nearly as good as Cleveland made him look. It was a dismal effort for the Browns and, in my view, a sign of what is to come.
Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions - The Lions got smoked, but then that's what we knew was going to happen. They had to travel to New Orleans to play the most potent offense in the league. It didn't go well on either side of the ball, but I am willing to give Schwartz a mulligan on that one before I pass judgement. There does seem to be a better tone surrounding the team this year. Whether that will translate to wins or not is a bigger question.
Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs lost and failed to cover against the Cowboys, but Morris still deserves some credit here. The team has been an absolute circus since he took over, and the preseason, capped by the firing of Jeff Jagodzinski, was a total disaster. Despite that, the Bucs were surprisingly competitive on Sunday. They played hard and showed moments of actual competence more often than anyone could have expected. They won't be a good game, but for a while there it looked like the laughably under-qualified Morris might not survive through September, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams - Wow, was that ever ugly. We have heard how Spagnuolo has introduced a new attitude to this team and how it is paying dividends, but we sure didn't witness that on the field. They were as bad as a team can be - especially but not exclusively on offense. Their quarterbacking situation is a problem, but then so is pretty much everything else. The lone bright spot was the phenomenal play of rookie James Laurinaitis. He had a game-high 14 tackles and a recovered fumble. It's a sign of how bleak things are for Spagnuolo, though, that a rookie needs to be relied upon to do that much.
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