The Seattle Seahawks have ridden their amazing defense to back-to-back Super Bowls and frontrunner status heading into the upcoming season. And several Seattle defensive assistants have ridden the Seahawks' defensive accomplishments to new jobs for 2015.
Seattle's defense has finished the past two seasons ranked No. 1 in both scoring and total defense. They have actually led the NFL in points allowed in three straight seasons, and they've been in Top 10 in both categories for four straight years. And now Dan Quinn (former defensive coordinator), Ken Norton Jr. (former linebackers coach), and Kris Richard (former secondary coach) have parlayed their work into prominent new positions for this fall. Quinn is the new Atlanta Falcons head coach - just one year after former Seattle DC Gus Bradley was given the job in Jacksonville. Norton is Oakland's new defensive coordinator, while Richard was elevated to the new DC role for the Seahawks.
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The Seahawks defensive assistant shuffling is certainly one of the under-the-radar stories in terms of influence on this season. However, those are just some of the names - heralded and otherwise - that have shuffled around the NFL this offseason on the defensive side of the ball.
Here is a ranking of the 10 new defensive coordinator hires heading into the 2015 NFL season:
10. Joe Barry (Washington) - Joe Barry has been a defensive coordinator for a total of two years in his career: 2007 and 2008. And his defenses in Detroit were remarkably consistent, finishing dead last in the NFL in points allowed and dead last in yards allowed in both seasons. Barry has spent the six years since as an undistinguished position coach. But leave it to the Redskins to bring a completely unqualified stiff in and hand him the controls. That move has been a hallmark of the Dan Snyder Era in D.C.
9. Richard Smith (Atlanta) - Mike Smith was shown the door and Richard Smith welcomed through it this offseason, and Falcons fans are hoping that the change is for the better. Richard Smith's last attempt as a DC was a messy affair in Houston from 2006-2008. His three defenses finished no better than 22nd in either scoring or total defense in his three seasons at the controls. Smith, who has been a linebackers coach in Denver the past four seasons, will be taking his cues from new Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn, formerly the defensive coordinator in Seattle. So the belief is that Quinn will be calling the shots and Smith will be playing the supporting role.
8. Kacy Rodgers (New York Jets) - Rodgers has had a pretty remarkable climb in his coaching career. He started out at Tennessee-Martin in the mid-90s and scratched and clawed his way to his first defensive coordinator job with stops in Middle Tennessee, Arkansas, Dallas and Miami along the way. Rodgers has been the Dolphins defensive line coach the past seven seasons. He was kind of a surprise hire by new Jets coach Todd Bowles considering that Bowles is a first-time coach and Rodgers a first-time coordinator. But they had worked together for seven seasons with the Cowboys and Dolphins, so they are obviously friends.
7. Kris Richard (Seattle) - Richard moved up to DC after Quinn split for Atlanta and is one of the least-experienced coordinators in the entire NFL. He has been the defensive backs coach in Seattle for the past three years, and that is his only pro coaching job. And it should be noted that with the level of Pro Bowl talent Seattle has boasted in the secondary the past few years, how hard did Richard actually have to work? Richard should be able to fake it early in the season. But by December we will find out if this guy is in way over his head or if he was another savvy move by Pete Carroll.
6. Steve Spagnuolo (New York Giants) - Spagnuolo is back for his second tour with the Giants after a comical attempt at head coaching (career record: 10-38) and two undistinguished assistant jobs with New Orleans and Baltimore. This hiring has been hailed by Giants faithful, as Spags was the defensive coordinator for the beloved Giants team that won the Super Bowl in 2008. However, I am not as optimistic. Spagnuolo was only the Giants DC for two years the first time around; it is not as if he was some accomplished, tenured assistant that moved on and up. What has this guy really accomplished? He's been a total loser in the seven years since leaving New York. So why is this a good hire? The Giants defense is woefully short on talent this year. And I don't see anything in Spagnuolo's track record that suggests he'll be able to mold them into something functional.
5. Dennis Thurman (Buffalo) - Thurman followed head coach Rex Ryan up to Orchard Park this summer after serving as Ryan's defensive coordinator with the Jets the past two years. Prior to that, Thurman was New York's defensive backs coach, so he has had a hand in multiple Top-10 defenses over the past decade. Thurman's chemistry and familiarity with Ryan is an added benefit for the new coaching staff in Buffalo. That's especially true as the Bills transition from last year's 4-3 base defense to Ryan/Thurman's exclusively 3-4 base set.
4. Ken Norton, Jr. (Oakland) - Norton, an outstanding player on dynastic Cowboys and 49ers championship teams in the late 80s and early 90s, has been the linebackers coach in Seattle over the past five seasons. He was quickly snatched up by new Oakland coach Jack Del Rio, and Norton looks and sounds like he is ready for his first DC opportunity. Loud, boisterous and energetic, Norton is a rah-rah guy that will keep his young defense playing hard. But it remains to be seen if he can handle the game day Xs and Os, especially against all the veteran quarterbacks in Oakland's division.
3. Eric Mangini (San Francisco) - Former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was part of the offseason exodus from San Francisco. But the 49ers could've done a lot worse than Mangini at defensive coordinator. Mangini was the leader of several successful 3-4 defenses in New England and in New York with the Jets. He has been in San Francisco for only two years and has seen a majority of his starters depart via free agency, retirement, or suspension during the offseason. But Mangini is a solid defensive guy, and I think he'll keep things from getting as ugly as they could've out by The Bay.
2. Vic Fangio (Chicago) - The architect of San Francisco's dominating defense over the last four seasons, Fangio was one of the best coordinators available this offseason. He somehow landed in Chicago with new head coach John Fox, and now Fangio will attempt to sculpt the Bears talent from a 4-3 base defense to the 3-4 that he led in San Francisco. I worry how Fangio is going to make the pieces fit. But the bar is set low for improvement. Chicago has been one of the three worst defenses in football the past two seasons, and any change is likely going to be for the better. But signing Fangio, who had successful coaching stints on excellent defenses at Stanford and Baltimore prior to this run with the 49ers, was a major coup for the Bears.
1. Dick LeBeau (Tennessee) - LeBeau is one of the best coordinators in NFL history and a Hall of Famer. He walked away after two decades in Pittsburgh and has quite a challenge ahead of him turning the Titans defense around. Tennessee still has Ray Horton as kind of the co-coordinator, and it wasn't long ago that Horton was a hotshot DC out of Arizona and a potential head coaching candidate. I think the LeBeau hiring could potentially be one of the best of the offseason. His advanced age means he may not be as involved in the day-to-day. But his knowledge, experience, and expertise can only help a Titans unit that looked lost last year.
Robert Ferringo has been the top football handicapper in the country the past two years, earning nearly $13,000 in total football profit with back-to-back winning seasons. Robert has tallied over $20,000 in football profit the last four years and in 2013 he hit 62.1 percent for the entire NFL season (95-58). Robert has produced an incredible 12 of 16 winning football months. Going back further he has churned out 35 of 51 winning football months, four of five winning overall seasons, seven of eight winning preseasons and he is at nearly 60 percent winners over his last 600 football picks. Also, Robert's proprietary KING College Football Betting System has posted two of three winning seasons and is 101-71 over the last two years (58.7 percent).
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