There are six new head coaches in the NFL this season, and that group includes four first-time NFL head coaches (Adam Gase, Dirk Koetter, Ben McAdoo, Doug Pederson) and two retreads (Hue Jackson, Chip Kelly).
There are two commonalities among this group: all six come from an offensive background and all six takeover rosters deplete of talent. While it's likely to be a tough campaign for each, change in sports does breed optimism. Improvement is certainly possible.
Below is a closer look at the six new head coaches in the NFL and their potential impact.
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Miami Dolphins (2015 Record: 6-10)
Out : Dan Campbell
In: Adam Gase
The Dolphins have been a dysfunctional mess under the stewardship of owner Stephen Ross, but this could prove an inspired hire. Gase was the most sought-after coaching candidate of the offseason due to his reputation as a quarterback guru earned during two seasons in Denver working with Peyton Manning and then last year in Chicago with Jay Cutler, who had a career season for the Bears.
Gase is just 38, but he's been climbing the NFL ranks since 2003 when starting as a scouting assistant with the Detroit Lions. With the Dolphins, he inherits probably the best roster among the six new coaches. But it's also filled with high-priced personalities with the potential to steamroll a young, first-time coach. That will be something to watch if the Dolphins have a rocky start to the season.
But, given Gase's track record with QB's, there's reason for optimism. Ryan Tannehill has shown flashes of ability in four seasons, perhaps the coaching change will lift him to another level. Improvement under center would go a long way in helping the Dolphins' chemistry issues.
Cleveland Browns (2015 Record: 3-13)
Out: Mike Pettine
In: Hue Jackson
This is the second go-around as a head coach for Jackson, who previously led the 2011 Raiders to an 8-8 mark in his one and only season in charge. He's spent the past four years on the offensive staff of the Bengals, including the last two as the offensive coordinator.
Jackson always figured to get another head coaching job and, for once, the Browns actually made a smart move by locking him up early in the process. With that said, marked improvement in year one seems unlikely in Cleveland.
Jackson's options at quarterback are castoff Robert Griffin III or third-round choice Cody Kessler (USC), which doesn't inspire much confidence, and things don't get much better from there. Still, Jackson showed in Oakland he could compete with a talent-deficient roster. He's a hard-nosed, no-nonsense coach that will try and finally the culture of losing in Cleveland. Jackson could be just the man to do it.
San Francisco 49ers (2015 Record: 5-11)
Out: Jim Tomsula
In: Chip Kelly
Kelly's unorthodox methods have made him a polarizing figure since entering the NFL from the college ranks, but love him or hate him this is a monster coaching upgrade for the 49ers. That's as much an indictment on the disaster that was Tomsula as of Kelly's coaching prowess.
Kelly still must prove his fast-paced offensive system will consistently work in the NFL. But the lack of offensive talent in San Francisco could make that difficult. With that said, Kelly's high-octane system has a way of masking talent deficiencies, and QB Colin Kaepernick would seem to have the ideal skill set for the offense.
The 49ers will be better under Kelly, but it's going to take at least a season for things to really take hold in San Francisco.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2015 Record: 6-10)
Out: Lovie Smith
In: Dirk Koetter
With Koetter serving as offensive coordinator last year, the Bucs ranked fifth in total offense, which was the highest finish in franchise history. Koetter is a former head coach in college (Boise State, Arizona State) who entered the NFL as an offensive coordinator in 2007. He gained acclaim shortly thereafter for his work with Matt Ryan and the Falcons before being brought to the Tampa staff by Smith.
Koetter did excellent work last year with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, and it's exciting to think of what the duo can do in year two. There are some other pieces to work with on offense, and, though it came in college, Koetter's previous head coaching experience should help ease the transition to his new role. Look for the Bucs to take a step forward and compete for a playoff spot.
New York Giants
Out: Tom Coughlin
In: Ben McAdoo
McAdoo is replacing a two-time Super Bowl winner and probable Hall of Famer in Coughlin, which obviously won't be an easy job. McAdoo served as the Giants offensive coordinator the past two seasons, which makes it likely QB Eli Manning gave his approval to the hire. That's a good start for the new head coach. McAdoo also benefits by starting his head coaching career with one of the most patient franchises in the league.
There are some weapons on offense in New York, led by Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., but the biggest concern with the G-men is on defense. That unit ranked dead last in total defense while registering just 23 sacks for the entire year.
It was no doubt time for a regime change in New York following three straight losing seasons under Coughlin. Whether the inexperienced McAdoo was the right choice is still to be revealed. But when you consider the defense has nowhere to go but up, it wouldn't surprise to see the Giants contend in the weak NFC East.
Out : Chip Kelly
In: Doug Pederson
Pederson is a former player and coach for the Eagles who spent the past three seasons serving as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. The new head coach has been just the start of the changes in Philadelphia. The Eagles have spent much of the offseason undoing many of Chip Kelly's personnel decisions over the past three seasons that largely proved disastrous. As a result, there are holes all over the roster. This will make things particularly tough on Pederson, whose only previous head coaching experience was one year of high school football that came shortly after his retirement from the NFL in 2004.
One of the biggest positives for Pederson is his previous exposure to the always-tough Philadelphia fan base. Hopefully that will serve him well when invariably the waters get choppy. Still, the Eagles are a team in transition, and not much should be expected this season.
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