By Steve Silverman
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The Jets have made their move as new general manager Mike Maccagnan hired Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to be the team’s new head coach.
Bowles, like his predecessor, has a brilliant defensive mind and is a big fan of pressuring opposing quarterbacks to get them off their game. While Bowles figures out how to get the Jets back to respectability and contention in the AFC East, Rex Ryan resumes his chase of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots from a new perch in Buffalo.
While the Super Bowl combatants will be decided this Sunday, this is the hiring season in the NFL. The Jets and Bills have filled their openings, and five more teams will hire a new head coach in a matter of hours, days or weeks.
Here’s a look at the strengths of those who have either filled positions or are likely to when the dust settles.
New York Jets – Bowles comes to the Jets after a very sharp run as defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. While Arizona collapsed after losing quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, it was the defense that allowed the Cardinals to win nine of their first 10 games. Bowles likes to disguise his blitzes, which leads to the creation of a lot of big plays. If that sounds familiar, it should.
However, Bowles will find new weaknesses to exploit because his film study is superb. He can pinpoint the weakness, point it out to his players and show them how to exploit that problem. The only issue with Bowles’ defensive philosophy is that it tends to be an all-or-nothing attack. If the pressure fails to get the results, his defenses can be quite vulnerable.
Buffalo – Ryan likes to think of himself as a defensive genius, and it comes almost by birthright since his dad was the legendary Buddy Ryan. Nobody wears his heart on his sleeve like Rex, and that’s why his players tend to love him.
Ryan is not quite as blunt as his father, and that’s a good thing since Buddy Ryan was not averse to embarrassing or even humiliating his players. However, Rex’s inability to build a cohesive offensive team is likely to cause the same problems in Buffalo that it did with the Jets. That problem is compounded by the loss of quarterback Kyle Orton to retirement.
Atlanta – This job appears destined to go to Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. Quinn has demonstrated excellent knowledge and inspirational ability as he regularly taps into the emotion of players like Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor and gets the most out of them. Quinn is also a keen strategist who uses aggression and physical force as his baseline.
This should suit the defensively soft Falcons well. They have been pushed around on defense for years, and Quinn can help them. However, the Falcons are also on the small side, and they need some bigger players in addition to some meaner ones.
Chicago – The Bears fell apart under Marc Trestman, as his players did not respect his authority and he had little control in the locker room. As a result, the Bears are very interested in deposed Denver head coach John Fox. While Fox or whomever the Bears hire is likely to be saddled with the disastrous Jay Cutler for one more season, a new coach should impose more discipline and get the team to play hard for 60 minutes every game.
Denver – The Broncos will have plenty of issues because of Peyton Manning’s drop-off as well as the probable loss of Adam Gase and Jack Del Rio. John Elway didn’t like the way the Broncos performed in the loss to the Colts in the divisional playoffs, and last year’s loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl still stung him. Elway may want to turn to Gary Kubiak or former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan to take the reins.
Oakland – Del Rio is likely to be named as the head coach on Wednesday or Thursday. There’s a wide range of opinions on Del Rio, as many believe that he is a fiery competitor who will get the most out of his players on a consistent basis, while others don’t think he is sharp enough to keep up with the best minds in the game. The latter opinion seems quite harsh, but turning the Raiders around will be nearly impossible.
San Francisco – The Niners’ management grew tired of Jim Harbaugh because he was confrontational, direct and challenging. If they hire Gase away from the Broncos, they are hiring a bright mind who is quite likable and easy to get along with. That’s not necessarily a good thing, because hard-nosed players may be able to take advantage of his easy-going nature.
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