The coaching carousel continues to spin in the National Football League and their will seven new head coaches taking over teams. How should those handicapping the NFL react to these changes?
A grand total of seven new taskmasters will be patrolling the sidelines, three with previous experience wearing the main headset and four taking the initial journey of leading a team.
In all seven situations, fans are more hopeful than a year ago that this change will improve their teams fortunes. Most realize this will not happen immediately when most likely changing systems on both sides of the ball, but the hope is at least is on the table until the games begin.
The Problems With New Coaches at This Level
The first aspect to understand about new head coaches in the NFL is they are frequently taking over losing squads and either the owner, team president or general manager wants to alter the trajectory of the team. A Gary Kubiak coming into a situation where a team is off three division titles is extremely rare, but John Elway's hunch was right and Denver became Super Bowl champions.
With a new leader comes change and for the most part the roster will largely look the same as the year prior until changes can be made through the draft or free agency. If say a team has been built to run the up the middle with short passing game and play 4-3 defensive alignment and the fresh head guy wants to run outside the tackles, push the pigskin down the field, backed with new 3-4 defense, the present roster might not have the right players to make all the adjustments.
Roughly two-thirds of the time teams improve over the previous year, but as you will find in next section, that is not necessarily hard to do.
What Should NFL Bettors Expect the First Year?
For those generating NFL picks, all head coaches in their initial season were 181-259 SU from 2010 to 2014, which is a 41.1 percent win percentage. NFL football handicappers like myself witnessed them post a 206-224-10 ATS record (47.9%).
Last year saw improvement on both ends at 56-56 SU and 54-54-4 ATS. Nevertheless, if you follow the NFL odds and bet say $110.00 a game to win $200 on first-year head coaches and their teams, the sportsbooks made $4,580.00 on you. (#ouch)
A Look at All Seven Coaches
History has shown us head coaches with previous experience perform somewhat better than those that do not. Not sure that will be the case this time around.
Tennessee's Mike Mularkey lasted one year in Jacksonville and took over the Titans last year and was 2-7 SU and ATS and somehow kept the job. Though wildly respected in the league, Cleveland's Hue Jackson lasted only the 2011 campaign in Oakland and while most agree it was a mistake, it still happened. Chip Kelly's three seasons in Philadelphia were tumultuous and he inherits and roster in San Francisco that is not close to playoff ready.
The other four newbie coaches come with even more uncertainty. Tampa Bay's Dirk Koetter has the most NFL experience, being offensive coordinator in Jacksonville and Atlanta before landing Buccaneers gig and working with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston last year. Nobody questions his offensive knowledge, but they did not at Arizona State either, when he was in charge there and had an unorganized program.
Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants and Adam Gase of Miami are offensive guys with uneven rosters, especially on defense. Will either find swift answers on that side of the ball? Also, will Gase be able to turn Ryan Tannehill into Top 10 quarterback to improve Dolphins fortunes?
Finally, all we really know is that Philadelphia's Doug Pederson is he was a career NFL backup and was under the Andy Reid coaching tree. His only previous head coaching experience was Calgary Baptist Academy from 2005-08. Chances are Pederson will have similar ideas to those as Reid, who was fired in Philly after 2012 season. Does this make sense?
In conclusion, more money is to be made betting against new head coaches in the first season than with them.