Is it too early to start talking about NFL football? Well fact is you will be hearing about the Draft endlessly up until and about a month afterwards. I say it is a great time to talk about things that have actually taken place throughout the leagues front offices over the past 60 days. Take a few minutes and digest this off-season appetizer to feed your NFL nourishment. I am talking about a quick look at the coaching changes that have occurred since the beginning of the off season that will be affecting the future landscape of the league. It is always beneficial to understand the coaching mentality of the teams moving into not only the draft but the upcoming season to help you better prepare for your NFL handicapping season. I'll be featuring the remaining division changes in the coming weeks.
Buffalo Bills: They have definitely endured the most changes in this division, if you weren't aware coaching veteran Chan Gailey takes over the helm as the 15th head coach of the Bills. He's coached in various positions throughout the NFL, primarily offensive; his most notable was that of the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys post Switzer in the (98-99 seasons), his longest tenure was at Georgia Tech (2002-2007).
Gailey's changes included holding onto only two of the entire previous staff and not surprising that they are defensive, (defensive back's coach) George Catavolos along with (defensive Line coach) Bob Sanders recent DC of the Green Bay Packers. The Bills were tied for second in the league in picks, so I expect player moral to be unchanged and slightly higher due to the retentions at those positions. Then recently Gailey added George Edwards who was the DC all of four weeks at the University of Florida. Edwards comes from the Miami Dolphins where he served as linebacker coach and was instrumental in various NFL players' development.
Gailey declared himself the official offensive play caller but will have a coach in the role offensive coordinator. He has selected Curtis Modkins (offensive coordinator/running backs), Bob Bicknell (tight ends), Joe D'Alessandris (offensive line), Kevin Patullo (offensive quality control) and Giff Smith (defensive assistant). Modkins worked with Gailey in Georgia Tech, and I don't think it will be too daunting of a task to improve on the Bills offensive production which has been 25th or less for the past seven seasons.
Miami Dolphins: Forget the off field player personnel issues this offseason that is for a different issue, but the Dolphins coaching staff defensively have a major new look. Upfront the firing of Paul Pasqualoni as (Defensive Coordinator) leads the departures along with defensive line-backing core coaches George Edwards going to Buffalo and Jim Reid is heading off to the college ranks. Jim Nolan moves in from Denver and quickly added Bill Sheridan former Giants (Defensive Coordinator) who had been recently fired. Nolan has had some varying degree of success over the years and he'll be managing the 3-4 defensive lineup for the Dolphins.
New England Patriots: Well Napoleon Belichick parts ways with Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees as The Patriots decided not to even enter into discussions and let him go within four days after their exit from the playoffs to the Ravens. Fittingly Pees signs on with the Baltimore Ravens as their (line backer coach). Speculation that Pepper Johnson or Matt Patricia would be the next in line after Al Groh had landed at Georgia Tech. However, all that was put to rest when Belichick stated the team would not hire or name a defensive coordinator replacement.
New York Jets: Surprisingly the Jets say good bye to a total of 5 coaches, most were assistants to the Coordinators in their perspective roles. Assistant defensive backs coach Doug Plank won't return. Three coaches had contracts that expired and weren't renewed - Kevin O'Dea (special teams), John DeFilippo (assistant quarterbacks) and Brian Smith (quality control-defense). Also Chuck Smith, who was a defensive consultant, is accepting the defensive line coach's position at the University of Tennessee. I don't see much ado about anything in these losses for the Jets.