Which First-Year Head Coach Will Be Most Successful?


There are a few new head coaches hitting the league in 2012.  As much as we all love him, Mike Mularkey may not be the cream of the crop according to pretty much everyone else outside of Jacksonville.

In fact, based on a poll by FOX Sports, the Jaguars’ Mike Mularkey will have the least success out of Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano, Miami’s Joe Philbin, Indianapolis’ Chuck Pagano, and Oakland’s Dennis Allen.  Yes, you read that right.  Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, and Miami are all expected (based on almost 3,000 votes) to have more success than Mike Mularkey.

Despite fielding a top ten defense and returning almost every starter from the defense and the defensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey is only expected to have the most success out of the group by 10% of voters.  What does Indy have that gives them an edge at 11%?  Does Andrew Luck really turn an entire team into winners?  While the season will give us a true answer, I’m willing to say “no” for right now.

What about Miami?  They took third place in the voting with 22% (considerably higher than the two AFC South teams with new coaches).  Joe Philbin ran a good offense in Green Bay, but most of it is Mike McCarthy’s brain child.  Is Philbin going to be able to turn Ryan Tannehill into Aaron Rodgers?  Will he even end up looking like Matt Flynn?  Despite the questions about Miami’s coaching staff (and I like Joe Philbin, though question what he did and what McCarthy did in Green Bay), the strength of the roster is truly minimal.  We all know that Jacksonville is the 32nd most popular franchise, it’s pretty obvious Miami has some people still hoping for the next Dan Marino.

Dennis Allen in Oakland pulled in second place with 27% of the vote to be the most successful first-year head coach in 2012.  Of the coaches outside of Mike Mularkey (who I truly do think could be the most successful) I think that the situation in Oakland could translate into success.  Darren McFadden is good, really good; a resurgent Carson Palmer would be a great boon to the new coach; and no longer having Al Davis hanging over everyone like Johnny Raincloud will free up some open thinking and new approaches to the game.  Beyond that though, I don’t have a lot of hope for Allen.  While Davis won’t be around to fire him after his first five games, the culture in Oakland does not seem too far removed from him the Al Davis era.

Why Greg Schiano of Tampa Bay is expected to be the most successful first-year head coach makes a bit more sense to me.  Apparently 30% of the people polled agree.  Of the coaches, I think that Schiano has the best attitude (sorry Mularkey).  I think he says the right things, has the right approach to the game, knows how to manage his team well, etc. But I don’t think he knows how to win on the NFL level.  The guy knows how to motivate and lead, but what about his schemes?  What about his coordinators?  What about his roster?  Coming into Tampa Bay, I think that Schiano’s roster is the best of the five head coaches.  I’m not a Josh Freeman fan, but the young talent on the team is bubbling up to the surface quickly.  The Bucs made some big splashes in free agency, and I think that Schiano is the right man to lead them.  However, until he starts winning I’m not willing to put all of my eggs in his basket.

While I’m a Mularkey fan and think that he has the best shot to make a move toward being the most successful (that Jaguars defense is tough to argue with), look for Schiano to share in some of that glory as well.  I fully expect Miami to be mediocre (yes, even with Chad Ochocino), the Colts to look like they are beginning to rebuild because they are, and the Raiders will probably continue to be the same Raiders we’ve seen since they lost the Super Bowl to the Bucs.

Expect a few more people to be jumping onto the Black and Teal bandwagon during the 2012 season.  And if another Florida franchise not from Miami does pretty well, don’t be shocked too much.

– Luke N. Sims

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