The 2014 head coaches search was a wild period with seven new leaders selected by the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns (again!).
It couldn‘t topple last year‘s version, though, when eight new guys were hired.
Most of the new coaches were able to succeed in their first year with their team, some actually with their first head coaching gig of their life.
But who really panned out? And who already managed stumble in year one? Let‘s take a look back.
Flamed Out: Doug Marrone (Buffalo Bills)
Doug Marrone, who was previously the head coach for the Syracuse Orange in the NCAA, was brought into Buffalo to finally lift the offensive play, especially the passing game. It turned out rather unsuccessful in the first season: While being the 25th best passing team in the league in 2012, the team even declined, only ranking as number 28 in 2013.
This was also the case due to the injury to rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, but nevertheless, the Bills weren‘t a really better team overall last year either. So, despite the fact that everything could change in 2014, the hiring of Doug Marrone hasn‘t panned out yet.
Flamed Out (for now): Gus Bradley (Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jacksonville Jaguars were undoubtedly one of the worst teams in football last year. Starting their season with eight straight losses and getting hammered again and again, they finished with another disappointing record of 4-12.
You have to give them credit for their run during mid-season, though: Between November 10th‘s game at the Titans and December 5th‘s matchup versus the Texans, they won four of their five games. This just shows how good the Jaguars can really be. Look for a suprisingly successful season for this team in 2014, also thanks to the new head coach Gus Bradley, who convinced experts at this year‘s Senior Bowl, too. For now though, his record as head coach is still 4-12.
Panned Out: Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs)
If there‘s any coach in the NFL who can turn around a team in one year, it is definitely Andy Reid. Going from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Kansas City Chiefs last spring, he and his staff improved the 2012 worst football roster to a playoffs team.
Considered an offensive mastermind, he was also able to progress the defensive production, as the Chiefs ranked as the 9th best defense in the league last year - four spots better than 2012. Meanwhile, the running game with Jamaal Charles was unstoppable, and quarterback Alex Smith was responsible for a solid passing attack. With that, the Chiefs went 11-5 and nabbed a wild card spot for the postseason. Thanks to Reid, they will be a contender for the next few years.
Panned Out: Mike McCoy (San Diego Chargers)
Mike McCoy was one of the hottest names in the NFL head coaching seach in 2013. Known as the offensive coordinator for one of the best offenses in Denver and a quarterback whisperer, as he improved Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow during their time as starter, he got the mission to get Philip Rivers back to his former pro bowl level.
The result was phenomenal: Rivers was one of the best quarterbacks in the league, perhaps even the second best behind Peyton Manning. Furthermore, the Chargers went to the playoffs and also won in the wild card round, before fighting the Denver Broncos in the divisional round hard. There is a good chance that Mike McCoy could be the best hire in last year‘s head coaching additions.
Panned Out: Bruce Arians (Arizona Cardinals)
The total quarterback rating posted by Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks in 2012 was 21.4, last in the league. The offensive line allowed a sack every 11.7 dropbacks in 2012, last in the league. I could go on with dismal stats about the Cardinals‘ 2012 team, but getting to the point: Arizona had been a bad team (with lots of potential, though) before Bruce Arians took over the job of Ken Whisenhunt.
Then, in his first season, they went 10-6 and nearly made it to the playoffs. It was an amazing transition of the team, which played in the NFL‘s best division. They were the only team in the last two years to beat the Seahawks at home. And even Carson Palmer played solid again. It was a perfect combination of the job general manager Steve Keim has done, especially with a strong draft class, and what Arians did with it. Cardinals fans can be really happy with their coaching staff. This team has a bright future.
Panned Out: Marc Trestman (Chicago Bears)
Is there a general manager in the league who thinks more outside-the-box than Phil Emery? To fire a coach who went 10-6 and nearly into the postseason was risky. To hire a Canadian football coach, who wasn‘t a part of the NFL for over a century, was even more so. But it seems to have turned out to be a great move.
Yes, the Bears only went 8-8 this season, but the team showed that they can contend over the next few years. Moreover, Trestman showed that he is a quarterback whisperer, getting the best out of both Jay Cutler and Josh McCown. The offense improved from one of the worst into one of the best - in just one season. Now, Phil Emery has to improve the defense as fast as he can. Because then, the Bears would be a Super Bowl contender immediately.
Panned Out: Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles)
It was one hell of a season opener for the Eagles and new coach Chip Kelly, when they crushed the Washington Redskins in their first game. No game of the year showed better what Kelly brought to the table: Lots of innovation and lots of risky moves. Like when he changed the quarterback shortly afterwards and selected Nick Foles as the starter, even though everyone said he wouldn‘t fit into the system. But it was the right decision. Chip Kelly did many things great in his first year as a head coach in the NFL and got better and better over the course of the season.
Flamed Out: Rob Chudzinski (Cleveland Browns)
How could you fire your head coach after one season, even though the team had looked promising and talented the whole year? It‘s a question no one could really answer after the Browns announced the decision about Chudzinski. With that, the hiring of him has to count as a failure as well - regardless of what he really did.