OT: Continuing the carousel

Former Chargers quarterback Jim Harbaugh will be returning as head coach this season. Photo courtesy of chargers.com

DAVID JACOBS | STAFF REPORTER | drjacobs@butler.edu

Overtime, or “OT”, is an opinion column series where the Collegian takes national sports headlines or polarizing topics and gives them a Butler-centric angle

Each off-season in the NFL, some teams part ways with their coaches looking to start a new chapter of their franchise. 

This year, there were eight teams looking to start fresh. To date, six of the eight teams have inked deals with their new leaders. 

New England Patriots 

The Patriots were the first team to announce their hiring, promptly promoting defensive assistant and former player Jerod Mayo to the job on Jan. 12. 

At 37 years old, the former Super Bowl-winning linebacker has spent his entire playing and coaching career in New England. Newly the youngest active head coach in the league, he will be the franchise’s youngest coach since 41-year-old Ron Meyer became head coach in 1982. 

Las Vegas Raiders 

The Raiders found their match next after they saw much more success with their interim head coach Antonio Pierce

After going 8-16 under former head coach Josh McDaniels, Pierce took over in week nine and won over the locker room, going 5-4 down the stretch. 

With the help of star defensive end Maxx Crosby’s ultimatum, the Super Bowl-winning linebacker with the New York Giants was announced on Jan. 19 as the next head coach of the franchise. 

Tennessee Titans 

The Titans let go of former head coach Mike Vrabel after back-to-back losing seasons despite him being just two seasons removed from winning Coach of the Year

His replacement, former Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, will be great for the progression of quarterback Will Levis

Callahan has worked with quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr and most recently Joe Burrow. Callahan will now be able to try and add Levis to his impressive quarterback resume as Tennessee will learn to live without Derrick Henry in the backfield. 

Callahan’s departure from Cincinnati will not go unnoticed, though. Vivian Naylor, a first-year sports media major and Bengals fan, said the loss of Callahan comes with mixed emotions. 

“I thought [Callahan] had a major impact on the Bengals and will make an impact at Tennessee,” Naylor said. “I could not be more excited to see what he will do in the future. Our new coordinator [Dan Pitcher] is a very basic upgrade; he helped [quarterback Jake Browning] to a winning season, so I am excited to see the new beginnings.” 

Carolina Panthers 

For the Panthers and Chargers, a coaching change has been a long time coming. Similar to the Raiders, they each parted ways with their respective coaches during the regular season and turned to an interim coach to get them through the year. 

The Panthers looked to former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich to take over the helm last off-season, as they sought to rebuild with rookie quarterback Bryce Young. After just 11 games and a 1-10 start, Reich parted ways with the Panthers. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor took over and went 1-5 down the stretch in Carolina. 

After conducting interviews with Tabor and fellow assistant Ejiro Evero — as well as two assistants from the Baltimore Ravens in Todd Monken and Mike Macdonald  — the Panthers announced Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales as their new leader. 

Under Canales’ offensive scheme, Tampa Bay ranked in the bottom 12 in points and yards. Despite this, he helped rejuvenate the career of quarterback Baker Mayfield who threw for 28 touchdowns and 4000 yards. 

The future in Carolina is dim, as the Chicago Bears hold their first-round pick this year. Canales’ main goal will likely be to save the career of the disappointing rookie quarterback Young, but only time will tell if he will be able to right this half-sunken ship. 

Los Angeles Chargers 

On the other end of the spectrum, the most sought-after coaching job in this year’s cycle was the Chargers. Interim coach Giff Smith took over the last three weeks in relief for former head coach Brandon Staley

With a quarterback like Justin Herbert, the Chargers can not wait to rebuild. Who else but former Chargers quarterback Jim Harbaugh to try and get the job done, coming off a National Championship win with the University of Michigan? 

Harbaugh had a 44-19 head coaching record and a Super Bowl appearance for the 49ers before transitioning back to college. While in Ann Arbor, he boasted an 89-25 record in his nine years. 

This return to the NFL may be a surprise to some, but for sophomore marketing major Nolan Canada, Harbaugh’s return to the league is justified. 

“The Chargers really struggled last season, so a coaching change was needed,” Canada said. “I think Harbaugh could be a good fit with Herbert; I remember Harbaugh having a successful tenure with the 49ers before Michigan. So, I could see him having success with the Chargers.” 

Harbaugh has historically called a run-heavy offense, ranking top-ten in rushing attempts and yards in each of his four seasons with the 49ers. He has not worked with this much talent before, but it would be illogical to pound the ball when he has Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on the perimeter. 

Atlanta Falcons 

In a similar situation, the Falcons hold franchise cornerstones at running back, wide receiver and tight end with Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts. With such talent, Atlanta was a very appealing destination for any coach. 

After rounds of interviews, Atlanta ultimately went with the Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris

Morris, who had a lackluster stint from 2009 to 2011 as the Buccaneers’ head coach, will finally get the well-deserved second chance to coach a team. 

Coaching in the NFL since 2002, Morris has had assistant positions on both sides of the ball.  He will be returning to the Falcons after being their passing game coordinator and brief interim head coach from 2015 to 2020. 

As the most stressful job in football, the importance of finding the right head coach is an underestimated aspect of team success. The hiring of a new head coach often puts a reset on a franchise and can waste an athlete’s prime. 

No matter the draft pick or the talent on the field, much more goes into team success than the players carrying the ball. 

First-year sports media major John Chafe has a simple rule of thumb that shows how important a head coach really is. 

“The three pillars of a team are head coach, general manager and quarterback,” Chafe said. “If you have all three, you are in good shape.” 


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