Fantasy owners should always keep coaching changes in the back of their minds at all times. A run-oriented head coach and/or offensive coordinator could easily drop the value of a top receiver when going to a more conservative offense. On the flip side, a pass happy coach can boost the value of a receiver who normally might fly under the radar (Josh McDaniels and Brandon Lloyd). Below are the coaching changes that occurred in the AFC earlier in the year and also how their presence will affect the skill players on their new team. Make sure you check out the NFC Coaching Changes.
- Pat Shurmur replaces Eric Mangini as head coach
After the firing of Mangini, team president Mike Holmgren wanted to go back to his roots and implement a West Coast offense for 2011. That scheme is Shurmur's specialty. After helping Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) put up a solid rookie performance last year, Shurmur will look to do the same with Colt McCoy. Who, like Bradford, came from a pro-style offense at Texas.
The West Coast offense caters to McCoy's strengths which is accuracy with short-to-intermediate throws and a quick release. The only drawback with the offense is tight end Ben Watson is the only real reliable weapon as of now. Rookie Greg Little could make some noise eventually, but he will still need time to develop.
- Mike Munchak replaces Jeff Fisher as head coach
- Chris Palmer replaces Mike Heimerdinger as offensive coordinator
Jeff Fisher opting to leave the franchise after a head coaching career that spanned almost two decades, all with the Titans, still comes as a bit of a shock. But instead of looking outside, the Titans opted to stay in-house and promoted Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak to head coach. Mike Heimerdinger ran a very conservative offense during his time as OC, but look for Palmer to put more emphasis on the passing game with Matt Hasselbeck, while also keeping, hopefully, Chris Johnson as the main focal point. The biggest beneficiary of the coaching change will be tight end Jared Cook, who will look to breakout after being used at tight end and also lining up as receiver in the preseason.
- John Fox replaces Josh McDaniels as head coach
- Mike McCoy takes over play-calling duties
With Josh McDaniels now in St. Louis as their new offensive coordinator, don't expect the same pass-happy offense with Fox. McCoy worked with Fox in Carolina as the quarterbacks coach, so they will be on the same page with a run-heavy offense. This will obviously kill Kyle Orton's stats after averaging almost 520 passing attempts between 2009 and 2010. The receiving corps, especially Brandon Lloyd, will also see their numbers slip.
The good news is that running back Knowshon Moreno and veteran Willis McGahee will see a lot of carries between the both of them. After failing to land an upgrade like DeAngelo Williams in free agency, Moreno will get most of the work, with McGahee coming in on short-yardage plays and taking all the goal-line snaps.
- Hue Jackson replaces Tom Cable as head coach
- Al Saunders replaces Jackson as offensive coordinator
Since Jackson called the plays last year as offensive coordinator, the schemes on the offense will remain the same. Jackson loves working with running backs who are not only solid runners, but can also catch the ball well out of the backfield. After a breakout year in 2010 with over 1600 total yards, Darren McFadden should rank in the top half amongst running backs with total yardage again by the end of the season. As long as he can stay healthy of course.
Saunders reunites with Jason Campbell after both had spent time together in Washington. After shifting offensive coordinators so many times in his career, playing under someone familiar will be a breathe of fresh air. However, the passing game take a huge hit after tight end Zach Miller took a new contract with the Seahawks. Kevin Boss was signed as his replacement, but he is nowhere near the pass-catching talent Miller is. so even though Campbell and Saunders are back together, Campbell's numbers could suffer.
- Jay Gruden replaces Bob Bratkowski as offensive coordinator
Gruden has very little NFL experience. He served as an assistant on his brother Jon's coaching staff when both were in Tampa from 2002 to 2008, but most of Gruden's coaching experience came in the Arena League and the UFL, where he was the head coach of the Florida Tuskers last year. With the quarterback and receiver positions looking very shaky so far this preseason, Cedric Benson will likely be the focal point of the offense after he re-signed with the team on a one-year deal. With Carson Palmer out for 2011, head coach Marvin Lewis and Gruden are going to need a miracle in the passing game with rookie Andy Dalton expected to start right out of the gate.
- Brian Daboll replaces Dan Henning as offensive coordinator
After the team failed to upgrade the quarterback position, expect the Dolphins to run and run a lot. Daboll is a member of the Bill Belichick coaching tree and will use a running back tandem with Reggie Bush, who is projected to be the Week One starter, and rookie Daniel Thomas.
Unfortunately, Dolphins fans shouldn't expect Chad Henne to turn it around this year. He has been one of the biggest disappointments on the team and that won't change with Daboll around.
New England Patriots
- Bill O'Brien takes over as offensive coordinator
This will be short and sweet. Since everything runs through Bill Belichick, don't expect the offense to change. O'Brien is the OC in name only.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Bill Muir replaces Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator
The biggest problem the Chiefs had last year was you had a big ego in Weis clashing with an even bigger ego in Todd Haley. Much like New England's situation, Muir is the offensive coordinator because he won't ruffle any feathers. Haley will still call the shots.