With the surprising hiring of Chip Kelly, the Philadelphia Eagles became the sixth team to welcome a new head coach since the end of the regular season, joining the Chicago Bears (Marc Trestman), Kansas City Chiefs (Andy Reid), San Diego Chargers (Mike McCoy), Buffalo Bills (Doug Marrone) and Cleveland Browns (Rob Chudzinski). Which of these six hirings holds the most promise for success?
Kelly is already at the forefront of NFL innovationChip Kelly is the best hire because he has the best ideas. Many of his principles are already working for the New England Patriots. The NFL is becoming an up-tempo, offensive league. Kelly is the right man for this time in the league's evolution, and he has plenty of offensive talent in Philadelphia to work with.
Trestman, Bears should enjoy immediate successThere are so many unknown factors, making it very difficult to predict long-range success. Can Andy Reid get a quarterback in Kansas City? The same question can be asked in Buffalo, too.
I think Marc Trestman has the best chance to enjoy immediate success. He is very good at working with quarterbacks and establishing a productive passing game, so he can certainly make do with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Co. The Chicago Bears should be the best of these six teams next year.
I think Reid will be successful in K.C., though, because he knows how to win and will eventually develop a QB and a potent passing attack.
McCoy gives Chargers great hope for 2013 and beyondI feel bad for Chicago Bears fans. Settling for Marc Trestman on the same day the Eagles hire Chip Kelly must be akin to waking up on Christmas morning with a Hot Wheels car, only to see your neighbor get a go-kart.
Now, I'm not ready to simply crown the Eagles, because we don't know if Kelly's offense will work without the right personnel (it's not Nick Foles, and Michael Vick can't stay healthy enough to be successful). Still, Kelly does provide some hope.
Andy Reid could be this generation's version of Marty Schottenheimer: a solid coach who will win at every stop, making every team he coaches a perennial playoff contender. At the same time, I don't look at the Chiefs as a Super Bowl contender. They seem like a team that will win 10 to 12 games a year, make a few conference championships and that's about it. A good hire, but not one that will bring greatness.
The new boss with the most upside is Mike McCoy. The Chargers have turned over a new leaf (sorry, San Diego -- I know that's a bad word in those parts) with a new general manager (Tom Telesco) and a new coach who has proven he can win with just about any quarterback. Philip Rivers will be a new man. And with a budding defense on the rise, McCoy's Chargers provide the most promise for the 2013 season and beyond.
Trestman is the perfect man to solve Chicago's offensive problemsThere was no better situation than Chicago for any head coach, and it's this spot that holds the most promise for future success. The Bears went outside the box and hired Marc Trestman, who spent the past five seasons coaching the CFL's Montreal Alouettes. In doing so, Chicago took a giant leap toward fixing its offensive issues. (The defense is fine -- no need to touch that.)
Trestman was the San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator during Jerry Rice's record-setting 1995 season. Think Brandon Marshall likes that? Trestman also tutored quarterback Jay Cutler before the 2006 NFL Draft. Think Cutler enjoys the new hire? The Bears should have success immediately.
Better question: Where will Michael Vick land in 2013?I can't believe I'm about to type this, but the answer to that question depends largely upon where Michael Vick lands. If Chip Kelly can sell Vick (who reportedly refused to restructure his contract with the Eagles) on an offense that can take full advantage of his skills and the team's talented (but soft) pass catchers, Philly will be the most successful team with a new coach.
However, if Andy Reid -- the guy who did for Vick's career what Quentin Tarantino did for John Travolta's in "Pulp Fiction" -- can lure Mike to K.C., I like a talented Chiefs team to take a run at the AFC West in 2013.
McCoy inherits the best QB, thus he inherits the best jobUltimately, head-coaching success comes easiest for the guy who inherits the best quarterback situation. So, for now, that excludes Andy Reid, Doug Marrone and Rob Chudzinski. It's quite possible they each find their QB in free agency or the draft, but right now, Reid doesn't really have a starting signal-caller in Kansas City, while Marrone and Chudzinski will likely try to replace their current quarterbacks in Buffalo and Cleveland, respectively. So it's likely they'll all be starting over at the position. The same can be said for Chip Kelly in Philadelphia; will Michael Vick be the ultimate fit for him? Even if Vick stays, remember: He hasn't been very good the past two seasons -- nor has the offensive line -- and the rest of the offensive talent -- outside of LeSean McCoy -- is below average. So I'm not buying an immediate revival in Philly just yet.
How about Marc Trestman? I hope it's not too late for him to get another "30 Rock" reference, but it's hard for me to buy into Jay Cutler at this point. Cutler had everything around him -- a strong running game, talented receivers (finally) and an opportunistic defense -- and still couldn't get the Bears far enough.
The best job is with the best quarterback, and that's Philip Rivers. I know he's slumped the past two seasons, but so has his running game. There's also been a dearth of talent coming in free agency-wise, and that trend will change this year, now that A.J. Smith is no longer running things. Despite all those issues, Rivers has still thrown at least 26 touchdown passes in each of his past five seasons, with a completion percentage over 62 every year. Mike McCoy turned Tim Tebow into an icon and helped Peyton Manning hit the ground running after being away for a year. The Reclamation of Philip Rivers screams Lifetime movie (starring Sam Worthington) in 2013. San Diego will again challenge for the AFC West crown.