Last Sunday night, on my way to a screening of "Jackie Brown" in Hollywood, this query popped into my head:
Which 1st-year @NFL coach has best shot to be w/his team in 5 yrs? Who's first to go? McCoy, Marrone, Chud, Kelly, Trestman, Arians, Bradleyâ Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) July 29, 2013
By the time Tarantino's bail-bond epic wrapped, many had chimed in. Your answers ranged all over the map. There was plenty of support for Marc Trestman in Chicago and Mike McCoy in San Diego, largely because of the presence of quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers, respectively.
Here's my take:
Best shot to be with his team in five years?
Mike McCoy, Chargers: I don't see Rivers playing in San Diego for much longer, but McCoy will be given ample time to groom his replacement.
McCoy doesn't receive enough credit for what he accomplished in Denver because Peyton Manning isn't a guy who needs to be coached up. Still, McCoy is the lone coordinator in history to morph Tim Tebow into a playoff quarterback. It's how he did it that impresses me. McCoy taught Tebow's option-based attack to his players in a matter of days and generated buy-in.
McCoy adapts his scheme to his talent, instead of shoving the wrong players into a philosophy that doesn't fit them. That flexibility should help him succeed with a franchise that likes to give their coaches a patient look.
Marc Trestman, Bears: General manager Phil Emery sports an impressive man crush on his new head coach. I don't blame him. Trestman's hire turned heads because he wasn't pulled from the stale circle of retread candidates who waft up annually. Trestman's resume, however -- particularly his work with quarterbacks -- is sterling, and Emery deserves credit for going out on a limb. With Cutler at the wheel, Trestman's ceiling is high.
First to go?
Doug Marrone, Bills: I derive no joy from this portion of the conversation. I select Marrone because he's tied to rookie EJ Manuel, a question mark at quarterback. New coaches go the way of their handpicked passers; they rarely outlast them. If Manuel succeeds early in Buffalo, Marrone will be on a long leash. If EJ stumbles, his coach will take the fall. It's a familiar tale.
Newbies with a hazy situation under center -- namely, Gus Bradley in Jacksonville and Chudzinski -- risk becoming footnotes if their teams fail to unearth a franchise signal-caller. As Chris Wesseling asked in Wednesday's Around The League Podcast, "How many NFL relationships are built to last, unless they involve a quarterback?"
The question isn't so much about which coach will succeed or fail, but who will find their version of Tom Brady. Do so, and your longevity is sure.The Around The League Podcast is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.