Around the NFL  

 

Obstacles for new coaches in Cleveland, Tampa, Detroit

Every new head coach faces challenges. But Mike Pettine, Jim Caldwell and Lovie Smith inherit enviable situations in Cleveland, Detroit and Tampa Bay, respectively. All three landed talented rosters that aren't far from playoff contention.

As the Browns, Lions and Buccaneers wrap up their offseason programs with minicamps this week, we decided to take a look at the obstacles that each new head coach faces at his new locale.

Mike Pettine, Cleveland Browns


1. The toughest challenge for Pettine might be off the field. Johnny Manziel has brought the national media to town, and there will be scrutiny on everything the team does. Pettine appears to be up for the job, with a blunt style that can successfully shut down silly storylines. Many coaches say the toughest part of being a first-time head coach is dealing with added responsibilities as they try to get their system installed.

2. The pressure won't just be from the media. There will be an intense drumbeat from the vocal Browns fans to start Johnny Manziel over Brian Hoyer in Week 1. Pettine has preached competition, and it's hard to imagine him benching Manziel if he clearly outplays Hoyer in training camp. NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala noted Tuesday that Hoyer has held his own during OTA sessions, although we don't put a lot of stock in non-contact work.

3. One of the challenges in constructing the Browns' offense: Hoyer and Manziel are very different style quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan must balance getting ready for the season with developing Manziel.

4. Pettine also has to successfully prepare for life without star wide receiver Josh Gordon. His expected suspension has been hanging over the team for over a month now. With Gordon out of the mix, the Browns have a rag tag group of wideouts with Andrew Hawkins, Miles Austin and Nate Burleson atop the depth chart.

5. The challenge on defense is a good one. Pettine needs to find a way to get a host of talented players together on the field at the same time, especially pass rushers. His system isn't the simplest to install, but there is plenty of connective tissue with Ray Horton's scheme from a year ago.

Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions


1. Caldwell's second go-round as a head coach will include a lot of teaching within his own coaching staff. In offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, the Lions have the least experienced coordinator tandem in the NFL.


Watch "The Top 100 Players of 2014" every week at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network as we count down to the top player in the NFL. "The Top 100 Players of 2014 Reactions" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.

2. It's a young staff but a relatively experienced roster. Detroit's offense has enviable continuity, especially on the offensive line. The defensive tackle combination rivals any in the league. Under previous coach Jim Schwartz, the Lions added up to less than the sum of their parts. (Penalties were a big reason why.) It's Caldwell's task to turn that around.

3. The front four in Detroit looks strong, but there are still plenty of questions about the secondary. This is especially challenging in an NFC North division full of great wide receivers. Caldwell and Austin need to settle on a depth chart that works and coach up the positions better than the previous staff.

4. Ultimately, Caldwell was hired to get more out of quarterback Matthew Stafford. No one questions the talent or the arm strength, but he hasn't developed the mental side of his game as quickly. It looked like Stafford had taken significant strides last year until his late-season swoon.

Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


1. Smith has great talent to work with on defense. But his system is a big departure from the scheme that Greg Schiano ran last year. This group has the makings of a top-five unit if Smith can teach his philosophy well.

2. "Every team says they have a leader -- but not every team has a leader like Josh," Smith said of his new starting quarterback Josh McCown. Translating that leadership into a 16-game starter will be trickier. There's reason to believe McCown has the talent to make the leap to quality starter.

3. The Buccaneers need to integrate rookies Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins into their offense quickly. The team is short on pass catchers otherwise, and counting on rookie pass catchers is always dangerous.

4. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford is a wild card. Smith essentially is betting his second act on a college coach that had a disastrous end to his run at Cal. Tedford is a noted quarterback tutor, but he has no NFL experience. He is one of the biggest X-factors in the entire league.

The end to the latest Around The League Podcast is full of shock and awe.

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15