If you've ever seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you know how I feel right now. Basically, the hero is the only person in the movie who hasn't been taken over by a pod-like alien life form, and he loses his mind trying to get help, when madness reigns at every turn. For the most part, that's what the head coaching moves in the NFL were like this week. Madness. It's not that they hired bad head coaches, but it seemed like most teams hired the wrong guy for the makeup of their team.
» Let's start with Greg Schiano to Tampa Bay. This is someone who once turned down going to Michigan to stay at Rutgers, so you have to wonder about his decision making. But don't you have one of the youngest teams in football, with one of the youngest quarterbacks in Josh Freeman? What was missing from Tampa this year was leadership. You tried the young-guy-to-communicate-with-the-young-players thing with Raheem Morris and that flamed out. Schiano has no credibility to bring to these kids in the NFL. His NFL résumé is as a defensive backfield coach with the Bears from 1996-98. The last time he was in the league, John Elway won the Super Bowl. There are kids graduating college now who have no memory of Elway as an NFL QB, just what they see on NFL Films.
Debate: Oakland's Mr. Right?
It's easy to say a college coach can relate to young players, but the NFL is different now. Once kids get into the league, all the rah-rah stuff is gone. What this team needed was someone with NFL experience -- recent NFL experience -- who can get youth to buy in. How about Rob Chudzinski or Mike McCoy to help tutor your franchise QB in Josh Freeman? Isn't developing Freeman the most important thing your team needs to do to succeed?
» But it wasn't just Tampa Bay who ignored the "Hey let's make sure we take care of our most important player" philosophy. The Coltshiring of Ravens DC Chuck Pagano falls into that category, too. Andrew Luck is going to come into Indianapolis and not have an offensive-friendly coach to help his transition into the league. Yet, he's expected to almost instantly become a star quarterback? Coordinators who take head-coaching jobs always make sure their team is good on the side of the ball they've been coaching on. But could you really expect Steve Spagnuolo to develop Sam Bradford? Rex Ryan for Mark Sanchez? If you're taking a player No. 1 overall, he has to have a coach who understands what he needs, first and foremost.
» Dennis Allen is the new man in Oakland. And again, I'm not anti-Allen (or Schiano or Pagano), it's just that they're odd fits for what their respective teams need. Allen's a risk. His Broncos defense was still really bad this season, though they were a tad better than last year. But giving up over 40 points in three of Denver's last four games doesn't tell me he's a miracle worker. He's a risk. And for a team coming off three failed risks in a row (Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson), Oakland needed someone who could bring stability to the organization. You can take a chance in hiring a coach every so often, but if it doesn't work out, you have to follow that up with a more sensible choice. The players can't feel like every year it's someone else who could be out the door at the end of the season. Why should anyone buy into his message?
Debate: Where will Flynn land?
» Thankfully now, the madness starts to ebb a bit. The pod people become less and less apparent. I love the Dolphins getting Joe Philbin. The Packers offensive coordinator helped make Aaron Rodgers who he is, and his stock rose dramatically with Matt Flynn's huge day in the final week of the season. (Hey, if he can get Matt Flynn to throw for 500 yards and six TDs, he might be pretty good.) Philbin's coming in with a great system, and it's one the players can believe in. What offensive player doesn't dream of playing in Green Bay's offense? In Miami, Reggie Bush has become a star, Brandon Marshall has also regained that status, and you have some nice complementary pieces in Daniel Thomas and Anthony Fasano. Miami did it right (for once) -- they saw what their strength could be, so they went there for their head coach. Maybe they get Flynn in a trade, maybe they don't, but do you have any doubt Philbin can take Matt Moore (or whomever Miami decides to go with at QB) and make him a good player?
» The reason I like Jeff Fisher to the Rams more than Philbin to Miami is that Fisher has everything you'd want in a head coach. Despite being a defensive coach by nature, he developed a young QB (Steve McNair) to an elite level. Congratulations, Sam Bradford. He has a résumé that players can buy into, complete with Super Bowl and conference championship appearances. Said appearances came in a small market, making you think no matter what hand he's dealt he can win. Remember, he even won games with Vince Young and a past-his-prime Kerry Collins. He has a strong enough hand that no one questions his decisions. For my money, Fisher was far and away the best choice any team could have made this offseason. He'll have the Rams challenging the 49ers in the NFC West within a year.