Coaching notes (cont.)
While it's easy to raise one's eyebrows at the thought of 32-year-old Josh McDaniels getting the keys tossed to him in Denver, the trend in recent years to go with 30-something head coaches like Eric Mangini, Mike Tomlin and Lane Kiffin isn't all that new. We all tend to forget that in the 1960s, Baltimore hired Don Shula at age 33 in 1963, Dallas tabbed a 36-year-old Tom Landry in 1960, Oakland went with John Madden, 32, in 1969, and Pittsburgh that same year, rolled the dice on the 37-year-old Chuck Noll.
Those four did all right. They combined to coach 95 seasons in the NFL, making 16 Super Bowl appearances and winning nine rings.
Here's one very common sense reason why the Jets might favor Ryan over Spagnuolo: Ryan runs a 3-4 defense in Baltimore, and Spagnuolo operates a 4-3 alignment in New York. The Jets invested heavily in 3-4 personnel during Mangini's three seasons, and aren't in the cap position to just rip up those moves and start over with a 4-3.
Did you hear that, Brett Favre? Tony Dungy has said that having quit the game, he's not coming back. Imagine the concept of finality? How refreshing.
Just trying to put two and two together, but it would seem to me that McDaniels getting hired in Denver somehow helps his AFC West rival Herm Edwards' chances of surviving another year as Kansas City's coach.
With McDaniels, the former Patriots offensive coordinator, off the job market, maybe potential Chiefs general manager hire Scott Pioli wouldn't be as inclined to make an immediate coaching change. Then again, maybe Edwards remains because Pioli wouldn't be as inclined to take the Chiefs GM job if he can't bring in McDaniels as his head coach.
For what it's worth, I'm told that while the Lions contacted Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and expressed interest in having him interview for their head coaching vacancy, he declined the opportunity. According to a source, Mularkey is still seeking another head coaching opportunity after leading Buffalo in 2004-05, but it's believed that he didn't consider Detroit to be the right situation for him at this point.
Smart move of the Lions to add Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to their list of head coaching interviewees. I don't think Rivera got anywhere near the credit he deserved for the job he did for San Diego after replacing the fired Ted Cottrell in October.
The Chargers still never found a way to replace the play-making presence of Shawne Merriman under Rivera's leadership, but San Diego's late-season resurgence was due in part to the defense playing a major role in that five-game winning streak.
Not only does the Bill Belichick-coaching tree now have branches in Denver (McDaniels) and Cleveland (Mangini), it could be sprouting in Detroit as well. If the Lions go with Schwartz as their head coach, it must be noted he got his NFL start under Belichick in Cleveland in the early '90s, working three years as a college and pro scout.
If Pioli and the Chiefs don't wind up striking a deal, here's a name to keep track of in Kansas City's quest to replace general manager Carl Peterson: Mark Dominik. He's Tampa Bay's 37-year-old director of pro personnel, and he not only grew up in Kansas and attended the University of Kansas, but also he began his NFL career as a Chiefs scouting intern in 1994.
Dominik and Chiefs interim president Denny Thum, who is heading K.C.'s search for a general manager, have known each other for years, and Dominik is well respected throughout the league for his personnel judgment. He is largely credited with the Bucs' signing last year of receiver Antonio Bryant, who went on to a breakout season as Tampa Bay's No. 1 pass-catcher in 2008.
Now that the Cardinals have made their first NFC title game, the only teams who have yet to reach a conference final are the NFL's most recent two expansions clubs: the "new'' Browns, who began in 1999, and the 2002-debuting Houston Texans.
Six teams still have yet to play in a Super Bowl: Detroit, New Orleans, Arizona, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Houston.