Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Jan 2012

Colts to Hire Pagano

Pro Football Talk got the scoop on this: the Colts will hire Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to be their next head coach. Boy, that Ravens defensive coordinator position is a head coach mill.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 25 Jan 2012

86 comments, Last at 31 Jan 2012, 4:00pm by Jerry


by Bernie (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:06pm

How many Ravens Defensive guys are free agents this year? I wonder how many he'll bring over with him to shore up the Colts leaky defense? I wonder how much say he'll have in personnel matters.

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:20pm

A quick breakdown of the Ravens' free agents (from spotrac.com; may not be 100% accurate):

Ben Grubbs
Ray Rice
Brendon Ayanbadejo
Matt Birk
Dannell Ellerbe
Andre Gurode
Jarret Johnson
Sergio Kindle
Brandon McKinney
Jason Phillips
Cory Redding
Lardarius Webb
Tom Zbikowski

I would bet that they break down as follows:

Ravens will do anything to re-sign: Rice, Grubbs, Johnson, Webb
Ravens will try to re-sign: Johnson, Redding, Zbikowski, Ayanbadejo, Kindle
Ravens have no interest in: Birk, Gurode, Ellerbe, McKinney, Phillips

If I were Pagano, and I wanted to target midlevel players to help teach my defense (similar to what Rex Ryan did in NY with Scott and Leonhard), I would target the second category. Besides the white safety parallel with Leonhard, Zbikowski could be ideal for that.

by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:15pm

yeah. so.
jarret johnson is terrible, and he's gone. good candidate for the colts.

ray rice is overrated. he should be gone, and the colts do have issues at RB....

ben grubbs is overrated, and they made their bed when they re-signed yanda. gone.

webb gets franchised.

zbikowski is a great backup safety and mediocre punt returner, so it's possible someone goes after him, but I think the ravens will try to keep him.

cory redding is dwan edwards part 2 as the replaceable rotation run-stopping end. with paul kruger, arthur jones and pernell mcphee developing well, redding will be the 6th lineman if he comes back. I'd say better than even odds he's a colt in 6 months.

ayanbadejo is allegedly a special teams ace on one of the worst special teams coverage teams in the league. with his contract, I figure he's gone.

mckinney is the number 2 nose tackle, though I don't know if he's any good because scouting nose tackles is hard even when they do get snaps. i wager he re-signs because he'll be cheap. what use would pagano have for a guy whose only job qualification is his sandwich eating skills?

I think kindle is an exclusive rights free agent. he was a crap prospect and should never have been drafted. he should be gone. he's also a total moron and unlikely to be much use to pagano.

ellerbe won't leave without a fight, but the ravens have been proven right so many times about ray lewis's various partners that maybe teams will shy away for that reason. ellerbe and mcclain could very well be the starters next year if ray lewis decides to retire.

also there's some players likely to be cut who might become colts. foxworth and carr are both surplus to requirements and have bloated contracts. anquan boldin should be cut at this point as well.

by 0tarin :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:21am

It's fairly certain that they'll be using the franchise tag on Rice, not Webb. Although I admit, you could make an argument for your plan making more sense. Still, Webb will be easier to sign to a new contract, and the franchise tender for RBs is far cheaper than it is for CBs.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:29pm

Ladarius Webb, Dannell Ellerbe, Sergio Kindle and Cary Williams (not on your list, restricted I think) are restricted free agents.

There are four unrestricted free agents you missed: Jameel McClain, Haruki Nakamura, Edgar Jones and Matt Lawrence. Not that anyone is likely to be interested in the last two.

by JimZipCode :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:47pm

If Pagano wants to bring any Raven free-agent defenders with him to "teach his scheme" to the other Indy players, a la Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard, I would bet on Jarret Johnson, and either Nakamura or Zibby.

Coaches rave about Johnson. As a Ravens fan, I would say Johnson is probably the smartest player on that D, after Ed Reed. It's fun watching videos of the Ravens sideline. Ray Lewis jabbers constantly at his teammates. But he shuts up and listens when 2 particular guys want to say something: Reed and Johnson. An interesting dynamic.

Not sure that Johnson would want to leave, esp to go to a rebuilding situation. And Ozzie loves Johnson too, the only 2-time captain in Alabama football history. But Pagano may want his front office to throw more money at him than the Ravens do.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:26am

Ben Grubbs: Not worth keeping.
Ray Rice: They'll sign him to a deal and then cut him halfway through it. They'll overpay him. And the fanbase will love it. (I wrote this before I looked at his name, just becuase he's an RB).
Brendon Ayanbadejo: Dunno.
Matt Birk: Presumably a long term contract candidate.
Dannell Ellerbe: Dunno.
Andre Gurode: Maybe gets another one year deal as a utility lineman.
Jarret Johnson: I was surprised to see him knocked. He gets pretty good press.
Sergio Kindle: Worth resigning to see if the original contract was a good idea. Didn't really have opportunities, obviously.
Brandon McKinney: Dunno.
Jason Phillips: Dunno.
Cory Redding: Worth resigning to a one year deal as a reliable veteran interior D lineman. That isn't a place that Baltimore has the depth to ignore.
Lardarius Webb: I agree he might be franchised, but he's worth a long term deal.
Tom Zbikowski: Dunno.

I could see Kindle and Johnson both following Pagano. They would probably be two of the three best linebackers in Indy.

by Dean :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:27am

I have to admit, I've always thought of Ben Grubbs as a pretty good player, but I don't see a whole lot of Ravens football. What am I missing here that has everyone dismissing him so easily?

by TADontAsk (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:43am

I'm not sure. The Ravens line was horrible when Grubbs was out and then Gurode filled in. Grubbs coming back seemingly settled it down for a while. And I was also surprised to hear the knock on Jarret Johnson because he's another guy that gets good press. He's a very good run defender.

To the poster who suggested Matt Birk is a "long term contract candidate" - you must have him confused with someone else because he's a 35 year old center with whispers of retirement talk surrounding him.

by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 11:59am

grubbs - it's not that he's bad. he's pretty decent. he's also replaceable, and the team has too many other problems to carry 2 expensive starting guards when only one of them is actually a star. if he'd stay for 2-3 million, it'd be great, but some team with a horrible line is going to give him 5+ million per. gurode was simply horrendous at left guard, and he is almost certainly gone. birk might be talked into coming back one more year, but he's also pretty mediocre at this point.

johnson - maybe he's a field genius, but he's also a complete non-factor as a pass rusher and in coverage. he should retire and become an assistant coach then. i also think ray lewis should retire and become an assistant. ray's another "smart player" who really is only especially valuable in pass coverage. he can't rush the passer, and he frequently looks like a fool against opposing running backs.

by Dean :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:25pm

Thanks to both of you.

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:12pm

Ben Grubbs: The second best OL. I'm pretty sure this will be a Ravens priority. The franchise tag is going to go on Grubbs or Rice whichever they can't get under contract
Ray Rice: I expect he'll be franchised.
Brendon Ayanbadejo: The third oldest player on the team after Lewis and BIrk. I thought his impact on special teams really deteriorated this year. The team will let him walk.
Matt Birk: 35 year old center, The team doesn't have many options at center. I think they will try to sign either Birk or Gurode to one or two year contract, but not both.
Dannell Ellerbe: Solid linebacker. He's a restricted free agent. So the Ravens can match any offer.
Andre Gurode: see Birk comment
Jarret Johnson: I was surprised to see him knocked. He gets pretty good press.
Sergio Kindle: He's a restricted free agent. Maybe some team is going to offer a big contract based on the two games he played in. I doubt he'll get offered a contract that the Ravens won't match.
Brandon McKinney: "COLTS FANS ALERT" McKinney is a likely signing for you. The Ravens have frequently let DL walk(Aubrayo Franklin, Maake Kemoeatu, Dwan Edwards, Lionel Dalton). McKinney's not bad he's just stuck behind Terence Cody and Haloti Ngata.
Jason Phillips: Um, he was with the Panthers this season played 4 games and ended on injured reserve. He may be a free agent just not a Ravens free agent.
Cory Redding: The Ravens are not going to get in any kind of bidding war. If Redding leaves they'll start Pernell McPhee in Redding's place.
Lardarius Webb: Please stop the franchise talk. He's a restricted free agent. The Ravens are just going to give him a high tender.
Tom Zbikowski/Haruki Nakamura: "COLTS FANS ALERT" Don't be surprised if it's Nakamura and not Zbikowski. Nakamura might come cheeper.
Jameel McClain: The Ravens would like to resign him, but he's going to get a nice contract somewhere in the league.
Cary Williams (restricted I think): "COLTS FANS ALERT" Williams was good and Pagano was the reason. A good chance the the Colts make him an offer.
Edgar Jones: Decent special teams player.
Matt Lawrence: Ended the last two seasons on IR. Played decently on special teams two years ago. He'll get a training camp offer somewhere, but he'll probably be cut in August.

by 0tarin :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 5:36pm

I agree with just about everything here. For what it's worth, only one post knocked Johnson (that I've seen), and I somewhat agree with the clarification posted. He's a smart player and is excellent at setting the edge. He's not fantastic in coverage and is a middling pass-rusher. He reminds me a lot of Adalius Thomas, in that he's really flexible when used properly, but will vanish when not.

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 6:22pm

From an evangelical to a Pagan(o) in only two moves.

by Paul R :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:25pm

Okay, so now I have a concussion.

by Jonadan :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:23pm

I don't know if my mind can stand the whiplash of the Colts suddenly becoming a defense-first team, which seems not unlikely. Though they'd have to be decent at something again first for that to really be meaningful.

"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:35pm

They had a defensive coach for most of the a long period of the Manning era, and weren't a defense first team. I want to see how this plays out.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:42pm

And the Ravens had the offensive coach in Billick for a long period of the Leis era, and weren't an offense first team. I don't see that the colts are likely to change.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 8:57pm

The change that could occur is just with the philosophy of the Colts defense. Will it switch from Tampa-2. I haven't gone back and looked at where all Pagano has coached, but my guess is it will. That doesn't get with a lot of the players drafted, especially if Pagano wants to go to a 3-4.

by Purds :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 9:38pm

I do follow the Colts, and though it's a simplification, the reality is that they don't have any great defensive players that make a Cover 2 a given for them. It would be a lot harder to change form 4-3 to 3-4 unless they do not resign Mathis, but the what do you do with Feeney? Trade him? Really clean house?

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 9:47pm

I agree that they can easily switch to a more agressive 4-3 defense with the current personnel (weren't Powers and Lacey both drafted in part because they are players that can play man?). The issue is if Pagano wants to run a 3-4. They have little in place to make that successful. The Colts have always been on the lighter ends of DTs, so they wouldn't come close to getting anyone for the nose.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:29am

Jerry Hughes was tabbed as a 3-4 OLB coming out of college, he and Mathis are both more linebacker sized than DE sized anyway. They'd need a NT and two 3-4 DE's, and something for Freeney (who really isn't endbacker material) to do.

Maybe Freeney gets traded to (Oakland? Denver? Chicago?) for a couple of 3-4 pieces.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 4:25pm

If Mario Williams can play OLB I don't really see why Freeney couldn't.

by Drunkmonkey :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:38am

I thought the Ravens ran a defense closer to the 4-3 then a traditional 3-4. Also, isn't Mathis really a good fit to play 3-4 OLB? I think if they really went 3-4, he'd be even more important to resign.

by Rivers McCown :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:44am

Chris Berney would know better than I, but from what I've watched of them, it's really just where Suggs is situated that determines the "alignment."

by Jimmy :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:46pm

As far as I can tell the Ravens play a Ryan Family / 46 defense. Rex has run his defense out of a 30 front since he started running his own defense (first with the Ravens and then with the Jets) whereas his dad used a 40 front. In reality the only difference is Suggs lines up in a 2 point stance whereas Richard Dent (for example) lined up in a three point stance; they both line up in exactly the same place, just with different pad levels.

All the coverages seem to be the same as the ones in Rex Ryan's book and the alignments and fronts are the same. Various defensive playcallers will have different emphasis on coverage vs pressure and so forth but the system is very flexible, which is what makes it so effective.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:22pm

Also, let's not forget that Belichick is a defensive coach. That's really taken a bizarre turn.

by CoachDave :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 9:58pm

It's a pet peeve of mine that people confound secondary coverage schemes with first and second level personnel and set up.

They are mutually exclusive and except in rare schemes have nothing to do with each other.

/End PSA

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 10:52pm

Well, I have yet to see a Tampa-2 team run a three man line up front, so in this case, it probably means something.

by CoachDave :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:51am

Nonsense...it's done all the time.

Playing 2 deep quarters with sagging interior LB with a 3-man front happens in virtually every single game for a base 3-man front team. If the Offense goes TE or Slot heavy with a long yardage 3rd down, I'd argue Tampa-2 with a 3-man front is statistically the "default" coverage for that scenario.

Is it the base formation? Doubtful, but this isn't 90's football anymore...teams mix up their first level and secondary coverages all the time.

And yes, I was referring to the entire conversation...both of you are confounding independent coverage schemes...just like Peter King, ESPN, Phil Simms and the rest of the sports media does on a consistent basis.

/Rant over.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 4:45pm

I've never seen a team run it as their base coverage. A large part of Tampa-2 is getting pressure with the front four. I realize that secondary coverages are basically independent of fronts, but that doesn't mean that the Colts will suddenly become a 3-4 team with Tampa-2 corners and a Tampa-2 ILB.

by CoachDave :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 6:58pm

Hence my comment about "not their base coverage"...but that really doesn't mean anything anymore; with hybrid D's, base coverage statistically might only be 25-40% of a D squad's sets...especially with a creative and aggressive DC like Pagano.

And getting pressure on the QB isn't a large part of the Tampa-2, it's a large part of ANY zone secondary coverage.

And the Colts could overnight become a 3-4 team and play 2-deep...why not, the Ravens do it all the time depending on where Suggs is lined up. And Mathis could play the Suggs position with little transition.

Folks, there isn't a 3-4 team in the league that doesn't flash to 4-3 (or 5-2) in alternative schemes these days. As I've said before, this isn't the 90's, hybrid schemes are routine in today's football...calling a certain DC or team a 4-3 or a 3-4 just doesn't apply anymore.

by Authentic Sellout (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 7:20pm

You sound vaguely familiar. What's you hash tag on twitter?

by CoachDave :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 4:35pm

Sorry, I don't have one...hashtag or twitter acct.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 7:31pm

Getting pressure is a large part of any scheme, but with the Tampa-2 is more about beating the offensive line with athleticism and technique rather than confusion like you would with a zone blitz.

Also, obviously every team runs Cover 2 at some point. It's such a basic coverage scheme that is identified by literally just a single digit. However, when most people write Tampa-2, they're specifically referring to the style of defense that Monte Kiffin popularized and the Colts and Bears ran with great success. Which involves getting players who are faster than the opposition in the front 7. Since they're faster, they're generally smaller. If they're smaller, it's generally not a good idea to take guys off the line of scrimmage.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 9:13pm

The Colts don't have near the size at DT to play a 3-4. Drake Nevis and Fili Moala are probably the two best DTs the Colts have, and they are both around 300, if not less (I'm pretty sure I rememeber Nevis being slightly under). You can call it what you want, but the Colts don't have the personnel to have a solid three man front. Freeney and Mathis could be terrors as OLBs (and they are speedy enough that they probably wouldn't be terrible liabilities in coverage), but the Colts don't have the horses up front, imo, to make a three-man line work.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 9:56am

The Colts don't have the players on defense to make anything work. The defense needs to be rebuilt in personnel terms whatever scheme they plan to play. Worry about what the defense will look like from 2014 onwards, not in a season where they'll be starting a rookie quarterback with indifferent talent around him.

by CoachDave :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 5:44pm

First of all...there are no tackles in a 3-4, there is a Nose and 2 Ends. Second of all...I don't know how to tell you this in a nice way...so I'll just state the obvious...your knowledge of what constitutes the make up of a 3-4 or a 4-3 and the player characteristics from such hasn't been relevant for 15 years or so.

Show many ANY interior lineman who isn't 290-310+ in today's game. They don't exist. Furthermore, the difference between a down lineman in a 4-3 and a OLB in a 3-4 in today's game is virtually non-existent. This is why teams run hybrids now...because they can. The ONLY reason why the Colts haven't is because of the Dungy philosophy of running virtually everything from their vanilla base.

Look at a team like Arizona who runs their base 3-4 a lot and compare to what the Colts have.

Freeney (or Mathis) plays the Dockett position. Moala plays nose, Johnson plays end. Mathis (or Freeney) plays Weak side...fill in Angerer, Brackett and what other cast off they want to throw out there...there's your 3-4.

BTW, I think the Colts' difficulty running a 3-4 has less to do with their size on the line, I think it would be their God awful lack of talent and depth at LB that would be their downfall. Angerer and Brackett are both great gamers, I love their motors...but they would IMO get completely swallowed up in a 3-4.

If Pagano wants to run a 3-4 flex or a 4-3 strong at Indy, he could do so tomorrow, but I think they are going to have to get him some help at LB. Which is maybe why they have signed Freeman and Harvey?

Either way, I guarantee the Colts will run a hybrid D next year...you WILL see Freeney and/or Mathis (whoever is still there) playing stand up next year at times...which quite frankly as a football fan I think would be pretty cool to watch.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 6:31pm

If Freeney and Johnson are your two 3-4 DEs, then the Colts run defense will make the 2006 Colts Run D look average. There is no way that Freeney can play a 3-4 DE at a high level. Moala can play the nose, but probably not effectively. The personnel just doesn't match up with a good 3-4.

by speedegg :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 11:54pm

I get what you're saying, and Pagano alluded to the fact that the Colts will change their defense, but I'm not sure they have the horses to run the race he wants. Seahawks did a fantastic job of signing and re-assigning players to fit Carroll's defense, while the Eagles did not.

As you know, the Colts generally preferred smaller, faster players they can draft in the lower rounds. The 3-4 defense (or the 46 alignment by the NT and DEs, you know, the NT playing 0 tech head-on the Center) preferred by the Ravens needs bigger players. Really don't see the old Colts drafting Haloti or even Mt. Cody.

If/when they do switch, their alignment and assignment will be different, but they'd need someone like Haloti Ngata up front to help keep O-linemen off their ILB's/MLB's (and acquire other MLBs in free agency). If the Saints let Rodgers or Franklin go, the Colts could sign one of them to be their NT and that would be really interesting to see next season.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 01/28/2012 - 8:57am

I don't think they have the horses to run any race. Who cares whether the 5-11 2012 Colts are 24th or 31st in defensive DVOA? Better to change alignment and rebuild when you have no chance of being any good anyway. I know your team has been good for so long that it's hard to think this way, but the Colts are entering a rebuilding phase and need to be realistic about what that entails. You can't think like a contender any more, not until at least 2013.

by speedegg :: Sat, 01/28/2012 - 5:59pm

um, not a Colts fan. Just want to see what Pagano is going to put together. Right now he's working with duct tape and baling wire.

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 01/29/2012 - 7:58pm

Sorry, my mistake.

I completely agree - but duct tape and bailing wire will still be duct tape and bailing wire whatever shape you make out of them, so why not make the shape you want, and start shopping for non-duct-tape-and-bailing-wire replacement parts that fit that shape.

by Purds :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:44pm

If you meant me, then I am sorry I wasn't clearer. I was thinking of the two suggestions, that they go away from cover 2 and that they change to a 3-4. I agree that the change away from cover 2 would be something that their personnel could do, if not well, as they're not very good at cover 2 now. But, the other change, from 4-3 to 3-4 would be much harder. They definitely don't have the personnel for at right now.

by Jerry :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:58pm

If Pagano really wants to install a 3-4, he made that clear to management during the interview process, and they're OK with it. It's at least as likely that Pagano will try to fit the schemes he runs to the talent on hand.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 4:29pm

Well, it's not like they're going to contend next year anyway. All the signs are that the decision's been made to blow up an ageing roster and rebuild from scratch. And as a Texans fan, I assure you that it is in any case possible to take a terrible 4-3 defense with key players who don't appear to be good fits for a 3-4 and turn it around to produce a good-excellent 3-4 unit in a single offseason, even an abbreviated one.

by Paul R :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:30pm

In keeping with tradition, Pagano will leave Baltimore in a Mayflower van in the middle of the night.

by Jerry :: Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:53pm


by Pied :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 3:01am

And 30 years later we'll still hear bellyaching about it.

As an aside, by 2014 the Colts will have been in Indy longer than in Baltimore. Really.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 11:29am

And Art Modell will replace him by stealing a DC from the Browns

by 0tarin :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:24am

Damn. It'd be nice if teams would let Baltimore keep a decent DC one of these years. I keep hoping they'll come across a guy like LeBeau who decides he should just stick with what he's best at.

by Anonymous231541 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:42am

If you mean the LeBeau who left the Steelers in 1997 to become the defensive coordinator/asst. head coach of the Bengals before being promoted to head coach in 2000, then I think that you're mistaken. Barring a Cowher retirement, LeBeau never had a chance of becoming head coach in Pittsburgh. And it's quite obvious that he wanted to become one.

Frankly, the fact that the Ravens continue to have such great defenses with such high coordinator turnover tells me that it's the personnel, not the coaching, that's the key differentiator.

by Ben :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 10:50am

I was thinking the same thing about personal versus coordinator turn-over. Pagano has had reasonable success at his other stops as a secondary coach, so that's a plus I guess. As a Colts fan, I don't know what to think of this hire. There weren't any homerun coach choices out there anyway (to mix my sports metaphors). My one concern is that Raven's ex-DC's don't have a sterling record as HC's currently.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 12:36pm

"My one concern is that Raven's ex-DC's don't have a sterling record as HC's currently."

It's a mixed bag. Mike Nolan didn't really pan out. Rex Ryan, until this year, was enjoying a lot of success. In my opinion, Marvin Lewis deserves a medal for even being close to .500 over 9 seasons with the Bengals. Are there others I'm forgetting?

In any case, each is his own man, and the success or failure of those that came before shouldn't be much of an indicator of what Pagano will do.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 4:46pm

Del Rio and Singletary were defensive coaches, but not coordinators for the Ravens, so I guess you could count them. Singletary was basically a disaster, but Del Rio was average in Jacksonville.

by 0tarin :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 5:42pm

Yes, I meant the same LeBeau who has been the DC in Pittsburgh for upwards of a decade now. I'm well aware that just about every good coordinator initially wants to reach the HC level. It's just a rare one that hits it, fails, and drops back, content. I use him as an example because he's tasted "the dream" and realized it wasn't for him.

At least, so I assume. Perhaps he was such a terrible HC that he's never ever fielded another offer to move up.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 9:14pm

In his current tenure, LeBeau has been there 8 years (2004-2011), but in total it is over a decade.

That said, there were coordinators who never seemed like they wanted to be a HC the first time (Monte Kiffin, Jim Johnson).

by GO PATS (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 11:58am

More importantly, whats going to happen to a certain QB comign off neck surgery? No one here seems ot be talking about the comments that have been made by Manning and others lately, it really looks very unlikely that he will return even if healthy as the Colts appear to be headed in Luck's direction and rebuilding around him. So then does he get released or traded? and where does he end up? Ideally, I would love to see him go tot he 49ers even if he can play a couple of years. He would have the best shot at winning another SB with that defense. All they need to do is get him one really good WR in addition to what they already have.

How would Colts fans feel if he did go to anther team and potentially won a SB? The only other situation I can remember was when Montana was traded away to allow Young to take his job.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:29pm

Interesting questions. Let's keep in mind that Steve Young was far more accomplished as a QB than Luck is. He'd already won the starting job in San Francisco at the time Montana was traded.
I think we'll all need to see whether Peyton Manning can actually play again before we find out where he'll be playing. I find it very hard to believe that the Colts will pick up his option at the current price tag. Aside from that, your guess is as good as mine.
As a Pats' fan, I would prefer to see him anywhere but on the Jets. That would be a frightening combination.

by GO PATS (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 3:05pm


I don't see him going to the Jets for anumber of reasons, the media circus that is NY, dysfunctional clubhouse and atmosphere, playing outdoors in potentially bad weather and having to go up against NE twice every year. Some of these reasons apply to the Dolphins also. Why would any sane person want to go to the Redskins either. I see SF as the ideal fit. Great young defense and Special teams, (last game not withstanding), good RB's, WR/TE's, stable organization (finally), good young coach, good weather generally and an easy division to win for the next few years. With a healthy Manning, they could easily go 6-0 in the division games alone.

by David :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 4:11am

But would SF want Manning? In order to get him, they would have to cut Alex Smith loose. Alex is not even half the QB that Peyton is, of course, but he's clearly good enough to get them into the playoffs, and even to the SuperBowl (Alex didn't muff two punts - though of course if he had played better, they could still have won). He is also 27 (28 at the start of next season), and not coming off three neck surgeries.

So, which would you rather have. It depends, of course, on your attitude to risk, and also what you want from your team. In my opinion, the playoffs are a risk, so I would not try to put together a team to win the SuperBowl, but would rather focus on a team that can get into the playoffs consistently, and just play the odds from there. For that reason, I think Alex is a better choice.

Finally, the attitude to risk is important - it's easier for fans to go for the long shot (Peyton), as the downside is quite small. For the person whose job is dependent on making the right decision, the conservative approach is often more appealing ("Nobody ever got fired for buying blue"). Add in that Harbaugh is not under any pressure to win now, and I think he sticks with Alex, and has a longer-term plan for replacement (either he thinks he can coach Alex up to the standard he needs, or he can do this with Kaepernick, or he is looking to draft someone)

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 10:02am

Smith's better than most people thought he was a year ago, but guys like him can be found pretty easily - Kyle Orton, for example, is at least as good a player and was cut in-season. Jason Campbell and Smith himself are both free agents. If you want to find a guy like that, you generally can, and it won't be any harder to do so in three years' time or whenever Manning hangs them up.

by GO PATS (not verified) :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 3:13pm


I would think that they would re-sign Smith, where else would he go? I think he is happly in SF and liek you said, still quite young and could pick up something from Manning over the next 2 years or so. Given his inconsistency in the playoffs, I am not sure how much better Smith can get. Again its all based on how healthy Manning is, but I cant envision the Colts shelling out $28M so soon. Looks like he will be released unless they re-structure the contract and delay teh bonus (not sure if that is even possible).

Ideally I would love the niners to mortgage the draft and get Luck but it appears the Colts will keep the pick.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 3:49pm

If the argument to not get Peyton freaking Manning is that they don't want to lose Alex Smith, the entire front office deserves to never win another game.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 1:37pm

Drew Brees and Philip Rivers.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 2:24pm

Anybody have thoughts about the Bucs possibly hiring Greg Schiano from Rutgers?

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 2:36pm

Nothing very positive. He has very little NFL experience. The head coaches he's worked under are Bob Curtis, George Landis, Joe Paterno, Dave Wannstedt, and Butch Davis. Apparently Bill Belichick gave a nice recommendation. He's done a decent job at Rutgers but I don't know that it will transfer.

College head coaches that became first time NFL coaches

Barry Switzer - no prior NFL experience
Lou Holtz - no prior NFL experience
Dennis Erikson - no prior NFL experience
Mike Riley - no prior NFL experience
Frank Kush - no prior NFL experience
Bud Wilkinson - no prior NFL experience
Greg Schiano - 3 years as an NFL assistant, only one of those as a position coach
Bobby Petrino - 3 years as an NFL assistant including 1 as offensive coordinator
Rich Brooks - 4 years as an NFL assistant
Steve Mariucci - 4 years as an NFL assistant
Nike Saban - 6 years as an NFL assistant including 4 as defensive coordinator
Butch Davis - 6 years as an NFL assistant including 2 as defensive coordinator
Dick MacPherson - 7 years as an NFL assistant
Steve Spurrier - 10 years as a player, no NFL coaching experience but 3 years as USFL head coach.
Jim Harbaugh - 14 years as an NFL player, 2 years as an NFL assistant

by Ben :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 3:06pm

Jimmy Johnson should be on that list. In fact he's the only successful one I can think of off the top of my head. Are there others?

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 3:21pm

Forgot about Jimmy. Don't know why because Sciano is definitely on the Jimmy Johnson coaching tree having worked for Wannstedt and Butch.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 3:26pm

This strikes as the common "subset of a set where most things are failures include mostly failures"

by miesterjustin :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 3:35pm

Tom Coughlin - Giants WR coach, then HC at Boston College, then took HC of the expansion Jags.

by wr (not verified) :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 5:33pm

Dick Vermiel, UCLA went to the Eagles

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 5:47pm

Bill Walsh -- Stanford to San Fran (6 years as an assistant, 1 as OC)

by duh :: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 7:16pm

It goes back a ways but Chuck Fairbanks came from Oklahoma to the Patriots and after a slow start did a fine job as coach. (Though it ended badly and acrimoniously.)

An interesting quote from Bill Belichick in 2007 regarding Fairbanks:

"I think Chuck has had a tremendous influence on the league as well as this organization in terms of nomenclature and terminology and those kinds of things. I'm sure Chuck could walk in and look at our playbook and probably 80 percent of the plays are the same terminology that he used - whether it be formations or coverages or pass protections. We were sitting there talking yesterday and he was saying, 'How much 60 protection are you guys using? How much 80 are you using?' All of the stuff that was really the fundamentals of his system are still in place here even, again, to the way we call formations and plays and coverages and some of our individual calls within a call, a certain adjustment or things that Red (Miller) and Hank (Bullough) and Ron (Erhardt) and those guys used when they were here

by Paul R :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 9:13am

Maybe the Giants would take a Peyton/Andrew Luck combo in exchange for Eli and a defensive lineman or two.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/27/2012 - 10:04am

Why on Earth would either team want to do that?

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 01/30/2012 - 8:12am

So, looks like Keith Butler will be the defensive co-ordinator. That pretty much ices it - they'll be running a 3-4 base. As a Texans fan, I hate this hire - anyone the Steelers have been grooming for that role for as long as Butler is almost certainly good at it.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 01/30/2012 - 2:20pm

As a Steelers fan, I hate the hire as well.

by Jerry :: Tue, 01/31/2012 - 12:24am

Looks like Butler's staying in Pittsburgh.

by tuluse :: Tue, 01/31/2012 - 1:03am

I think this is a dangerous move career wise for Butler. Wasn't there a coach supposed to be in line for the job when they hired Tomlin?

by Jerry :: Tue, 01/31/2012 - 5:46am

If you're talking about some rumor from five years ago where Tomlin was going to bring in a pal, possibly to run a Tampa-2, I'd take the reporting that Butler is LeBeau's designated replacement much more seriously. The only danger is that LeBeau will stay on the job for another decade.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 01/31/2012 - 10:20am

I guess one of the benefits of the Steelers' incredibly organisational stability is that Butler can be confident that an agreement like this will actually be honoured, even if for some reason Tomlin is no longer the head coach when the time comes.

by tuluse :: Tue, 01/31/2012 - 11:07am

No, I thought there was a coach of the Steelers who thought he was in line to replace Cowher, but then Tomlin was hired instead.

I think it's a dangerous move to not take opportunities when they are available.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 01/31/2012 - 1:56pm

Are you referring to Whisenhunt? At the time, from the outside, it looked a lot more like Whisenhunt really wanted and thought he should be in line for the job rather than that he was promised anything. He looked more like the heir presumptive to Butler's heir apparent status.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 01/31/2012 - 2:38pm

Grimm was keen on the job too, from what I can remember, and they interviewed both of them.

Don't think there was ever a settled understanding that one of them would take over, though.

by Jerry :: Tue, 01/31/2012 - 4:00pm

Russ Grimm was the guy who thought he had the job (after going through the interview process). The Steelers weren't willing to make a decision before Whisenhunt had to inform the Cardinals of his choice, so Whiz took tuluse's advice. I never saw anything reported about a designated successor the way I have with Butler, though.