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Coaches dictate the playing environment in football and it's from that environment that fantasy points flow. The system changes detailed below all provide opportunities, but we must glean from the new coordinator's history whether the new ground will be more fertile for QBs/receivers or running backs.
New England Patriots: New England lost its offensive coordinator/QB coach Josh McDaniels to the Broncos. Bill Belichick replaced McDaniels only as QB coach with Bill O'Brien, who was the past WR coach. Belichick, for now, takes a greater role in offensive strategy and play-calling as he did while breaking in McDaniels when Charlie Weis left town after the 2005 season.
Arizona Cardinals: Departing offensive coordinator Todd Haley (new Chiefs head coach) was not replaced. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was a former OC for the Steelers and assistant head coach Russ Grimm had a hand in the Cardinals offense in 2008. Remember, the Cardinals really tried to run last year but just could not. If the spirit is willing again this year and the results are better with rookie first-round pick Chris Wells(notes) (Ohio State), the quantitative passing stats (yards) will suffer. Qualitatively, meaning TDs, there reasonably might be more opportunities for big plays in the middle of the field with a more dangerous running game. However, goal-line passing TDs would be expected to decline with better running efficiency.
Indianapolis Colts: Jim Caldwell is the new head coach and had served as Manning's QB coach previously, so no changes in the Colts offense. Manning is really the one in charge of the play-calling anyway.
Seattle Seahawks: Mike Holmgren is no more in Seattle. New coach Jim Mora brought in offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who has had offenses ranked in the top 10 in rushing in eight of 10 seasons as an offensive coordinator. Knapp, for example, was in charge of the Falcons during the Michael Vick(notes) era. Of course, we won't see Hasselbeck running QB sweeps, but Mora talked about a "change in emphasis" from Holmgren when announcing his hiring of Knapp.
Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell(notes) really came on in the last month of '08 and gets system continuity at least to start the year with Tom Cable, a former OC at UCLA and O-Line coach last year before the mid-season promotion to head coach. Cable chose not to replace himself as offensive coordinator.
Kansas City Chiefs: Expect a pass-oriented offense for new QB Matt Cassel(notes), as head coach Todd Haley was brought in after helming the Cardinals offense in 2008. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who also was pass-happy last year near the end of Herm Edwards's Chiefs run, was retained in that role. RB Larry Johnson(notes) gets a strong head wind even if his health returns with skills intact.
San Francisco 49ers: Mike Martz has been rudely jettisoned from the NFL completely. The passing setup here now stinks, even with rookie WR Michael Crabtree(notes) (Texas Tech) in tow. Mike Singletary clearly wants to emphasize defense by naming Jimmy Raye, a former running backs coach for the Jets, as offensive coordinator. Frank Gore(notes) will get lots of touches but expect the Niners to be near the bottom in scoring.
St. Louis Rams: New head coach Steve Spagnuolo brought over Pat Shurmur as offensive coordinator. Though it was Andy Reid's offense in Philly, Shurmur was QB coach there for seven years so you assume he’ll share Reid's pass-heavy offensive philosophy.
Denver Broncos: Perhaps Brandon Marshall(notes) is Randy Moss(notes) for new head coach (and former Patriots offensive coordinator) Josh McDaniels. I stipulate that Eddie Royal(notes) plays like a Wes Welker(notes) with speed. But who's going to be Tom Brady(notes) or even Jay Cutler(notes)?
Cleveland Browns: Eric Mangini brought Jets QB coach Brian Daboll with him to the Dawg Pound. Elevated QB coaches typically like to throw. But Daboll's resume in New York was poor, with Brett Favre(notes) never really adjusting (or vice versa) and Chad Pennington(notes) having a Pro Bowl-caliber year for Miami right on the heels of being dumped by New York.
Detroit Lions: New head coach Jim Schwartz, the former defensive coordinator of the Titans, will look first to gain respectability and not gamble too much with the play-calling. Scott Linehan, though, has been QB friendly in the past in the coordinator's role – especially for the Vikings (three years beginning in 2002). Culpepper was the QB then and knows Linehan's system. Linehan loves to throw in the red zone, some good news for Calvin Johnson(notes) owners. But the Lions might not get there too often (second-worst 31 red zone possessions in '08 – the Rams had 29).
Michael Salfino’s work has appeared in USA Today’s Sports Weekly, RotoWire, dozens of newspapers nationwide and most recently throughout Comcast SportsNet and NESN. Michael also covers the Jets and Giants each week for SNY.tv.
- Josh McDaniels
- offensive coordinator