First-year coaches likely will be at a disadvantage this year

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

At some point, the broader concerns that have turned the world on its head will subside, yielding to the usual specific concerns that drive everyone’s daily lives. When that happens, three NFL coaches may be muttering even more expletives than usual.

The latest hiring cycle resulted in three first-year, first-time head coaches: Joe Judge of the Giants, Matt Rhule of the Panthers, and Kevin Stefanski of the Browns. And with the offseason programs surely to be delayed and possibly on the verge of being wiped out, they’ll be at a real disadvantage when the season starts (assuming there’s even a season, which at this point who knows?).

In 2011, the lockout shut everything down until August. And first-year, first-time head coaches had to deal with not having the ability to get their teams ready.

Scroll to continue with content

Nine years ago, there were seven of them: Leslie Frazier of the Vikings (who took over for Brad Childress during the 2010 season), Jason Garrett of the Cowboys (who took over for Wade Phillips during the 2010 season), Ron Rivera of the Panthers, Pat Shurmur of the Browns, Hue Jackson of the Raiders, Mike Munchak of the Titans, and Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers.

Of those, only one made it to the playoffs. And Jim Harbaugh’s surprising (under the circumstances) success with the 49ers came after an offseason encounter involving Jim Harbaugh, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, and then-Lions coach Jim Schwartz that laid the foundation for the on-field fracas between Jim and Schwartz during the 2011 season.

“We were having dinner . . . and Jim Schwartz told [Jim Harbaugh] basically there’s no way you’re going to be able to get it done [if the lockout lasts into the summer],” John Harbaugh explained in 2011. “[Schwartz] told him there’s no way you’re going to be able to accomplish what you need to accomplish in two weeks if this thing lasts a while.  Jim [Harbaugh] just kind of bit his tongue, which is what you’ve got to do in this situation. Because there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Jim Harbaugh more than bit his tongue. He increased his resolve, made a big bowl of chicken salad on his way to 13-3, and but for a couple of Kyle Williams miscues would have gone to the Super Bowl. Along the way, Jim Harbaugh beat Jim Schwartz — and Schwartz’s message from the spring undoubtedly sparked that hard handshake.

First-year coaches likely will be at a disadvantage this year originally appeared on Pro Football Talk

What to Read Next