Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Tough year for offensive playcallers
By Jamison Hensley
While two defensive coordinators from the AFC North (Cincinnati's Mike Zimmer and Baltimore's Chuck Pagano) are being interviewed for head-coaching jobs, it was a disappointing season for those calling the plays for the division's offenses.
That's why the Steelers' Bruce Arians says he was pushed out, why the Browns are adding an offensive coordinator to Pat Shurmur's staff and why the Ravens' Cam Cameron is currently in contract limbo.
There is a chance that three new offensive coordinators could in place by next season. The only one who is safe is the Bengals' Jay Gruden, who signed a three-year, $3.6 million extension.
No AFC North offense ranked in the top 9 in the NFL in total yards, rushing, passing or points scored. There were only two areas where a division offense ranked in the top 10 -- the Ravens' rushing attack and the Steelers' passing game.
The Steelers' search to replace Arians could heat up this week at the Senior Bowl. Pittsburgh, which ranked 12th overall in offense, has a history of promoting from within at this position. That means quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner and offensive line coach Sean Kugler could have the best shot at the job. Running backs coach Kirby Wilson was considered to be next in line, but he was badly burned in a fire at his home and might not return to the team anytime soon.
The Browns are adding an offensive coordinator after first-year head coach Pat Shurmur served that role in 2011 and Cleveland's offense finished 29th. Shurmur is still interviewing candidates and could continue to do so at this week's Senior Bowl, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Two coaches who are considered to be on the Browns' radar -- Mike Sherman and Brad Childress -- could take jobs elsewhere. Sherman is the first candidate to get a second interview for the Tampa Bay head-coaching position and is a candidate to become the Dolphins' offensive coordinator. Childress has been linked to the head-coaching searches in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis.
It's uncertain what the Ravens will do with Cameron after the offense finished 15th overall. Cameron's contract is set to expire and there's no extension on the table, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Sunday. He is one of the highest-paid coordinators in the NFL, making $2 million per season, according to a league source. Ravens coach John Harbaugh hasn't met with reporters since his postgame session following the AFC Championship Game. If Cameron doesn't return, the Ravens would probably consider former Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, who was the Ravens' quarterbacks coach in Joe Flacco's first two seasons in the NFL.