AFC South: George Seifert

Houston’s young receivers will be a storyline throughout the preseason. The spots on the depth chart after starters Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter are up for grabs, and with Johnson out at least a week with a groin injury, guys are getting significant opportunity.

Coach Gary Kubiak told Houston reporters Monday that he will shift people around with the opportunity to move up, giving Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin chances to be with the first team. Kubiak also liked what he saw from Jerrell Jackson today.

“I think our whole team is kind of watching it too, because they know our identity is going to change at that position for the first time in a while around here,” Kubiak said. “Players sense that, they really watch those battles closely. We’ll let them prove to their teammates that they’re the guy.”

Somebody new is going to get playing time.

In such situations I always wonder about coaching philosophy. Some coaches don’t like to use a receiver unless he knows at least one of the three positions inside-out. Others will send a player on the field if he’s able to effectively run one play.

Back during organized team activities I asked Kubiak his thinking on that.

“I want guys to know all the spots, that’s important to me, but at the same time if I get a young talent that it’s taking him time to get there, then I’ve got to be smart in how I use him to get him a chance to help the team,” Kubiak said. “We’re going to throw everything at everybody we’ve got and find out what they can handle. I don’t think there is such a thing as overload in football. I learned from George Seifert, it’s your job to do what they can do. That’s what I’ve got to figure out between now and the fall.

“I want to see how much a guy can handle and the only way I can find that out is to challenge him every day.”

Quarterback Matt Schaub said it’s a difficult position to get a handle on in the Houston offense and made it sound as if the young wideouts are swimming at times.

“Obviously, there are going to be growing pains as we go through practices here mentally, just working through everything,” he said. “We ask our receivers to do a lot of adjustments with their routes and we do a lot of motioning and a lot of formation adjustments. It’s a lot for them, but they’re doing a great job handling it.”

The guy who does the best sorting through things could wind up the one with the easiest route into the huddle, whether he's the best route runner or pass-catcher of the bunch or not.

Stat nuggets to hold you over

January, 24, 2010
1/24/10
7:14
AM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- Honestly, I don’t know if you can handle this, but I’m compelled to see.

Here’s a buffet of nuggets on the Colts and Jets provided by ESPN Stats & Information:

  • The Colts are in the AFC Championship Game for the second time in the last four seasons and sixth time in team history. The Colts have never lost an AFC Championship Game at home, beating the Patriots in 2006 and the Raiders in 1970, both times going on to win the Super Bowl.
  • The Jets are playing in the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1998. The Jets have won two playoff games in a season for the first time since 1982 and the second time in team history. Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco (last postseason) are the only rookie QBs to win multiple postseason games.
  • The Jets are 7-0 this season when Darrelle Revis records an interception and 7-1 this season when they hold their opponent scoreless in the first quarter.
  • The Colts’ Reggie Wayne has a touchdown reception in four straight playoff games.
  • The Colts have lost to the Jets both times they’ve met in the playoffs: 41-0 in a 2002 wild-card game and 16-7 in Super Bowl III.
  • The Jets won their one Super Bowl (III) in Miami. The Colts have won two Super Bowls (V and XLI) in Miami. The winner of this game goes to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.
  • Indianapolis’ regular-season winning percentage was .3125 higher than New York’s. Teams with a regular-season winning percentage .300-plus higher than their opponent are 19-3 all-time in the playoffs, 18-2 in the Super Bowl era and 18-1 at home.
  • Either Rex Ryan or Jim Caldwell will become the fifth head coach to take a team to the Super Bowl in his first season as an NFL head coach, joining Bill Callahan, George Seifert, Red Miller and Don McCafferty (of the Colts in Super Bowl V).
  • After struggling against top defenses early in his postseason career, Peyton Manning has gone 4-0 since the 2006 postseason against scoring defenses ranked in the top 3. He was 0-4 from 2000 to 2005 and the Colts scored an average of 13 points. In the four such games since, they’ve scored an average of 26.
  • If Manning throws for 300 yards, it would be his seventh 300-yard game in the playoffs. He would pull into first place in that category ahead of Joe Montana and Kurt Warner.
  • The Jets were 9-7 in the regular season. Teams with fewer than 10 wins in a conference championship game since 1980 are 1-7. The 2008 Cardinals were the lone winners.
  • Only three teams in the Super Bowl era have started 7-7 as the Jets did and advanced to the conference championship game. The 1996 Jaguars, the 1984 Steelers and the 1983 Seahawks all lost.
  • In 18 games this season, the Jets are 0-5 when they allow 20 points or more and 11-2 when they allow fewer than 20. They’ve allowed fewer than 20 in their last eight, including two playoff wins.
  • Field goal kickers hit 19 of 23 attempts against the Jets this season (.826). They’ve missed all five attempts against New York in the postseason. According to Elias, they are the first team since the 1983 49ers to have opponents miss at least five field goals in the playoffs against them.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans

  • Jerome Solomon looks at Twitter and sports, including the Texans who use it.
  • Shaun Cody is showing off his versatility, says Jordan Godwin.
  • Kevin Walter is a quiet complement to Andre Johnson, writes John McClain.
  • Dominique Barber is getting some reps ahead of strong safety Nick Ferguson, says McClain.
  • Kris Brown missed three field goals in a row, one because of a bad snap.
  • A look ahead to Texans-Chiefs, from Alan Burge.
  • Walter is probably a goner after this season, says battleredblog.com.
  • A jump to average can make a big difference for the Texans' defense, writes Stephanie Stradley.
  • Texans fans might be interested in Jim Irsay's read on how Mario Williams and Andre Johnson rank.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Jim Caldwell did his homework as he replaced Tony Dungy, getting in touch with George Seifert, says Bob Kravitz.
  • Curtis Painter is ready for some action, writes Mike Chappell.
  • Irsay wants another Super Bowl ring, says Chappell.
  • John Oehser's Tuesday practice report.
  • The defenses' added fronts, coverages and changing looks are helping Peyton Manning and the offense, says Oehser.
  • Demond Sanders says Charlie Johnson as the starting left tackle is a ploy.
  • Tony Ugoh will now get work at right tackle as Ryan Diem is out with a back issue, says Phillip B. Wilson.
  • Caldwell says the Colts veterans keep the team in line, said on WNDE in Indianapolis.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

  • Five things Jim Wyatt knows about the Titans so far.
  • Chuck Cecil's first game at coordinator found him wandering outside the territory he's supposed to occupy, says David Climer.
  • Vince Young ran some option plays in practice, says The Tennessean.
  • Michael Lombardi considers Vince Young.
  • Charley Casserly declines to say "I told you so" on Mario Williams over Vince Young, says Wyatt.
  • Roster moves include Alex Mortensen out, Rocky Boiman in, says Terry McCormick. Boiman's likely temporary as the Titans are banged up at linebacker.
  • Wyatt's grown tired of the running backs' nickname game.
  • The NFL Total Access crew discusses the potential for Vince Young to be a third-stringer.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

The Colts had Jim Caldwell in place ahead of time and expect a seamless transition into the post-Tony Dungy era.

It looks like a sound plan.

 
  AP Photo/Michael Conroy
  Jim Caldwell has big shoes to fill in Indianapolis, but many in his position have been successful before.

But popular wisdom says you don't want to be the guy to replace the guy. It's the replacement's replacement, the theory follows, who gains the distance necessary from a legendary name to be able to succeed.

For many, the thought of replacing a popular and successful coach brings back memories of some infamous NFL names.

Former Minnesota coach Les Steckel is still remembered for a 3-13 year in 1984 that wound up being a sabbatical season for Bud Grant. Ray Handley replaced Bill Parcells for the Giants in 1991 and went 14-18 in two seasons. Richie Petitbon replaced Joe Gibbs in 1993 and flamed out with a 4-12 season.

Are you familiar with Phil Bengtson or Paul Wiggin? Me neither.

Bengtson followed up Vince Lombardi in Green Bay and managed three third-place finishes. Wiggin was 11-24 in two-and-a-half seasons following Hank Stram in Kansas City.

But none of that is reason for Colts devotees to fear the dawn of the Caldwell era as he replaces a potential Hall of Famer who takes a .668 winning percentage with him into retirement.

Thanks to some help from Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Information, we can take a detailed look at how the successors to the winningest coaches have fared.

While there were some strikeouts, the history is hardly a horror story. Two successors won multiple Super Bowls, two more were playoff regulars and another is leading his team into the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

So here's a run through how things have panned out after big-time winning coaches stepped away or were removed. These are the top 10 coaches with the best winning percentages in the Super Bowl era (minimum 100 games coached since the 1966 season):

 
  Andy Hayt/Getty Images
  Tom Flores did very well as John Madden's successor, winning two Super Bowls for the Silver-and-Black.

1) John Madden, .759 (Raiders)

Tom Flores replaced Madden in 1979 and Flores went 91-56 in nine seasons, leading the Raiders to wins in Super Bowl XV and XVII.

2) George Allen, .712 (Rams and Redskins)

Jack Pardee replaced Allen in Washington, and Pardee was 24-24 in three seasons (1978-80). Joe Gibbs replaced Pardee and won 140 games from 1981-92 and three Super Bowls.

3) Tom Landry, .674 (Cowboys)

Jimmy Johnson replaced Landry in 1989 and Johnson won back to back Super Bowls in the 1992 and 1993 seasons. Johnson was 51-37 from 1989-93. [Corrected from earlier when I gave him credit for the one Barry Switzer won in 1994.]

4) Don Shula, .672 (Colts and Dolphins)

Like Landry, Shula was replaced by Johnson. In four seasons (1996-99), Johnson was 38-31 and 2-3 in the postseason. Since Shula, Miami has had six different head coaches.

5) Tony Dungy, .668 (Buccaneers and Colts)

Replaced by Caldwell this week.

6) George Seifert, .648 (49ers and Panthers)

Seifert did some replacing himself, following Bil Walsh. Steve Mariucci replaced Seifert in San Francisco in 1997, and Mariucci got the Niners to the NFC Championship in his first season. In six seasons, Mariucci made the playoffs four times. Since Mariucci left, the 49ers have had three different head coaches.

7) Bill Cowher, .623 (Steelers)

Mike Tomlin replaced Cowher in 2007. In his second season, Tomlin is preparing the Steelers to host Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game.

8-T) Joe Gibbs, .621 (Redskins)

Petitbon was a dud.

8-T) Bud Grant, .621 (Vikings)

Returned for another season after Steckel bombed, then saw Jerry Burns go 55-46 from 1986-91.

10) Bill Belichick .616 (Browns and Patriots)

When he finishes his term in New England, he'll leave a tough headset to fill.

And here's one from outside the top 10: a succession scenario the Colts would be thrilled to mimic.

Bill Walsh, .609 (49ers) -- Replaced by Seifert in 1989, Seifert went on to win two Super Bowls in his first six seasons. He won at least 10 games in all eight of his seasons and only missed the playoffs once. Like Caldwell, Seifert inherited a pretty good quarterback situation, getting two years of Joe Montana and six with Steve Young.

 
  David Boss/US Presswire
  Blanton Collier replaced the legendary Paul Brown, and never had a losing season.

As I couldn't stop asking, here are the succession stories of some other Hall of Fame coaches:

  • Paul Brown -- Blanton Collier was in Cleveland from 1963-70, and didn't have a losing season, going 76-34-2.
  • Weeb Eubank -- Charley Winner took over the Jets in 1974 and went 9-14 and didn't last two seasons. He was let go after nine games in 1975.
  • George Halas -- Following the 1967 season in Chicago when Halas left the Bears' post for the final time, he was replaced by Jim Dooley, who was 16 games under .500 (20-36) from 1968-71.
  • Marv Levy -- Was replaced by Wade Phillips in 1998, and Phillips went 29-19 in three seasons, losing two playoff games.
  • Chuck Noll -- Bill Cowher took over in 1992 and went 149-90-1 in 15 seasons, reaching two Super Bowls and winning one.

Fisher can catch Seifert today

September, 28, 2008
9/28/08
11:48
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

 
 Marvin Gentry/US Presswire
 Jeff Fisher is in his 14th full season as the Titans' head coach.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Titans can knock off the Vikings today, Jeff Fisher will get his 124th win and pull even with one of his mentors, George Seifert.

"I've got great respect for George," Fisher said. "George really had a lot to do with my career, giving me the opportunity to come there and learn the 49er way, which was the only way back then. To have an opportunity to catch him, it's certainly taken me a lot longer than George. He had some great years."

Seifert won 124 games (regular season and playoffs) in 11 seasons with San Francisco and Carolina. He inherited an excellent 49ers team from Bill Walsh and went 14-2 in three of his first four seasons. He had eight seasons with 10 wins or more, but finished with a thud as the Panthers were 1-15 in 2001.

Fisher is in his 14th full season and has five years where his team won 10 or more games. A win today would put the franchise at 4-0 for the first time in its history.

Fisher, currently tied with Sid Gilman for 26th all-time with 123 wins, should also pass Jim Mora (125), Dick Vermeil (126) and Mike Ditka (127) this season.

Ditka was Fisher's coach when he was a defensive back and return man for Chicago.

"I would imagine Mike would probably buy me dinner at his restaurant," Fisher said of the potential to pass him.

***

LP Field looks great. The Titans' two home games so far followed Saturday games for Tennessee State. But TSU was on the road this week.

No huge surprises on the inactive lists. The Vikings are starting former Titan Bobby Wade at receiver ahead of Sidney Rice and Naufahu Tahi is the fullback with Thomas Tapeh inactive. Otis Grigsby starts at left end for Ray Edwards, who is also out.

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