AFC South: Joe Gilbert

We pick up our series in which ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, ranks the AFC South position-by-position.

Today, we examine coaches.

Williamson’s AFC South coach rankings:
1) Colts (Chuck Pagano)
2) Texans (Gary Kubiak)
3) Titans (Mike Munchak)
4) Jaguars (Gus Bradley)

Kuharsky: I think Kubiak is too conservative and needs to show he can make an offseason stylistic adjustment. I believe Pagano doesn’t get enough credit in some circles for the contributions he made from his sickbed last season. I can see the case either way for No. 1, but I’d go Kubiak based on his ability to manage people -- a quality Pagano seems to have as well.

SportsNation

Matt Williamson's ranking of AFC South coaches is:

  •  
    47%
  •  
    34%
  •  
    19%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,966)

Kubiak’s used it to help win two consecutive division titles, however, and Pagano has more still to prove. I love Bradley’s vibe, but I said the same thing about Munchak when he took over two years ago.

My questions for Williamson based off his list:

Your overall assessment please:

“This is far from a stacked division when talking about coaching overall compared to the rest of the league. There really are not any big dogs and overall, I am not enamored with Munchak while obviously the Jacksonville situation is extremely unproven.

Talk me through Pagano/Colts over Kubiak/Texans?

“Pagano over Kubiak was a tough one and I would put similar grades on these guys overall. Pagano obviously missed some of the season, but I can't get over that I actually thought the Colts would pick first overall for two straight years (after Luck the year before) when the 2012 season started. Clearly the Colts WAY exceeded those expectations.”

Who's the best defensive coordinator?

“I am a big fan of the defensive coaching staff in Houston and would say that coordinator (Wade Phillips) and staff is clearly the top group of assistants on either side of the ball.

Offensive coordinator?

“The top offensive coordinator is pretty hard to pin down right now, but I suppose that too goes to Houston (Rick Dennison, with Kubiak calling plays) somewhat by default. They do clearly have a pretty strict offensive plan in place and implement it well.”

As for me…

This list could change a lot in the next year. Bradley’s initial impression will start to tell us how he is as a head coach. Munchak has his most talented team in his third year. Pagano is in remission and lost the fill-in who won coach of the year in Bruce Arians. We need to see if Kubiak is married to things like conservative red zone play or if he will make changes.

Assistant coaches who have a real chance to help change things for their team: Titans senior assistant/defense Gregg Williams and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews, Jaguars offensive line coach George Yarno and secondary coach DeWayne Walker, Colts offensive line coach Joe Gilbert, Texans linebackers coach Reggie Herring.

Look back: Assistants to watch

February, 12, 2013
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Continuing a periodic look back at stuff we wrote before the 2012 season to see how on target we were and how things panned out.

In July, we looked at an assistant to watch on each of our four teams.

Here’s what we said then and what we think now.

Houston Texans

Then: “While [Gary] Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will be heavily involved in the offense, a new [quarterback] coach [Karl Dorrell] is certain to have a bearing on [Matt] Schaub’s performance. And Schaub’s performance may be as important of a story as there is in the AFC South this season.”

Now: I don’t think Dorrell did a bad job, but he certainly didn’t help stop a late-season slide for Schaub, who finally got into some big games and didn’t perform particularly well in them. All three coaches didn’t do well enough to get Schaub to play up to the moment.

Indianapolis Colts

Then: “Can [offensive line coach Harold] Goodwin help the new group jell and have it provide quality protection for Andrew Luck and some push for a group of unproven running backs?”

Now: The line was not good, but Goodwin did not have a lot to work with. Given the patchwork nature of the group and some injuries that forced lineup shifts, I’d say Goodwin did good work. Bruce Arians certainly thought so, as he took him to Arizona to be his offensive coordinator. Goodwin’s been replaced by Joe Gilbert, who served as Goodwin’s assistant last year.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Then: “[Receivers coach Jerry] Sullivan and those receivers are all reliant on improvement from quarterback Blaine Gabbert. But they are all reasons the team expects that improvement, too.”

Now: Laurent Robinson did little before he was sidetracked by concussions and Justin Blackmon took a long time to get going. But ultimately Sullivan, a good get by Mike Mularkey as he put together his staff, did good work with Blackmon and Cecil Shorts and he was held over by new coach Gus Bradley.

Tennessee Titans

Then: “An improved pass rush is a must if the Titans' defense is going to improve. [Pass rush coach Keith] Millard will be right in the middle of what happens, or what doesn’t, in that department.”

Now: The Titans jumped from 28 sacks in 2011 to 39 in 2012 with non-defensive linemen contributing 13.5. Young linebackers Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown certainly got better as rushers later in the year, a good sign regarding Millard’s influence.

Colts' new OL coach needs players

January, 22, 2013
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No position in the AFC South may be revamped more than the Indianapolis Colts' offensive line.

The Colts now know who will be sculpting that group: Joe Gilbert

The team’s assistant offensive line coach last year has been promoted to replace Harold Goodwin, who went to Arizona to serve as offensive coordinator for Bruce Arians.

“We are extremely excited about Joe coaching our offensive line,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said in a statement. “He did a great job last year. Joe brings great energy and passion to that room, and stresses fundamentals and technique. He expects a lot from his players and will continue to develop that unit into one of the best in the NFL.”

The Colts ran for 104.4 rushing yards per game in 2012, the highest average for the team since 2007. The line also provided time for quarterback Andrew Luck to throw for the most passing yards (4,374), attempts (627) and 300-yard passing games (six) by a rookie in NFL history. But Luck was hit entirely too often and did a lot of damage as a passer on the move or as he was being hit.

I think left tackle Anthony Castonzo is an improving building block.

But no one else on that line is locked in. While center Samson Satele got a three-year, $10.8 million contract from the Colts last year, but the team fared as well with A.Q. Shipley filling in when Satele was hurt. Satele is due under $3 million next year with no remaining guarantees.

K.C. Joyner of ESPN.com pointed out during the Colts' season-ending playoff loss in Baltimore that Satele has a habit of bobbing his head and tipping the snap.

Gilbert needs his meeting room to be stocked with some new options, who will keep the valuable quarterback upright and help create additional run room for a team that will move to some West Coast concepts under new coordinator Pep Hamilton.
The Colts announced they’ve completed forming their coaching staff.

“We’ve assembled a group of coaches full of experience and success at all levels of football, who possess strong character and leadership traits,” coach Chuck Pagano said in the team’s news release. “I’m excited to embark on the 2012 campaign with a tremendous group of men as we work to achieve our ultimate goal.”

All five of the new position coaches have NFL experience, though three of them come to Pagano’s staff out of the college ranks.

Clyde Christensen, retained from Jim Caldwell’s staff, will be quarterbacks coach.

We can't know too much about these guys out of the gate, though we seek reviews from guys who played for them. After the initial roster assembles to spent time with Pagano, his coordinators and the entire staff, we'll begin to get a much beter sense.

A bit on the background of each of the newcomers from the team:

Defensive line coach Gary Emanuel spent last season as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Purdue. From 2005-06, Emanuel coached the defensive line for the San Francisco 49ers. He made a one-year stop at San Jose State (2007) prior to joining the Rutgers coaching staff as the defensive line coach from 2008-09. Emanuel’s experience also includes an earlier stint at Purdue and time at Washington State, Syracuse, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, West Chester and Plymouth State.

Linebacker coach Jeff Fitzgerald has 18 years of NFL coaching experience, the last four as the linebackers coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. He directed Baltimore’s linebackers from 2004-07 and in 2006 became only the second linebackers coach in NFL history to have four of his players named to the Pro Bowl in the same season (Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas). He’s also worked in Arizona, Washington and Tampa Bay.

Secondary coach Mike Gillhamer holds over 30 years of coaching experience, 11 of which coming in the NFL. As the secondary coach for the Illinois last season, he assisted a unit that ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense and pass defense. He was the safeties coach for seven seasons (2004-10) with the Carolina Panthers and coached running backs for the NFC Champion Giants in 1997.

Tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts has 13 years of coaching experience, nine of which have been spent in the NFL. He was most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has also coached tight ends for Cleveland and Jacksonville. He played at the University of Miami and for the Chiefs and Cowboys, winning two Super Bowls with Dallas.

Receivers coach Charlie Williams spent the previous five seasons at UNC as receivers coach. He developed Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate, Brooks Foster and Dwight Jones. Nicks finished his three-year Carolina career with 14 school records, including single-season receiving yardage. He’s also worked for Tampa Bay and seven college programs.

Assistant offensive line coach Joe Gilbert spent the last three seasons at Illinois serving as the school’s offensive line coach while adding assistant head coaching responsibilities from 2010-11. His coaching experience includes seven different college stops, including as head coach at Mansfield in 2000.

Assistant special teams coach Brant Boyer enters his first season as an assistant coach following a 10-year NFL playing career as a linebacker with the Miami Dolphins (1994), Jacksonville Jaguars (1995-2000) and Cleveland Browns (2001-03). He competed in 129 career games and totaled 13.0 sacks, six interceptions, one forced fumble and 15 passes defensed.

Offensive quality control coach Frank Giufre joins the Colts from the Maine where he spent the last five seasons as the run game coordinator, offensive line coach and tight ends coach.

Defensive quality control coach Brad White spent the last two seasons at Air Force coaching linebackers and has been on staffs at Murray State and Wake Forest.
Reading the coverage ...

Read of the day: Doug Farrar of Shutdown Corner pays tribute to him mom who passed away. She became a football fanatic to help fuel her son’s passions.

Stanford Routt will visit the Texans and the Titans, says Jason La Canfora of NFL Network.

Houston Texans

Fifteen players the Texans could take at No. 26, from Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle blog.

Reasons not to draft a receiver first, from Stephanie Stradley of the Chronicle blog.

Indianapolis Colts

Chuck Pagano hired Joe Gilbert as an offensive assistant, says the Indianapolis Star.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Gene Smith isn’t strictly about bringing in choir boys, says Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union.

Team Teal has raised its goals, says Tania Ganguli of the Times-Union. Tony Boselli says the team has “graduated from blackouts.” I’m not so sure -- the team and or sponsors bought the last tickets for at least a couple games last season.

Tennessee Titans

Draft analysts say the draft is thin at pass-rushing defensive ends. So it’s a bad year for the Titans to need one, says John Glennon. Perhaps it prompts the team to look differently at free agency?

Marcus Robertson has been hired by Jim Schwartz as a defensive assistant in Detroit, says John Glennon.

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