Eight NFL teams welcome new head coaches to the sideline this season. We take a closer look at some of the challenges those coaches will face. Here’s a look at the NFC (the AFC can be found here.
Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Arians
2012 record: 5-11
Big addition: Carson Palmer has to be an improvement on the 21.4 Total QBR posted by Cardinals quarterbacks last season, worst in the league.
vs 4 or Fewer Rushers, 2012
One headache: Has the offensive line improved enough? Adding Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford in the draft should help, but Arizona’s line allowed a sack every 11.7 dropbacks last season, worst in the NFL.
Key stat: The defense is ready to win now, finishing with the fourth-best Total QBR allowed last year (40.0). However, the offense cost the Cardinals 217.4 expected points last year, more than 100 points worse than the second-worst offense (Kansas City Chiefs, -107.94).
Chicago Bears: Marc Trestman
2012 record: 10-6
Big additions: Free-agent offensive linemen Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Eben Britton and first-round pick Kyle Long will help keep Jay Cutler upright. Cutler’s been sacked every 13.2 dropbacks in his Bears career (2009-12), most among 28 quarterbacks with 1,000 dropbacks in that span.
One headache: Can anyone take pressure off Brandon Marshall? There was a 140-target difference between Marshall (188 targets) and Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffrey last season (48 each), the second-biggest margin between a first and second target in the league.
Key stat: In the last five seasons, the Bears’ defense allowed 16 more touchdowns than interceptions with Brian Urlacher off the field and had 12 more interceptions than touchdowns with him on the field.
Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly
2012 record: 4-12
Big addition: Cary Williams is the biggest addition in the secondary, after disrupting 24 dropbacks last year (interception, pass defensed or sack). Only Richard Sherman (26) had more among defensive backs.
One headache: Lane Johnson may not be enough to upgrade an Eagles offensive line that ranked last in sacks or tackles for loss allowed.
Key stat: Chip Kelly’s Oregon offense averaged a play every 20.9 seconds, which would have been easily the NFL’s most up-tempo offense (New England Patriots, 24.9 seconds per play). Oregon averaged 82.8 plays per game, well beyond New England’s NFL-most 74.4 per game.