Thursday, July 25, 2013
What challenges await new AFC coaches?
By John Parolin, ESPN Stats & Info
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 AFC (the NFC can be found here.
Buffalo Bills: Doug Marrone
2012 record: 6-10
Big addition: Kevin Kolb and E.J. Manuel were brought in to compete at quarterback, and either should add a vertical element to the Bills offense. Since Ryan Fitzpatrick joined the Bills in 2009, his 25.4 completion percentage on throws deeper than 20 yards downfield is worst in the league.
One headache: Are two rookies (Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin) enough to improve the Bills receiving corps? Despite using more three-plus wide receiver sets than any other team last season, Bills wide receivers recorded the sixth-fewest receiving yards (2,152).
Key stat: The Bills allowed 3.5 yards per rush before first contact on rushes between the tackles last season, worst in the NFL. The Bills haven’t finished a season better than 26th in that category since the start of 2009.
Cleveland Browns: Rob Chudzinski
2012 record: 5-11
Big addition: From Week 10 to the Super Bowl, no player had more sacks than Paul Kruger (12). He and first-round pick Barkevious Mingo will help the Browns transition to a 3-4 defense.
One headache: Is Brandon Weeden the right quarterback to run a Norv Turner offense? Weeden overthrew or underthrew receivers on 45 percent of his throws at least 15 yards downfield last year, third highest in the league.
Key stat: The Browns' defense allowed a 28.7 Total QBR last year, third best in the league. However, the offense ranked 30th in third-down conversion percentage (30.7 percent).
Jacksonville Jaguars: Gus Bradley
2012 record: 2-14
Big addition: Luke Joeckel will immediately bolster a Jaguars offensive line that allowed 50 sacks last season, third most in the league.
One headache: Now that they can protect quarterbacks better, they need to find one. Jaguars quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne combined for a 34.8 Total QBR, one of only five teams worse than 40.0.
Key stat: The Jaguars used four or fewer pass rushers on 80 percent of opponent dropbacks last season, fifth-highest in the NFL. Although the Jags depended on standard pressure, they averaged a sack once every 32.9 dropbacks, worst in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid
2012 record: 2-14
Big addition: Alex Smith posted career highs in completion percentage (70.2 percent) and yards per attempt (8.0) last year. Smith’s completion percentage was best among 36 quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.
One headache: Jonathan Baldwin caught 42 percent of his targets last season, the worst catch percentage among 162 players with at least 40 targets. Free-agent signee Donnie Avery wasn’t much better, with the fifth-lowest catch percentage among 44 players with at least 100 targets.
Key stat: The Chiefs' defense allowed 893 rush yards after contact last year, the most of any team in the league. Only the Colts allowed more 20-yard rushes (21) than the Chiefs' defense (19).
San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy
2012 record: 7-9
Big addition: Free-agent tackle Max Starks and first-round pick D.J. Fluker will help create holes in the running game. The Chargers averaged 1.9 yards before contact per rush last year, one of two offenses to average fewer than 2.0.
One headache: Robert Meachem will carry a cap hit of $6.9 million this year, 11th-highest among wide receivers. Six Chargers were targeted more than Meachem (32) last year, and he tied for 181st in targets among all players.
Key stat: Philip Rivers has to control the ball better. Rivers fumbled 15 times last year, most in a season since Jon Kitna had 17 in 2007.