Sometimes you will hear that the only thing in the NFL that stays the same is that things are constantly changing. Every offseason brings news of players retiring or switching teams and the draft brings an influx of new talent to the league. While it may not always bring the same level of notoriety the amount of turnover amongst NFL teams at the head coaching and coordinator positions is a factor that also needs to be evaluated when predicting how successful a team may be in the coming season.
This past offseason seven teams switched to a new head coach compared to the one that started the 2011 season. The previous year had topped that total with eight head coaches getting the ax and being replaced. Naturally the only team to swap out their head coach in both of those years was the Oakland Raiders.
This still brings the total amount of teams to 14 that have a completely new leader at the top heading into the 2012 season compared to the beginning of the 2010 season. Amazingly the total amount of head coaching changes of 14 is exactly the same when jumping back and looking at the previous two year period from the start of the 2008 season to 2010.
The offensive and defensive coordinator positions see even more change partly due to coordinators getting promoted to the head coaching jobs that have come open.
Every division in the NFL has at least one team who has changed out a coordinator position compared to last year. In fact two divisions, the AFC West and the AFC East, sport at least one new coordinator on every single team.
Interestingly the AFC West also had either a head coaching or coordinator change on every single team when entering the 2011 season as well.
If you only count the head coaching & coordinator positions the AFC West takes the crown for the most coaching turnover from 2011 to 2012 with eight total changes. Oakland swapped out all three spots while San Diego kept Norv Turner but made a change on both the offensive and defensive sides. Denver and Kansas City replaced their defensive and offensive coordinators respectively.
The next closest division to the AFC West was the aforementioned AFC East with six coaching changes as they tied the NFC South. Both divisions saw one team change out their head coach and both coordinators while four other coordinator positions changed hands amongst the other three teams.
The division that has the least amount of turnover is the NFC East. The only change in that division is Dallas bringing in former Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan to be the team's offensive coordinator even though head coach Jason Garrett will still call the plays. It is somewhat surprising that following a 5-11 season that Washington owner Daniel Snyder did not make a single move but a closer look shows the offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Shanahan is his son Kyle Shanahan.
Entering 2012, only 11 teams or 34.3% of the NFL are bringing back the same head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinators that they employed at the start of the 2011 campaign. Eight of these teams finished either with a winning record or at .500 while five of those squads advanced to the playoffs.
Two of those 11 teams mentioned are the San Francisco Giants and New York Giants who most people remember played for the NFC Championship last season. Not only are they obviously talented teams but they figure to be on the same page as soon as training camp opens up next week.
In the end players will still ultimately determine the outcome of ballgames but in maybe no other sport than football is the importance of solid coaching as noticeable.