NFL

NFL Coordinators, Assistants Who Do More With Less

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Underneath each NFL head coach are a litany of coordinators and assistant coaches. Every successful or unsuccessful head coach has paid their dues by working under one of the latter titles.

Several coordinators are working on teams that are failing to perform at the highest level as a whole, but their individual units are meetings the demands of the NFL.

In the NFL (currently) there are several coaches who fall under this category.  Football Insiders takes a deeper look into some of those coaches making the most out of the players provided.

Greg Olson, Offensive Coordinator, Jacksonville Jaguars

Olson has been coaching at the college or professional level since 1987 under the capacity of either quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator. except in 2002 when we served as the tight ends coach at Purdue.

Entering his second stint with the Jaguars, Olson has a direct link to the modest (yet enormous) improvement on the offensive side of the football.

Since 2011, the Jaguars offense has finished 28th or worse in points and yardage on offense. Last season, the team ranked 32nd in total points and 31st in yards. That outcome led the firing of former coordinator Jedd Fisch and the hiring of Olson.

Olson also coached quarterbacks at Purdue and his most famous pupil was Drew Brees, who eventually turned into one of the most productive and successful quarterbacks in the NFL. Playing a key role in the development of Brees helped launch his career.

The success of the Jaguars offense has grown in tandem with the return of Olson. Second-year quarterback Blake Bortles has been the biggest benefactor of Olson being on the Jaguars coaching staff.

Bortles has raised the level of his play by throwing 15 touchdown passes after the first seven games, compared to only eight over the same time frame last season. Under the same timeline (2014), Bortles has dropped his interceptions from 13 to eight.

The offense currently ranks 24th in points and 25th overall in yards. The biggest improvement is Jacksonville has two wins under their belt where it took them 10 weeks to accomplish the same task last year.

Olson is helping unleash the potential of a young and talented group of offensive players.

Chris Weinke, Quarterbacks Coach, St. Louis Rams

This is going to be a hard sale for a lot of readers that Rams quarterback Nick Foles has been electric as the teams’ new starting quarterback.

Hence a tougher sale that is the fact Weinke is playing a valuable role in the development of Foles.

Both enter their first seasons with the Rams and it is Weinke’s first year of coaching in the NFL. Weinke played five years in the NFL over the span of 2001-07 going 2-18 as a starter.

Weinke is working under head coach Jeff Fisher, who bases his success on a powerful running game and defense. The quarterback in Fisher’s offense serves under the unfair label of ‘game manager’ but that is the reality of the situation in St. Louis.

Nearly eight months ago, Foles was part of a trade that saw both the Rams and Philadelphia Eagles swap starting quarterbacks. Foles went from the opposite end of the spectrum, playing in Chip Kelly’s high-octane pass heavy offense in Philly, to a run oriented unit in St. Louis.

Weinke’s job is to help maximize the efficiency of the passing game and develop Foles into a player capable of stepping up when needed.

Absent from his blunder in Green Bay, when Foles threw four interceptions against the Packers and garnered an awful 23.8 passer rating, he has remained relatively clear of mistakes. Foles did his part when the Rams beat both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, NFC favorites to win it all.

“He’s going to continue to get better,” said Fisher, via Myles Simmons of Rams Insider. “He’s just become more and more familiar with our system and our players and he’ll continue to improve. So, by no means has he peaked.”

Weinke has helped keep Foles clean of turnovers for the most part. He has thrown zero interceptions in four of his five games. The limited sample size of Foles’ performances shows that Weinke (in my opinion) is helping erase concerns that Foles can’t help lead the Rams to the playoffs in the foreseeable future.

 

Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions

Austin is in between a rock and hard place currently in Detroit.

Think what you want about Ndamukong Suh, but there was a reason why he was the most coveted free agent defensive lineman since Mario Williams.

Suh signed with the Miami Dolphins in March, leaving an insurmountable void for the Lions to replace.

With Suh on the roster last season, the Lions ranked second in total defense in the entire NFL. This season they currently reside near the bottom of the league at 27th overall.

In addition to losing Suh, the Lions got just a handful of snaps from linebacker DeAndre Levy, who tried to come back from the hip injury that finally placed him on injured reserve.

Suh and Levy arguably were the teams top two defensive players and without them the defense has struggled to remain at the elite level, but nonetheless, Austin has kept the unit formidable.

The Lions rank 24th overall against both the run and pass, and despite their inauspicious 1-6 record, the defense for the most part has held their own.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has already been let go, mainly because the offense is considered to be power packed with talent, yet there are no results.

Defensively, Austin has kept a relatively group of unknowns playing at a high-level.

 

Bill Callahan, Offensive Line, Washington Redskins

Callahan’s first gig in the NFL was with the Philadelphia Eagles (1995-97) where he served- You guessed it- as their offensive line coach.

21 years later, Callahan is back in the NFC East and coaching the same position with the Redskins.

Callahan reached the pinnacle for any assistant coach and was named the Oakland Raiders 13th head coach in 2002. He took a lot of grief during his brief tenure as head coach of the Raiders (2002-03), going from the penthouse to the outhouse.

In 2002, Callahan lost the Super Bowl in his first season in Oakland, and the following year the team fell to 4-12 leading to his firing at the hands of Al Davis.

Maybe head coaching is not his forte, but Callahan definitely knows how to maximize the men up front.

The Redskins offensive line has allowed the third-fewest sacks (8) in the NFL, confirming his capabilities as a positional coach.

Three of the Redskins’ first seven games were against the St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who rank in the Top 15 in sacks. Washington has faced four of the top 15 defenses which include the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, Rams and Buccaneers.

Washington has a 3-4 record and is one game behind the New York Giants (4-3) for first place in the NFC East.

If the Redskins can get their ground game going (21st overall rushing) and continue their pass protection, the team can be one of the bigger surprises heading into the second half of the season.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.