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First Move For All Six New NFL Head Coaches

See what will be the appropriate first move for each new NFL head coach.

Mark Gunnels



Six franchises are looking forward to the near future with their new general on the sidelines. Hue Jackson (Browns), Chip Kelly (49ers), Adam Gase (Dolphins), Dirk Koetter (Buccaneers), Ben McAdoo (Giants) and Doug Pederson (Eagles) are the leaders expected to turn their respective football team around.

Back in the day, it was fair safe to say a new coach would get at least three years to build a winner. In today’s world, one bad season could do you in.

Look no further than San Francisco.

After losing most of their key players to either retirement or natural transactions, everyone knew there was going to be a full-blown rebuilding project in the Bay Area. Nonetheless, after an 5-11 record, CEO Jed York decided to move on from Jim Tomsula.

“Jimmy has been a valuable member of the 49ers organization for the last nine years,” Jed York mentioned. “We all know he is a man of high character, and his contributions on the field and in our community have always been greatly appreciated. This entire organization is proud and grateful to have worked so closely alongside Jimmy. We all wish him and his family great success in the future.”

As these new head coaches look forward to winning games, there’s essential first moves they must make.

Hue Jackson – Believe it or not, but the Cleveland Browns aren’t completely hopeless heading into the 2016 campaign.

Sure, Cleveland went 3-13 this past season.

However, five of their losses were within 7 points or less.

In order for Cleveland to have a successful off-season, the first line of business for Hue Jackson has to be the quarterback position. To be more specific, Jackson has to figure out what he’s going to do with Johnny Manziel.

Ironically, Jackson hasn’t even spoke to the much maligned signal caller.

“I’m kind of picking guys,” Jackson stated. “Some I know on this team that I’ve been involved with at other places. Some I don’t know and want to get to know. There’s no rhyme or reason why I haven’t talked to (Manziel), but it’s just the process I’m in right now. I’m just kind of picking the guys as I go.”

Manziel has recently been in the news for more controversial off the field videos.

“One, I haven’t watched it to be very honest with you,”  Jackson said . “Then, No. 2, it is the offseason, and I would hope that players would do a great job of representing themselves and our organization and our team in a positive light. That’s what we want.”

For Cleveland to move forward as an organization, Jackson must be very tactical with his decision making because if not, keeping Manziel as a backup could only set them back.

The only way Manziel should stay in northeast Ohio is if Jackson believes he can become a ‘franchise guy,’ which is a long-shot at best.

Adam Gase – After what he’s done with quarterbacks Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is under the belief Gase will be able to help quarterback Ryan Tannehill reach his full potential.

“We did exhaustive research on all of the candidates ahead of time and conducted thorough and detailed interviews with each person,” Ross stressed.  “In the end, I was convinced and the search committee was unanimous was the right leader for our football team who best met all of our priorities.  He has high-energy, is competitive and driven to win with a mindset of teaching and developing players.”

While the development of Tannehill is essential to Miami’s future, Gase and the front office must make a decision on running back Lamar Miller. After being a fourth-round pick from the University of Miami back in 2012, Miller’s had the opportunity to play in his hometown.

With that being said, during his four seasons, Miller has proven to be a legit No. 1 back.

In today’s league, running backs are looked at as expendable, however, considering the other holes Miami has to fill, it wouldn’t make any sense creating a new one.

The asking price will clearly be a factor, but if Miller really wants to stay home, there’s a chance he may not ask the Dolphins to break the bank.

Chip Kelly – Well, where to begin?

Following his three year stint in Philadelphia, we’re fully aware that Chip Kelly isn’t shy about forming the team he envisions. Keeping that in mind, the marriage here is essentially perfect on the surface.

Unlike the Eagles, San Francisco’s roster is completely busted, so no one is going to fault Kelly for overhauling this time around.

Among all of the decisions Kelly has to make, the most important one clearly comes at quarterback.

Can he fix Colin Kaepernick or will he look elsewhere?

If Kaepernick is still on the roster come April 1, the 28-year-old’s $11.9 million base salary will be fully guaranteed.

For as bad as Kaepernick has been with his accuracy, I still believe Kelly should roll the dice with him for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it’ll be hard to find someone definitively better this off-season and secondly, Kaepernick is a true dual-threat quarterback, which plays right into Kelly’s up-tempo system.

Dirk Koetter – Similar to their Florida counterpart, Tampa Bay’s top running back Doug Martin is set to become a free-agent this spring. At the end of the day, re-signing Martin appears to be a no-brainer at this point.

After all, Martin did finish second in rushing this past season, only trailing Adrian Peterson.

The tougher decision for Dirk Koetter will come opposite of Mike Evans.

After Evans, the Bucs next leading receiver was Charles Sims, who’s a running back.

33-year-old Vincent Jackson is a complete shell of himself nowadays. In 10 games, Jackson only hauled in 33 catches for 543 yards to go along with just three touchdowns.

Jackson has one year left on his current contract, which would earn him nearly $10 million next season.

There’s absolutely no way Tampa Bay should pay Jackson that as this point of his career. It’s time for Koetter to groom another young receiver.

Ben McAdoo – Just like Tampa Bay, the Giants must address their second wide receiver position.

However, the bigger need comes on the defensive side of the ball.

Last season, New York finished 30th in sacks (23). With Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers set to hit the open market, McAdoo and the front office have to decide if they want to retain both, one, or just simply allow the tandem to walk.

If JPP were to leave, who on their current roster would replace him?

“Nobody,” Pierre-Paul said. “People see it. I’m just telling the truth. Calling it like it is.”

Well, there you have it.

Doug Pederson – Out of all the new head coaching hires, this one appeared to receive the most criticism.

On second thought, when is a decision the Eagles make never not questioned?

I mean, this is the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ after all.

Ever since Doug Pederson entered the NFL ranks as a coach, he’s been under the wing of Andy Reid.

Both in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

As Pederson gets set to deal with the Philly pressure, one way of easing it a little bit would be finding the right man under center going forward, which is a lot easier said than done.

Sam Bradford?

Since Bradford and the Eagles weren’t able to get a contract extension done, there’s three options for Pederson and company.

One is to renegotiate a long-term deal, franchise tag him (mend paying him $25 million or so in 2016) or simply letting him walk and draft a quarterback with the 13th overall pick.

With this being a fairly weak quarterback class, Philly’s best bet will be to get a long-term deal done, but only at the right price.

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.

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