NFL AM: Giants And Browns Hire Head Coaches


New York Giants hire Ben McAdoo as head coach:

Whenever you ask a future Hall of Fame head coach to walk away, the pressure on the next guy is going to be huge. Asking a guy to follow that coach in New York is another thing all together.

Typically teams will try to replace a coach of Tom Coughlin’s stature with a big name or with a completely different system. Usually when a team decides to head in another direction, they do so because they want to drastically change the organization and its direction.

For those reasons, the hiring of Ben McAdoo to replace his former boss and the news that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will remain in place are a little puzzling while making sense. As much as any early hiring, you can make a very good argument for and against the Giants decision.

On the one hand, keeping McAdoo around was a necessity. Despite the fact that the Giants haven’t been very good the last two years, Eli Manning has had two of the best statistical seasons of his career as he’s grown comfortable in the West Coast offense his OC turned head coach has put in place. Trying to learn and master a new offense at this point in his career would not have been a good thing for Manning.

When it comes to Spagnuolo, the Giants retain a guy who’s led a terrible defense in New York the last two seasons, but who also was the defensive coordinator for one of the Giants’ recent Super Bowl runs. While the defense has been terrible the last few years, the Giants’ defensive coordinator hasn’t exactly had the kind of talent to work with this time around that he had almost a decade ago.

While the continuity keeping McAdoo and Spagnuolo will provide should be a positive for Manning and his teammates, the question is what exactly has changed? What exactly did asking Tom Coughlin to walk away accomplish?

With Jerry Reese, McAdoo and Spagnuolo remaining in place, and Joe Philbin coming in to be McAdoo’s offensive coordinator, the Giants power structure is almost exactly the same, minus Coughlin.

Think about it, the Giants plan is basically to do everything they’ve been doing, only without the future Hall of Fame coach who led them to two Super Bowl championships. Basically, what the Giants have told us with their moves is that asking Coughlin to walk away was addition by subtraction.

If you’re going to ask a guy as revered as Coughlin to walk away, you do it because you want to head in an entirely different direction and drastically change the way your franchise operates on or off of the football field.  Not because you think his coordinators could do it better without him.

With the Coughlin led Giants missed the playoffs six of the last seven seasons, you can absolutely make the argument that change was necessary in New York. If you want to convince your fan base that the necessary change was essentially trading Coughlin for Philbin, well, good luck with that.

Cleveland Browns hire Hue Jackson as head coach:

Tuesday the Cleveland Browns announced a move that should make their fans very excited, when they announced the hiring of Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson as their next head coach.

While some would say that Jackson failed in his first stint as an NFL head coach, many would recognize that his firing after a single season as head coach the Oakland Raiders was a sign of the instability of the Raiders organization at the time, and not a sign of Jackson’s inability to coach.

While Jackson ended up losing the job in Oakland because then new Raiders’ GM Reggie McKenzie wanted to bring in his own guy, many recognized Jackson would be a head coaching candidate again soon. Now, just like current Raiders’ head coach Jack Del Rio, Jackson’s work as a coordinator has once again earned him that opportunity.

The new Browns’ head coach looked extremely confident at his introductory press conference, and that confidence is already transferring to owner Jimmy Haslam who clearly feels very confident with his new hire.

“We got the right guy for the Cleveland Browns,” Haslam said. “He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s confident, he’s competitive. He’s been a head coach before.

“He’s got a great offensive mind, he’s got a tremendous track record developing quarterbacks,” the Browns owner continued. “He’s very, very competitive. He understands the AFC North, he’s been a part of the AFC North and I think he’s going to be a great head coach of the Cleveland Browns.”

As Haslam almost eludes to, one of Jackson’s biggest tasks will be figuring out the future of the quarterback position. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the team will move on from former first-round pick Johnny Manziel, but the new Browns coach didn’t want to start cutting guys during his introductory press conference, and sounded open minded, if only for the moment about the troubled quarterback.

“I need to get in this building and have an opportunity to sit down and watch tape,” Jackson said. “I don’t know Johnny personally. I know who he is, but at the same time I think I have to give everybody on our football team a fair opportunity to see who they are. To truly learn who they are, and then make decisions from there.”

Unless Johnny Football has a remarkable turnaround overnight and somehow blows his new head coach away, there’s a good chance Jackson won’t want to start his tenure with the headache Mike Pettine left with (and partly because of), and he and the team will move in a new direction at quarterback.

The good news is, whenever they do find their guy, they’ve got a very good coach to put him in position to succeed. There was a lot of talk that the Browns wouldn’t be able to find a head coach who would want to try to turn their situation around, but in the end, they landed one of the better candidates you could find.

Congrats, Cleveland.

Chargers hire Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator:

In what is perhaps the least surprising coaching hire so far this offseason, the San Diego Chargers have brought Ken Whisenhunt back to be the offensive coordinator for a second time under head coach Mike McCoy.

The pair worked well enough in 2013 when the new Chargers offensive coordinator filled the same role that it landed Whisenhunt the head coaching gig with the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee decided to move on from Whisenhunt during the season this year as he was only able to win 3 of 23 games.

Ironically, while the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are being lambasted for their impatience, nobody seems to have noticed that Tennessee didn’t even let Whisenhunt finish his second season as head coach.

About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.