NFL Teams Hurt Most by Coaching Changes Heading into 2012 Season

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 21:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 and head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints wait for the call from a review against the Seattle Seahawks at Louisiana Superdome on November 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Four teams will be hurt the most by the eight coaching changes made this offseason. This hurt will take on more than one form, including a defending division champion who won't be too happy to see a familiar nemesis in charge of a rival. There's also a perennial Super Bowl contender who could regret letting a top assistant take the step up.


Team that could struggle early without their normal leader: New Orleans Saints

As talented as the New Orleans Saints are, the absence of suspended head coach Sean Payton, is likely to lead to some early struggles. A prolific offense usually depends on the coach-quarterback relationship.

Those relationships are built on a rapport between sideline play-caller and on-field signal-caller. Drew Brees will miss Payton's contribution to the design of the offense. Although it's fair to assume that $100 million over five years will probably take some of the sting out of that particular blow.


Team that lost a valuable assistant: Baltimore Ravens

One team's gain is another's loss. In the case of new Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, it's the Baltimore Ravens who are the loser. The Ravens will miss their former coordinator, who led a defense that ranked third in the NFL in 2011.

That's not to say the Ravens won't still be strong defensively this season. However, after losing Cory Redding and Jarret Johnson in free agency and star rush end Terrell Suggs to injury, the Ravens' defense would have benefited from continuity on the coaching staff.

New coordinator Dean Pees has been with the team since 2010, but getting used to a new play-caller will be even harder, with so many of last year's stars gone.


Team that may regret their choice for new coach: Jacksonville Jaguars

A team needing to expand its offense may regret hiring a former coordinator who ran one of the league's more conservative schemes with the Atlanta Falcons. Yet that's just what the Jacksonville Jaguars did when they hired Mike Mularkey to revive their fortunes.

Mularkey has talent to work with and should be able to get the most out of Maurice Jones-Drew, judging by his run-first play calling in Atlanta. That would complement a tough defense, but the Jaguars will still need to be more daring in crunch situations, something Mularkey wasn't always known for with the Falcons.


Division rival who won't be glad to see this head coach: Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning may soon regret choosing the AFC West as his new home, especially as Romeo Crennel is now in charge of the Kansas City Chiefs. Crennel spent years baffling Manning as defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.

The last time the two met was in 2010, when Crennel was the Chiefs' defensive coordinator. The Colts edged it 19-9, but it was hardly the easiest game of Manning's career. Now Peyton will have to pit his wits against Crennel's crafty schemes twice a season.