Dissecting the Coaches of the AFC East
by Jennifer Jordan
The AFC East is made up of the Patriots, the Jet, the Dolphins and the Bills. A division with a team that is regularly good, and three that hover around mediocrity, only to jump occasionally to greatness, or simply get hot at the end of the season, it is one of those divisions where anything can happen.
It is also one of those divisions with some of the most interesting coaches in the NFL. Below, we go inside the leaders of each team; in other words, we go deep.
Bill Belichick, The New England Patriots
Belichick will go down as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL. With his no nonsense demeanor and an ability to find the weakness in the most solid opponents, Belichick is well respected by those he coaches, and well feared by those he plays.
Pros: Belichick is hands down an excellent coach. He has a penchant for shutting down even the greatest offensive adversaries and an ability to win championships without a team full of superstars. Plainly put, he makes those who play for him look good. He also, prior to the past two seasons, was unstoppable in the playoffs. Last year – as he upset the 14-2 San Diego Chargers and his polar playoff opposite Marty Schottenheimer – we saw some of that ol’ post season magic return.
Cons: Belichick’s usually solid defense didn’t seem so solid in 2006, particularly during the AFC championship game. Belichick is going to have to fine tune his elaborate defensive schemes if he wants a shot at the Super Bowl. Randy Moss is another potential negative factor. It appears that Terrell Owens broke down Bill Parcells last season, likely being a factor in his retirement. Will Randy Moss – with his Terrell Owens-like attitude – do the same to Belichick? Only time will tell.
Eric Mangini, The New York Jets
Mangini, at 36 years old, is a coach who is just getting started, a start that got off on the right foot last season when his team finished 10-6. His sophomore year will be one in which fans will get a better idea of the person known as “Mangenius”
Pros: Mangini is one of the hardest working people in the NFL. After starting out in the pros as a 23 year old ball boy, he climbed the ranks and landed a job as a head coach. He was mentored by Bill Belichick and learned how to coach defense from him. Mangini was part of the Patriots coaching staff when their defense was unstoppable and full of pro bowl talent. As a head coach, Mangini is not afraid to be bold and surprising on the field and, off the field, he possesses a talent for drafting gifted players.
Cons: Even with Mangini’s potential, the Jets just might not be playoff material quite yet. Though they finished 10-6 last year, they were easily defeated by the New England Patriots in the first round of the postseason. Having a winning record is great, but getting to the playoffs is futile when you can’t win. If Mangini is able to guide his team to playoff victory this season, his ranking as a coach will skyrocket.
Cam Cameron, Miami Dolphins
Cameron has held the clipboard for college teams, but he has yet to serve as head coach of his first NFL game. Still, though he’s a rookie, he probably won’t coach like one.
Pros: Cameron is one of the best offensive coaches in the business, blessed with an ability to call inventive plays and turn good players into great ones. He’s credited with serving as a huge factor in the development of Drew Brees, Antonio Gates, LaDainian Tomlinson, Phillip Rivers, and Trent Green, who joins him this year in Miami. Under his tactics, teams score, and score a lot.
Cons: The team he inherits isn’t exactly coming off a Super Bowl high. Still, if he takes the controversy out of the quarterback position and gets his offense to gel, the Dolphins might find themselves behaving like fish out of water as a Miami team with a good record.
Dick Jauron, The Buffalo Bills
If there was a coach who could serve as the old, wise Yoda of the NFL, it just might be Dick Jauron. A man who began his NFL coaching career in 1985, Jauron has seemingly seen and done it all.
Pros: As stated above, Jauron is swimming in experience. He was in the NFL for eight years where he played defensive back and returned punts. In college, he was a record setting running back. On staff, he has been a defensive backs coach, a defensive coordinator and a head coach. In one of the greatest turnarounds in sports history, Jauron coached the Chicago Bears to a 13-3 record in 2001. It was a feat that led him to be named AP Coach of the Year.
Cons: Last season, Jauron was just under mediocrity with a record of 7-9. However, five of those losses were by three points or less. If Jauron can help his quarterback gain confidence, while teaching his team how to win close games, there’s a chance that soon the Bills won’t pass the buck on winning.