New Head Coaches Begin To Build Their Seasons

Ten NFL teams will be led by a new head coach in 2006. Of those 10 coaches, seven take the post for the first time in their careers: Brad Childress (Minnesota), Gary Kubiak (Houston), Scott Linehan (St. Louis), Eric Mangini (New York Jets), Rod Marinelli (Detroit), Mike McCarthy (Green Bay), and Sean Payton (New Orleans).

All successful assistants, those seven will now wear the loudest whistle in training camp. And they are ready to use it.

“The biggest thing we’re going to try to accomplish during camp is developing a thorough knowledge of our system,” says Kubiak, who arrives in Houston after 11 years as Denver’s offensive coordinator (1995-05) under Mike Shanahan.

“Because everything is new, we’ve got more ground to make up than with a team with a coach who has been there a while.”

Roughly 1,400 miles to the northeast, Mangini mans the Jets’ controls following six seasons as a defensive backs coach (2000-04) and defensive coordinator (2005) at New England where he helped the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles.

Mangini, 35, gained camp insight first-hand from former bosses Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. “I have seen a number of training camps run by different organizations and head coaches,” says the NFL’s youngest head coach. “I expect to take specific things from the variety of experiences to create what works best for the Jets.

“It is important to create the best working environment for both the coaches and players to learn the new system, both on the field and in the classroom. That includes developing efficient procedures, having streamlined communication with everyone in the organization, and providing a structure so the players can easily concentrate on the football tasks at hand.”

On the other end of the spectrum, San Diego’s Marty Schottenheimer will lead an NFL training camp for the 20th time this summer. Comparing his camp philosophy today versus his first with the Cleveland Browns in 1985, he says, “The ultimate objective remains the same and that is to get your team ready to start the season in a positive way. The means by which that is achieved is different since the advent of offseason programs and conditioning.

“These days, your football team should be in very good condition when you get to camp. It’s really changed in that regard. When I was playing (1965-70), we had eight weeks of training camp. We were in pads twice a day for the first two weeks of practice. In those days, we played more preseason games. Things were considerably different.”

Adds Houston’s Kubiak, “For us to be successful the first time around and get this thing heading in the right direction, we can’t overload our players. We have to come together as a team, us understanding what they can handle, players understanding our scheme 100 percent so we can compete.”

The rookie head coaches whose teams performed the NFL’s greatest victory turnarounds:

Coach

Team

Season W-L

Previous Season

Win Increase

Al Davis

Oakland, 1963

10-4

1-13

+9

Ted Marchibroda

Baltimore,1975

10-4

2-12

+8

Bobby Ross

San Diego, 1992

11-5

4-12

+7

Jim Haslett

New Orleans, 2000

10-6

3-13

+7

Many Tied at +6


’06 Rookie Head Coaches

Team

’05 W-L

Brad Childress

Minnesota

9-7

Gary Kubiak

Houston

2-14

Scott Linehan

St. Louis

6-10

Eric Mangini

NY Jets

4-12

Rod Marinelli

Detroit

5-11

Mike McCarthy

Green Bay

4-12

Sean Payton

New Orleans

3-13


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