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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

2015 NFL: 9 Best Offensive Coordinators in the NFL

We all know that the offense is the star in the NFL.  So why is it the defensive coordinators getting all the head coaching love?

Is it because a good offense is a great quarterback?  That can't be all there is to it.  So let's take a look at the highly fluctuating and sometimes questionable list of the top nine offensive coordinators in the NFL going into 2015.

Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots

Easy Denver Bronco fans, I understand your displeasure with this pick.  But we are talking about him as an offensive coordinator not as a head coach.  And yes I understand he has Tom "Terrific" Brady under center, but we still have to give the man his due.

As an offensive coordinator, McDaniels has made it work with interchanging pieces, Brady nothwithstanding.  McDaniels utilizes the so-called Erhard-Perkins system on the offense.  It has allowed him to have success even when Aaron Hernadez, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Bernard Pollard, and the carousel of running backs in New England come and go.  West Coast football without all that pesky West Coast language. 

And oh yeah, his team won the Super Bowl this year. 

Todd Haley, Pittsburgh Steelers

The first year as offensive coordinator with the Steelers was a little rocky.  The pavement has been smoothed.  Last year he diagramed the Steelers offense to its best statistical season in franchise history.  The offense was second in passing averaging 301.6 yards, second in total yards averaging 411.1 yards, seventh in points per game with 27.2, and 16th in rushing yards, averaging 109.5 yards per rush.  

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 4952 yards.  He threw 32 touchdowns and nine interceptions.   Rookie Le'Veon Bell finished second in rushing yards last season, rushing  for 1361 yards with eight touchdowns. 

The offense as a whole finished second in the NFL.  Talent helps, but all the talent in the world won't win without the proper direction, right Bronco fans?

Frank Cignetti, St. Louis Rams

This is a vote based on hope and expecatations.  The St Louis Rams have rid themselves of oft injured quarterback Sam Bradford.  Cignetti was previously the quarterbacks coach for the Rams.  He will take over after the sudden departure of Brian Schottenheimer. 

No worries.  Cignetti was instrumental in getting Bradford a career high in passing yards, touchdown passes and quarterback ratings in 2012. 

But with Bradford injured last year the Rams finished 21st in scoring and 28th in total offense. 

Now they have a new quarterback and there is no place to go but up.  Cignetti will be the head of the least productive offense in his division.  Look for the Rams offense to move up to the mid-pack in offensive stats this season.  It will be due to an offensive coordinator who knows quarterbacks and utilizes what he has. 

Pep Hamilton, Indianapolis Colts

Yes, he has Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, but who else was on the field.  Hamilton spear-headed an offense that had eight offensive players on injured reserve.   Still the offense was orchestrated to finish the season with the fewest turnovers and fumbles.  They averaged 341.8 yards on the offensive side of the ball.  And without a marquee rusher the team rushed for 1743 yards.  That was the most in the franchise since 2006.

And the most important statistic?  Against what many believe was the most potent offense in the playoffs, Hamilton's offense out played the Broncos offense, leading the Colts to a road playoff win. 

Scott Linehan, Dallas Cowboys

Leave it to Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys to have subtitled coaches.  Last season Linehan was the passing game coordinator and play-caller.   This year he is the offensive coordinator.  Last year the Cowboys offense scored the second most points in the league.  This year they look to repeat the performance. 

This year the Cowboys will play without running back DeMarco Murray.  Murray has been replaced by seven year Oakland Raiders alum Darren McFadden.  More on that later.

Last year in his first year the offense was better with Linehan.  The Cowboys offense lead the league in time of possession.  Quarterback Tony Romo led the NFL in passer rating.  And Murray won the rushing title with 1845 yards.  With the departure of Murray and the addition of McFadden, Linehan's brillance will be tested. 

Norv Turner, Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings had to survive without all-everything running back Adrian Peterson last year.  And they had to do that with a rookie quarterback under center.  Thankfully they had Norv Turner directing the offense.

Sure it took half a season but you do understand what he was working with, right?  Without the services of Peterson the defenses were ready to focus on rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.  Surprise! Turner led Bridgewater to the best season of a rookie quarterback in franchise history.  After losing Matt Cassel in week three, Turner revamped his offense to suit the skill set of Bridgewater.  Bridgewater finished the season 259-of-402 passing attempts.  He passed for 2919 yards.  He completed 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  Bridgewater also rushed for 209 yards and a touchdown. 

Turner had the Vikings thinking play-offs without Peterson.  That's impressive.

Hue Jackson, Cincinnati Bengals

Hue Jackson had to scheme an offense that were without the services of wide- receiving all start A.J. Green for a large chunk of the season.  So what do you do?  If you are Jackson you go to your running game.  The two back sysytem with  running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill had their rushing offense ranking sixth in rushing yards in the NFL, averaging 134.2 yards per game. 

Bernard was given the ball 168 times.  He rushed for 680 yards and five touchdowns.  In the last three games of the season Bernard averaged 4.7 yards per carry.  In his last seven games Hill averaged 5.6 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. 

Jackson adapated his offense.  The Bengals finished 10-5-1.  They once again faltered in the post-season but his ability to adapt an offense to what he has is enough.  And if that isn't enough for you, then maybe you should re-watch HBO Hard Knocks, he is a star. 

Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons

Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns last season.  That he survived the Browns and Johnny Manziel should be enough.  But of course we want more.  What comes to mind from his stint in purgatory, for the first half of the season he made the Browns relevant.

Now Shanahan is in Atlanta where he has more to work with.  The Falcons appreciated his ability so much that he was hired before the head coach.  Shanahan will take over an offense that finished eighth in total yards and fifth in passing yards.  He will need to increase their rushing offense and total points. 

But hey he survived Cleveland, this will be a dance in the dome. 

Adam Gase, Chicago Bears

Before you start with the Peyton Manning argument, remember Gase made quarterback Tim Tebow a playoff winner.   

Now, sure with Manning, the Denver Broncos averaged 430 yards per game and 34 points.  In 2013, Gase orchestrated the Broncos to a league record by scoring 606 points.  When Gase was calling the plays in Denver, the Broncos won 25 regular season games, went to the Super Bowl and won two divisional titles.  And it wasn't only Manning.  Gase's offense had seven offensive Broncos getting Pro Bowl recognition. 

Now Gase is in charge of the anemic Bears offense and questionable quarterback Jay Cutler.  Fortunately, Gase has had some association with Cutler so he knows what he is getting into.  That is if Cutler remains the starting quarterback in Chicago.

Gase has experience leading both the talented and less talented offenses to wins.  The winds are blowing towards a good year.  He shoud thrive in the Windy City. 


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