I know, it has been far too long since my last post. You are all undoubtedly very upset with me, with reason. But I am here to repent and serve you, 41MTF faithful. To show you this mea culpa is for real, I offer some lolcats to cheer you up.

Anyway, as some of you (Tom, Pete, and Sportsattitude come to mind, among others) may remember, last summer I did a write-up on every NFL coaching change of the offseason. There were 7 in all, if I remember correctly. I thought most of the choices contained some level of intrigue (which is different from them being “good”), with Cam Cameron in Miami being the notable exception. (In that case, the on-field results actually matched my interest level at the time.) All in all, it was an interesting undertaking, and I’m glad I did it.

The problem is, the coaching changes this year were pretty much uniformly dull. The trend this year seemed to be toward hiring middle-aged, solid pros who’ve been around for a while, which strikes me as pretty middle-of-the-road. This does not mean they were bad hires; in fact, the seemingly high potential for failure was what made some of the coaching moves last offseason (ex. Lane Kiffin, Raiders) interesting to me. However, they just don’t move me to the point where I’ll willingly write long-winded previews for each one this year, so the series will not be repeated, and I’m confining everything to this one post. Depending on how interesting the new hires are next year, this series could make a hotly anticipated return in the future.

This year, there’s 45-year-old John Harbaugh (pictured), taking over in Baltimore after serving as special teams/DB coach with the Eagles for the last 10 years. To me, the hiring of his brother Jim at Stanford last year was more interesting, although part of that is probably Jim’s occasional inability to shut up. I wish John success in Baltimore, however – specifically, success caused by Ray Rice.

49-year-old Mike Smith takes over in Atlanta. It’s safe to say this will probably work out better than Bobby Petrino’s hiring did last year, after Petrino basically made himself NFL poison by pulling his most ridiculous act yet by leaving the Falcons mid-disastrous season. Still, from the new coach’s name on down, the hire was another that struck me as sort of blah.

46-year-old Tony Sparano (notice a pattern with these ages – unlike last year’s hires, which were all over the map age-wise) is the Dolphins’ new head coach. He previously served as an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys, and Bill Parcells liked him so much that when he took a job in Miami, he brought Soprano along. Turning around this awful team will be no easy task for Gandolfini, however – especially if Jason Taylor never plays for the team again.

55-year-old Jim Zorn takes over the Redskins, in a hiring that didn’t make nearly the splash of Joe Gibbs’ return in ’04. In fact, in a weird process, he was originally hired for the staff while the search for a head coach was still ongoing, and was eventually named head coach when, I guess, there was no one else left to take the job.

There are also a couple head coaches in waiting. Retread Jim Mora Jr. will take over for Mike Holmgren in Seattle in ’09, while the Colts named Jim Caldwell as heir apparent to Tony Dungy. Caldwell is seemingly one of those guys better suited to the NFL than college coaching, although it might be unfair to criticize him too much for his record at Wake Forest, since Jim Grobe might be the only person capable of making that team as successful as they’ve been the last couple years.

So really, that’s about it. No young up-and-comers (Mike Tomlin) or even younger, less on the radar guys (Kiffin). No hires that were completely baffling based on the guy’s previous track record (Norv Turner), none that seemed confusing for the same reasons, only to discover that the guy’s previous record was just good enough to make him seem worthy of getting another shot (Wade Phillips), and of course, no wanderlust-afflicted college coaches. Instead, there are just…some guys.

These hirings just all seem pretty Cam Cameron-esque to me. However, that might not be such a bad thing. (With how bad the Dolphins were last year, it’s unlikely anyone would have been able to do much with them, so he shouldn’t take all the blame.) These were the safe choices, by and large, and with no hotshot candidates really on the market this year, that was the best teams were going to do. It’s possible, though not terribly likely, that each of these men will be successful in their new positions. I just don’t expect to be paying a whole lot of attention along the way.

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