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NFL Coaching Carousel Update
All 3 NFC teams with coaching vacancies have now made their hires. On Monday, the Packers hired Titans OC Matt LaFleur and on Tuesday the other two spots were officially filled.
Bucs – Bruce Arians. I love this move. Arians was 49-30-1 in 5 years with the Cardinals, guiding them to the playoffs twice, including the NFC title game in 2015. He is well-known for his work with QBs and assuming Jameis Winston returns, this could help boost his stock (or it could be his final chance for success). Tampa has the second longest playoff drought in the NFL (behind the Browns), last making the postseason in 2007. Since than, they have cycled through Raheem Morris (3 years), Greg Schiano (2 years), Lovie Smith (2 years) and Dirk Koetter (3 years) to no real success, just two winning seasons over the past 12 years.
Cardinals – Kliff Kingsbury. His offensive acumen is well-documented, having worked with Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech and spending time with Baker Mayfield, Davis Webb, and Case Keenum as well. Signing, trading and drafting defensive players is a lot easier in the NFL than it is to recruit them to Texas Tech. Who Kingsbury hires as his Defensive Coordinator will be the biggest factor in his success. I’m weary on the fit. Josh Rosen looked awful last year, but that could be attributed to the coaching staff and poor OL. Can Kingsbury fix the offensive line overnight? Can David Johnson revert back to 2017 DJ? Does Larry Fitzgerald have any magic left? And can they add enough pieces on defense around Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson (Nick Bosa?). Too many question marks to judge this move right now.
Broncos are reportedly choosing between Bears Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio and Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak. If it were up to me, I would choose Fangio in a heartbeat. His defenses have been near the top half of the league everywhere he has been. And if the rumors are true that Gary Kubiak will become the Offensive Coordinator, than you have brilliant and experience minds to cover both sides of the ball. Munchak is who he is, he went 22-26 previously with the Titans and would be a rather uninspiring hire, following the Vance Joseph disaster.
Browns seem likely to promote Offensive Coordinator Freddie Kitchens to head coach. Kitchens started the year as Cleveland’s RB coach, but was promoted to OC when Todd Haley was fired. There was said to be a strong bond between QB Baker Mayfield and Kitchens, which is likely the driving force in this hire. If that’s the case, that’s fine. I don’t know much about Kitchens to judge this move negatively and keeping your star QB happy is obviously a priority. But why not keep status quo and keep interim Gregg Williams in place as head coach and Kitchens as OC. There’s no other known teams pursuing Kitchens to be head coach. Either way, I believe the Browns will do what they feel is best for their young core. If it’s Kitchens, perhaps they retain Williams as DC, which would be a home run or perhaps there’s someone else in mind.
For the Jets, Adam Schefter dropped this tweet late Tuesday night that stated, “Former Packers’ HC Mike McCarthy doesn’t want to be considered, and isn’t pursuing, any other HC vacancy other than the New York Jets’, per source.” This has long been the scenario that made the most sense for the Jets. Bill Parcells in 1997 is the last time the Jets hired a head coach with previous head coaching experience. It’s been a LONG time and a lot of first time head coaches and this would instantly rejuvenate a fanbase that has ensured a 50 year Super Bowl drought. However, based on the wording of Schefter’s tweet it sounds like McCarthy wants the Jets, it remains to be seen how much the Jets really do want him.
Two other teams remain coach-less and not much reports are out there for the Dolphins and Bengals. Eric Bieniemy, a former Bengals running back and current Chiefs Offensive Coordinator seems like the best fit in Cincinnati. The last two Chiefs OCs to be hired are Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy. Bengals should move quickly once Chiefs season is over to secure him. Dolphins lack major assets or All-Pro talents, making this arguably the most unappealing job of all of the vacancies, and it’s showing with a lack of big name candidates.
College Basketball – What you have missed
If you have a hard time following more than one sport at a time and you’ve been focused on college football since September, welcome to college basketball season!
Let’s get you caught up quickly on some of the top stories and questions since November.
The biggest question is, who is good?
- Duke is really good. Maybe even the best, led by three freshmen – Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cameron Reddish
- So is Gonzaga, who beat Duke in Maui
- So is Tennessee, who, led by Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone, beat Gonzaga in Knoxville
- So is Kansas, who beat Tennessee on a neutral court in NYC in November
Michigan is also really good. They are one of three unbeaten teams, along with Virginia and Houston. Not a bad way to follow up their 2018 Championship Game loss. What about the rest of the 2018 Final Four teams, how are they doing?
- Villanova has already lost 4 games during the OOC portion of the schedule, which matches their 2018 total.
- Kansas is good, as already mentioned. They are 12-2, with losses to Arizona State and Iowa State and wins over Tennessee, Michigan State, Villanova, Marquette, Oklahoma
- Loyola-Chicago is off to a slow start, at 9-6 with notable losses to Nevada, Maryland, Boston College and Furman (more on them soon)
In college football, the SEC is considered the best. What about in basketball? They are much better than they used to be. ACC is still the best basketball conference, but the SEC has Tennessee ranked 3rd currently and Kentucky ranked 18th both as legitimate Final Four contenders. Auburn is 11-2 and ranked 11th and Mississippi State is 12-1, ranked 14th. Additionally, Ole Miss, Arkansas, LSUall have 3 or less losses.
In college football, the PAC-12 is considered the worst of the “power 5” conferences. They have to be better in basketball right? Wrong! Enthusiastically wrong. PAC-12 is so bad that it’s possible the conference gets one NCAA tournament bid, to the conference tournament champion, unless someone separates themselves during conference play – Arizona State is the best bet to do that, and they have key OOC wins.
Here is a list of teams PAC-12 teams have lost to this year:
- Belmont, Liberty, Santa Clara (twice), Saint Louis, Kent State, Princeton, Hawaii (twice), Texas Southern, Seattle (twice), Montana State, San Diego (twice), Yale
If Villanova lost 4 games in OOC, who is the best team in the Big East? Well, it might still be Villanova, who beat St. John’s, one of the league’s two ranked teams (along with Marquette). Also worth noting that, Depaul has 1 Big East win (over Seton Hall). Anytime this happens, this feels like a big deal.
Who are the notable mid majors?
- Nevada was ranked as high as 6, before finally losing their first game to New Mexico. Their most notable win is Arizona State, but the Martin twins (Caleb and Cody), amongst other potential NBA prospects, will be worth watching again in March.
- Buffalo is ranked #19. Coming off the school’s first ever NCAA tournament victory over Arizona last March, they have wins over West Virginia and Syracuse, with the lone loss coming to Marquette.
- The Furman Paladins were ranked 24th at one point in December before back to back losses to LSU and East Tennessee. They got on the map by beating Villanova
- Murray State is 11-2, led by star guard Ja Morant, who is averaging 23 ppg
- San Francisco is 14-2 with 2 PAC-12 wins (Cal and Stanford) and a loss to Buffalo. They”ll have two chances at a major win vs Gonzaga in WCC play
Tuesday NBA Recap
Here are the top 5 performers from Tuesday night
- Landry Shamet, 76ers – the rookie guard hit 8 threes and a career-high 29 points in a win over the Wizards
- Andrew Wiggins, Wolves – 40 points, 10 rebounds and most importantly, a win for Minnesota in new coach Ryan Saunders emotional debut
- Klay Thompson, Warriors – The Champs looked like themselves and Klay had 43 points
- Kelly Oubre, Suns – The newest Sun had 26 points. Think he’s happy to be out of Washington?
- Nikola Jokic, Nuggets – Jokic recorded his 4th triple-double of the season, 29 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and this super funky game winning shot
2019 College Football – Games to Watch
I just can’t get enough of college football. Here are the top 15 non-conference games to get excited for next season
- Oregon vs Auburn (8/31, neutral)
- Florida vs Miami (8/31, neutral)
- Boise St vs Florida St (8/31, neutral)
- Wisconsin @ USF (8/31)
- Fresno State @ USC (8/31)
- Texas A&M @ Clemson (9/7)
- Texas @ LSU (9/7)
- Army @ Michigan (9/7)
- Cincinnati @ Ohio State (9/7)
- West Virginia @ Missouri (9/7)
- Washington St vs Houston (9/13, neutral)
- Stanford @ UCF 9/14
- TCU @ Purdue (9/14)
- Arizona State @ Michigan St (9/14)
- Notre Dame @ Georgia (9/21)
Stat of the Day
New Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury becomes the 5th active NFL head coach with NFL QB experience, along with Doug Pederson, Jason Garrett, Frank Reich, Sean Payton.
Video of the Day
Beginning January 14, M!KEDROPSPORTS will be offering the opportunity for fans to contribute to daily themes, beginning with “Motivation Monday” and continuing one week from today with “Women Wednesday”. We have previously written dozens of women spotlight articles but now we want YOU to contribute. Tell us which women in sports deserve attention.
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