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SCOUT'S HONOR: What the staff changes mean

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foxsports admin

 
   
 
This off-season witnessed not only a dizzying amount of player movement, but coaching changes rocked the stability of several NFL teams. And though not every team replaces the head coach every year, it's nearly impossible for an organization to avoid changes to its coaching staff year in and year out.

Here's a look at some subtle changes to keep an eye on with teams that have changed head coaches or coordinators.

AFC

Buffalo : Adding former Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau as a defensive assistant will likely result in the working more zone blitzes into the game plan. Newcomers and should benefit the most. LeBeau has coached Spikes over the past few years and Posey plays his best in blitz situations. Scout's evaluation: Look for LeBeau to be an integral part of a defense that makes huge strides this season and pushes Miami in the AFC East. Cincinnati : The mind-set of the will be totally different under Marvin Lewis. Players will be held more accountable and the attitude will be all about winning. On the defensive side of the ball, you will see a much more aggressive secondary that will attack receivers at the line of scrimmage. That's why rookie cornerback will become a factor at some point this season. The will look to disrupt the timing of an opponent's passing game and force mistakes. Scout's evaluation: Don't be surprised if the Bengals get off to a slow start, especially with Marvin Lewis and Leslie Frazier's defensive scheme. But they'll makes strides over the second half of the year to set the foundation for the future. Cleveland : Former Cowboys coach Dave Campo is bringing a different look to the ' defense. The emphasis now will be on more speed and athleticism. The biggest change has been seen at linebacker. The will have the league's youngest group of linebackers. You'll see more aggressiveness and youthfulness from this defense. They may have growing pains at times, but they'll be more active. Scout's evaluation: A lot will depend on what production they get from guys up front like Gerard Warren and Courtney Brown. The Browns will have some ups and downs throughout the season, but they could surprise people. Over the long run, I believe Campo's defense will be strong. Jacksonville : The landscape has changed dramatically in Jacksonville from Tom Coughlin to Jack Del Rio. Del Rio brings a more positive atmosphere to the locker room and the players respect that after the dictating style Coughlin pushed. They also will be more aggressive on both sides of the ball. The offense will open up more toward a ball-control passing game, but it could take some time for the Jaguars to fit their long-term personnel objectives. will likely see more opportunities as a pass catcher out of the backfield. The defense will have a much different look as Del Rio wants to build with speed and quickness over size at most spots. Former Colt will thrive at middle linebacker. and appear to be athletes who fit better in Del Rio's defense. And the new staff is very excited over the potential of defensive tackle in their scheme. Scout's evaluation: The Jaguars feel fresh and I wouldn't be surprised if they push for a playoff spot, but everyone must stay healthy and the quarterback controversy must stay quiet. Those are two big "ifs" right now. While the attitude is solid, Jacksonville is vulnerable depth-wise and due to the usual shakeups a transition year brings. Denver : Larry Coyer isn't nearly the name Ray Rhodes is, but expect Coyer to eventually get more results with the ' defense. But Coyer has a lot of questions to overcome, especially in the secondary and with their pass rush. Rhodes went to a lot of zones with their defensive unit last season, but expect Coyer to be more aggressive. Look for linebackers and to thrive under Coyer, who will design opportunities for his linebackers. Coyer would also like to generate more penetration along the front four. Scout's evaluation: The Broncos' defense will be more competitive from what they displayed over the latter half of 2002, but it will be awfully difficult to overcome their matchup problems over the middle and their questionable pass rush. Their linebackers need to all have career years for the Broncos to soar. That's where the Broncos are strongest at this point.

NFC

Dallas : What you should expect to see from the Dallas under Bill Parcells is a more focused and disciplined team. Mike Zimmer will be more aggressive with his defense, with Parcells' blessing in addition to having improved matchup options in the secondary. On the offensive side of the ball, look for to flourish under the new philosophy. And Bryant has a lot of respect for Parcells, which should keep him more focused. Look for a lot of short passes to maintain ball-control with tight end Dan Campbell and fullback . Scout's evaluation: The Cowboys will feel a lot of rumbles as they weed out the weak. Parcells will have them fighting harder and moving in the right direction. But it probably won't reflect in the win column this season. Washington : Don't expect many changes with George Edwards moving up to replace Marvin Lewis as defensive coordinator. But do expect the role of to be simplified. Arrington will rely a lot more on his athleticism than spending too much time digesting assignments. could rebound at cornerback under Edwards' watch after a rough relationship with Marvin Lewis. Scout's evaluation: Edwards will continue the project Lewis began and make some strides, but ultimately will need more time to position the Redskins defense among the best in the league while they upgrade production across the front four. Detroit : Steve Mariucci gives the a new level of respect. Mariucci has proven what he can do through a retooling program with the . Mariucci brings more credibility to the players and that should allow new standards to begin forming. Although the still have a lot of holes, they will be more competitive this season. Don't expect many drastic changes on the field, but expect Mariucci to work harder at establishing the ground game. Scout's evaluation: A true foundation will form under Mariucci. The Lions could only win a few more games this season, but there will be a feeling of optimism as the Lions look ahead. Minnesota : George O'Leary takes over the defense after Mike Tice decided Willie Shaw wasn't the answer. Look for more instinctive play from this defense. O'Leary is working to keep things simple, but aggressive. And also don't be surprised to see more 3-4 looks from O'Leary to take advantage of up-field players like . Scout's evaluation: The Vikings will finally make strides defensively with O'Leary commanding the ship. That could be enough to have Minnesota pushing Green Bay in the NFC North. Carolina : Don't really expect any changes with Mike Trgovac taking over the defense following Jack Del Rio's departure. John Fox will continue having a big influence on the defense anyway. The Panthers will continue to develop a strong pass rush with their front four and allow their linebackers to play aggressively in pursuit. Scout's evaluation: The biggest challenge Trgovac faces is protecting the Panthers' secondary for another season. But expect Trgovac to get even more production from his front seven this season. Arizona : The offense is in for a much different look under Jerry Sullivan. The Cardinals will stretch the field more often than not. Sullivan won't be afraid of being aggressive in dictating the tempo of a game. Sullivan definitely has the Mike Martz attitude within himself. Look for to benefit the most at wide receiver if he can remain healthy. Scout's evaluation: The Cardinals will have their moments where they produce very good numbers and put points on the board, but they'll also have a share of struggles behind erratic Jeff Blake and a young group of receivers. San Francisco : Dennis Erickson brings a little different approach to the Bay Area. His objective with the offense is to work downfield through the air. That's a change from Steve Mariucci's run-oriented preference. Look for and to hook up more often for big plays. and will get a lot of opportunities to make plays in the passing game. will likely see more time contributing in the passing game rather than as a lead blocker. Scout's evaluation: The 49ers are really a mystery and could find out possibly how valuable Mariucci was to their organization. Seattle : Ray Rhodes brings a no-nonsense approach to the ' defense. Look for the to have more size on the field with Rhodes. He loves utilizing big guys along the defensive front. Former Saint will play a key role and even look for to log more time inside. Rhodes will pick his spots for 's interior pass rush. I also believe really has a chance to rebound under Rhodes. Scout's evaluation: If Ray Rhodes finds a pass rush, this defense will soar. Overall, expect noticeable strides under Rhodes in his first season. Seattle could make a serious push for a playoff spot.
Tagged: Terrell Owens, Shawn Springs, LaVar Arrington, Fred Taylor, Marcus Stroud, Nick Rogers, Antonio Bryant, Akin Ayodele, Dennis Weathersby, Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Vikings, 49ers, Seahawks, Redskins, Jaguars, Cardinals, Takeo Spikes, Mike Peterson, Norman Hand, Richie Anderson, Jeff Posey

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