6 new NFL head coaches try to lead turnarounds
MIAMI (AP) New Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase likes to talk trash to his players, and the team's performance in recent years has provided plenty of fodder.
Miami's most recent playoff victory is old enough to drive. The Dolphins haven't had a winning season since Barack Obama became president. Last year they were outscored 139-65 by the rival Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.
And they keep getting coaches fired, which is why Miami is one of six NFL clubs with a new boss. The other teams are ripe targets for insult, too, thanks to hard times.
Hired to lead turnarounds:
– Gase, who won praise for his work with Jay Cutler, Peyton Manning and even Tim Tebow, and is now the NFL's youngest head coach at 38;
– Ben McAdoo, 39, another young former offensive coordinator who was promoted by the New York Giants when Tom Coughlin departed after 12 seasons and two Super Bowl titles;
– Dirk Koetter, promoted from offensive coordinator by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they switched their fourth coach since 2011;
– Hue Jackson, a former Oakland Raiders head coach given a second shot by the Cleveland Browns;
– Chip Kelly, hired by the San Francisco 49ers two weeks after he was fired at the end of his third season as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles;
– Doug Pederson, a former NFL quarterback hired by the Eagles after Kelly's departure.
In addition, Mike Mularkey was promoted to Tennessee Titans head coach from the interim job.
All of the new head coaches have offensive backgrounds with mandates to score more for teams that finished below .500 last season.
The Dolphins haven't won a playoff game since 2000, haven't had a winning season since 2008 and went 6-10 in 2015. Gase is Miami's ninth head coach since 2004, and his brash, mouthy energy has been embraced by players as a welcome change from staid predecessor Joe Philbin.
Gase will talk trash with anyone on the roster, even quarterback Ryan Tannehill, believing it makes practices go faster and gives the workouts an extra edge.
''When you have that kind of atmosphere, you love being out there, you love competing,'' he said.
Asked if that sort of intensity is easier for a younger coach, Gase shrugged.
''I don't know,'' he said. ''I've never been old yet.''
It's the same for McAdoo, who's a generation removed from his 70-year-old predecessor, Coughlin.
McAdoo has added more music at practice and made changes to the coaching staff, including the hiring of a new strength and conditioning coach in an attempt to reduce injuries, which contributed to last season's 6-10 record.
One thing McAdoo did not change were the clocks in the team complex. They still run five minutes fast, something Coughlin started.
The Bucs also went 6-10 last season and haven't made the playoffs since 2007, but hope to continue offensive improvement that began last season under coordinator Koetter. With rookie Jameis Winston taking every snap, Tampa Bay finished fifth in the league in total yards.
Now Koetter has to worry about the defense, too.
''I love offensive football, so it's hard for me to separate,'' he said, ''but my role definitely changed, and I'm learning as I go.''
It's no longer all offense for Pederson, either. He was an NFL quarterback for 10 seasons, including in Philadelphia, and rejoined the Eagles after three years as offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Pederson takes over a team that went 7-9 last season. He had a 3-14 record as a starting quarterback, but sees his playing career as an asset in the new job.
''Being a former quarterback, kind of the leader of your football team, you're in front of the media quite often,'' he said. ''You're the voice of the team.''
Kelly and Jackson can draw on previous head coaching experience. Kelly had rocky relationships with some players in Philadelphia, but said the move to San Francisco hasn't changed him.
''The ocean is on the other side,'' Kelly said. ''So if I was facing north in Philly, the ocean is on the right. Now the ocean is on the left. I don't feel like I'm different.''
The 49ers slipped to 5-11 in 2015, but are only three years removed from a 14-win season. Jackson, by contrast, is the Browns' sixth coach in nine years, taking over a team that went 3-13 last season and hasn't been to the playoffs since 2002.
Jackson finished 8-8 with the Raiders in 2011, his only previous season as a head coach. He said he'll be a calmer coach this time.
''I understand that you're not going to win them all, and you're not going to lose them all, but somewhere in the middle,'' Jackson said. ''Hopefully you win more than you lose.''
Actually, none of the new coaches is projected to finish above .500 this season, and McAdoo could have been speaking for all of them at his introductory news conference in January.
''This job,'' he said, ''is not for the faint of heart.''
AP Sports Writers Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, New Jersey; Fred Goodall in Tampa, Florida; Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia; Janie McCauley in San Francisco; and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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