Coaching in the NFL is all about managing expectations. Coaches get fired for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one is that expectations for every team are different. Take the Chicago Bears this past season. Lovie Smith is a great football coach, but that team was 7-1 and headed for the playoffs (where Chicago hadn't been since the 2010-11 season). After finishing the season 10-6 and missing the postseason, Chicago decided to go a different direction.
The other big reason is the lack of a starting quarterback. Take the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Mike Mularkey was brought in to tutor Blaine Gabbert. But Gabbert got hurt halfway through the season, the Jaguars went 2-14, and a new owner decided he wanted a new coach and a new general manager.
With all eight open NFL head-coaching positions now filled, it's a good time to look back at what happened and what it means going forward this season. No head-coaching job is easy in the NFL, but which coaches walked into the best (and worst) situations?
Let's rank the eight offseason openings by how much potential the coach has to succeed.
1. Marc Trestman / Chicago Bears
Trestman inherits the team on this list that is most ready to win immediately. But the former Montreal Alouettes coach was hired because of his track record with quarterbacks. He has been around football a long time, has coached Steve Young and Scott Mitchell, and helped Rich Gannon win the 2002 NFL MVP as the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator. A calm and analytical coach, Trestman knows his success is tied to whether he can tutor Jay Cutler effectively, and get him to protect the football and not force it to Brandon Marshall. The Bears need an infusion of talent on the offensive line and a tight end to control the middle of the field. But the other big question is what kind of defense Chicago will run. Will Trestman want new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to keep the Tampa 2 scheme or change it up? Regardless, this football team has more than enough talent to make the 2013 postseason.