The NFL coaching carousel is a ride that begins towards the end of each season and usually doesn’t stop until a few days after the Super Bowl. Head coaches come and go to the tune of about 5 to 7 per season and today they come in many shapes and sizes, often too wide ranging to predict.
We need to look no further than the guy who controls the Ravens sideline for proof. Chances are that the name John Harbaugh was nowhere to be found when forecasting coaching changes.
Harbaugh was never a coordinator yet he’s a head coach – a very successful head coach. When Steve Bisciotti fired Brian Billick after the 2007 season and the name “John Harbaugh” surfaced as a candidate, who among you said, “Great choice! We need to get that guy!”?
Chuck Pagano left Baltimore after just one season as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator to become Indianapolis’ head coach. Not many saw that coming.
Jim Caldwell completely flopped during his first full season (2013) as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator yet he’s now the Big Cheese in Detroit.
The point being, head coaching hires are often hard to forecast and oddmakers scramble the minute the news breaks, with NFL futures odds shifting dramatically for contending teams.
That said, it isn’t hard to predict that Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, if successful in 2014, could be one and done in Baltimore. And if that happens quarterback Joe Flacco will be faced with the unenviable task of working with his fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons.
Some might suggest that quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison would be promoted to offensive coordinator if Kubiak leaves. That won’t happen because Dennison will move wherever Kubiak goes and become his offensive coordinator in a city to be named later.
Not long after Kubiak arrived John Harbaugh made a curious change to his coaching staff when he let go of the dependable and well-liked company man, tight ends coach Wade Harman and replaced him with another from Kubiak’s staff in Houston, Brian Pariani.
Pariani has 23 years of NFL coaching experience and he was with Kubiak in Houston from 2006 through last season. The San Francisco native spent a year with Kubiak on the 49ers staff in 1994 and then was side by side with Kubiak in Denver from 1995 – 2004.
It’s safe to say that he’s familiar with the offense.
Should Dennison leave with Kubiak as expected if the Ravens’ OC is hired as a head coach in 2015, the bet here is that Pariani stays in Baltimore, accepts the promotion and plows forward in a way that makes the transition from Kubiak as seamless and as painless as possible for Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense.
And then, a relatively minor head-scratching coaching move that many thought was driven by Kubiak, could end up being a stroke of genius by John Harbaugh.