Training camp has extra importance for teams that changed coordinators. Here are five top AFC assistants in new places who either have a big challenge on their hands or a high production rate to maintain.
Ken Whisenhunt, Chargers OC
For the first time in nine seasons, the Chargers finished outside the top 10 in the NFL in scoring. Whisenhunt oversaw a dreadful, QB-starved offense in Arizona the last three seasons, so he should thrive having Philip Rivers directing the huddle. As Pittsburgh’s OC (2004-06), Whisenhunt’s offenses were ground-driven; the Chargers were 27th in the league in rushing last year and they didn’t improve much at running back.
Mike Pettine, Bills DC
New Buffalo coach Doug Marrone knows you can’t win the AFC East if you can’t stop the Patriots offense, so he went with someone who has plenty of experience trying to do just that. In Pettine’s four seasons as Jets DC, New York “held” the Patriots to 29.4 points per game. Sadly, that’s a 6-point improvement over what the Bills managed. At least Pettine shouldn’t have much problem slowing down the Jets’ offense.
Marty Mornhinweg, Jets OC
And speaking of ... how would you like to be the guy whose success is directly tied to Mark Sanchez’s right arm? Tony Sparano’s successor inherits an offense that ranked 30th in yardage and 28th in scoring and didn’t make many upgrades at the skill positions. Mornhinweg is an accomplished OC (49ers, Eagles), though his unit in Philly last season (29th in scoring) didn’t perform up to its expected level.
Pep Hamilton, Colts OC
Indy fans don’t have to worry about Andrew Luck learning a foreign offense because Hamilton was Luck’s OC at Stanford in 2011. With Luck, Hamilton had the No. 7 scoring offense in the FBS. Without Luck in 2012, Hamilton’s offense ranked 72d in scoring. Can the reunited duo do something about the Colts’ rushing attack, which has made modest gains each of the last five years, from 79.6 yards in 2008 to 104.4 in 2012?
Adam Gase, Broncos OC
Gase is 34 — three years younger than his starting quarterback. Gase and Peyton Manning got comfortable last season, Gase’s second as quarterbacks coach. There likely won’t be much change to the Broncos’ game plan, either: let Peyton be Peyton. Gase also spent two years as Denver’s wide receivers coach, and that group is deep and talented. All this could make Gase the scapegoat if the Broncos come out looking raggedy.