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Sunday NFL Thoughts: Dolphins in September, Rex and Bills implode, Patriots have longest tenured coordinators

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The Patriots have the longest tenured coordinator pair in the NFL

1. The New England Patriots have beaten the Miami Dolphins in September just once since 1987. The two teams have squared off nine times and the Patriots only victory was in 2011.

This is only the second time the Patriots have hosted the Dolphins in September under Bill Belichick, with the other being the 2008 wild cat game. Belichick and company have had to travel to Miami in 2000, 2011, and 2014.

These stats shouldn’t really be of too much concern, but I just thought it was interesting from a scheduling perspective.

2. For whatever reason, the Bills have had to travel on the road to face New England in September four times in the past decade. They’re 0-4, but they have experience with that. They’ll be back again in week 4 and they already look to be a mess.

The Bills have fired their offensive coordinator, a move that was apparently made “in hopes of appeasing a disgruntled fan base,” because that’s apparently the smart way to operate your franchise.

Franchise LT Cordy Glenn is dealing with an ankle injury and didn’t practice. Franchise WR Sammy Watkins is dealing with a serious foot injury that has limited his availability. The Bills really don’t have anyone else on offense, other than RB LeSean McCoy.

The defense is currently a train wreck due to injuries and suspensions. Head coach Rex Ryan is supposed to be a defensive genius, but he took a dominant group of players and made them less-than-average. He’s on the hottest seat in the league and with two upcoming games against the Cardinals and Patriots, he could be facing another type of 0-4 start.

3. I doubt that Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia would take the jobs within the division, but I’m always surprised that they’re still with the Patriots. The two have served as offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively, since 2012 and they’re in the midst of their 5th seasons in the role.

This is the highest degree of consistency in the league. The Panthers have had defensive coordinator Sean McDermott since 2011 and offensive coordinator Mike Shula since 2013, and the Vikings have had offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator George Edwards since 2014. These are the only teams with coordinator pairs that predate 2015.

4. Here are the oldest tenured coordinators in the league with more than 3 years in their current role:

2009: Saints OC Pete Carmichael Jr., Packers DC Dom Capers
2010: NONE
2011: Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell, Panthers DC Sean McDermott
2012: Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, Patriots DC Matt Patricia, Steelers OC Todd Haley, Ravens DC Dean Pees, Chargers DC John Pagano
2013: Chiefs DC Bob Sutton, Panthers OC Mike Shula, Cardinals OC Harold Goodwin

Just 12 of the league’s 65 coordinators (the Chiefs have co-offensive coordinators) had three or more years in their role prior to this season. 20 coordinators were hired this year.

5. Of these coordinators with consistent experience, we can look at who might be atop the coaching wish lists in 2017, from oldest to youngest.

Capers is 66 years old and has been the head coach for both the expansion Panthers (1995-98) and the expansion Texans (2002-05). Pees is 67 years old. Sutton is 65 years old. For reference, Pete Carroll is the oldest head coach in the league at 65; Bill Belichick is 64. These three probably won’t be getting offers.

Shula is 51 years old and gets a lot of credit for navigating the 2015 season with a short-handed offense. Shula is considered a capable groomer of quarterbacks, having helped Jaguars QB David Garrard during his most productive seasons and working with Cam Newton for the reigning MVP’s full career.

Haley is 49 years old and was the head coach of the Chiefs from 2009-11. Like McDaniels, he knows he only gets one more chance at a head coaching job and is waiting for the perfect opportunity. He is viewed as an abrasive coach, so he’s lower on the lists due to his temperament.

Pagano is 49 years old and has spent his entire 15-season coaching career with the Chargers. He’ll likely get a shot sometime soon since some coordinators think Pagano is “the toughest defensive coordinator in the league to play chess against.”

Bevell is 46 years old and has been an offensive coordinator since 2006. He was with the Vikings from 2006-10, and with the Seahawks since 2011. Executives around the league don’t think he has “the presence it takes to be a head coach.” He might be a lifetime coordinator.

Carmichael is 44 years old and has been quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the entire tenure of Drew Brees with the Saints. This is his 11th year in the role. Saints head coach Sean Payton calls the plays during the game, which is why Carmichael hasn’t gained national attention, but Payton has actually turned the keys to the offense over to Carmichael this year. He’ll be someone to monitor.

Goodwin is 43 years old and he has spent the past ten years following Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians from stop to stop. Like Carmichael, Goodwin has received no credit since Arians calls the plays. While Goodwin coordinated the offense in the preseason, Arians still controls the offense.

McDermott is 42 years old and served as defensive coordinator for the Eagles from 2009-10 before he assumed the same role with the Panthers. He has taken a Panthers defense from 26th in 2010 to an annual top 5 or 10 unit. He should be on top of the lists in 2017.

Patricia (42 years old) and McDaniels (40 years old) will get their shots and are the youngest two coaches on the list. McDaniels could be gone in 2017, while Patricia will likely get another year or two to prove himself.

If I had to guess, I would expect the Panthers’ duo of Shula and McDermott to receive lots of interest in 2017, with some teams kicking the tires on Pagano. I think McDaniels is still the top head coaching candidate in 2017 and he should get his pick of the openings.