Record 5 1st-year coaches lead teams into NFL postseason

Jan 10, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: Jan 11, 2023, 6:48 am

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel talks to quarterback Skylar Thompson (19) during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)


Coaching changes paid off in a big way for several NFL teams this season.

From impressive turnarounds for Jacksonville and the New York Giants to big boosts for Minnesota and Miami, a record-setting five of the 10 teams that hired new coaches for the 2022 season made the playoffs.

Doug Pederson led the Jaguars on a worst-to-first flip in the AFC South, Brian Daboll helped the Giants go from last place to a wild-card berth, Kevin O’Connell took Minnesota from a losing record to 13 wins and an NFC North title, Mike McDaniel got Miami to its first playoff berth since 2016 and Todd Bowles helped Tampa Bay repeat as division champs for the first time in franchise history.

That broke the previous record of four coaches getting to the postseason in their first season with a team, which was set in 1997 when Jim Fassel (Giants), Pete Carroll (Patriots), Bobby Ross (Lions) and Steve Mariucci (49ers) did it.

There were a record-tying 10 coaching changes last offseason and not all of the newcomers had success, with Denver firing Nathaniel Hackett last month and Houston firing Lovie Smith on Sunday night.

Chicago’s Matt Eberflus finished with the worst record in the NFL, Josh McDaniels turned a 10-win playoff team in Las Vegas into a 6-11 team and the Saints had double-digit losses for the first time since 2005 in their first year under Dennis Allen.

The most impressive turnaround came in Jacksonville, where Pederson helped the Jaguars become the first team since the 2008 Dolphins to win their division the season after posting the league’s worst record.

Daboll’s work helped the Giants go from 4-13 to 9-7-1 despite a flawed roster hurt by a staggering $54.8 million in dead money on the salary cap to get to the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Bowles struggled a bit more as Tampa Bay won just eight games to become the fourth division winner in NFL history with a losing record. Two of the previous three — the 2010 Seahawks (7-9) and 2014 Panthers (7-8-10) — won a playoff game, while Washington (7-9) lost to the Bucs in the 2020 playoffs.

The Texans are looking for a new coach again after rare, back-to-back seasons of one-year coaching tenures. Houston fired David Culley after the 2021 season and Smith this season.

The only other team since the merger to do that was the 49ers, who had three coaches in a row last a year or less from 1976-78 in Monte Clark, Ken Meyer and Pete McCulley, and did it again in 2015-16 with Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly.


All six games on wild-card weekend are rematches from the regular season, including three matchups of division foes, with Baltimore playing Cincinnati, Miami visiting Buffalo and San Francisco hosting Seattle.

Two of those three matchups ended in splits in the regular season, with the Ravens-Bengals and Dolphins-Bills splitting their two games.

The 49ers swept the Seahawks but know how little that matters after losing to the Rams in the NFC title game last season following two regular-seasons wins.

In the Super Bowl era, teams that swept an opponent in the regular season are 14-10 in a playoff rematch, including 13-6 when the game is at home, like it is for the 49ers on Saturday.

In the other rematches, the Chargers are seeking to avenge a Week 3 loss to Jacksonville, the Giants are looking to do the same after losing to the Vikings in Week 16 and the Cowboys are trying to do it after losing in Week 1 to Tampa Bay.

This is the fifth time since the merger that every game in the opening round of the playoffs is a rematch from the regular season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It happened on four-game wild-card weekends in 2009, 2004, 1994 and 1992.


The Niners are headed into the postseason on a quite a roll, having won the last 10 games of the regular season, with Jimmy Garoppolo starting the first five games and Brock Purdy the last five.

The last team to have two QBs with consecutive five-game winning streaks were the perfect Dolphins in 1972 with Bob Griese and Earl Morrall.

San Francisco is the 13th team in the Super Bowl era to end the regular season on a winning streak of at least 10 games.

The results of the previous 12 haven’t been overly impressive, with only three winning the Super Bowl: the 1972 Dolphins, 1976 Raiders and 2003 Patriots.

Two others got to the Super Bowl before losing, with the 1967 Raiders and 2007 Patriots falling in the final game.

Five of the teams lost their first playoff game: the 2019 Ravens, 2012 Broncos, 2009 Chargers, 2006 Chargers and 1993 Oilers.

Kansas City won a wild-card game in 2015 before losing in the division round and Pittsburgh won the division round game in 2004 before losing in the AFC title game.


Nyheim Hines’ emotional kick return TDs for Buffalo on Sunday were historic as well.

Hines became the first Bills player to return the opening kick for a TD since Terrence McGee did it against Miami and added another later in the game to become the first player with two kick return TDs in a game since Leon Washington did it for Seattle in 2010.

Hines was also the last player with two punt-return touchdowns in the same game, doing it in 2019 for the Colts, and he became the first player to have a game with at least with at least two kickoff-return touchdowns and one with at least two punt-return touchdowns in his career.

The returns gave the NFL nine combined punt and kick return TDs — the second fewest in the Super Bowl era to the seven in the nine-game, strike-shortened 1982 season.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Record 5 1st-year coaches lead teams into NFL postseason