Former New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur is now Denver's offensive coordinator
There have been five coaching changes in the NFL since the start of last season, but only one of those was with an AFC team. The Cleveland Browns are certainly no stranger to turnover at the top, as Kevin Stefanski will be the team's third head coach in as many seasons. Not surprisingly, he's bringing new coordinators with him. Miami head coach Brian Flores also is shuffling his staff after the Dolphins went 5-11 in his first season.
Elsewhere in the AFC, a couple of teams hired former head coaches to lead their offenses while a pair of teams that made the playoffs last season have changed things up on defense. Here is a rundown on all the coordinator changes in the AFC:
Cleveland Browns, Offensive Coordinator
Old: Todd Monken
New: Alex Van Pelt
The Bengals quarterbacks coach for the past two seasons, Van Pelt will play a key role in helping first-time head coach Kevin Stefanski find his footing in Cleveland. A former quarterback himself, Van Pelt will be charged with coaxing a bounce-back season out of Browns QB Baker Mayfield. The new coordinator will have plenty of toys to play with — Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb and wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Cleveland Browns, Defensive Coordinator
Old: Steve Wilks
New: Joe Woods
Woods was pass game coordinator/DBs coach for the 49ers last season, coaching in a Super Bowl for the second time in his career (he also coached DBs for the Super Bowl champion Broncos in 2015). He was defensive coordinator in Denver in 2017-18, and his 2017 unit ranked third in the NFL in total defense while seeing its rushing yards per game average improve by more than 40 yards per game.
Denver Broncos, Offensive Coordinator
Old: Rich Scangarello
New: Pat Shurmur
Shurmur is fresh off a failed two-year tenure as Giants head coach (9–23), but he possesses as much experience as almost any hire on this list, having coached in the NFL in some capacity since 1999. His three stints as an offensive coordinator — with the Rams (2009-10), Eagles (2013-15), and Vikings (2016-17) — yielded mixed but mostly positive results, with his 2013 Eagles offense (under Chip Kelly) setting team records for points, total yards, TDs, passing yards, and fewest turnovers.
Houston Texans, Defensive Coordinator
Old: Romeo Crennel
New: Anthony Weaver
A former defensive lineman for the Ravens and Texans who posted 15.5 career sacks, Weaver has been the D-line coach in Houston since 2016. Crennel is still on hand as associate head coach and will provide a steadying influence in Weaver’s first season as a coordinator, but he has bequeathed his successor a unit that needs to improve — the Texans were 28th in total defense, 29th in pass defense and tied for 26th in sacks.
Jacksonville Jaguars, Offensive Coordinator
Old: John DeFilippo
New: Jay Gruden
Another fired head coach resurfaces as a coordinator, as the former Washington boss (35–49–1 in five-plus seasons) gets a shot at revitalizing his career in Jacksonville. Job One will be to polish and refine anointed quarterback Gardner Minshew II into something more than a local folk hero. It remains to be seen if Gruden possesses the weaponry to run his preferred West Coast, vertical passing attack, although he does have a nice building block in DJ Chark Jr.
Miami Dolphins, Offensive Coordinator
Old: Chad O’Shea
New: Chan Gailey
How long has this NFL lifer been around? Long enough to have coached the Triplets in Dallas (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin) and to have been John Elway’s position coach (1988). This is his second stint as Miami’s offensive coordinator — he also filled that role in 2000-01 — but this time, instead of trying to replace Dan Marino, he’s trying to help sort out a QB situation that features Ryan Fitzpatrick and celebrated rookie Tua Tagovailoa.
Miami Dolphins, Defensive Coordinator
Old: Patrick Graham
New: Josh Boyer
Boyer was an internal promotion after the unexpected firing of Patrick Graham, who did the best he could with what he had. Boyer will implement the vision of defensive-minded head coach Brian Flores, the former defensive coordinator in New England. Boyer’s experience at the NFL level is essentially limited to DBs work, and his unit ranked 26th in the league last season in pass defense. But this year, he’ll have talented rookie DBs Noah Igbinoghene and Brandon Jones to work with.
Tennessee Titans, Defensive Coordinator
Old: Dean Pees
The retirement of the venerable Pees leaves head coach Mike Vrabel with the de facto role that the former linebacker loves best — calling the shots for a talented defense. Vrabel will oversee a unit that is coming off an effective (if statistically unimpressive) campaign in which the Titans finished T5 in the AFC in interceptions, sixth in sacks and seventh in scoring defense. New inside linebackers coach Jim Haslett, who has 34 years in the NFL to his credit as a player and coach, will provide a steady hand if Vrabel’s head-coaching duties get in the way.