View the top 50 behind the scenes images of from the 2014 season.
The NFL coaching carousel has taken its annual spin early in 2015 and all but one vacancy (Atlanta) has been filled. In total, seven teams will have new head coaches when next season begins, including the NFC North's Chicago Bears, who hired former Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos head coach John Fox.
NFL's New Head Coaches in 2015
Atlanta Falcons - ???
Buffalo Bills - Rex Ryan
Chicago Bears - John Fox
Denver Broncos - Gary Kubiak
NY Jets - Todd Bowles
Oakland Raiders - Jack Del Rio
San Francisco 49ers - Jim Tomsula
The Vikings are familiar with the process of playing with a new head coach because they just completed Year 1 under Mike Zimmer, who was hired last January as the ninth head coach in team history. While their season fell short of some team goals, the 2014 Vikings were better than average when it comes to winning with first-year head coaches. Since 2010, the average winning percentage for teams playing under a first-year head coach is .418. The 2014 Vikings were 7-9, a winning percentage of .438.
Winning % of Teams with First-Year Head Coach
2014: .375 (Vikings: .438)
Advancing the discussion another step, we know the Vikings will play five games against four of the seven new head coaches in 2015, including two against the Bears. Other games against opponents with new head coaches for the Vikings will be: at Denver (Gary Kubiak), at Oakland (Jack Del Rio) and at San Francisco (Jim Tomsula). Given that winning percentages for first-year head coaches have always been below .500 over the past five seasons, it's good news the Vikings will play five of their 16 games in 2015 against coaches in their first year as head honcho.
There's more good news. Coaches in their second season, which Zimmer will be with the Vikings in 2015, have seen a bump up in winning percentage from their first season. Since 2010, teams with second-year head coaches have a winning percentage of .479, including the 2013 class of new coaches that authored a .583 winning mark in their second seasons, a significant jump.
For now, these are all just numbers and theory. But that doesn't make the trend insignificant. Success against first-year head coaches, which the Vikings will have plenty of opportunity to have in 2015, was key to the 2014 playoff field. The 12 playoff teams from this season were a combined 35-7 (.833) in the regular season against teams with first-year head coaches and the four conference championship teams from this year's playoffs were a combined 12-1 (.923) against teams with first-year coaches.
Can the Vikings capitalize on these trends? Only time will tell. But that Zimmer and Co. are off to an above-average start is a good sign.