Sports: NFL notebook: Second-chance coaches get opportunity for a career reset

Report: Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez expected to return Saturday

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When Bruce Arians passed the reins to new Bucs coach Todd Bowles last week, he left with some parting advice: “Just be yourself, because that’s plenty good enough.”

The results that Bowles had the last time he ran an NFL team were hardly good enough. Bowles guided the New York Jets to the playoffs in his first season in 2015 but followed that with three straight last-place finishes and left town with a 24-40 record.

Of course, when he coached the Jets, Bowles didn’t have Tom Brady as his quarterback. Now he has inherited a ready-made contender from his mentor.

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What a difference this second time around promises to be.

Bowles is one of four new coaches in the NFL this season getting a second crack at the top job, joining Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints) and Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders) with that distinction while Lovie Smith (H ouston Texans) is beginning his third such stint.

Surely, talent is essential. But that’s not the end-all. As NFL teams begin offseason workout programs this month, with new coaches getting a jump-start on the calendar, will be interesting to gauge how much the second-chance coaches have learned from experience.

“I’ve seen a lot more,” Allen, who floundered with an 8-28 mark as Raiders coach from 2012-14, said during the recent NFL owners meetings. “I’ve done a lot more. I’m way more experienced than I was the first time I did this. Things don’t really surprise me as much as they would have going through it the first time. I go into the office with the mindset I know there’s a couple problems I’m going to have to deal with. … I don’t think I was quite ready for that the first time.”

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Like Bowles, Allen established himself as a top defensive coordinator to position himself for another shot. Similarly, he’s charged to fill the shoes of a highly successful predecessor who carried enormous presence, following Sean Payton. It’s no wonder that, in line with Arians’ advice to Bowles, he believes it is important to establish his own identity.

Just working closely with Payton for several years hammered that home.

Then again, for so many years Payton had a top quarterback running his offense in Drew Brees. Allen, with Jameis Winston at quarterback, will benefit with the continuity provided by offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael returning for a 17th season.

Of course, none of the scenarios are identical. McDaniels, who has the longest span of this group since his last head coaching job (fired by Denver in 2010 after less than two seasons and an 11-17 mark), inherits Derek Carr and a playoff team bolstered by big-time acquisitions Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. Pederson, with a Super Bowl victory on his resume, follows the Urban Meyer fiasco with Trevor Lawrence and the rebuilding Jaguars holding the No. 1 pick overall for the second year in a row. And Smith, who once took Chicago to a Super Bowl, is trying to steady the equilibrium of a team that was thrown off even before the Deshaun Watson saga unfolded last year.

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New Orleans Saints new head coach Dennis Allen reacts during a news conference at the NFL football team's training facility, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Metairie, La. © Derick Hingle, AP New Orleans Saints new head coach Dennis Allen reacts during a news conference at the NFL football team's training facility, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Metairie, La.

Yet there is clearly a common denominator. Bowles alluded to it in maintaining that the biggest lesson learned from his first time in charge involved “wearing all of the hats” in addressing the myriad layers of the job.

“Put the right hat on at the right time,” he said.

Sounds like a man who has been there before.

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Wayne Mackie’s death 'a big loss' for NFL

It’s the human element Wayne Mackie possessed that will be missed the most.

Mackie, who was the NFL’s vice president of officiating training and development, passed away on March 25. He was 62.

“It is a big loss for the NFL,” said Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president for football operations. “Why? He was our connector to the teams.”

In addition to gameday duties that included collaborating with Perry Fewell and Walt Anderson on instant-replay reviews, Mackie had a hands-on role in recruiting and developing on-field officials. Vincent said Mackie had a huge impact in diversity efforts, measured by an increase in Black officials from 10% of the league’s total to 32% in five years.

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He was also essential when it came to fielding phone calls from coaches grumbling about controversial calls.

“He’s been known to spend two hours on the phone with a coach, talking about one play,” Vincent said. “He was a straight shooter, but so respectful.”

Mackie, a Brooklyn native, joined a revamped officiating department in 2017 when Vincent and then-officiating chief Dean Blandino wrestled whether to take an accomplished head linesman off the field (Mackie was a member of the Super Bowl 50 crew). Mackie’s life experiences – a basketball player at Colgate, he worked in the banking industry before transitioning to become a director for New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development – added context for the decision.

“You cannot lead a division of the Housing Authority in the city of New York and not be a people person,” Vincent said.

Many members of the NFL staff, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, attended the funeral for Mackie on Sunday night. He is survived by wife Tonya and daughters Amber, Krystal and Jade.

Early on Sunday, Vincent sat in Mackie’s office and reflected.

“He taught us some great life lessons,” he said. “It’s our loss, but heaven’s gain.”

Sean McVay buoyed by Aaron Donald’s return in battle against complacency

It’s one thing to try to repeat as Super Bowl champion. No team has been able to do so since the New England Patriots in the 2004 season.

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It would have been quite another challenge for the Los Angeles Rams had their defensive centerpiece, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, decided to retire after contemplating such a decision following Super Bowl 56.

“I don’t even know how to articulate how relieved I am,” coach Sean McVay said during the NFL meetings recently. “Basically, maybe I would’ve done the TV stuff if Aaron Donald retired.”

There is still another shoe to drop: The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is due a raise. Donald, 30, has three years remaining on a six-year, $135 million extension signed in 2018 that averages $22.5 million per year. Given the funny money that has been flowing around the NFL and the Rams’ recent signing of quarterback Matthew Stafford to a four-year, $160 million extension, Donald is underpaid, according to market conditions.

Said McVay, “It’s really important to get this contract figured out for him because he’s deserved it and he’s earned it.”

Donald is one of just four Rams players (with wide receiver Cooper Kupp, tight end Tyler Higbee and offensive lineman Rob Havenstein) still with the team since McVay arrived in 2017. And just four members of McVay’s coaching staff have been with him for the five years. That says something about the big-picture mission of trying to repeat as champs.

“The change is inevitable and you can’t allow complacency to set in, but you also have to understand this is a challenging league,” McVay said. “You’ve got to be agile and adapt to every single day.”

Given so many aggressive moves over the years to land talent, the Rams have shown some serious agility.

Avalanche's Samuel Girard set to return Saturday night vs. Oilers

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More tweaking looms for overtime rule

To be continued…

That was the sentiment coming out of the NFL meetings, when league owners voted to adopt a new version of the overtime system for the postseason that would ensure each team gets a possession.

Call it the Josh Allen Rule.

Why postseason only? The original proposal submitted by the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts, which also covered the regular season, failed miserably. It wasn’t until the proposal was amended to leave the regular-season OT rule as-is and apply it only to the postseason, that the votes came along.

Still, there are more than a few coaches and presumably several owners who frown on having different rules for the regular season and playoffs. And just wait until some team (or teams) miss the playoffs after losing and not getting an OT possession in, say, Week 18.

Remember, when the overtime rule was tweaked in 2010 to prevent teams from winning with a field goal on the first possession, it was instituted for the playoffs only. Two years later, the rule was expanded to account for the regular season.

The chances are good for some rule-evolution history to repeat itself.

A last-minute bid to consider a “continuation” version of overtime – with the game continuing in OT as it stood at the end of regulation – was supported by a handful of coaches, including the Washington Commanders' Ron Rivera and Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh, but wasn’t formally proposed. Goodell didn’t get wind of the alternative model until the Monday night before the Tuesday vote.

Had the continuation theory, along the lines of what Patriots coach Bill Belichick pushed for in previous years, been proposed in the weeks before the annual meetings, maybe at the combine, it might have had a chance. Now it could be a matter of too little, too late.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.

Looking at John Klingberg's impending free agency

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL notebook: Second-chance coaches get opportunity for a career reset

Looking at John Klingberg's impending free agency .
Now that the free agency situations of Josh Manson, Darcy Kuemper, and Ryan Strome have been examined, it’s time to move on to another big name set to headline this offseason’s free agent market: John Klingberg. This is Klingberg’s seventh and final season on the deal worth nearly $30M that he signed after he finished his entry-level contract. The only NHL club Klingberg has known, the Dallas Stars, have given out major contracts to both Esa Lindell and Miro Heiskanen on their blueline. Additionally, the Stars’ cap situation is further complicated by the fact that Tyler Seguin has a $9.

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