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Five NFL Coordinators That Are Making a Difference

T.O. Whenham of Doc's Sports Journal

Two weeks into the NFL season there are some coaches who are really earning their money and others who should forfeit their paychecks. I'm not talking about the head coaches. They get all of the credit when things go right and most of the blame when everything goes to hell, but it's the coordinators and even position coaches who do the heavy lifting and can really make the difference between success and terrible failure.

There are the obvious successes so far this year - Rex Ryan has Baltimore's defense looking as good as it ever has and Cam Cameron's offense in San Diego couldn't be doing any better. Some other coaches are getting less press, but they have their players working very well together. Knowing what units are gelling early in the season can only help when it comes to looking for value in betting. Here's a look at five guys to keep your eye on - it could be good for your wallet:

Perry Fewell, Defensive coordinator, Buffalo - The Bills started the season by giving the Patriots a real scare, and then made the Dolphins and Daunte Culpepper look ridiculous. The defense has been better than the offense in Buffalo for a few years now, but Fewell has changed the look of the squad in his first year, and the effects have been positive. J.P. Losman is going to be a decent quarterback, and he has improved immensely this year already -- but it will take time -- and a strong defense will give him the time to mature. From a betting perspective, Fewell and his gang have been a gift. The defense has helped the team go under by a fair margin in both games, and the team has been a winning bet twice despite being fairly large road dogs both times.

Ed Donatell, Defensive coordinator, Atlanta - Donatell performed a miracle when he joined the Falcons in 2004. He turned a squad that was the worst in the NFL into one that was respectable. Not great, but respectable. This year it looks like he finally has the cast of players that he has wanted to really get the job done. The side has completely shut down both Tampa Bay and Carolina - two teams that many had picked to go to the playoffs and do some damage when they got there. Atlanta has covered twice and gone way under twice, and the defense gets the credit. Mike Vick and his offense aren't at full throttle yet, but the defense looks like it is in full form.

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John Marshall, Defensive coordinator, Seattle - This is Marshall's first official year in charge after a year as interim defensive coordinator after Ray Rhodes had a stroke just before last season. The defense was decent for the almost-champs last year, but now Marshall has had a full offseason to institute his schemes and the effects are showing. Matt Hasselbeck has not looked like the star that he has been for a couple of years now and Shaun Alexander isn't at his best yet, but the team is 2-0 thanks entirely to the defense. Shutting down Detroit is no big deal, but limiting the effectiveness of Arizona's offensive fireworks is something. Again, the defense has helped the team go way under twice.

Ron Turner, Offensive Coordinator, Chicago - Turner may not have been the most successful coach in NCAA history at Illinois, but he is working wonders at Soldier Field. In his first year back with the Bears last year he got the running game working, and this year he has turned Rex Grossman into Superman. Two weeks ago everyone was waiting for Grossman to find his spot on the bench. Now they are fitting him for his Pro Bowl uniform. He's been efficient and accurate and poised, and there are almost too many open receivers on passing plays for him to choose from. Chicago has covered twice with incredible ease, and Turner's offense is the reason (helped by a stellar defense, of course).

Troy Calhoun, Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Houston - The Texans haven't won or even covered yet, but there are little things to be positive about with this eternally dismal team. When Gary Kubiak came from Denver this year he brought Calhoun with him. Calhoun had been an offensive assistant for the Broncos. Now he is working very closely with David Carr, and the results are both dramatic and impressive. Carr has all the tools, but he hasn't had the system or the confidence to fully make them work. In his first game under Calhoun he completed two-thirds of his passes and threw a touchdown. Next time out against Indianapolis he completed an unbelievable 85 percent (22-of-26) and hit for three touchdowns. He hasn't thrown an interception yet, and he looks like a whole new player. He's still getting sacked way more than he (or any player) should be, and Calhoun will have to fix that problem, but the change in Carr is very promising. Now just think what Calhoun could be doing if he had Reggie Bush to play with.

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