After a record-tying run of new coaches this offseason, the NFL's coaching profile has been undeniably altered for the near future.
The next wave of coaches is less gray and not as experienced but probably more charismatic and certainly more in touch with the times.
When Mike Shanahan, 56, exited the Denver Broncos in late December, the deposed coach said he hoped to learn how to e-mail in his newfound spare time. When Raheem Morris, 32, was introduced as the next coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few weeks later, he said he listens to the same music as his players and therefore marches to the same beat.
Sign of the times: Morris, who went from secondary coach with the Bucs to defensive coordinator to head coach in a month's time, is replacing Jon Gruden, who took Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl summit six years ago.
In Denver, Josh McDaniels, a 32-year-old wunderkind who, as offensive coordinator, coached New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel to 11 wins this season, is taking over for Shanahan, who won back-to-back Super Bowls a decade ago with the Broncos.
Morris and McDaniels represent the new, energized face of the league's coaching fraternity. The fourth- and sixth-youngest coaches in league history, respectively, they will headline a spate of youthful first-time NFL head coaches in 2009.
"Raheem can relate to today's NFL player," Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said at Morris' introduction. "The game has changed a lot, and it's always changing. In the NFL, we believe, if you don't adapt to those changes, you can't compete."
Youth is not the biggest break with tradition, however. Shanahan was 35 when he became head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988. Don Shula was 33 when he took over the Baltimore Colts in 1963.
But the lack of head coaching experience might be.
Todd Haley became the seventh first-time head coach of the 11 hired for 2009 when he was named Friday to guide the Kansas City Chiefs. In the past two years, 11 of the past 15 NFL vacancies have gone to first-timers, including John Harbaugh with the Ravens.
By comparison, none of the 11 new coaches in 1997 was a first-timer. Over a three-year period, from 1997 to 1999, there were just five first-time coaches among 24 hires.
Which makes 2008 all the more remarkable. None of last season's four head coaching hires - Harbaugh with the Ravens, Tony Sparano with the Miami Dolphins, Mike Smith with the Atlanta Falcons and Jim Zorn with the Washington Redskins - had held the position before at any level. More incredibly, all four finished .500 or better, and only Zorn's Redskins missed the playoffs.
"Until this year, the success of first-year head coaches - particularly in the first year - has not been good," said Ravens president Dick Cass, who researched that territory when the team fired Brian Billick after the 2007 season.
In the search for Billick's successor, the Ravens included head coaching experience on the list of criteria. Absent a big-name candidate - with Bill Cowher declining to participate - the team determined that Harbaugh's resume made head coaching experience a moot point. Reaching the AFC championship game in his first season made it an exclamation point.
Harbaugh, at 46, was the youngest of the four. Zorn was the oldest at 55. The common denominator wasn't age, though. It was preparation.
"They were first-time head coaches, but they still had tremendous coaching experience," Cass said. "All had been coaching their entire adult lives."
Bob LaMonte, who represents seven current head coaches, six coordinators and five general managers in the league, said the NFL has undergone a subtle shift in coaching authority since the advent of the salary cap in 1993.
As head coaches devoted more time to off-field issues such as the cap, free agency and setting up offseason programs, coordinators got more meat in their jobs.
"Football went from a six-month job to a 12-month job," LaMonte said. "What that led to was the elevation of coordinators becoming head coaches in their own right. So the leap was not so great to go from coordinator to head coach as it had been in the past."
McDaniels, 41/2 months older than Morris, was offensive coordinator for three years in New England during an eight-year stay with Bill Belichick. Morris, who chest-bumps his players on the sideline, was a coordinator for two weeks with Tampa Bay and for one season (2006) at Kansas State. Among his mentors is the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin, who, at 36, is the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl.
"I'm going to be Raheem Morris," Morris said at his first news conference. " ... I can relate to these guys. They relate to me. We move well together."
McDaniels said he'll focus on the message, and the message will have a lot to do with preparation.
"The way I coach and try to lead is by being more prepared than everybody else, trying to do that on a daily basis because I think that is what players respond to," he said at his introductory conference.