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Examining the Coaching Changes in the NFL

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While Black Monday came and went with only two coaches getting fired, nearly 25% of NFL head coaches have lost their jobs in the past two months. That doesn’t include jobs in Cincinnati and Tennessee that were nearly open until the owners changed course. In the case of the Titans Bud Adams absolutely made the right decision in keeping Jeff Fisher. Fisher is one of the best head coaches in football and would’ve been out of work about 15 minutes before landing another job. On the flip-side of that is Marvin Lewis with the Bengals. Lewis’ contract ran out and Bengals’ owner Mike Brown re-upped his deal for 2 more years. Lewis has never had a good scheme nor much success. His career record is under .500 and would rather attempt reforming convicts instead of winning football games. The way that this season ended in Cincinnati, there will be major changes coming, but the most needed one, head coach, won’t be.

Dallas Cowboys:

Fired: Wade Phillips

Replaced By: Jason Garrett

Wade Phillips isn’t a bad coach; he’s just a bad head coach. Wade knows defense, knows how to gameplan for an offense, and knows how to run a defensive unit. Unfortunately, for as much as he knows on defense, he knows as much as my sister’s cat about how to run a clubhouse. He is too nice for his own good and has consistently proven he is excellen at getting the least out of the most. Phillips was fired back in November, but should’ve been fired again in December, and a 3rd time in January just to be safe. Jason Garrett takes over and at least looks the part of a disciplinarian who will have the Cowboys both physically and mentally tougher. It will remain to be seen how things go when he and King Jerry have a disagreement on draft day, but. Garrett led the Cowboys to a relatively strong finish even without a handful of  key offensive weapons. Next season will go a long way to determining if the one-time golden boy, turned afterthought, turned back into the golden boy will be a success in this league, but early returns are positive. The Cowboys should have a load of talent and are out of excuses. That said, I think Jerry Got this one right. Grade: A-

Minnesota Vikings:

Fired: Brad Childress

Replaced By: Leslie Frazier

Everyone has a Brad Childress in their family. He’s the uncle that comes around during Christmas and is just coherent enough not to be institutionalized, but creepy enough that you keep a 12 foot perimeter at all times. Judging by his interviews, you would expect to see that face staring back at you from through prison glass. The only positive thing that can be said about Childress is that nobody died on his watch like occurred under previous head coach, then offensive line coach Mike Tice. The Vikings replaced Childress with Leslie Frazier who to this point in his career has always been the bridesmaid, never the bride. Frazier for years had been the go-to candidate to satisfy the Rooney Rule.  He had been the token interview so many times Vince Young ran out of fingers and toes trying to add the number. Frazier coached the Vikings to a 3-3 record in the interim role. A definite improvement, but when you’re driving a Yugo, anything is an improvement.  I think Frazier is in a tough spot here because the Vikings front office is a revolving door of garbage. There is no one guy at the top, instead they use a committee approach. If the federal government is any guide, you will see about how well this will turn out. It’s a shame for Frazier because I see his tenure in Minnesota being a short one due to how bad I perceive the Vikings to be. He won’t get a fair shake and now he will have to split the role of token go-to interview with Perry Fewell. Grade: C

Cleveland Browns:

Fired: Eric Mangini

Replaced By: Pat Shurmur

Eric Mangini’s fire and brimstone, slash and burn style certainly didn’t sit well with most Browns fans. Mangini, to his credit stuck by his words and although it didn’t show up in the standings, did a lot to change the culture of the Browns. Holmgren was fair with Mangini almost to a fault. It was certain last year that he was not the man for the job, but he got a stay of execution through the 2010 season. A season that, while wasted, did help Holmgren get his bearings with the Browns and evaluate for the future. When Mangini was finally let go, Browns fans were more excited than Rex Ryan at a shoe store. For those unaware, it may be shocking to realize, but the Browns have the strongest fan-base in professional football and have been voted the most loyal fans by numerous publications. Anywhere you go, you will run into a Browns fan. The most prominent sports organization in the USA is the Browns Backers with upwards of 100,000 members worldwide. Sure the team hasn’t been relevant in a while, but the fans are still proud. Pride paired with having Mike Holmgren in the building, meant that fans assumed Cleveland was in play for big name head coaches like Jon Gruden & Bill Cowher. Sadly for Browns fans, the coaching search ended much like most of the past 20 or so seasons, in disappointment with the hiring of Pat Shurmur. Holmgren had a long-relationship with Shurmur’s late-uncle Fritz which may have played into the decision. Nepotism aside, Shurmur may not be a bad hire for the team. He’s not a big name and obviously this hire has the feel of a Holmgren yes-man, but he brings an energy and coaching philosophy to the Browns that they haven’t seen in quite a while. Shurmur understands the importance of passing the ball in today’s game. How he will do that remains to be seen as there isn’t a quarterback on the team that has the ability to lead with their arm. The fact that he has full play calling control is a bit scary as well, but that’s all part of the gamble. Holmgren is all-in with this hire. The scapegoats are gone and any failure from here on out is squarely on him. Browns fans are with him, for now, hoping that he can pull a rabbit out of his hat yet again. Grade: B-

Denver Broncos:

Fired: Josh McDaniels

Replaced By: John Fox

When John Elway took the job of front-office czar writers were quick to point out how their “insider sources” were breaking ribs from laughing so hard. They skewered Broncos owner Pat Bowlen for turning the keys over to a guy with no NFL front office experience. I think John will get the last laugh though. He has been a success in every venture he has been a part of and nailed this coaching hire. John Fox is exactly what the Broncos needed when they were hypnotized by the googley-eyes of Josh McDaniels. It’s not that McDaniels is a bad coach, in fact, he has a fantastic offensive mind. The problem is that he was given too much too soon and went power crazy. If I were a team looking for an offensive coordinator he would be atop my list of candidates. The Broncos under Mike Shanahan, and then again under McDaniels always had top-flight offenses, but literally couldn’t stop anyone on defense. One game, the Colts suited up a 63 year old fan from Muncie who proceeded to rush for 214 yards and 3 TDs. When they hired McDaniels it was between him and current Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, they made the wrong choice then. However, with the way things turned out they should be glad that they screwed that one up. John Fox is an even better coach who knows how to turn a team around and build a defense. The 2-14 season that led to his dismissal from the Panthers can be chalked up to the owner forcing him into a youth movement. So far, it’s John Elway 1, Writers 0. Grade: A

San Francisco 49ers:

Fired: Mike Singletary

Replaced By: Jim Harbaugh

What a difference a year makes. Last year the 49ers were considered the overwhelming favorites in the CFL South and Samurai Mike looked like he would be a mainstay on the San Francisco sideline for quite a while. Flash-forward to today; Singletary is looking for a job, and the chic college coach-du-jour Jim Harbaugh has taken over the 49er’s ship. Generally speaking giving the reigns to a college coach with no NFL experience ends in failure, but I love this hire. Jim Harbaugh did an outstanding job at Stanford but was always out of place. He won with the Cardinal because he’s a winner but always belonged in the NFL. His brother John is having tremendous success with the Baltimore Ravens, and I think that Jim is an even better coach. San Francisco has a lot of gaps to fill, namely at the quarterback position, but I don’t think it will be long until San Francisco is the class of the CFL South… maybe by then it will regain it’s name as the NFC West. Grade: A+

Carolina Panthers:

Fired: John Fox

Replaced By: Ron Rivera

The tireless question around Christmas-time is: “what do you get the person who has everything?” In the case of the Panthers, the question should be: “what do you get the person who has nothing and isn’t all that upset about it?” The answer: Ron Rivera. John Fox was pushed out the door by Carolina owner Jerry Richardson because he didn’t care for Jimmy Clausen and had no interest in playing along with the youth movement, so Richardson found a guy who is. Rivera is the 2nd Rooney Rule scapegoat to get a head coaching job this offseason and brings a tremendous amount of defensive experience to the table. He will need to find a talented offensive coordinator dumb enough to place his eggs in the Panthers basket and trick him into staying. Without an offensive identity and the fact that they are in the same division as the Saints, Falcons, and resurgent Bucs, the Panthers are doomed. The cupboard in Carolina is nearly as bare as can be, but I will say one thing for Rivera. Even though he leaves a relatively successful San Diego organization for the 2-14 Panthers, as long as Norv Turner is  head coach of the Chargers, Rivera will have a better chance of winning a Super Bowl regardless of where he is. Someone had to finally give Rivera a chance, might as well be the Panthers. Grade: C-

Oakland Raiders

Fired: Tom Cable

Replaced By: Master Splinter

Coming into the season, the Raiders hadn’t won more than 5 games in a year since 2002. Needless to say, they surprised a lot of so called experts by finishing 8-8 with a perfect 6-0 in the AFC West. Al Davis didn’t care; granted he’s been clinically dead since 2005. His dementia from beyond the grave led to drafting the unstoppable tandem of JaMarcus Russell and Darius Heyward-Bey. Despite his best efforts Tom Cable was able to pull 8 wins out of somewhere. For his miracle, he was granted reprieve from his duties and allowed to co-mingle with actual living humans. The Raiders were the only team left without a head coach until Al Davis reached out and hired the adopted father of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Davis doesn’t use Twitter, instead he sends notes to the newspaper with letters cut out of magazines. In his latest, he defended his hire by saying: “I have a lot in common with Master Splinter, we both taught baby reptiles our ninjutsu skills, although I taught mine to an iguana named Morty.” The rest of the note was just a bunch of letters glued next to each other in random order with the sentence “I like soundzzzzz” written at the end. The Raiders don’t have a pick until the 2nd round of the upcoming draft, but there is almost no doubt that they will trade every draft pick they have for the next 3 years to get into the first round to select JaMarcus Russell 2.0, aka Cam Newton. I’ll let Al grade his own paper on this one… Al, what do you say? Grade: LZQ


3 Responses to “Examining the Coaching Changes in the NFL”

  1. “So far, it’s John Elway 1, Writers 0” – Sounds like you’ll be riding the J-E train for the rest of eternity.

    The Master Splinter comment was good…and Al Davis, actually kind of resembles Master Splinter.I guess I’m confused, how did OAKland go 6-0 in the division, and yet Kansas City won the Division?

    Posted by Bobby Digital | January 17, 2011, 10:24 am
    • Seems pretty odd about Oakland.

      They were 6-0 in division, 2-8 outside of division. Also odd is that San Diego led the entire NFL in offensive yards and least amount of yards given up, yet as you mentioned, Kansas City won the AFC West, and SD missed the playoffs.

      Posted by Jason Marlo | January 17, 2011, 10:56 am
  2. Also, I haven’t seen/read anywhere that the Shurmur hire was “Bad”, persay, just it wasn’t the atractive-big name hire some pundits expected….and I hardly doubt people were on ledges after this one….it’s not he hired WADE PHILLIPS!

    Posted by Bobby Digital | January 17, 2011, 10:27 am

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