Post Black Monday Survey

This has been one of the stranger coaching carousels that we’ve seen. Definitely the strangest since Marty Schottenheimer was fired by San Diego after posting a record of 14-2 (and losing in the first round of the play-offs. Again). In addition to the 3 head coaches and 7 coordinators fired during the season, we had 2 coaches fired whose teams had drafted franchise QB’s 1 & 2 in the draft – which is usually at least a one year pass for mediocre coaches, a currently employed head coach publicly petitioning for the head coaching position on another team THAT STILL HAD THEIR HEAD COACH, another first-time coach fired after only one year (that only happens occasionally), and 2 coaches were fired (or forcibly retired, in the case of Tom Coughlin) just so that the team could promote one of their coordinators the position otherwise they would have been head coach candidates. And let us not forget the Strange Case of Coach Pagano and General Manager Ryan Grigson. So let us start there.

Indianapolis

In Indianapolis, we had a situation where the Head Coach Chuck Pagano had his contract expiring, one would believe that was because he couldn’t work with his General Manager Ryan Grigsen. Since no deal had been done, everyone assumed that he was gone. Additionally, New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton was actively campaigning to be their next head coach. I would say that only the Irsay’s could create such a circus, however I don’t think that they even crack the 10 worst owners much less the top 5. (Actually, a lot of the ownership groups have gotten decidedly better over the past few years, so they are almost certainly within the top 10 worst franchises now.)

Then on the morning of Black Monday, Jim Irsay woke up with the startling revelation that he had an NFL caliber coach and that he didn’t need to get a big splashy name like Sean Payton. So he sat down with Pagano and Grigsen and they all kissed and made up and now everything is hunky-dory.  Go figure. They still have the worst offensive line in the league and will probably get Andrew Luck killed before long. Last season was Luck’s worst as a pro – even before he got hurt. I think that he didn’t put in the effort to stay one of the top QB’s, because he was unhappy about the situation and tired of getting the shit beat out of him every week because of the crappy O-line.

Rating: B+ for keeping Pagano who hasn’t had the best chance due to the personnel that he’s been given by Grigsen. I would probably give a D for keeping Grigson, but if they can agree to work together to get the right players, this could actually be a good thing. Continuity is usually a good thing. Usually.

New Orleans

The New Orleans Saints are in a weird state currently.  Their GM works for them part-time and works for the other professional sports team that the Bensen’s own, the New Orleans Pelicans NHL franchise, the other time. Also, their future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees is without a contract.

So it’s not totally crazy that Head Coach Sean Payton might see another more desirable situation. However, when Irsay decided to play nice with both Pagano and Grigson, Payton had some fences to mend.

New York Giants

So after years of mis-management and underperformance – interrupted by 2 ridiculously improbable Super Bowl wins – the Giants have finally broken ties with Head Coach Tom Coughlin. It was billed as Coughlin retiring, but that was questionable at the time and has been repudiated in everything that has happened since.

The Giants have failed to make the playoffs in each of the last x years except for the 2 years that they won the SuperBowl. Winning the Super Bowl counts for a lot, but when you can’t even make the playoffs year after year, there’s gotta be a breaking point. Add in that Coughlin was 70, 5 years older than the next oldest  head coach – the ever youthful Pete Carroll. The Giants lost at least 4 games by game mismanagement and should have lost a couple more, but their opponents (Dallas) managed it worse.

Before bringing in Ben McAdoo as their offensive coordinator, their offense was moribund. And Coughlin was going to demand that he be able to keep the previous OC, Kevin Gilbride, until Gilbride announced that he was retiring. The offense started out poorly under McAdoo, but once Eli got the hang of it by the second half of the season, it started clicking and has continued to perform admirably.

Going back to the year they won the Super Bowl, Coughlin was almost certainly going to be fired. Just making the playoffs wouldn’t have been enough to save his job. However, winning the Super Bowl is guaranteed to save anyone’s job.

To punctuate the situation, the Giants promoted the offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to Head Coach and he essentially kept the exact same coaching staff as they had last year. I think ‘spitting bullets’ is an appropriate metaphor for Coughlin’s current state. So much so, that he actually interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles job where he’d be able to play the Giants two times every year.

 

 

Summary:

Miami Dolphins – A+ for getting rid of Joe Philbin (although they shouldn’t have even brought him back this year). A+ for getting one of the hottest coordinators for the last 2 or 3 years. This is after they have been spurned by multiple coaches over the last 5-8 years.

Tennessee Titans – C- for keeping interim head coach Mike Mularky as their new head coach. Although I am not as negative on Mularky as some. I thought that he was doing a pretty good job in Buffalo, but wasn’t given the time to bring it together. However, his last 2 HC opportunities turned into complete disasters, so, although I’m not totally negative, I don’t think that things will turn out any better. Especially when he proclaims that he’s bringing back an offense from the 90’s?

Philadelphia Eagles – How Leonard Tose allowed Chip Kelly to have all personnel decisions in Philly is beyond me. That does not work with ANYONE not named Bill Belicheck. Especially with a ‘wet behind the ears’ college head coach like Kelly. But he got what he wanted. And now Kelley’s gone back to the west coast. (More on him later). A- for Doug Pederson, but if you wanted Andy Reid why’d you get rid of him in the first place?

Indianapolis Colts – A+ for coming to their senses and getting Pagano and Grigson on the same page.

New Orleans Saints – D+ for being totally clueless and letting this situation develop with no repercussions.

New York Giants – A- for getting rid of Coughlin and holding onto McAdoo. Downgraded for keeping Spagnuolo as the defensive coordinator.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A for realizing that keeping Dirk Koetter was their first priority. Kudos for also getting rid of Head Coach (and de facto defensive coordinator) Lovie Smith whose defenses have been subpar since the last couple of years in Chicago.

San Francisco 49er’s – D As usual for the current regime, they hired just any guy as their coach and he failed miserably. Now the’ve picked up the failed college coach/retread and will spin the dice with him.

Cleveland Browns – Disappointed that they got rid of Pettine who started out well, but the reports tell of a man over his head. B+ for trying to use the Moneyball approach to building the team. A+ for luring Hue Jackson over as his head coach. D- to all the Cleveland fans who have been disparaging Haslam since he bought the team as “same old Browns”.

Detroit – ??? for keeping Caldwell after Jim Bob Cooter.

San Diego – ??? Why keep mcCoy? Good plan to bring Wisenhunt back.

Rams – D for keeping Fisher and Snead, but Kronke’s attention has been on getting the LA move approved. No what?

Atlanta – after starting 5-0, going 1-10 for the rest of the season is tres troubling.

Dallas – No more excuses for Jason Garrett

Buffalo – Rex Ryan with brother Rob Ryan is an armed thermonuclear device.

Cincinnati – Marvin Lewis is already the second longest tenured coach in the league. He has even said that he would retire after the season if they won the Super Bowl – and I believe him. There are reports that he was offering the Head Coaching position to Hue Jackson after he retired next year, to keep him from leaving. That Jackson split for the dumpster fire in Cleveland speaks volumes about Jackson’s view of Mike Brown’s ownership/management.

Jacksonville – It appears that Gus bradley has one more year to turn it around in Jacksonville. Can you say ‘hot seat’.

 

2015 Coaches Hot Seat – Final Week

Never in my years watching the NFL has there been so much turmoil in the coaching ranks during the season. This has been the year of the NFL Coordinator Terror. So far, we have seen 4 offensive coordinators go – only one of who was fired along with his head coach – and 3 defensive coordinators fired as well as 2 of the more public head coaching firings. (I’m not counting Chip Kelly as a mid-season departure.) Detroit even fired their entire front office mid-season (President Tom Lewan and GM Martin Mayhew). With that intro let’s look at the individual teams.

Fired:

  • Ken Wisenhunt (TEN) – After winning in week one with the rookie #2 draft pick Marcus Mariotta at QB, the Titans looked listless and their offense unimaginative. After a season and a half, it is surprisingly not a question about keeping Wisenhunt even until the end of the season. Former Bills Head Coach Mike Mularky takes over as interim.
  • Joe Philbin (MIA) – Tannenhill has looked like the bad Tannenhill for the listless Dolphins so far this season and Ndomukong Suh has done nothing after becoming the highest paid defensive player in football. It looks like maybe new GM Mike Tannenbaum is reproducing his “success” with the New York Jets. Dan Campbell is a stop-gap and won’t be kept as the head coach next season.
  • Chip Kelly (PHI) – As in all cases for head coaches not named Bill Belicheck (Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren to name a couple), Chip Kelly gets all the personnel powers in addition to his coaching duties and fails miserably.

Gone:

  • Chuck Pagano (IND) – Already being described as on the hot seat before the season even started – despite taking the Colts to the playoffs each of his 4 years in Indy. This is his own preference. Pagano refused a 1-year extension before the season. I imagine (although very few interpret it this way) that he has had it with GM Ryan Grigson who seems to NOT be on the hot seat (but should be) because he has the favor of Irsay. (A recent account describes recently fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton as being forced on Pagano by Grigson.) We’ll see if Irsay changes his mind once he finds out that the best coaching candidates are not interested in this opening.
  • Tom Coughlin (NYG) – 2 time SB winner. Has not made the play-offs in any other season as the Giants Head Coach. GM Ernie Accorsi is being questioned as well.
  • Mike Pettine (CLE) – I think that Pettine has done an admirable job in Cleveland. However, this dysfunctional fan base appears to smell blood, so Haslam may be forced to blow the whole thing up and start again.

Likely Gone:

  • Sean Payton (NO) – How much of the Saints problems are due to Drew Brees declining skills is no longer the burning question in NO. With no run game and a pourous defense, no one seems to care anymore.
  • Jeff Fisher (STL) – Played the Seahawks nicely as always, however, another 7-9 season doesn’t cut it. Unfortunately, the team’s planned move to LA complicates this situation and may let Fisher keep his job.
  • Mike McCoy (SD) – With Wisenhunt as his OC, McCoy lead SD back to the play-offs in 2013. However, last year they regressed and they have gone even further now. This could be the LA effect.

Uncomfortable:

  • Gus Bradley (JAX) – With Blake Bortles starting to get comfortable, the Jags are not getting blown out as much starting towards the end of last season. They are still losing, but they look like they’re going the right direction.
  • Dan Quinn (ATL) – After starting out going 5-0, the Falcons were 1-8 over the last 9 games. Their win against the previously undefeated Carolina Panthers probably quiets any thought of making Quinn a one-and-done HC.
  • Jim Tomsula (SF) – Firing Tomsula after one year would be an admission that administration screwed up with forcing out Jim Harbaugh. I don’t see that happening however much it might be deserved.
  • Rex Ryan (BUF) – Again, it is unlikely that Rex be fired after only one season, but with new owners the Pegulas and Rex’s prior record, it’s not crazy.

Cooling down:

  • Jim Caldwell (DET) – Fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Since then, Jim Bob Cooter has changed the offense to suit Matt Stafford’s skills and they are looking much better. Although the conventional wisdom is the Caldwell is gone after the season, I’m not so sure that Martha Firestone Ford won’t keep him – at least until there’s a new administration in place.
  • Jason Garrett (DAL) – With last year’s OL Coach now in Washington and last year’s OPOY RB DeMarco Murray in Philadelphia, suddenly the Cowboys can’t run the ball anymore. It took almost half a season for Darren MacFadden to get healthy and revitalize the run game, but by then the season was lost. Stephen Jones has commented that you don’t fire a coach and blow up a staff after one losing season. True, but there do need to be changes, whether that is just in the scheme or if the personnel enters int it as well is yet to be seen.
  • Bill O’Brien (HOU) – After totally mismanaging his QB situation to start the season, O’Brien APOLOGIZED to his team (Imagine Belicheck doing that!) and since then they have been winning. They’re currently on track to win the AFC South after looking totally lost earlier. They are remarkably doing this with their 4th starting QB of the season. (The other teams using 4 QB’s this year are the disappointing Ravens and Colts.

Over-acheivers:

Not much to say about these guys; the group name says it all.

  • Jack Del Rio (OAK)
  • Todd Bowles (NYJ)
  • Jay Gruden (WAS)
  • Andy Reid (KC)

Stable:

  • Mike Tomlin (PIT) – If Pittsburgh misses the play-offs again this year, it will be the 3rd time in 4 years. The Rooney’s have always been an incredibly loyal franchise, but at what time do you decide that it’s time to move on? It’s a very small possibility that he’s let go.
  • Mike McCarthy (GB)
  • Gary Kubiak (DEN) – Kubiak was drafted by the Broncos the same year Elway got there and they have been best buddies ever since. No way he gets let go at this point.

Definitely Safe:

  • John Harbaugh (BAL) – Super Bowl Winner in 2012. Before this year, Harbaugh had led the Ravens into the playoffs every year he’s been there except one. This team still plays hard as seen by their win over Pittsburgh last week. The defense has gotten markedly better over the last half of the season. Otherwise, I’d be predicting DC Dean Pees getting fired. I don’t see that now. However, I don’t have the same confidence about OC Marc Trestman.
  • Marvin Lewis (CIN) – Expect OC Hue Jackson to get another shot at a head coaching gig this offseason.
  • Ron Rivera (CAR)
  • Bruce Arians (ARZ)
  • Pete Carroll (SEA) – Super Bowl Winner in 2013
  • Bill Belicheck (NE) – Super Bowl Winner