Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

NFL Coaches: Who should be fired, who should stay

Posted by sanityinjection on December 23, 2008

It’s been a while since my last sports post, so with the final week of the NFL regular season approaching, I will get an early jump on the postseason coaching carousel. Here are my thoughts regarding some of the coaches that will be on the hotseat – who should stay and who should go:

Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys: I have never been a fan of Phillips, but this is only his second season as head coach of the Cowboys. Last year he took them to the playoffs with a 13-3 record. This year, a playoff berth is still up in the air, but a winning season is guaranteed. There are a lot of questions about the Cowboys, but working with owner Jerry Jones is not easy, and Phillips’ decision to take over the play calling on defense has proven to be a good one. Phillips should be given the chance to show what he can do with a maturing Tony Romo if he can stay healthy next year.

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles: Let me put this as bluntly as possible: Andy Reid is not a good head coach. When you look at the talent that has come through Philadelphia over the past ten years, it’s hard to fathom how the Eagles have only been to one Super Bowl (and lost.) Unless of course, you observe Reid’s terrible game management, bizarre decision making, and inability to control volatile players like Terrell Owens. Since 2004, Reid has had only one winning season, and this year the Eagles will likely miss the playoffs. Past success can only count for so much: Reid has failed to improve his team even as the talent level has improved. It’s time for a change in Philadelphia.

Jim Zorn, Washington Redskins: The Redskins’ late season collapse seems worse because of their unexpectedly strong start under new head coach Jim Zorn. However, long time fans will recall that the Redskins never seem to be able to put together a full season under any coach in the last decade. The Redskins can still notch a winning season if they win this weekend, and that is as much as one should expect from a first-year coach. Zorn should stay.

Jim Haslett, St. Louis Rams: Haslett is in an unusual situation. He took over as coach during the 2008 season, but so early on that he has had plenty of time to put his stamp on the team. Unfortunately, the results have been disappointing. This team has been getting worse and worse over the last few years despite some key talents. I like Haslett, but I don’t think he is the right person to turn this team around. Expect a new face in 2009.

Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers: Singletary is the mirror image of Haslett. Since Singletary took over the 49ers, they have gone 4-4 after a 2-5 start under previous coach Mike Nolan. It’s obvious that the players respect Singletary where they did not respect Nolan. Singletary should retain the helm of this team and see what they can do in 2009.

Rod Marinelli, Detroit Lions: This is an easy one. Although departed GM Matt Millen bears the Lion’s share of the blame for the horrendousness of this franchise, 0-15 is still 0-15. Worst of all, the only person who doesn’t seem to see that Marinelli has failed is Marinelli. It will require a new coach, a new GM, and probably a federal bailout to turn this team around. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings: This is the one I struggle most with. On the plus side, the Vikings have improved each year under Childress and will make the playoffs if they win this weekend. On the minus side, Childress is a weak and indecisive coach who has presided over a talented but underachieving team. I do not have confidence in him, but I can’t in good conscience argue that he should be fired if the Vikings do make the playoffs. However, if they lose to the inconsistent Bears and miss the playoffs, then let someone else play with owner Zygi Wilf’s toys in 2009.

Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars: Considered one of the league’s better coaches, but Del Rio has presided over a collapse this season. It’s important to remember that every year Del Rio’s team has had to play in the same division as one of the conference’s two top teams (Indianapolis, and this year Tennessee.) This year’s Jaguars would probably be 8-8 if they played in the NFC West. Del Rio stays, but cannot afford a repeat performance next year.

Romeo Crennel, Cleveland Browns: This is hard for me because I like Crennel a lot and have little sympathy for the long-suffering but classless Cleveland fans. Last year it looked like things were turning around for Crennel and the Browns with their first winning season in, well, forever. But that raised expectations for this year, and Crennel’s team has failed to deliver, slumping back into the mediocrity Browns fans are used to. Crennel himself has acknowledged that injuries are not an excuse. Sadly, it seems 2007 was a fluke and not a sign of things to come. After four years, it’s time to say goodbye to Crennel and let someone else take over the young talent on this team.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: Lewis was Cincinnati’s hero in 2005 when the Bengals won their first division title since the Sam Wyche/Boomer Esiason days. However, since then the team has done nothing but get worse each year. Ownership clearly deserves some of the blame, and injuries have been a factor. But there’s also been a moral vacuum in Cincinnati, with Lewis all too willing to put criminals and thugs such as Chris Henry on the field. That kind of thing kills your team from the inside. Even Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, once the voice of this team, now wants out. The Bengals need new leadership, though I suspect owner Mike Brown will fail to pull the trigger on Lewis because he is too cheap to pay more money for a new coach. And that right there tells you everything you need to know about the Bengals.

Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers: Though the Chargers can still make the playoffs with a win this week, they do so at 8-8, a far cry from the last four years of winning seasons. As almost any San Diego fan will tell you, the Chargers never should have hired Turner to replace Marty Schottenheimer. Turner is a good offensive coordinator and possibly the best of all time at developing young quarterbacks, but he is not and never has been a  good head coach. However, Chargers management has staked too much of their credibility on Turner to let him go now.  I expect he will stay, but it’s only delaying the inevitable. Turner has allowed the Chargers to go from being a team that other clubs feared to one that nobody fears. Better to cut the losses now and let the rebuilding begin, perhaps under defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

Herm Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs: This is an easy one. Each year under Edwards has been worse than the last. This is Edwards’ second stint as a head coach after abandoning the New York Jets. There shouldn’t be a third.

Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have been awful since Jon Gruden left, and they’re still awful. Owner Al Davis is a big part of that. Yet there are sparks of real talent in Oakland. Davis has never been one to retain interim coaches such as Cable, preferring to make a big noisy splash hiring. But Davis also has a hard time finding coaches who can work with him (hence the recently departed Lane Kiffin.) If his relationship with Cable is good, he should give him a chance. Take a look at the Raiders’ schedule this year, and you will wonder how any coach could have put together a winning record. At least Cable seems to be able to motivate his players. Besides, isn’t it good for the NFL to have a coach whose nickname is “The Cable Guy”? 🙂

Eric Mangini, New York Jets: The Jets can still make the playoffs, but in New York the calls for Mangini’s ouster have already begun. Consider this: The Jets under Mangini and previous coach Herm Edwards have finished as follows since 2004: 10-6, 4-12, 10-6, 4-12. Care to take a guess what their record will be with a win this weekend? Granted, the Jets were expected to do well this year with an influx of talent, but I think it would be premature to dismiss Mangini (though I am not a fan of his.) If the Jets regress again next year, then a change will be in order.

Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills: I didn’t believe in Jauron when he was with the Bears, and I don’t believe in him now that he’s with the Bills. Jauron is headed for his third straight 7-9 season, and that can’t be good enough for this once proud franchise. He has poisoned the Bills’ revival in its cradle, particularly with his ridiculous indecisiveness over the last two seasons at the QB position. Jauron should be given the boot 5 seconds after the season ends. I hear Bill Cowher is available.

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13 Responses to “NFL Coaches: Who should be fired, who should stay”

  1. I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tom Stanley

  2. tophatal said

    Jerry Jones has all but said that Wade Phillips’ll remain as the team’s head coach come what may.
    As to the likes of Crennell ……he’s gone !
    Marvin Lewis may well stay but much of that’ll predicated on the ownership and the thinking of the GM. The same can be said of all the other candidates that you’ve mentioned.

    tophatal ……………………

  3. spwebdesign said

    Okay, I’ll take the bait, as I finally have some free time. And now that I’m a coach myself (Defensive Coordinator of the Kings College London Regents), I can look at this with a fresh perspective.

    Wade Phillips: The problem in Dallas is not the head coach. The coordinators have been questionable, and that very much includes Jason Garrett. Phillips made the right call assuming playcalling duties on defense. It’s a pity he doesn’t wield enough influence to can Garrett, as well. The Cowboys are a very talented team, even when decimated by injuries as they have been for chunks of the season, and they have not been using their assets on offense correctly. Phillips absolutely deserves another go, but Jerry Jones needs to evaluate his staff and realize that offense is where the team is coming up short.

    Andy Reid: Reid is not a brilliant coach, no, but he is a good manager. Yes, I know he uses the clock poorly, etc., but he is brilliant at managing his players, getting them to buy into his system, and putting them in a position to win. As long as the team remains competitive, Reid should remain the coach. Past success counts for that much. Keep in mind, if Reid goes, McNabb and Jim Johnson are likely to follow, and that would be devastating to Philly’s prospects for a few years.

    Jim Zorn: I think Zorn has done a brilliant job this year. The Redskins have exceeded expectations in a very difficult division. His players have bought into the system, and he has finally turned Jason Campbell into a good NFL QB. With another good draft to restock key positions where injuries and age hurt them this year, Zorn’s Redskins could finally be in a position to make a run for a few seasons.

    Jim Haslett: I like Haslett, but clearly the problems in St. Louis run too deep for any one person to fix. That said, Haslett has a history of turning bad teams around. Still, I think the Rams need a complete housecleaning from top to bottom.

    Mike Singletary: It only took two or three games for Singletary to turn the hapless Niners into a strong football team. He has done for the Niners what Whisenhunt has done for the Cardinals: instill a no-nonsense, blue-collar football attitude. Singletary was one of the two coaches I wanted the Chargers to hire when Marty was fired, and he is proving to me now that he would have been a good choice.

    Rod Marinelli: How can you say that “the only person who doesn’t seem to see that Marinelli has failed is Marinelli”? Seems to me that every time I hear him speak, he is taking the blame for his team’s performance. He’s got one of the worst rosters in the NFL thanks to Millen, but he’s not blaming anyone, not Millen, not the players, no one but himself. He’s a classy guy. Detroit needs more than a classy guy, though. Bring back Wayne Fontes!

    Brad Childress: I have never been a fan of Childress. The team’s performance this year will be enough to justify keeping him around for next season, but I don’t think the Vikings will be a serious threat to make a run as long as long as Childress is coach. That said, with a reliable passing game and pass defense, he could ride the talent. Right now, the Vikings are as one dimensional as it gets.

    Jack Del Rio: I like Del Rio, but I think the time may have come to say goodbye. I thought at the beginning of the season that the expectations for the Jaguars were overblown, so their collapse isn’t all on the coach. The fact is, the Jaguars are an old team, and their window closed last season. Jacksonville needs to rebuild, and that includes the coach.

    Romeo Crennel: I’m amused that you pile on Reid for game mismanagement but don’t even bring it up with Crennel. Crennel is one of the worst game managers I have ever seen. I thought maybe last year’s results indicated he had learned something, but then I wasn’t able to watch as many games last year. I realized in week 3 or 4 this season, watching Crennel make a couple of boneheaded decisions that cost the Browns any chance of winning the game, that last year was a fluke.

    Marvin Lewis: I’ve always like Marvin Lewis. He would be a great coach on a disciplined, veteran team. He is a bad fit in Cincinnati. That organization needs someone with an iron fist, some no-nonsense disciplinarian, to come in and right the ship.

    Norv Turner: You may be surprised to learn that I disagree with you completely. Turner won me over this year. Is he preferable to Marty? No, but most Chargers fans have moved on. Turner has actually done a pretty good coaching job this year. His gametime decisions, but for a few, have been spot on. He has shown aggressiveness when called for, and has kept the team on an even keel. The only thing I wish is that he were a bit better at motivating the troops: he’s not the type to light a fire under anyone’s ass. So what’s wrong with the Chargers, then? Easy. (1) Ted Cottrell couldn’t coach a defense if you put 11 Hall of Famers in their prime back there. He was easily the worst Chargers’ DC since the infamous Dave Adolph. (2) Injuries, especially to the OL, have cost the team in terms of consistency. The team rarely fired on all cylinders, moving along in spurts in all phases of the game. LT hasn’t been healthy all year, and Gates wasn’t healthy the first half of the season, but the injuries to the OL and lack of adequate depth there (probably the only position where depth is an issue) have hurt the most. (3) Bad luck. The Hochuli call; phantom PI calls at the end of the Saints and Falcons games; last minute heroics by Delhomme, Roethlisberger, and Manning; etc. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and the Chargers haven’t had any luck go their way this year except for the last KC game. Keep in mind: The Chargers this season have close last minute losses in something like 6 of their games, haven’t lost by more than 10, have lost only to playoff-caliber teams, and have blown out 3 playoff caliber teams. Sure, the Chargers have completely failed to live up to expectations and haven’t gotten the job done, but they are a handful of broken plays and missed calls from being something like 12-4. Turner should not be scapegoated for the Chargers’ shortcomings this season, and I would seriously question management’s credibility and commitment to winning if they dismissed him.

    Herm Edwards: Everyone knew this was a rebuilding year for the Chiefs. Nobody expected anything from them at all. And yet they are turning heads. The offense is gaining confidence and the defense is tough — except at the ends of games. I think Edwards deserves a lot of credit for how well the Chiefs are playing. Personally, I would love to see him get fired, because with the way his players respond to him the Chiefs are the only team in the division I see putting a scare on the Chargers in the next couple of seasons.

    Tom Cable: Cable seems like a nice guy, but his coaching credentials are a joke. If he stays, it’s only because Davis couldn’t find anyone else willing to be his lackey. Cable will be gone. I keep hearing rumors about Gilbride going to Oakland. I hope it happens, as that is guaranteed to keep the Raiders down for another 4 years. My fear is that Davis will have some sense knocked into him and hire someone like Jim Fassell or Rex Ryan.

    Eric Mangini: The biggest problem with the Jets is that they let go Pennington and brought in Favre. That was a boneheaded move that may end up costing them the division. Unfortunately for Mangini, it also ballooned expectations for him, as fans are so enamoured of Favre that they fail to see that he has been an absolutely horrible QB for 3 of the past 4 seasons. That said, I think Mangini will survive Favre and be given one more year to make something of the Jets.

    Dick Jauron: The Bills were the team to beat before they were done in by injuries. Their collapse should not have been so extreme, so some of that has to go on Jauron. But the Bills do play in a very competitive division and had further distractions with the whole Toronto situation. Despite the second half collapse, Jauron has the team playing hard week in and week out. He deserves another season to see what he can do with more depth and a healthy Trent Edwards. Hell, I’d give him an extension just for pulling out that win in Denver!

    Is it safe to assume that you don’t think the coaches you didn’t mention should be in the hotseat? Because, if so, I disagree about some of them. Obviously, Mike Holmgren is a moot issue since he’s not coming back, and it’s equally pointless to discuss Ken Whisenhunt, Mike White, John Fox, Tom Coughlin (I still think he’s a bad coach), Jeff Fisher (in my opinion, the best coach in the NFL), Tony Dungy, Tony Sparano, Bill Belichick (probably his finest coaching job this season), Mike Tomlin, Lovie Smith, or John Harbaugh. However, the others shouldn’t get too comfortable.

    Mike Shanahan: Yes, the Broncos have been decimated by injuries and still lead the division for 5 more days. Yes, Shanahan is a brilliant playcaller and is the type of aggressive, always-play-to-win type that would rather lose by the gutsy call than by playing it safe. But someone deserves some flak for completely ignoring the defensive side of the ball, and Shanahan’s overconfidence sometimes hurts the team. Obviously he won’t be gone after this season, but Denver’s complete collapse this year will add to the growing rumbling in the fanbase, and if the Broncos fail to capture the division title yet again next season I would not be surprised to see a change made in Denver.

    Gary Kubiak: Expectations were high for Kubiak in Houston, and he has failed to come close to them. Sure, the team has shown improvement every year and showed promise early in the season, but that’s not enough. An opportunity gaped with Indianapolis and Jacksonville faltering early on, and Houston seemed to run away from it. Clearly, the worst point in the season was the 3-TD collapse at the end of the game against Indianapolis. Yes, Sage Rosenfels gave the game away with his turnovers, but he should not have been in such a position. Up by three scores against a defense that was struggling versus the run, the Texans should have been grinding out the ball. This and similar situations are all on coaching. The Texans have too much talent to be underperforming like this. Kubiak will most likely get another season, but I might consider making a change now.

    Jon Gruden: Gruden is a good head coach, but he can’t be comfortable right now. The Buccaneers were sitting pretty three weeks ago, but then embarrassing losses to the Panthers and Chargers and a heartbreaker to the Falcons have Tampa teetering on the edge. It’s not that long ago since the Glazers fired Dungy because all he could do was win divisions and not Super Bowls. Gruden has got to be wondering what kind of a future he has after this year’s collapse, even if the Bucs do secure a wild card berth.

    Sean Payton: Payton is a good head coach. He coaches in arguably the toughest division in football and has had to deal with numerous injuries to key players. For these reasons, he stays. Still, his seat is getting warm. The Saints have a lot of talent and expectations were sky-high. And if it weren’t for Drew Brees’ magic season, the Saints would probably have about four more losses. That doesn’t speak well of the coaching staff. If the Saints don’t do better next season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a change at the top.

    Mike McCarthy: The Packers should have been vying with the Bears for the NFC Norris Division. While Rodgers had a few bad games, certainly not as many as Favre had in previous seasons. The Packers don’t really have significant injuries to blame, nor a brutal schedule. They have simply underperformed. I don’t think McCarthy will get canned this season, but his seat must certainly be uncomfortably warm.

  4. sanityinjection said

    Update: Redskins management have announced that Jim Zorn will be returning for another year as head coach. Also, the announcement that Jacksonville’s personnel chief is leaving means Del Rio will be staying on there. There are signs that the players may be losing confidence in him, but recent history suggests that can be overcome (See Coughlin, Tom.)

    Spwebdesign – I knew I could count on you for some comments on this topic. I would comment that in some cases it seems like you are judging performance based on this season where I am looking more at trends over time. Any coach can have one good or bad year for any number of reasons.

    I think you’re looking at Kansas City through rather rosy glasses. No, they aren’t as pathetic as the Lions or the Browns, but the “improvements” you cite are pretty minute. Tyler Thigpen and Mark Bradley have been pleasant surprises, so it’s ironic that the GM got the ax before Edwards.

    With regard to the Jets, it’s important to realize that the team was going to get rid of Pennington anyway. If it hadn’t been Favre coming in, it would have been someone else. I agree the Pennington move was a bad one, and Favre obviously doesn’t have a whole season of football left in him. But I do believe that when you have an influx of new talent, sometimes it takes more than one season for them to gel.

    I do not think any of the last five coaches you mentioned will be or should be fired. They all have the confidence of their ownership. Gary Kubiak in particular is still viewed as the best thing that’s ever happened to the Texans, and one can hardly fault Mike McCarthy for the fact that the Packers have had some growing pains in the first year of the post-Favre era.

  5. spwebdesign said

    Just a quick follow-up: My point about the last coaches isn’t that they should be fired, but that they are at least as much on the hotseat as some of the other coaches you added. I nearly added Lovie Smith to the list as well, though there’s no way he’ll be fired.

    As for McCarthy, I’m not sure I buy your argument. The QB position hasn’t let the Packers down. Rodgers has performed as well as or better than Favre did at any point in the last 3 years. Rather, the rest of the team, especially the talented defense, took a step backwards. I can’t conceive how that might be pinned on Favre’s absence rather than the coaching staff.

    I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of looking at a non-Chargers AFC West team with rosy glasses before!

    Merry Christmas! May all our favorite teams clinch playoff berths this holiday weekend!

  6. sanityinjection said

    More updates: It looks like Andy Reid, Brad Childress, and Norv Turner are safe now that their teams are in the playoffs. Singletary has also been retained for 2009, much to his players’ approval. Rod Marinelli and Romeo Crennel are gone, as we expected – though I have a feeling we’ve not seen the last of Crennel as a head coach. Eric Mangini has also been given the ax in New York. No word yet on the rest.

  7. tubby said

    You guys need to start a football blog! With all due respect, I don’t think football is insane enough – comparably speaking – to need any injections from ye old moderator. But that’s just me.

  8. sanityinjection said

    Sadly, insanity seems to rear its ugly head in almost all walks of life. Certainly when professional athletes making millions complain about being underpaid, insanity has found a comfy home. But although there will be sports posts from time to time, I don’t intend to turn this into a football blog. At this time of year, though, there’s arguably more to talk about in the world of sports than in politics.

  9. sanityinjection said

    Update: In a surprise move, the Denver Broncos have fired longtime coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan is arguably the most successful coach in Broncos history with two Super Bowl vicories, so expect him to be hired by one of the other teams with a head coaching vacancy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands in Kansas City, assuming Herm Edwards is canned, or Cleveland now that Bill Cowher has turned down the Browns.

  10. sanityinjection said

    Update: Bills ownership has announced that Dick Jauron will be back for at least one more year in Buffalo. I find this inexplicable. Three straight losing seasons? Please tell me wherein lies the improvement?

    I’m not the only one puzzled. Here’s what Gregg Easterbrook had to say:

    “Watching Bill Belichick utterly outcoach Dick Jauron at Buffalo was like watching Itzhak Perlman give a violin lesson to an 8-year-old…Bill Belichick worked the details of the wind, Dick “Cheerio, Chaps” Jauron seemed oblivious to it…Jauron is 57-77, has just one winning season in his entire coaching career and has led the Bills to three consecutive losing seasons. On game days, Jauron looks bored on the sideline. The AFC East test of manhood is how you play against New England: Jauron is 0-6 versus the Patriots, and the Bills have been outscored 174-50 in those games. Game in and game out against New England under Jauron, the Bills simply roll over.”

  11. sanityinjection said

    Gregg Easterbrook is back trying to understand why Mike Shanahan got fired but Dick Jauron got a raise:

    “If you can explain why Mike Shanahan was fired while Dick “Cheerio, Chaps” Jauron kept his job, raise your hand. Shanahan has a career record of 154-103 and eight postseason wins, including two Super Bowl rings; with Mike Holmgren’s resignation taking effect the day before, Shanahan was fired while being the winningest active coach in the NFL. Jauron has a career record of 57-77, has never recorded a postseason victory, and is 1-7 lifetime in terms of producing winning seasons. The Broncos might have collapsed in December 2008, and Shanahan might possess an insufferable ego, but the defining aspect of his tenure at Denver was playoff season after playoff season. Buffalo has not reached the postseason in a decade, and performed much worse down the stretch than Denver did, losing eight of its last 10 games, yet Jauron got a raise! Ego is not Jauron’s problem — he is mild-mannered to the point of being invisible. At Buffalo he has produced three years of milquetoast teams that consistently rolled over in pressure games. Jauron’s only notable skill is making excuses, so perhaps he is already thinking up reasons why the 2009 season will be a disappointment.”

  12. sanityinjection said

    Update: Eric Mangini will be the new coach of the Cleveland Browns. Apparently they didn’t think he did such a terrible job in New York.

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    […]NFL Coaches: Who should be fired, who should stay « Sanity Injection[…]…

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