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.