With the end of the NFL regular season comes the dreaded Black Monday. Which coaches will get the call that their services are no longer needed? Will certain star college coaches be given a chance to step up to the elite level that is the National Football League? Or will the canned coaches, with their less than stellar performances, simply be shuffled around to different teams? The likely scenario is a combination of the two.
The 2013 season’s Black Monday said goodbye to five head coaches: Washington’s Mike Shanahan, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier, Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano, Detroit’s Jim Schwartz and Cleveland’s Rob Chudzinski. The Houston Texans didn’t wait until Monday to fire their head coach; they released Gary Kubiak late in the season. The only silver lining for the Texans horrible season is that their 2-14 record buys them the top pick in the upcoming draft.
Most of the firings came as no surprise to the public as the combined record of all six teams seeking to fill their head coaching spots are a whopping 24-71-1. Cleveland’s choice however did come as a shock to their now former coach, Rob Chudzinski, who said “I was shocked and disappointed to hear the news that I was fired. I am a Cleveland Brown to the core, and always will be. It was an honor to lead our players and coaches, and I appreciate their dedication and sacrifice. I was more excited than ever for this team, as I know we were building a great foundation for future success.” Unfortunately for him, any future success of the Browns won’t be attributed to his coaching.
It seems there are several factors that come into play during the decision making process of “fire or hire.” The most obvious – the record. If your team is 2-14 two years in a row, the chances of you keeping your job are slim to none. Interestingly enough, the quarterbacks on all six teams turned in less than stellar performances during the 2013 season. This begs the question:
If the QB tanks, is that a sign that the coach will get fired?
Quite possibly. Unfortunately many coaches don’t have the luxury of choosing their QB – they inherit them. Which leads me to my next question.
Are the owners not setting up their new coaches for failure when they dump a team with a dud of a QB into your lap and expect an immediate turnaround?
With salary caps and the constant onslaught of injuries, replacing that dud of a quarterback is easier said than done. Granted, a team CAN make it to the big game without a decent QB at the helm – as long as other facets of the team dynamic steps up. The 2010 Chicago Bears might as well of had their all-star middle linebacker Brian Urlacher at the QB spot instead of Rex Grossman, or Kyle Orton, or Grossman – it was hard to keep it straight. As the leader of the Bears defense, Urlacher and crew (with some help from rookie Devin Hester on special teams) dominated the field. Not only did they keep their opponents scoring at bay, they forced turnovers and scored on interceptions. All while Orton/Grossman rode the pine pony saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” under their breath. My father always said, “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” You can’t lose if the score is 0-0. Perhaps the six canned coaches could take a lesson from that ideology and focus more on their defense in their next coaching gig – instead of lament about their shortcomings in the QB spot or injuries or salary caps. Work with what you’ve got.
But, in a billion dollar business that loves its show and flash, fans want to see something spectacular. They want to see Peyton break the all time passing TD record. They want to see Rodgers run it in, avoiding the likes of DeAndre Levy or Ray Lewis. And the coaches know that.
So in this crazy world of million dollar salaries and divas for players the coaches take the brunt of it all. Either show up, or pack up. We may give you an awful team, less than enthusiastic coaching staff and fans who expect you to be a miracle worker but gosh darn it you’ve got two seasons to turn this club around or you’ll be out a job come game 16. But hey, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Just look at Andy Reid.
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