Silly season to some degree has begun in the NFL, with all the GMs (or those remaining) and the owners jockeying for the next new hot hire. The Eagles’ Jeffrey Loria did no other coaches any favors by signing new it-girl Chip Kelly, who promptly won his division. This will inevitably lead owners and GMs to think that yes, a turnaround can be done in an off-season. Something that next year’s fired coaches are sure to have to deal with. With that, here’s my look at the comings and goings of the NFL’s head men in charge.
TENNESSEE TITANS – Mike Munchak was fired after a three-season run of 22-26, and no playoffs. I wouldn’t have fired Munchak: when Jake “Hurt” Locker wasn’t hurt, they were playing well. Even in losses they were competitive. It’s never easy being the guy after the guy, like Munch was after the only other coach Tennessee ever knew, Jeff Fisher, but there were small glimmers of hope this season. Again, before Locker went down. Now you’re starting over. Meanwhile, Munchak should take that Penn State job. Like I said, you never wanna be the guy after the guy, and Bill O’Brien has now provided that buffer between Munch and his mentor Paterno. Back in Nashville, James Franklin is a good idea I guess, keeps it local, but he feels like a college coach to me. Plus, I’m not sure anyone wants to hand the keys to an NFL franchise to a Neshaminy guy.
HOUSTON TEXANS – Fans and ownership expected Kubiak and the Texans to contend for a Super Bowl; instead they lost 11 in a row. There really was nothing left to do but clean house, and Bill O’Brien is the hot name with NFL pedigree. Former Patriot assistants don’t have the best track-record but he’s more than just a Belichick disciple with experience on several staffs before ever landing in Foxboro. His staff is interesting. The thought that its a seamless transition to Romeo Crennell is a bit baseless. By the time O’Brien got to Foxboro Romeo was gone. He also brings former TE’s coach Brian Ferentz, son of Iowa’s Kirk, to the staff for the offense. I would’ve liked to have seen O’Brien stay in Happy Valley at least to finish what he started with this teenage wonder QB, but his heart was always in the NFL, and Matt McGloin getting some starts this year can in some part be credited to him. Having the top pick to chose his QB didn’t hurt either. My guess is he keeps Keenum around, drafts a QB #1 and Schaub is cut.
CLEVELAND BROWNS -The Browns are now on the hook for about $50M in salary to fired coaches. Chudzinski lasted just one season in Cleveland after going 4-12 and finishing on a seven-game losing streak. I expect they want the Denver OC Adam Gase, who has said he won’t discuss anything until after the season, otherwise they’d have made a move by now. If the job is, as Mike Lombardi intimated, reserved for Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, then there could be more of the Patriots staff coming with Josh as well. But word just came down that McDaniels himself has removed his name from contention, so it would seem it won’t be him.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS – The Vikes finished winning 2 of 3, but it wasn’t enough to save the fired Les Frazier, who will resurface in no time. The wasteful Josh Freeman signing isn’t on him, but nonetheless, he’s out. Would McDaniels prefer it there? If you re-sign Matt Cassell, Cassell, Peterson, and Cordarelle Paterson may be a better trio than what the Browns have to offer, even with Josh Gordon. Tough to sell any coach on three years outside in the Gophers stadium though. If I’m them I have to get an offensive guy in while Peterson can still play, and see what I have, if anything, in Christian Ponder. And take a quarterback. And sign one too. Basically, back to the drawing board.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – Under Shanahan the Redskins were a miserable 24-40 and I mean miserable. From Albert Haynesworth to Donovan McNabb to RGIII, Shanahan has demonstrated an inability to adapt, or to relate in this day and age. I know the Danny is always looking for a name but the interview of the Niners DC Greg Roman is a good idea. For the record, Art Briles is a TERRIBLE idea. That could be seen as RGIII dictating coaching moves like LeBron. Besides, the last time Danny went NCAA, he got Spurrier. Brutal.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – I would’ve given Greg Schiano another season. After starting miserably they were winning games there towards the end. Well, maybe not right at the end. Even early losses were kind of fluky. But in two season he managed just 11 wins. Enter Lovie Smith, returning to a Tampa staff he was on under Tony Dungy from 1996 to 2000. Bringing in Jeff Tedford to run the offense and Leslie Frazier as DC is real good, lots of high-powered football minds going to work in Tampa. Really keen to see what Tedford does with Glennon. This guy got Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Aaron Rodgers, and Kyle Boller all drafted in the 1st round. Overall a plus move for the Bucs.
DETROIT LIONS – Jim Schwartz was just running an undisciplined, rudderless ship. Finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs was the final straw. If I’m McDaniels or one of these QB guru types this is the roster I want. Megatron. Reggie Bush. Stafford’s arm, plus top defensive talent in a winnable division. Indoors, plenty of money to spend. The move here probably was getting rid of Mayhew if anyone, but now he gets to pick his coach. Better pick right. Whisenhunt would be good.
MIAMI DOLPHINS– They lost 6 of 8 to close the season but Philbin did a fine job cleaning up the Incognito mess and getting them to come together as a team and as such he’s survived GM Jeff Ireland, himself long a target of fan-base ridicule. Not that Dolphins fans have any clue who should be their next hire. Looks like owner Stephen Ross is going outside the building for his new GM, a big mistake with Brian Gaine right there, but Ross looks wants to put someone above Gaine. Message to Brian Gaine – get out now: The next move is to clean house, coach and GM alike.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – Looks peachy-keen for Dennis Allen. Every time they look like they think they might have a quarterback, nope, they don’t. This year is no different: Terrelle Pryor took the job from free agent signing Matt Flynn, only to lose it to a nobody named Matt McGloin (with a year of Bill O’Brien under his belt). Its amazing how no matter how good a coach you are if you don’t have a QB you won’t win. Should they fire Allen? Probably, considering it’s unlikely his first job ever at 34 will be the one that leads to the promised land. But its about who you can replace him with. Is Gruden coming back? No. So what are you gonna do? Have to find that QB first and see if Allen can work with him I guess.
CINCINNATI BENGALS– I’ll preface this by saying I know the Bengals are too cheap to bother making a change, but 11 years, 0-5 in the playoffs. Really, they needed to have won at least one of these games by now. 11 years is plenty long to get your chance, and the talent is loaded. Talk that Andy Dalton may not be the QB for this team. I think if he goes, Marv goes too, you don’t usually get a third QB to try out. Time to cut bait, elevate Zimmer before he takes a job elsewhere, and see if only changing the King can rehab the kingdom.
Topics: Aaron Rodgers, Akili Smith, Art Briles, Bill O'brien, California, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, David Carr, Dennis Allen, Detroit Lions, Gary Kubiak, Greg Schiano, Houston Texans, James Franklin, Jeff Ireland, Jeff Tedford, Jim Schwartz, Joe Philbin, Joey Harrington, Josh McDaniels, Kyle Boller, Leslie Frazier, Lovie Smith, Marvin Lewis, Miami Dolphins, Mike Glennon, Mike Munchak, Mike Shanahan, Nashville, Oakland Raiders, Rob Chudzinski, Rod Marinelli, Steve Spurrier, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Trent Dilfer, Vanderbilt Commodores, Washington Redskins