LOS ANGELES, December 30, 2013 — Going into the NFL 2013 regular season finales, as many as 13 of the 32 head coaches had a chance of being fired on Black Monday.
Two teams did not even wait, making definitive moves Sunday night.
Here is the NFL 2013 Black Monday report from the sensible to the senseless.
Cleveland Browns—Rob Chudzinski was fired. This was a stunner. Although the Browns were 4-12, Chudzinski was in the first year of a four year contract. He was not even among the 13 coaches even mentioned to be fired.
Analysis: This move is idiotic. The Browns were devastated by injuries. Rookie quarterback Bryan Hoyer had all of Cleveland excited until he was injured. Jason Campbell took a beating. Owner Jimmy Haslam forced out Walrus Mike Holmgren, gutted the roster, and wondered why the Browns fell apart in the second half of the season. Chudzinski deserved a chance at a full season with Hoyer.
New York Jets—Rex Ryan is coming back in 2014. A beaming owner Woody Johnson announced that he was retaining Ryan, although issues such as assistant coaches and a contract extension remain potential stumbling blocks.
Analysis: This was a shocker, and absolutely the right move. Ryan was a dead man walking before the season, and new General Manager John Idzik wanted his own guy. Ryan was a miracle worker. He took a bunch of losers to an 8-8 record. He deserved a chance to be given players who can actually play, especially on offense. Let him have a franchise quarterback. Other coaches will be fired for doing less with more.
Minnesota Vikings—Leslie Frazier was fired. The move was expected.
Analysis: This is the right call. The Vikings fell from 10-6 to 5-10-1 despite playing in a pathetic division. Christian Ponder regressed and the defense, which is Frazier’s side of the ball, underperformed. Last year was a fluke led by all-world running back Adrian Peterson. Outside of Peterson, the Vikings were soft.
Detroit Lions—Jim Schwartz was fired. The Ford family announced that their team president and their general manager would not be fired. The move was not a surprise.
Analysis: This is the wrong call. Schwartz took over the only 0-16 team in NFL history and in three years got them to 10-6. They regressed but he deserved time to turn it around. The Ford family are terrible owners, but will not fire themselves. The Lions had a late season collapse under Schwartz this year, but one more year would have been appropriate. THe new head coach will have to be a quarterback guru to help Matthew Stafford cut down on the turnovers.
Washington Redskins—Mike Shanahan was fired. The move was not a total surprise, but could have gone either way with Shanahan set to collect $7 million to stay out of coaching for one year.
Analysis: Close call, but Shanahan should have been retained. The Redskins fell from 10-6 to 3-13 this year, and Shanahan had total control of personnel moves, not General Manager Bruce Allen, who was not fired. Owner Daniel Snyder burns through coaches. The Redskins were hit with a $36 million salary cap penalty, and Shanahan had to steer the team through that. RGIII may not be thrilled with Shanahan, but doubters should talk to John Elway. Shanahan did not blame Al Davis’ ghost for the firing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Greg Schiano was fired. The move was not a surprise, but could have gone either way due to Tampa Bay going 4-4 down the stretch.
Analysis: Absolutely the right move. Schiano was abrasive and disrespectful of NFL traditions. Rushing the line on the kneel-down play was uncalled for. The Josh Freeman situation should never have happened, and the person who released his medical records should face a courtroom. Schiano was another Josh McDaniels, trying to be Bill Bellichick without having won anything. The Bucs began 0-8 and then won four of five, but losing the last three was enough to see this team was not going to be saved. The general manager was also fired. The Glazer family should get on their knees and call Jon Gruden.
Oakland Raiders—Dennis Allen—No official announcement came, and the Raiders have always been secretive. Unofficial word has owner Mark Davis determined to see what General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Coach Allen can do now that the team is out of salary cap hell in 2014.
Analysis: Terrible move. Allen must be fired. Being too patient is as bad as being too impatient. Allen inherited an 8-8 team from Hue Jackson. Consecutive 4-12 seasons is not progress. The Raiders need a big name to excite a demoralized fan base. Jon Gruden would be welcomed back to the Black Hole with open arms.
Dallas Cowboys—Jason Garrett—No official announcement came, but Jerry Jones is expected to retain Jason Garrett while shaking up other members of the staff. As he said last year, things are going to be very “uncomfortable” in Happy Valley.
Analysis: Garrett should stay. Whenever it is a very close call, and 8-8 is the closest of calls, owners should err on the side of patience and give a coach one more year.
Houston Texans—Wade Phillips—No official announcement came, but Owner Bob McNair is not expected to retain the interim Phillips, who coached the three games after Gary Kubiak was fired.
Analysis: Everybody loves the Michelin Man, but he is a great defensive coordinator and nothing more. He has never had much success as a head coach in his many stops. McNair needs a big hire to excite fans, and it should be an offensive guru who can either save Matt Schaub, develop Case Keenum or groom a new quarterback. Houston has the top pick in the draft, so a fresh start is needed.
Tennessee Titans—Mike Munchak—No official announcement came, and nobody knows what the Adams family will do because this is their very first decision since the death of owner Bud Adams.
Analysis: The Titans went 7-9 after losing quarterback Jake Locker to injury. This is another case of a very close call. When it is a close call, the coach deserves another year. Munchak has been with the organization for 32 years including his playing days. One more year to improve would be fair.
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