LOS ANGELES, January 19, 2013—The NFL version of Black Monday came just before the New Year began, with seven of the league’s 32 coaches being fired the day after the regular season ended. An eighth coach joined them on the unemployment line soon after. Yet while in past years some coaches were not hired until after the Super Bowl, this year every team has a coach before the Conference Title Games. Let’s look at the hits and misses.
Fired: Ken Whisenhunt
Hired: Bruce Arians
Analysis: The Cardinals have gotten many things wrong in their 125 years of futility, but this was an excellent hire. Arians was the interim coach of the Indianapolis Colts last year, leading them to a 9-3 record while Chuck Pagano recovered from Lukemia. He held the team together and led them to the playoffs. He knows offense, helping Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. This guy is a leader, and once he gets a quarterback Arizona may finally become a respectable team.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Fired: Romeo Crennel
Hired: Andy Reid
Analysis: This was an excellent hire that gives the Chiefs instant credibility after a 2-14 season. Walrus Lite Andy Reid turned losers in Philadelphia into perennial winners. He did everything in 14 seasons but win a Super Bowl. Yet with the top pick in the draft, he will build a contender. He was the very best available coach on the market, and the Chiefs got the man everyone else wanted.
Fired: Lovie Smith
Hired: Marc Trestman
Analysis: Bad decision. Smith never should have been fired after a 10-6 season. His players overachieved. He knows defense while Trestman is considered an offensive guru. Trestman won championships in the Canadian Football League, but has never been a head coach in the NFL. He has presided over some great offenses, but they were already great when he got there. When he was with the 49ers Bill Walsh was brought back to look over his shoulder. Perhaps he was just the fall guy when the offense underperformed, but a coach should only be fired if the replacement is an upgrade. Trestman is not.
Fired: Andy Reid
Hired: Chip Kelly
Analysis: Big gamble, could go either way. Walrus Lite Andy Reid never should have been fired. Chip Kelly is one of the hottest coaches in College. For every Jimmy Johnson who makes the successful transition from college to the NFL, there are men like Steve Spurrier and Lou Holtz who spectacularly flop. Kelly initally rejected the Eagles to stay with the Oregon Ducks, and then only a day later reversed himself. He is considered an offensive mastermind, and with a healthy Michael Vick the sky is the limit. An injured Michael Vick means another lost season.
Fired: Chan Gailey
Hired: Doug Marrone
Analysis: Who cares? Nobody wants this job. Nobody wants to move to Western New York, which the inhabitants insist is not part of Canada. Chan Gailey and his sinister beard were replaced by a guy with an average record at the college level. He coached at Syracuse, which proved the Bills knew their only hope was someone already living in the region. The Bills have not made the playoff since 1999, and this was not a thrilling move. Marrone was the new Orleans offensive coordinator, but that was under offensive genius Sean Payton, who did fine without him.
Fired: Mike Mularkey
Hired: Gus Bradley
Analysis: The Jaguars actually play in the NFL, not at the college level. The city is somewhere in Northern Florida. This 2-14 team fired a guy that nobody knew was coaching the team and hired somebody else nobody is familiar with. It could be an improvement, although Jacksonville may need 45 new players. Bradley was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, and Seattle does have a great defense. Yet Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is well known for defense. Bradley could turn out ok, but this team may go the way of the Oorang Indians if Los Angeles ever gets its act together. Barring that, the only way this team could go is up.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Fired: Norv Turner
Hired: Mike McCoy
Analysis: Not thrilling, but not awful. After six underachieving years, Norvelous Norv Turner was finally put out of his misery six years too late. Yet the Chargers decided to copy the hated Oakland Raiders by raiding the staff of the Denver Broncos. It failed in Oakland when they hired Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen despite only one year in his job. Denver head coach John Fox ran the defense. Now San Diego takes the Denver offensive coordinator, although that job means sitting back and letting Peyton Manning run the offense. The choice is acceptable only because any new person would not be Norv Turner.
Fired: Pat Shurmur
Hired: Rob Chudzinski
Analysis: Nobody cares. The Browns have been losers for much of the decades since Otto Graham ruled in the 1950s. Even Walrus Mike Holmgren could not turn them around. Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. Despite a strong finish to their season, quarterback Cam Newton regressed for much of this year. Only in Cleveland would they hire a guy without head coaching experience who did not succeed at a lower level position. The Mistake by the Lake continues their tradition of being themselves.
Next year the hottest coaching prospects will be guys who keep insisting they are happy with their studio jobs. Bill Cowher has North Carolina ties and could consider the Panthers if Ron Rivera gets axed. Jon Gruden could return to the Black Hole if Dennis Allen has another miserable season with the Raiders. If the bombastic Rex Ryan flames out with the Jets, the next coach will be some local CPA or anybody else boring, quiet, and non-controversial.
In three months the NFL Draft begins, and Andy Reid and the Chiefs are on the clock.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian who is obsessed with the National Football League. There is no offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS.
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