Every season about five to nine coaches get fired, which then leads to coaching searches, and coaching hirings. The season plays out, then the whole cycle plays out again, round and round. For this year, though, this is who get pink slips, and who got hired.
Philadelphia Eagles: fired Andy Reid, hired Chip Kelly (Oregon)
I once thought that Eagles fans were spoiled brats; I realize now that they take after the Eagles ownership. Despite having a record with the Eagles way above .500, Andy Reid was fired because he didn’t win the Super Bowl; funny, because during his tenure the Eagles came the closest to winning it than they ever had previously. However, given the recent strife, as well as Reid’s long tenure, you can imagine that maybe even he wanted out, and ownership just wanted to make a change, which doesn’t change my perception that they’re a bunch of spoiled brats, but humanizes the decision a little.
Along with Mike McCoy (more below), Chip Kelly was the “it” candidate this year; he had all the factors in his favor: successful Pac-12 coach (Harbaugh in SF, Carroll in Seattle), he ran the read option at Oregon quite well (the big craze in the NFL right now), and showed great promise. However, unlike Andy Reid, who came in with a light resume, expectations are already stacking on Kelly.
Kelly was the blue chip hire, but all stocks vary; it’s on him to keep the price up.
Kansas City Chiefs: fired Romeo Crennel, hired Andy Reid (Eagles)
It says a lot about the expectations of the Philadelphia Eagles that even before Andy Reid was fired, at least three NFL teams were clamoring for an interview with Andy Reid; I mean, really, if the Eagles kept Reid and let other teams interview him, they could have gotten a fifth or sixth round draft pick out of the deal. However, they didn’t.
Romeo Crennel, it was determined, had not worked out in the eighteen games he had coached for Kansas City, and so he was dismissed, his second such dismissal from a head coaching job. A sharp defensive mind, Crennel will find a landing place as a defensive coordinator, and could possibly wind up working with Bill Belichick again if things work out in a certain way. For Kansas City, a team that has suffered a long time, they just wanted to make a change.
Bring in Andy Reid. Reid, who will have a lot of control over the organization with the departure of now former GM Scott Pioli, did wonders in Philadelphia, and his hiring reflects not only a fresh start for him, but for the Chiefs at large, who cannot be told they didn’t do enough. Reid will likely pick a smart and astute coaching staff to, metaphorically speaking, whip the Chiefs into shape, then make them a solid unit. He will have great draft picks, and his hiring, the first one of the season, is a smart one for both coach and organization at this point.
San Diego Chargers: fired Norv Turner, hired Mike McCoy (Broncos OC)
Norv Turner’s firing had been in the works for two seasons; in the end, he brought down AJ Smith as well, the Chargers general manager. Turner, who instantly became a sought after offensive coordinator, has not been a successful head coach, at least by the standards of the teams he has had. He didn’t fare well in Washington, but then again no one has until Shanahan this season. He didn’t fare well in Oakland, but well, I guess this can be summed up best just by saying Al Davis. Turner’s greatest failure in San Diego was to take an already talented team, which had gone 14-2 in its previous season before his arrival, and take them to the promised land. He got more time than he deserved, and all he gave them was wasted years.
So, bring in Mike McCoy, who looked great this season as the offensive coordinator for the Broncos. Bad choice. Yes, he can work with different styles of offense and different styles of quarterbacks; having success in back-to-back seasons, one with Tebow, one with Manning? Yeah, that’s pretty damn good. However, both Tebow and Manning effectively run their own offense on the field. McCoy looked good, but his true value gets exaggerated by the quality of the field generals he had; what I mean by this is that, regardless of whatever work he does with the offense, the QBs make the system work on the field.
I think the Chargers well victim to the “it” guy mentality, akin to when they hired Turner. Of course, I could be wrong, and with Philip Rivers feeling the fire under his heels, he single-handedly could make me wrong, although paradoxically that would actually prove my point.
Cleveland Browns: fired Pat Shurmur, hired Rob Chudzinski (Panthers OC)
Poor Browns fans. First, Art Modell moves the team to Baltimore, where they win a Super Bowl in 2000; then your former coach, Bill Belichick, wins three in four years; then much of that coaching staff in 1995 goes onto incredible success elsewhere, I’m going to stop here, it’s making me feel depressed.
Well, Pat Shurmur’s tenure ended with a swift dismissal and separation from the payroll, the latest coach to not fire up the resurrected Browns franchise, and thus the latest to be fired. However, this didn’t surprise anyone. There had been an ownership change mid-season, President of Football Operations Mike Holmgren had left the organization, replaced by newly installed CEO Joe Banner, and the team’s lack of success made it obvious what was coming.
So, Banner brings in Rob Chudzinski? Who? Kind of reminds you of another no-name coach he hired in Philadelphia: Andy Reid. Now, don’t get me wrong, I trust that Banner knows what he’s doing here, and his pick, if unorthodox, is guaranteed to get Browns fans excited. Chudzinski, who has been a successful offensive coordinator, happens to also be a huge Browns fan, going as far back as when he was a child. His stated goals were to make the Browns a winner for the city and the fans, and he said it with great, and genuine, enthusiasm. Akin to Andy Reid’s hiring, we’ll see how well this coaching selection turns out, which will take time. However, in the short-term, it looks good.
Buffalo Bills: fired Chan Gailey, hired Doug Marrone (Syracuse)
I’ll keep this one brief: Buffalo is a mess. Until they are relevant in the AFC East, whoever they bring in will have a hard time. Good luck Marrone. No disrespect meant to Marrone, but Syracuse is a lot different than the NFL; although compared with Chip Kelly down in Philly, Marrone may have an easier time.
Arizona Cardinals: fired Ken Whisenhunt, hired Bruce Arians (Indy OC)
Did Ken Whisenhunt deserve to get fired? Probably. He had a lot of goodwill after the Kurt Warner era, and failed to turn it into wins. He’s still a good coach, but like a lot of them, needs to return to the coordinator’s chair and refocus.
The Cardinals brought in Bruce Arians, who was not only the offensive coordinator for the Colts this past season, but also had a 9-3 record subbing for Chuck Pagano. The Cardinals brought in Arians to work with one of the QBs on their roster, and his reputation is such that if he can’t get them to work out, then the blame will fall to them, at least this time around. Of course, previous coordinators with such a reputation (i.e. Norv Turner) haven’t worked out in this situation.
I don’t know about Arizona; I personally thought they were a train wreck, and it’ll take a while to fix things there. Even if I’m right, though, Arians is still a solid hiring.
Jacksonville Jaguars: fired Mike Mularkey; hired Gus Bradley (Seattle DC)
Mike Mularkey: one season, two wins, three strikes and he was out of there. It didn’t help that there was an overall regime change that he had no say in, and it certainly didn’t help that his team was in discord.
Gus Bradley is a good hiring, and his hiring not only reflects well on himself, but on his former team, the Seahawks, who like the rest of the NFC West, is anxious to be known for something other than the disastrous 2010 season. The Bradley hiring is reflective of a new direction, and also that ownership will give him some time, barring a horrific season, since the Seahawks defense took some time to reach its current form. His hiring also is reflective that Tim Tebow won’t be playing there anytime soon, since he takes his marching orders from management more than other head coaches at the moment.
Chicago Bears: fired Lovie Smith, hired Marc Trestman (CFL Aloutettes)
Lovie Smith was fired for the same reason Andy Reid was fired: he didn’t win the Super Bowl. There’s no other explanation, no major reason; when Minnesota won in week 17, seizing the playoff berth that otherwise would have gone to Chicago, Lovie Smith was out of there. He’ll be hired again, and for similar reason why Andy Reid got hired again: he was successful, and for teams who are struggling, his teams were more successful than them.
So the Bears plucked a coach out of the CFL: Marc Trestman was successful in the CFL, and Steve Young, who spoke quite highly of him, wondered publicly why no NFL team had made a push for him. However, given that he had been exiled in the CFL for five years, he is still a gamble. On the other hand, that is why he is the right fit for the Bears. Lovie Smith was traditional and conservative with his play calling, and Trestman is a signal that things are going to get a good shake up. He is going positive signs with what he has said, and has a history of working with quarterbacks.
Nothing changes the fact, though, that Trestman is on a very short leash with the Bears, with two seasons maximum to turn things around. However, his success in the CFL gives him a comfortable fall back should that happen, and also provides him a potential out.