Tis the season for togetherness, exchanging gifts, and head coach firings!
As we start getting close to the end of the NFL season, it stands to reason that a handful of head coaches are going to be fired whether they deserve it or not. Many General Managers and owners tend to avoid asking logical questions like, “Did I give the coach enough pieces to succeed?” and move on to the next sacrificial lamb for their incompetence.
This isn’t to say that some coaches don’t deserve to be fired, there are plenty of those, but when you look at some of the more historically successful franchises you will see a pattern: they find a guy they believe in, and they give him a long leash. These teams usually understand that coaches don’t get suddenly shitty overnight, there are usually a plethora of explanations for a team’s poor play.
But enough of my soap box, here are the coaches that I believe are on the hot seat. Oh, and just a quick note on some coaches you won’t see on the list: first year coaches are exempt, as is Tom Coughlin who is only biding his team for the Patriots to be awesome again.
Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans
The case for firing Munchak: One of the only certainties about the Titans over the last few seasons is no one is at all certain about how they are going to play. Whether it be shocking the Steelers in Pittsburgh to start the season, or losing to the Jaguars at home, their unevenness is not a valued trait.
The case for keeping him: Jake Locker. While you can argue that the Titans’ failed attempt to turn Locker into a franchise QB can be somewhat traced back to the coach, it has become clear (through injuries and inconsistent play) that Locker just isn’t…the guy. And if you don’t have “the guy” at that position, there is hardly even a point to go through with an NFL season these days.
Verdict: Fire him. This is one of those cases where I don’t think Munchak is to blame for all of the Titans’ problems, and I don’t think he’s a bad coach, but you can probably do a lot better. After my introduction paragraph, this kind of makes me look like a hypocrite.
Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders
The case for firing Allen: He seems to have the charisma of Droopy Dog after a Tylenol PM.
The case for keeping him: While Oakland doesn’t seem to have made any strides in Allen’s two seasons as coach, another explanation might be that the Raider’s organization is as poorly run as any in pro sports. They are still suffering for the Carson Palmer trade, which to me ranks as one of the worst in pro sports history. Terrelle Pryor and some of the skill players made strides this season, but in perhaps the toughest division in football it’s almost impossible to compete with the roster they are putting on the field.
Verdict: Keep him. Allen is a smart guy and over a long enough timeline I think he’ll make a difference.
Rex Ryan, New York Jets
The case for firing Ryan: He can’t seem to get out of his own way. After starting the year as almost a lame duck coach, he put his starting quarterback into a preseason game late for no apparent reason only to have God come down and smite him for his hubris by injuring Mark Sanchez for the season. In the end, this ended up being a blessing as giving Geno Smith a lot of playing time should be beneficial for the franchise going forward. Furthermore, his handling of the QB situation in general last year might be good enough for a retro-active firing.
The case for keeping him: The fact that this team was even being mentioned in the same sentence as the word “playoffs” as late as December is a credit to how well Rex is able to motivate his men. Offensively this roster is hilarious mix of thrown away toys. At one point it looked like their plan was going to be starting Braylon Edwards and Jeremy Kerley at wide receiver. Just think about that for a second.
Verdict: Keep him. The players want to play for him, it’s as simple as that. If Geno improves, and this offense gets a few playmakers, this could be a playoff team as soon as next season.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
The case for firing Garrett: Jason is one of those head coaches that, despite having a keen understanding of the X’s and O’s, approaches time management situations like the dumbest fuck on earth. I like to call it, “Mike McCarthy Syndrome”. And here’s the thing, it doesn’t seem to be curable. His explanation for not running the ball in the second half of Dallas’ meltdown against the Packers is even worse however: he was calling running plays, but Romo was changing them at the line. At some point you just have to say…hey Tony, stop that. You have to actually coach. Even if we believe this excuse, the fact remains that at one point at the end of the third quarter crossing over into the fourth, 14 out of the 15 plays that Dallas ran were pass plays despite being up by multiple scores. And despite having your running back average almost eight yard a carry on the day.
The case against: The only thing that should be able to save his job at this point is a deep playoff run. Anything short of that and his continued employment is an institutional failure.
Verdict: Fire his ass. He has shown time and time again that being an offensive coordinator is the limit of his abilities.
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
The case for firing Shanahan: Unlike a lot of the coaches on this list, Shanny has the final word on basically all personnel decisions. So, where most coaches can complain about being dealt a shitty hand with a bad roster, Mike has no room to talk. It also seems to me that the game is starting to pass him by in the sense that he doesn’t understand that making enemies with your starting quarterback just doesn’t work anymore. The McNabb situation was excusable because…well, Donovan was and is a complete shithead and he was at the end of his career. But if Daniel Snyder has to choose between RG3 and Shanahan? Well that won’t be a difficult choice at all. That being said, I don’t think this is the last coach that Robert Griffin is going to clash with.
The case against: Another year long Shanahan/Griffin pissing match could really distract the media and take the heat off of Snyder for not changing the Redskins’ name. But on a serious note, the irony is Shanahan might be the exact kind of coach the young quarterback needs. If someone comes in and placates RG3 at this point in his career, it could have long term damage.
Verdict: I feel like I’m the only person saying this but…I think he should stay. For my own selfish “I love watching this shit” reasons, and I think he is a good coach. He shouldn’t have any more control over personnel however.
Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
The case for firing Schwartz: He’s a hothead asshole who doesn’t understand time management, or the rules of the game he is coaching. Is that stated clearly enough?
The case against: The hilarity of trolling an entire fanbase?
Verdict: This is almost the easiest one on the list. Fire him.
Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
The case for firing Frazier: In 2012 the Vikings shocked the football world by not only finishing better than the Bears and Lions in the NFC North, but also squeaking into the playoffs with a week 17 victory over the Packers. This season they regressed and are currently sitting at 4-9-1 with a roster that looks very similar to last year. To make things worse, it seems clearer each week that Frazier stuck with Christian Ponder too long as Matt Cassel has developed chemistry with the receivers, especially Greg Jennings.
The case against: Frazier is a victim of his own success last year. Was that Vikings team really good enough to be 10-6? I doubt it. They just happened to win some close games. The NFC North is a tough enough division to start with, but with the Vikings lack of talent (outside of a few positions) it’s hard to imagine how Frazier was expected to make back to back improbable runs to the playoffs.
Verdict: This year they have lost six games by seven points or less. That usually has something to do with coaching. Sorry Leslie, time to go.
Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The case for firing Schiano: I’m pretty sure he is water boarding players that drop passes at this point.
The case against: …uh
Verdict: Remember when I said Schwartz was almost the easiest on the list?
Who do you think should get shit canned? Let us know in the comments section.