ALL ABOARD THE COACHING CAROUSEL
By Jason Harris
January 16, 2012
Well the NFL playoffs aren’t even over yet but the coaching carousel is spinning. Some teams have made their choices while others continue to spin, making their fans nauseous. A few familiar names return to the Head Coach position though we didn’t see a return from most of the big names. (i.e. Bill Cowher, John Gruden, etc.) Other teams still wait on the top coordinators to finish up the playoffs. But I gotta say, there’s been more head-scratchers than gold stars given out this offseason. Also not going to include Indy in this one as I think Jim Caldwell’s job rests squarely on if Peyton stays or goes. Per usual, the head-scratching starts in Oakland.
First off, grab and bottle and take a shot for Al Davis. For all the jokes and questionable personnel moves of the past few years, Davis did A LOT for professional football. Look it up. But not to worry Raiders fans, Little Davis is gonna pick right up where daddy left off. In his first year as head coach, Hue Jackson not only took the Raiders to 8-8 and a 3-way tie in the division but he did it with a new QB who hadn’t been playing football, a myriad of injuries and yes, Al Davis as owner. He had the players behind him. He had the fan base behind him. He was exactly what the Raiders needed. And of course, he’s fired. The younger Davis hired Reggie McKenzie away from Green Bay to become the G.M. in Oakland and his first act was to fire Jackson. This is most likely to bring in his “own guy” for head coach (Winston Moss, Dom Capers, Todd Bowles) which is understandable. But reports have surfaced that Mark Davis called for the firing of Jackson to “put his own stamp” on the franchise. FAIL. I’m not saying that the HC McKenzie hires won’t be as good or better than Jackson, but Oakland dropped the ball on this one. Hue Jackson is an up and coming coach who had this franchise moving in the right direction. He won’t be out of work long.
Mike Mularkey is the new man in charge of attempting to fix the Jags and yep, we’re gonna file this one under head-scratchers too. Well respected in NFL circles as a good coach, I can’t seem to look past the 14-18 record when he was in Buffalo. As OC in Atlanta he had a lot of weapons to work with yet his offense still sputtered, especially in big game situations. He’ll now be tasked with developing Blaine Gabbert but still has MJD and a couple of nice pieces on defense. He’s also a retread. Forgive me for not believing that Mularkey is going to break the streak of second chance head coaches turning things around. How’s that working out for Mike Shanahan? But if there is a guy that can do it, I think it’s this next coach.
St. Louis Rams:
Jeff Fisher made it very clear early on that he would be deciding between two teams for his return to coaching: Miami and St. Louis. St. Louis won and in doing so landed the hottest coaching candidate on the market. The veteran coach returns to the NFL sidelines to rebuild a franchise that was one dubbed the “greatest show on turf”. While you won’t get the flash of the past years, Fisher should have this team turned around sooner than later due to the fact that he comes with a complete coaching staff. Saints DC Gregg Williams should join him, Lil’ Brian Shotty as OC as well as rock solid position coaches who have years of NFL experience. That is his biggest upside in my opinion. He’s developed QBs which should help bring Bradford along and now has an owner who will stay out of his mustache and let him run a football team. It would not surprise me at all to see this team at 8-8 next year. Mark the tape.
So last year when Stephen Ross bought the Dolphins his first move was to interview Jim Harbaugh for the head coaching position. Only problem was it was already occupied by Tony Sparano. Not only did Harbaugh turn him down but it made him look like an, excuse the term, noob. Ross said he didn’t know it wasn’t appropriate. Really? And you’re this super successful businessman? So Tony got another half a year before getting canned and we’re back to square one. Ross made it very clear he wanted a big name head coach. A veteran. Someone well respected around NFL circles. Someone who could rebuild a franchise and take it back to the playoffs. In short he wanted Jeff Fisher. And he had him. All he had to do was give Fisher final say over the 53 man roster. That was it. And Ross said no, instead remaining loyal to G.M. Jeff Ireland (who in 3yrs with Miami has still not answered the question of QB, OL, TE or DB. Also, he drafted Pat White in the second round. I rest my case.) and once again f*&ked up the offseason for the Miami Dolphins. It’s become blatantly obvious that Stephen Ross has no idea what he’s doing running a football team. Which is a shame because Ross could be a great owner; the pocketbook is always open if it helps the team. Miami will now look to a candidate with no HC experience. Early favorites are Bengals DC Mike Zimmer and Bears Special Teams Coach Dave Toub. (yes, you read that right) Zimmer is a guy who most in the NFL will get a head coaching gig sooner than later but Ross is thought to want an offensive coach. Buckle up Miami, you’ve got an owner that’s learning on the job.
My oh my how the wheels fall off the bus. Raheem Morris lost the last 9 games of the season, his team and finally his job. Which is sad because this team has some playmakers: Blount, Freeman, Winslow, Williams. All at key positions. They’re just all young and need direction; enter a new Head Coach! Hello? Oh, we’re still interviewing. Gotcha. The names are endless here: Mike Sherman (don’t get me started), Marty Schottenheimer (which I think would be amazing. Put’em on Hard Knocks. Old man vs. young guys. Perfect.), Brad Childress, Rob Chudzinski. I think Sherman ends up getting it and becoming the band-aid that he is but Chud deserves a look (maybe bring Butch Davis along as his DC) even if he isn’t quite ready for a HC spot.