Its Not Hue Its Me
Midseason firings are nothing new in the NFL, and Mike McCarthy being fired by the Packers was the second of the 2018 season. Perhaps there’s never been two firings more different. Hue Jackson was let go by the Browns after the worst coaching tenure in NFL history since 1936 (3-36-1). Hue was the head coach of a franchise known for failure and misery, while McCarthy was the coach of one of the pioneer franchise in the NFL and historically among the most successful of all time. Hue had a rookie QB, and McCarthy had a first ballot QB. McCarthy was the keystone of the Packers recent success, while Hue sadly was just a placeholder until GM John Dorsey found the right guy. Placeholder?? Yes. Football and life has a lot of bitter truths. Does a car salesman keep his job if he goes a year without selling a car? Does a criminal defense lawyer retain clients if they all keep receiving maximum sentences? Does a school bus driver keep his job if the kids are always late to school? Hue Jackson won ZERO games, and the year prior, the team’s only win came on a missed field goal. There was no reason for Dorsey to retain Hue except for one reason, the job wasn’t appealing enough to any real candidates yet. (Now, the idea of a coach being a placeholder is a blog topic of its own because there may be a case that it happens too often and mainly to black coaches. However, this blog is not about that.) Oddly enough since the firing, the Browns have played better under interim coach, Gregg Williams, and thus the job now appears it could be appealing enough, hypothetically, to land a former Super Bowl winning Coach. Mike McCarthy has ties to John Dorsey from their time together in Green Bay. McCarthy was fired after a dreadful home loss to the Arizona Cardinals this past Sunday and one of the jobs he was immediately linked to, naturally, was the Cleveland Browns job. McCarthy, in my opinion, would bring a culture change to Cleveland and in a lot of ways he’s getting a Quarterback with same HOF potential as Aaron and perhaps even better leadership qualities. Cleveland would be a good spot for both McCarthy and the Browns. Dorsey will no longer have a placeholder as a coach, and McCarthy will no longer be a scapegoat.
There are several reasons why a coach gets fired. Below are some coaches that for one reason or another I believe a change is needed.
John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens)
Year Hired: 2008
Last 3 years: 22-26
2018: 7-5 (Currently 2nd in Division. and 9th in conference standings)
John Harbaugh's tenure in Baltimore couldn't have started any better. They made the playoffs in each of his first 5 years bookended by two AFC championship including a Super Bowl win. Unfortunately once they reached their peak it was only downhill from there for the Harbaugh-Newsome tandem. Their lone playoff appearance since came in 2014 where they blew two 14 point leads to their conference nemesis New England Patriots. The past 4 years in Baltimore have been a mixture of injuries, regression at the quarterback play, and a series of bad situational football which lands squarely on the shoulder of the man at the helm. In 2016 the team was 7-5 with 4 games left, the Pittsburgh Steelers were also at 7-5 despite a 4 game losing streak stretching from October to November, the Ravens closed the season with a 1-4 record including losses to both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh as the Steelers closed out that year with a 4-0 record and ultimately the division champs. All good things must come to an end, John Harbaugh's time in Baltimore has certainly been a success and in my opinion he is still a top 10 NFL coach. For a multitude of reasons including the ones we discussed earlier his time in Baltimore is up. We often discuss how a change of scene could be good for players, the same applies for coaches. With that said, I believe there are 18 NFL teams who should consider hiring John Harbaugh to coach their football team.
Coaching Nominee: Nathanial Hackett- The hiring of the new coach will be the decision of Eric DeCosta, Ozzie Newsome's protege and successor. DeCosta has been with the team since 1996. My initial suggestion would be Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator for the Jaguars. Since Hackett took over as offensive coordinator Blake Bortles has played his best football, whatever that means. Certainly there's other factors to Bortles playing better in spurts, including Coughlin, but the play calling of Hackett in my opinion has been astounding and at times absolutely perfect. Hackett has been recently fired by the Jaguars, but that's like blaming the waitress for an improperly cooked steak. Another suggestion is Byron Leftwich, recently named offensive coordinator for the Cardinals, however perhaps the Cardinals may wanna keep him in their building.
Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals)
Year Hired: 2003
Last 3 Years: 25-22-1
2018: 5-7 (3rd in Division, 11th in Conference)
Bill Belichick is the only current head coach who has had a job longer than Marvin Lewis, the difference is Belichick has 5 Super Bowl wins while Lewis has zero playoff wins. It is time(Raffiki voice).
Coaching Nominee: Mike Zimmer- Coach Zimmer was the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati for a long time, perhaps a homecoming is in order. There is a solid veteran presence in the offense, a young, raw, and undisciplined defense could use the teachings of the brilliant defensive coach. Best part about hiring Zimmer is you bring in a coach who is familiar with the character inside that locker room. Now here's the twist, Zimmer in my opinion is a coach you hire to win now. Once Dalton goes, Zimmer will have to go as well.
Todd Bowles (New York Jets)
Year Hired: 2015
Last 3 Years: 20-28
Todd Bowles was hired to coach a veteran ball club with a win now mentality. Unfortunately it never worked out, in fact they never made the playoffs and the biggest reason why was because they lost to the Bills twice who were coached by Rex Ryan (Jets previous head coach). The money they gave to homecoming king Darrelle Revis never quite panned out as it became evident his last great season would come in a Patriots uniform. Fast forward a couple years and here comes the future in Sam Darnold. The reality is the Jets need to hire someone for Darnold and unfortunately it is not Coach Bowles. I am of the belief the Jets will ruin the career of Darnold if they keep Bowles on as Coach. A young innovative crew is needed for Darnold. I personally believe Coach Bowles can be a good head coach at some point. Thing just didn't work out in The Big Apple.
Coaching Nominee: Matt LaFleur. LaFleur has close ties to Kyle Shanahan (49ers Head Coach) and Sean McVay (Rams Head Coach). LaFleur worked under both coaches in Washington and then worked under Kyle in Atlanta in Matt Ryan's MVP season and then under McVay the following year with Quarterback Jared Goff with the Rams. LaFleur this year has been the offensive coordinator for the Titans and at times Marcus Mariota seems to be playing the best ball of his career. I understand why there are reports he is likely to be a highly coveted candidate this off-season and the Jets will strike a real offseason win rather than just headlines if they land him. An offensive system and tree that's seen multiple QBs in the last 5 years flourish, i have no reason to doubt it won't yield similar success for Sam Darnold.
Dirk Koetter (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Year Hired: 2016
Last 3 years: 19-25
The Buccaneers prematurely fired Lovie Smith in hopes Dirk Koetter could develop their first overall pick Jameis Winston. Clearly the plan backfired. As if things couldn't get worse, here we are post Thanksgiving and the Buccaneers have no idea who will start at quarterback week to week. The Buccaneers as a staff label and crew need a cleanse. Jameis is still very raw in his 5th year, which is both the good news and bad news for the incoming head coach.
Coaching Nominee: John DeFilippo- John DeFilippo is in a similar situation as Matt LaFleur with his two most recent examples being Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins. I think LaFleur would be perfect in cleaning the sloppy play of Winston.
Pat Shurmur (New York Giants)
Year Hired: 2018
Now typically I don't believe in firing a coach before the end of year 2, but if you know me by now you know there's an exception to every rule. Pat Shurmur was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2011-2012 and his record was a combined 9-23. More than that, reports from media outlets suggest Shurmur is not a guy people enjoy playing or coaching under, that's a problem. The Giants have been nothing short of abysmal and their culture is shot! I don't know who can fix this team because there is a lot which needs fixing. Throw away the whole thing and start with a new foundation.
Coaching Nominee: Anybody- Defensive coordinator James Bettcher would be the first name that come to mind. The Giants are years from being competitors unless a massive overhaul happens. The trend has been hiring younger offensive coaches to help ease the transition for young Quarterbacks so Bettcher is a long shot but nonetheless a worthy candidate. Brian Daboll is another name gaining steam. Daboll has been an offensice coordinator and/or assistant for nearly 20 years in the NFL including wide receivers coach and tight ends coach under Bill Belichick. In 2013 he held the tittle of Assistant Coach under Bill Belichick. Most recently he spent a year as the offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama and this year he made his way back to the NFL serving as the offensve coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.
Mike Zimmer(Minnesota Vikings)
Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings)
Year Hired: 2014
Last 3 years: 32-16
2018: 6-5-1 (Currently 2nd in Division and 6th in Conference standings)
Now I know Mike Zimmer is not a name many of you expected to be on this list so let me explain. Mike Zimmer deserves a lot of credit for all that has been going right for Minnesota since he was hired in 2014. He changed the culture around from day one. Now in Zimmer's defense quite a few things have gone wrong that were out of his control. For example in the 2015 divisional round they nearly pulled off a big upset at home vs a Seahawks team who were attempting a third straight trip to a Super Bowl. Trailing 10-9, the offense set the team up for a potential 27 yard field goal to win
Suggested replacement: Bruce Arians- Bruce Arians has made it clear he will only come out of retirement for the Cleveland job. The old saying goes "the only shots you miss are the ones you don't take. I would do my best to persuade old cuz into coaching my football team for a few years. Bruce will polish Kirk into the QB he was paid to be. Furthermore, Bruce can bring in his old friend and student Todd Bowles to be the defensive coordinator of a highly talented and underachieving defense. Todd Bowles and his aggressive hybrid scheme will maximize the talent of the supreme athletes on the Vikings defense.
Ron Rivera(Carolina Panthers)
Year Hired: 2011
Last 3 Years: 44-16
2018: 6-6 (2nd in divison, 7th in conference)
Last 3 Years: 44-16
Panthers got off to a flying start, unfortunately the life of the season seemingly was squeezed out of them in the big ketchup bottle vs the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football in week 10. The Steelers won the game 52-21. Initially we thought it was a speed bump as they weren't the first team to get rained on by Pittsburgh in Heinz Field on a Thursday, unfortunately it turned out to be a foreshadow of things to come. The Panthers are currently in the midst of a 4 game losing streak and Ron Rivera is at the center of the losing streak. Losing to the Steelers was bad, but going for 2 with the game on the line when down 1 point vs an inferior Lions team was the. virtual dagger....2 weeks later a 4 interception game by Cam vs division rival Bucs essentially was the nail in the coffin for the 2018 Carolina Panthers. Sometimes a change is needed, and I have just the candidate to rejuvenate Cam Newton and this front 7 as their window is quickly approaching a close.
Coaching Nominee- Mike Singletary- Mike Singletary was the cornerstone of the infamous 85 Bears defense. He was a middle linebacker ahead of his time. His intensity was the very reason his teammates loved him but his players weren't always too fond of (you may recall his little sideline incident with tight end Vernon Davis). However, Singletary has made it known he wants to coach again and he has been preparing for his second opportunity. His last coaching gig was in 2016 with the Rams as defensive assistant. I think Carolina is a perfect place for him to rejuvenate this defense and instill the same competitive fire in Cam that he had as a player. We all know Singletary wants winners!!! I think he can get the best out of a very talented front seven and overall be a good voice for Cam and everybody else in that locker room.