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Head Coaches Are…

Would YOU hire this guy?
Head Coaches Are…
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I ran across this yesterday.

 

Can somebody cogently explain to me why this guy still has a job?  As the article fails to point out, Jeff Fisher has been something approaching mediocre for the majority of his coaching career.  As a former player and assistant for several successful teams, including both roles for the 1985 Chicago Bears (ironically, former Steelers head coach and Eagles linebacker Bill Cowher once broke Fisher’s leg with a tackle on a punt return), he has “bloodlines” which merited his initial head coaching hire in Houston with the then-Oilers in mid-1994, replacing the deposed Jack Pardee.  Since then, Fisher has compiled a 174-162 record (including playoffs) with one Super Bowl loss.  He has failed to post a winning record since 2008.

 

That guy keep getting work.

 

In the coaching-starved NFL, and particularly this offseason, it’s become apparent that most franchises will try just about anyone.  Consider these hires:

 

– The Browns made their now-routine bi-annual coaching change, but may have landed the most desirable and deserving candidate available in Hue Jackson.

– The Eagles bounced the communication-challenged Chip Kelly in favor of the untested and unheralded Doug Pederson, whose greatest professional claim to fame was caddying for Brett Favre for several seasons.

– The aforementioned Kelly was hired by the 49ers – after the 49ers were spurned by Hue Jackson, mind you – in a last-ditch effort to restore some respectability after being jilted by notorious headcase and incumbent head coach Jim Harbaugh.

– The Titans nabbed Mike Mularkey, whose offensive design prowess is only overshadowed by his clear motivational shortcomings as a head coach in previous stops.

– The Giants stayed in-house, promoting offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, a longtime Tom Coughlin acolyte, making one wonder what went wrong with the real thing.

– The Dolphins laid claim to Adam Gase, John Fox’s offensive coordinator in Denver and Chicago. Note that Gase couldn’t get an interview anywhere last season under better circumstances.

– Lastly, the Buccaneers hired Dirk Koetter, who had been rumored to be a finalist for every available head coaching job during every offseason for the last dozen years.

 

I suspect about half these guys will be looking for work in three years or less.  And if Fisher’s track record is any indication, they may actually find it.

 

I don’t even know what defines a good coach anymore.

 

In the most obvious sense, wins and losses dictate job security, but they weren’t enough to save Chip Kelly.  After a subpar season in Philadelphia in which internal squabbling and finger-pointing over the team’s clear roster deficiencies culminated in Kelly’s very public departure, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie identified “communication” as the biggest factor in the firing.  Kelly, it seems, had a wealth of talent evaluation problems after wresting control of the roster from the team’s previously-successful management structure.  He jettisoned several good players and alienated others, all while bringing in unsuitable replacements.  Despite the goodwill he had generated from posting back-to-back 10-6 seasons and playoff appearances, Kelly was dumped after one poor campaign.  Clearly, his wins and acerbic personality weren’t enough to retain him.

 

Enter Pederson, whose tutelage of quarterback Alex Smith in Kansas City was supposedly the foremost reason for his hire.  Observers will note that ultra-conservative Smith is deficient in many areas, as he appears so worried about committing turnovers that the rest of the offense suffers greatly as a result.  The Chiefs have been able to succeed due primarily to their excellent defense and running game, so obviously, extreme ball control has been useful, but Smith’s methods represent a boring and uninspiring reach.  Apparently, this is what the Eagles want after the flamboyant Kelly.

 

In the cases of Koetter and McAdoo, both of whom were offered their positions to retain “continuity” with the previous coaching regime, one has to speculate whether we’ll see any real changes.  If these guys are running the same systems as their predecessors, does it really make a difference?  Is a fresh voice all that’s really needed to bounce back from poor – and on some cases consecutively poor – showings?  My thinking is no, that’s it’s best to start over again, at least on the side of the ball most responsible for failure.  “More of the same” doesn’t generally translate into success; the franchises that tend to restore themselves quickly are the ones that implement new hires and systems from outside.  Unless circumstances  – controversies, etc. – dictate an immediate firing, most coaches simply “lose the team”, or are unable to communicate their principles to a roster that’s tired of hearing it again, in which case a fresh outlook is definitely needed.

 

Which is why it’s unfathomable to me that guys like Fisher – hell, just Fisher – keep getting work.  Other longtime coaches at least have a track record of sustained success to fall back on – think John Fox, Mike Tomlin, Andy Reid, even Marvin Lewis.  These guys routinely get teams to the playoffs and often, when compared to the rest of the NFL, to the Super Bowl.

 

Perhaps Fisher has some sort of stranglehold on Rams’ management.  Perhaps it really is, as the article states, the need to have a consistent voice during their relocation to Los Angeles.  But it seems to me that the perfect time to change coaches is after a relocation, as it would provide a fresh start and a new direction for a team that’s clearly in need of one and a new fanbase that deserves better.

 

But that’s just my opinion, mind you, although I suspect it’s shared by many if the comments on the article are any indication.

 

So Godspeed, Jeff.  Your many years of ineptitude have apparently netted you more job security than those of us that actually try to succeed at our chosen occupations.  And congratulations are in order to Stan Kroenke for finally getting his man…again.

 

You both certainly deserve it.

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