Will a Small Number of NFL Coaching Openings Help the Redskins Land Their Guy?
Early in the season it looked like there were quite a few coaches on the Hot Seat, and we could see the typical 5-8 coaches get fired this year on the dreaded “Black Monday”. Now with three games remaining in the season that might no longer be the case, and we could only see a few coaching openings. First we’ll look at what jobs could come open and then what that means to the Redskins. Here is a look at what jobs could potentially come open and the likelihood of that happening:
First up: Bottom two teams in each division. Typically if you are getting pink slip it’s because you aren’t making the playoffs and have a losing record. Those teams are usually found at the bottom of a division.
New York Giants: Maybe the job comes open, I don’t see Tom Coughlin getting fired, but he is a candidate to retire after the season. Despite a horrendous start, the Giants have played better of late and have somewhat salvaged this season, which puts this one up in the air.
Washington Redskins: Definitely going to happen. Mike Shanahan his basically daring Dan Snyder to fire him ASAP, though it is likely that it will happen after the season.
Green Bay Packers: No chance, Mike McCarthy’s job is 100% safe. The Packers are struggling, but they’ve been torn up by injuries, including one to start QB Aaron Rodgers that explains their issues this season.
Minnesota Vikings: Solid possibility. Five weeks ago this looked like a lock that Leslie Frazier would get fired, but Frazier has gone 2-2-1 over that stretch, including a win over the Bears and a tie versus the Packers. Their loss this past week to the Ravens was a heartbreaker despite some really bad officiating calls and Adrian Peterson being sidelined. Frazier has only been in Minnesota for 3 full years and 6 games as an interim coach. Though two of those seasons are going to end pretty poorly, he was .500 as an interim coach, and did make the playoffs last year. He might be given one more chance next season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Probably safe. This looked like a lock through 7 weeks as well, but the Buccaneers have been one of the better teams the last two months when they’ve been 4-2. They nearly upset the Seahawks in Seattle, and have won four of their last 5 games, including two against solid teams like Miami and Detroit. Though Greg Schiano has burned some bridges, he’s been vindicated some with the struggles of Josh Freeman in Minnesota and the relative success of Mike Glennon. The fact that the offense is producing without top talents Doug Martin and Mike Williams is even more impressive. I think it’s bought Schiano one more year to get this team over .500.
Atlanta Falcons: No chance. Yes this is a disappointing season in Atlanta, but Mike Smith has plenty of good will. He posted a winning record in his first 5 seasons and went to the playoffs in four of those. Each of those numbers are 1/3 of the franchise’s total. Also, you can point to injuries as being a big factor for why this team is under-performing this season.
Arizona Cardinals: No chance. Not only is Bruce Arians a success story in the toughest division in football with an 8-5 record, but he’s a first year coach so even if that record was flipped he would be safe.
St. Louis Rams: Little chance. Crazier things have happened, but I’d put the chance that Fisher is not the coach of St. Louis next season at about 1% and that is probably being generous. Despite losing Sam Bradford at the mid-way point the Rams have still been pretty competitive this year in the toughest division. Probably the best chance for Fisher not being here is something crazy like him taking the Texas football job.
New York Jets: Possible chance. After back-to-back AFC Title game appearances, Rex Ryan has fallen on hard times these last three years. Ryan could be looking at back-to-back 6 win seasons, but that might not get him fired. The Jets had been mismanaged for awhile and this season they ate a lot of cap space to fix things for the future. They had very little talent to work with, yet Ryan has been able to knock off the Patriots and the Saints this year which is pretty impressive. With the way the defense has played, the Jets might give Ryan another year to fix things. I would say that Ryan likely keeps his job, but there is at least a chance he’s fired.
Buffalo Bills: No chance. Yes the Bills are struggling and may finish with just 4 or 5 wins, but Doug Marrone is a first year coach with a rookie QB (who was even injured some). He’s got leeway and will be back on the sidelines in Buffalo next year.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Little chance. This is similar to the Jeff Fisher situation. Sure when the Steelers were winless early on this was a consideration. But they are playing much better football these last 10+ weeks. They may finish below .500, but Tomlin has built up some goodwill here. Also, the Steelers have never been a team to make rash decisions with their coaching staff. Maybe if they are blown out the final 3 weeks something could happen, or if Tomlin takes a college job, but both are very unlikely to occur.
Cleveland Browns: No chance. The Browns may be 4-9 right now, but honestly that is a solid look for them as they’ve been in rebuilding mode. Rob Chudzinski is a first year coach and his job is safe.
Jacksonville Jaguars: No Chance. The Jaguars did fire a first year head coach the year before, but that was expected since a new G.M. was put in place. Gus Bradley is his guy and the Jags despite being in a complete rebuilding mode have shown signs of life down the stretch.
Houston Texans: Already Happened. Gary Kubiak has gotten the ax so this job is already open.
San Diego Chargers: No Chance. Mike McCoy is another first year head coach and he’s done a pretty good job this year. There is no chance they would look to replace him.
Oakland Raiders: Possible chance. This is a tough one. Dennis Allen is in year two of coaching the Raiders and is probably looking at another 4-12 season. It’s tough to keep your job after only 8 wins in two years, but it’s actually not that surprising considering just how little talent this team has. The Raiders weren’t brimming with talent to begin with and then they completely dumped many well known players to fix their cap situation going forward. The fact that Allen could win 4 games with this group and be in a number of other ones is pretty impressive. Maybe the Raiders want to start anew next year, but they might given Allen one more chance with some actual talent. I’d put this near 50/50 as I can see both sides of the story.
It’s not always bottom teams that will fire coaches, as the Bear’s Lovie Smith witnessed last year when he won 10 games, but was still fired after they missed the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys: Possible chance. Jason Garrett hasn’t exactly had a stellar career in Dallas, but he’s a Jerry Jones favorite and they are still in the playoff hunt. If Dallas makes the playoffs his job should be completely safe. If he is 9-7 and just misses the playoffs, he probably gets one more year. The question becomes what happens if they are say 7-9 or 8-8. There I would put the chances of him getting fired at 50/50.
Miami Dolphins: Possible chance. This isn’t tied to whether or not Joe Philbin gets the Dolphins to the playoffs or not, because whether they make it or not, it’s been a fantastic year for Miami (from a win/loss stand point). They’ve been in just about every game and should finish over .500. The issue here is the investigation over the Jonathan Martin incident. If there are ties to the coaching staff being negligent or ordering some of the “toughening up” of Martin, Philbin could be fired.
Tennessee Titans: Likely to happen. Tennessee probably shouldn’t be considered a surprise team, despite the fact that they aren’t a bottom two team in their division. The Titans have been very disappointing this season in a really weak division. It sounds like Tennessee is looking for a full makeover and that will likely include a new coach.
Denver Broncos: Very unlikely to happen. Now John Fox isn’t getting fired. But if the Broncos say win the SB, and Peyton Manning were to retire (which I don’t believe happens), Fox could say now is the time to step down due to his medical issues. Even in that scenario I would still say it is unlikely that Fox steps down, but it’s got to at least be taken into consideration.
Detroit Lions: Possible chance. Jim Schwartz turned this team around from a 4 win year last year and they are very much in the playoff hunt, but they’ve started to be a bit disappointing as they try to close things out. Losses to Tampa, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia have kept the Bears alive. Schwartz is also not the most popular of guys and has burned plenty of bridges himself. Yes he made the playoffs two years ago, but he’s got 3 losing seasons to his name. If the Lions were to miss the playoffs this year he could get fired. If they make the playoffs he’s probably safe.
As you can see there are definite possibilities out there, but few locks outside the Texans who have already fired their coach and the Redskins. I think the Titans will definitely make a move and between the Raiders and Vikings, one of the two will be fired, making the total job openings at 4. Maybe we see one other surprise (or the other team from the Raiders/Vikings), but barring some crazy things happening at the end of this season there shouldn’t be a lot of firings. I think it could be as little as three openings and no more than 5.
What does it mean for the Redskins:
Well it’s not exactly surprising, but if there are fewer coaching openings then there is obviously a much smaller market, which makes it easier to get a top candidate. Between top coordinators, former great coaches and college football/CFL options, you probably could come up with a list of 15 really intriguing options, but even of that list has a hierarchy where there are probably 4-6 home run picks (especially for a particular team) and then everyone else. So if there are just 4 or 5 openings this year, you have a greater chance of getting a top option.
Now just because there are a few openings it doesn’t mean that it is a lock that the Redskins land a top guy. It’s possible that some of the top names, might not be interested in any of the potential openings (or perhaps the Redskins specifically), and they decide to not throw their hat into the ring. That being said the Redskins have a strong track record of luring big name guys (though not necessarily the best guys). Between a small market of openings, an owner that is willing to spend money both on the coach and the roster, and a strong market/history, the Redskins should be pretty confident about landing a top option. Now the key is to land the right option. The Redskins will hopefully have an open coaching search and not just latch on to the biggest name as they’ve done in the past.