Just when you think you got it all figured out…
The day following the end of Week 17 in the NFL has historically been the day teams make decisions on the future of their organizations, and while every year there is a surprise that no one saw coming, Monday was one of the more confusing and interesting days in the history of the league.
First, the things we all saw coming.
Cleveland announced the firings of head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer Sunday evening. Whoever is desperate enough to take this job will become the sixth Browns coach this decade, and eighth since the Browns returned to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999.
San Francisco doubled down on rebuilding, firing Jim Tomsula just 13 months after dispatching Jim Harbaugh from the big chair. Good luck to whomever decides to work with the dysfunctional duo of owner Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke. The 49ers have fired the last two coaches who actually took them to the playoffs (Harbaugh and Steve Mariucci in 2002).
Long time New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin stepped down after 12 seasons leading Big Blue.
“I met with John Mara and Steve Tisch this afternoon, and I informed them that it is in the best interest of the organization that I step down as head coach,” Coughlin said in a statement. “I strongly believe the time is right for me and my family and, as I said, the Giants organization.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as head coach of the New York Football Giants. This is a not a sad occasion for me. I have spent 15 years with this organization as an assistant and head coach and was fortunate to be part of three Super Bowl-winning teams. A Lombardi Trophy every five years is an achievement in which we all take great pride.”
Many believe the Giants will look in-house, having just replaced offensive coordinators before the 2014 season, bringing in Ben McAdoo to build around Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr.
Now we start to get to the head-scratchers.
Mike McCoy looked like he was headed out the door, but the Chargers appear to have bigger fish to fry as Monday they (along with the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders) each submitted applications to league offices to relocate their franchises to Los Angeles. That might be the only thing saving McCoy’s tail at this point.
St. Louis retained Jeff Fisher, and quite possibly for the same reasons as San Diego. Relocation is hard enough, no need to amplify matters with a coaching search on top of it, especially when you are a couple of players away from being a damn good team. With that defense, and Todd Gurley running the ball, there is a good recipe in the works for the Rams.
Personally I thought the Lions would fire Jim Caldwell and I had hoped that Jacksonville and St. Louis would keep things as is. No crystal ball there.
Then there is what transpired in Indianapolis on Monday
I don’t think there is anyone who dislikes Chuck Pagano, but as a lame duck coach who decided to let the dice roll going into 2015 without a contract after this year, Pagano endured a disastrous season without his franchise quarterback Andrew Luck who missed nine games (and parts of others) with a littany of injuries.
Both Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson were expected to be canned back in mid-November, but an all-time 11th hour Hail Mary thrown by Pagano saved both Grigson and himself from the chopping block.
In hindsight, it did seem unfair to cut ties with Pagano after back to back AFC South titles and a trip to the AFC title game after going through that kind of injury plagued season.
Grigson better count his lucky stars Pagano saved him. Now the pressure is on the Colts to have a good draft and off-season, or Grigson may be the scapegoat if Indy doesn’t turn the tide in 2016.
Still some work left to do
Tennessee has yet to make a coaching decision, as they are considering removing the interim tag off Mike Mularkey, but are “keeping the process open”. The Titans might opt to hire a GM before deciding on a coach as they terminated Ruston Webster from that position on Monday.
Philly, well… Who knows where they are going.
Something to keep an eye on is going to be the continued conversations between Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. It is obvious at this point that Payton wants out of NOLA, and he would be in high demand for any of the current openings, especially San Francisco, Miami, and Philadelphia.
Compensation could be the hang up, the Saints would need either cash compensation or draft picks if Payton were to leave.
If Payton does bolt, that could cause a handful of coaching carousels to spin, but I get the feeling we aren’t out of the woods yet. There aren’t any coaches who would step down before next season (barring a health or family issue), but there is one playoff team that may decided to blow the whole thing up if they don’t get a win this weekend.
But then I remember that the Cincinnati Bengals are among the most frugal teams ever, but at some point paying Marvin Lewis $4.5 Million a year to NOT win playoff games is going to grind on ownership. Lewis signed a guaranteed extension thru 2016, and now that Andy Dalton has been signed through the 2020 season, this could be the time Cincy cuts bait and tries to lure Sean Payton to the Queen City, or they could turn the reigns to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
Of course if the Bengals beat Pittsburgh this weekend, all of this goes away, for now.