Lots Of NFL Coaching Jobs To Fill

Bobby Curran
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Friday - December 23, 2005
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As we approach the NFL playoffs, we’ll hear a lot about the coaching genius that guides this year’s successful teams. About how Tony Dungy has led the Indianapolis Colts to a spectacular record, Mike Holmgren’s prowess with the rejuvenated Seattle Seahawks, Tom Coughlin’s wizardry with the New York Giants. The coaches of these and other successful teams will reap huge praise from the fans and the media.

The flip side is the fate of coaches whose teams have not fared well, failing to meet expectations and disappointing their rabid rooters. It’s hard to say how many of these coaches will join the ranks of the unemployed, but it could reach double figures.

* The Detroit Lions have already fired Steve Mariucci.

* The Houston Texans have been a dismal failure, so Dom Capers is in big trouble.

* Oakland has been horrible, and Norv Turner is in the hot seat there. Brian Billick has watched the Baltimore Ravens become an also-ran; he may be held responsible.

* How long will the Arizona Cardinals continue to give Dennis Green a pass? Most analysts thought the Cards would contend for a playoff spot, and they are well short of that.

* The New York Jets have been beset with injuries, but three or four wins per season don’t go over well in the Big Apple, and Herman Edwards could be in trouble there.

* The Minnesota Vikings have turned around their season, but if they falter Mike Tice could be out, since he has some baggage from the ticket scalping incident, and his team received bad press with the love boat deal.

* The St. Louis Rams saw Mike Martz succumb to health problems, and nobody in Rams nation seems anxious to get him back.

* The Kansas City Chiefs are playing well, but Dick Vermeil is in the final year of his contract and will be 70 on his next birthday, and many feel that he will have a good cry and say goodbye.

* The Green Bay Packers have been horrible, and Mike Sherman could take the hit there.

* The Buffalo Bills have underachieved, and Mike Mularkey may not escape blame for the team’s performance.

* And while Hurricane Katrina might be as much reason as excuse, with no home stadium all season, the New Orleans Saints may run out of patience with Jim Haslett.

Now consider the old model for becoming an NFL coach. You worked as a position coach, advanced to a co-coordinator position, and when your team had success, you became a media darling and ascended to a head coaching spot. Once in the fraternity, you could be fired and go back to coordinator somewhere, and wait for a chance to be recycled. Some coaches retire to the broadcast booth only to return to the sidelines at a later date.

Don’t feel sorry for those who receive pink slips. Current salaries mean that for most fired coaches, future gainful employment is optional.

But who will fill these open positions? There are not too many highly touted coordinators available. With the possible exception of Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Williams, there is no Marvin Lewis, Charlie Weiss or Romeo Crennel waiting to be anointed. There are solid assistants aplenty, but few who will immediately satisfy the insatiable hunger that fans have for a savior.

Expect the new head coaches to be a mix of retreads and no names, and that will remain the case as long as fans and owners demonstrate their current level of impatience.

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