Two coaches have been fired in one day, and with three weeks left in the regular season of the NFL, it’s that time of year to look at the Coaching Carousel that’s about to start spinning. We’ll take a look at coaches that are gone and coaches who are struggling and could be gone.
- Jack Del Rio – The Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio two weeks ago before their Monday Night game against San Diego, with Mel Tucker replacing him. Tucker won his first game Sunday against Tampa Bay after losing last Monday, he faces Atlanta Thursday, then finishes at Tennessee and against Indianapolis. Jacksonville sold the team the same day Del Rio was fired and I would expect new owner Shahid Kahn and GM Gene Smith to make a splash hire for the Jags, someone with a wealth of experience.
- Todd Haley – The Chiefs let go of Haley early Monday morning after a 5-8 start and what seems to be no promise of a turnaround. Rumors have swirled that Haley wasn’t the easiest to deal with, and that’s all fine if you’re winning, but they weren’t. The Chiefs will begin their search hunt at the end of the season as current DC and former Browns HC Romeo Crennel handles the remaining three games, possibly serving as his own audition.
- Tony Sparano – After the 0-7 start, Sparano looked as good as gone, then after the 4-1 run, it looked like he just may have saved his job, then suddenly after they got beat down by Philadelphia, Sparano was let go. The Dolphins are reportedly looking for a young Don Shula, and all I can tell them is “good luck”, they’re going to need to grab themselves a decent QB in the draft, as much credit as I’ve given Matt Moore, he’s not the guy to turn around any franchise.
There are a few coaches who are struggling right now but shouldn’t be in any danger. These coaches should be given at least one more season to turn things around before their respective franchise decides to give them the axe.
- Raheem Morris – The Buccaneers have lost 7 straight, so it’s understood that people are beginning to call for Morris’s head. The defense has seemingly regressed and after jumping out to a 14-7 lead, the Bucs let the Jaguars score 34 unanswered to give them their highest point total of the season. Freeman injured his thumb at a gun range and hasn’t been the same since, and have been decimated all around, but as the Packers proved last season, injuries are no excuse. Morris is a young coach that has revitalized a franchise that had been dead in the water mid-way through Gruden’s tenure, give him one more year to see if he can get things right before you show him the door. Even if he’s let go, someone will give him another chance a few years from now.
- Mike Shannahan – Some believe that Shannahan should be axed because he’s now made bad quarterback decisions two years in a row, after McNabb showed up and flamed out, Mike put his faith in Rex and John Beck. Now that flame has died and the Redskins have been stuck with Rex Grossman for 2011, if not for these two major QB mistakes (who saw the McNabb decline coming), the Redskins would actually be a decent team. They’ll have a chance in the draft to pick a good, young QB, and should sign a veteran QB to buy time for that rookie to learn (many believe Griffin III will be the most logical choice) and see how it goes from there. Shannahan, like Morris, should be on a one-year notice.
- Leslie Frazier – The Vikings are a horrid 2-11, but most of that can be blamed on their secondary. People were knocking the McNabb signing after he was waived, but the Vikings have won just as many games without him. Ponder has struggled lately, but even if he was playing as sharp as a tack, the Vikings would MAYBE be two games better, MAYBE. Frazier needs to spend the offseason retooling that defense that he got stuck with and make it at least somewhat better, go grab a valuable corner and comeback with a competing defense.