Mike Pettine and the Top NFL Coaches That Could Be Fired
With week 15 of the 2015 NFL season just about in the books, we’re getting close to firing season. Numerous head coaches have been in rumors in regards to their futures with their teams, and extra losses down the stretch certainly won’t help their cases. Let’s break down some of the more obvious situations and see if these coaches should be let go by their respective teams:
Mike Pettine (Cleveland Browns)
After showing some promise in his first year as head coach, Pettine has completely lost the Browns, who have gone 3-11 in his second season and exhibited no real will on defense. Pettine and co. actually have put out a competitive team due to veteran quarterback Josh McCown and the growth of second-year passer Johnny Manziel, but in a season that was lost over a month ago, Pettine showed an inability to hand the keys of the franchise to Manziel. In fact, many believe that is a decision that should have been made in week two, when Manziel earned a win as the team’s starter. Pettine’s indecision and lack of impact on a regressing defense may have earned him a ticket out of town. Manziel had his coach’s back recently, but that may not be enough to save Pettine’s job.
Ultimately I expect Pettine to get fired, while the Browns commit to a progressing Manziel. The smart move would be to bring in a new head coach that is on board with Johnny Football, while also keeping his offensive coaches and system intact. Public Manziel supporter Jon Gruden could be the perfect fit.
Mike McCoy (San Diego Chargers)
It’s tough to come down too hard on McCoy, as his specialty in offense has mostly carried over in a big way for the Bolts and the team has also endured a ton of injuries during his campaign. Still, head coaches are weighed by wins and losses and since taking over in 2013, the Chargers are just 22-24. On the bright side, he did lead the Bolts to a playoff appearance in his first season ever as a head coach and in his first two seasons San Diego was highly competitive and finished with winning marks (9-7 both years). The team has fallen hard this year (just 4-10), but if I’m calling the shots in San Diego, I’m giving McCoy one more chance to right the ship. San Diego is a borderline playoff team if they can get healthy in 2016 and some moves on defense could turn them into a more balanced unit.
I don’t think McCoy should be fired given what a nightmare of a season the Chargers have dealt with. On top of all of the injuries, they’ve also played this year knowing they’re probably not going to stick in San Diego anymore. All things considered, McCoy and co. should get a mulligan for 2015 and have one last crack at building a legit playoff contender for next season.
Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles)
Kelly has been engulfed in firing rumors for pretty much the whole year, as he’s spent the last two years getting rid of what was perceived to be some of Philly’s best talent. The slams have seemed a bit odd, though, since Kelly has helped the Eagles go 10-6 in each of his first two seasons and going into the final two weeks, still could get the Eagles a division title and a trip to the playoffs. He’s done all of this without really having an answer at quarterback, too. If the Eagles give him a chance in 2016, he could finally get the passer he covets and things could end up working out just fine. A strong finish may be needed to end this year for that to happen, of course.
Kelly has made too many bold moves to not have his neck stretched out for the ax, but the Eagles also probably shouldn’t have a knee-jerk reaction to one sour season. His first two years were winning ones and he deserves a chance to show a down 2015 season isn’t the norm under his tenure. I think he gets one more year and if he can find a way to acquire a quarterback that fits his system (like RG3 or Colin Kaepernick, perhaps), he could easily still prove he’s the man for the job in Philly.
Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys)
Garrett might be another guy that deserves/gets a mulligan. The five wins for Dallas despite not having Tony Romo for much of the year surely aren’t impressive, but management has to realize this epic slide is more on them than Garrett. The reality is the Cowboys did not retain DeMarco Murray last year and they really never found a suitable option. They also didn’t have a competent backup quarterback in place, so once Romo went down (twice), Dallas couldn’t have been expected to do much. They didn’t, and that’s still at least partially on Garrett, but it’s tough to imagine anyone keeping these Cowboys in playoff contention. Because of that, I think Garrett’s job is safe for at least one more season. Dallas should hold onto him, draft Romo’s successor and also bring in a quality running back. If they can effectively do all of that, it’s clear that a weak NFC East could be had again in 2016.
Tom Coughlin (New York Giants)
Coughlin is probably gone if the G-Men can’t somehow steal the NFC East from the Redskins as the season winds down. New York has had endless opportunities to take over the division this year, but just as they have in the past three seasons, they’ve under achieved. They could still finish strong with two wins to take the division, but if they can’t, it may finally be time for a change.
Jim Caldwell (Detroit Lions)
Caldwell is directing a bad team in terms of wins this year, but a recent three-game winning streak has shown his team never mailed it in on him. Even with an ugly 0-5 start, the Lions never really quit and if they can return in 2016 with that same type of fight, they could be back in the mix for the playoffs. This is a team that was an unlikely hail mary from sweeping the Packers, won in Green Bay for the first time in over 20 years and never gave up despite their season being over rather early in the year. Caldwell hasn’t been the problem and even got the Lions to the post-season in his first season at the helm last year. He’ll get at least one more chance to prove he’s the guy to run the show.
Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints)
The Saints have actually fought pretty hard lately and even got a nice road win over the Bucs last week, but the writing has been on the wall for some time that Payton and the Saints will be parting ways. The franchise has stuck with him almost to thank him for their only Super Bowl title, but since shocking the world with a championship back in 2009, he’s led the Saints no further than the Divisional round of the playoffs. Things have really soured the past two years, too, as New Orleans has missed the playoffs in each season. With Drew Brees aging and the Saints breaking down as a whole, a separation is highly likely. There have even been rumors of a coach trade with Payton still under contract. A deal involving someone like the Miami Dolphins could be in the cards.
Jeff Fisher (St. Louis Rams)
Fisher has had it pretty tough during his time with the Rams, as he’s drafted some really solid talent and pieced together an elite defense, but has had horrid luck under center. Sam Bradford has been nothing but inconsistent or hurt when Fisher was in town and even a trade for Nick Foles didn’t help the position. Fisher has obviously made some mistakes as well, but he hasn’t been able to get this team past their quarterback issues. That’s partially on him but also partially just bad luck. I think he’s still a good coach that has 75% of what a good team needs. The Rams so far don’t plan on cutting him loose and I think he gets one more shot at finding the right fit at quarterback. Trading for a veteran quarterback like Jay Cutler could be the answer for a quick turn around.
Jim Tomsula (San Francisco 49ers)
The 49ers drove Jim Harbaugh out of town in foolish fashion and then opted to hire a coach that would dramatically lower expectations, rather than find someone fit to do the job that could get the Niners over the hump. Tomsula is not an NFL head coach and has clearly been hand-picked to be the stop-gap guy during what the Niners hope is a quick rebuilding process. They’re really a mess right now – so much so that they’re considering keeping Blaine Gabbert as their starting quarterback going into 2016. Tomsula isn’t the answer and if the Niners are going anywhere anytime soon, they’ll have to admit that publicly and start over with a qualified option. There will be a litany of solid assistants up for grabs, so that’s the avenue I expect them to go down.