We never liked the Josh McDaniels hiring in Denver.
We made this known to Broncos fans at the time, and naturally they disliked us for it. No hard feelings. At the time, it was understandable for Broncos fans to protect their new coach. Happy thoughts and notions of optimism are always going to trump the cold, hard reality that McDaniels was little more than a Ohio frat boy who, through his connections with Bill Belichick, got a job he was clearly unqualified for.
The hiring was a microcosm of everything wrong with NFL head coaching hiring today.
While strong minority candidates like Leslie Frazier and Ron Rivera (who had done great work on numerous teams) couldn't get a job despite multiple interviews, the cocky white guy in New England not only took over the head coaching job for a promising Broncos club, but he was also in charge of their personnel department. The results were disaster.
Despite the noble efforts embodied in 'The Rooney Rule,' the fact is stupid white owners are going to hire stupid white coaches because they just don't know any better.
Today, Josh McDaniels is like so many other people from the state of Ohio: Out of work. Meanwhile, Leslie Frazier is 2-0 since taking over the Vikings for recently fired Brad Childress while Ron Rivera's defense in San Diego is about the only thing consistently working for the Chargers.
While it is something of a daily thing around here for us to take shots at Colts president Bill Polian, the one thing I will give him (and owner Jim Irsay) big props on is their willingness and understanding to give truly deserving people a chance to coach regardless of their skin color.
While he is certainly not a popular figure among Indianapolis fans today, Jim Caldwell deserved the head coaching job he got. And while he hasn't impressed many with is sideline demeanor, his win-loss record is pretty good.
This post isn't to suggest that there have not been strides made in the opportunities granted to minority coaches, because there have been. Prior to Super Bowl 41, no African American had ever coached a Super Bowl. Since then, two have won Super Bowls while three of the last four have featured a black head coach on the sidelines. It's also not to suggest 'white people can't coach.' The ability to coach has nothing to do with the color of one's skin. However, the reality of NFL head coaching is often unqualified white guys get good jobs over more qualified minority candidates.
The McDaniels firing also underscores the fact that former-assistants for Bill Belichick in New England simply do not translate well into strong NFL head coaches. Contrast this with former-Colts and Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, whose coaching tree rivals the late, great Bill Walsh of the 49ers.
Former Belichick assistants Romeo Crennel (Cleveland Browns), Charlie Weis (Notre Dame), Nick Saban (Miami Dolphins), and now Josh McDaniels were all failures as NFL head coaches. Crennel was fired after four years of missing the playoffs. Weis got booted when he did little to improve Notre Dame over his predecessor, Ty Willingham. McDaniels and Saban both lasted two seasons with their respective clubs before being replaced. In Saban's case, he just up and quit on the team so he could take his talents to Alabama.
Compare this to Tony Dungy's people.
Lovie Smith, after a contentious off-season in Chicago, has the Bears ready for their fourth winning season in six years. The last Bears coach with that level of consistency was Mike Ditka.
At Smith's side is former-Lions coach Rod Marinelli, who has transformed Chicago's defense into one of the best in football. Marinelli is often blamed for the Lions 0-16 season in 2008, but don't let silly generalizations cloud your opinion of Marinelli. I watched six Lions games that year, and if teams like the Raiders played with the guts and fire that the talentless 2008 Lions team did, they'd be the #1 seed in the AFC this year. Marinelli got scrubs, rejects, and nobodys to play hard. Unfortunately, you need talent to win in the NFL, and the talent was lacking in Detroit because then-Lions GM Matt Millen is so incompetent he should interview for the CEO position at BP.
Raheem Morris in Tampa Bay, who Dungy hired as an intern with the Bucs back in 2001, has that team over-achieving this year.
And, for course, Mike Tomlin has the Steelers in position to win the AFC North in 2010, which would be his second division title in four years.
Good people attract more good people, and it's pretty obvious that Tony Dungy knew a thing or two about how to mentor coaches. So, if teams decide this off-season to make a coaching switch, our humble suggestion is to maybe check out a Dungy protege, or two.