As many of you are no doubt noticing, not as many bad coaches are getting fired despite their teams having disappointing seasons.
- Even though the Texans just celebrated their first winning season in franchise history, they missed the playoffs yet again. Four years under the current regime; fours years of sitting at home in January. So, why is Gary Kubiak still employed?
- Jack Del Rio continues to innovate the art of losing big and collapsing down the stretch. Yet, reports indicate that Wayne Weaver is not firing the Jackster, even though his team choked away a playoff birth by losing four straight to close out the 2009 campaign.
- Raheem Morris bumbled his way through a horrible rookie coaching tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. He fired his offensive coordinator during pre-season. Then, during the season, he fired his defensive coordinator, took over coaching the defense himself because he was too bored just being a head coach, and re-installed the Tampa-2 style of defense he had junked earlier. Seriously, how does incompetence on that scale not get you fired?
- Todd Haley seemed to make enemies everywhere within the Kansas City Chiefs whenever he opened his fat yap. The rumor was he and Scott Pioli barely spoke to one another during the season. After trading for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel (and drafting Tyson Jackson with the #3 pick), the Chiefs managed to win only 4 games. Oh, and Haley is supposed to be an offensive expert. He even fired his offesnive coordinator during pre-season and took over the job himself. The 2009 Chiefs ranked 25th in the league, averaging 18 ppg.
- Josh McDaniels did the exact same thing his predecessor did (start fast only to fold up like a tent down the stretch and miss the playoffs). Only this time, McDaniels seems to have survived the chopping block whereas Mike Shanahan last year did not.
- After a playoff appearance last season, both John Fox's Panthers and Jeff Fisher's Titans all regressed even though both were expected to compete for a Super Bowl in 2009.
- Despite trading for Jay Cutler, the Bears and Lovie Smith suffered through a losing season riddled with interceptions, bad defense, and poor offensive line play.
Yet, despite all this coaching incompetence, there doesn't seem to be any accountability. Only the Jim "Dead Man Walking" Zorn and Bills interim head coach Perry Fewell have been sent to the unemployment line.
Factor in that strong, proven coaching candidates like Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, and Brian Billick are just sitting out there, and the reasons why there haven't been more firing grow even more odd. I mean, forget that great assistants like Leslie Frazier, Ron Rivera, and Sean McDermott are looooooooong overdue for head coaching jobs. Cowher, Gruden, and Billick have all won rings, yet remain unemployed while fools like Morris, Haley, and McDaniels are inventing new ways to lose while collecting millions.
Now, I understand that coaches like Haley and Morris were working with bad teams. My issue with them is not necessarily the fact that they lost; it's that there seem to be a regression with the team from the previous regime. Jim Schwartz of the Lions had to work with a really bad team, but at least there was improvement: They actually won some games this year, and before he got hurt Matthew Stafford was developing very nicely.
So, why aren't owners dumping the obvious trash they have coaching their teams and replacing them with people who are either genuinely proven winners or show the potential to be winners?
The answer: Money.
No one knows what the NFL is going to be after this season. Currently, 2010 has no salary cap. After 2010, there is... well, nothing. And nothing means that if things progress as they are, 2011 will have a work stoppage. With genetic slugs like Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder pushing hard for an end to revenue sharing, the reality is that the days of small market teams competing with large market teams are fading.
The Wellington Maras of the "share the wealth" age are dead. Replacing them are the greed-minded morons like Jones, who view revenue sharing as an obstacle to them buying a winning team, ala the Steinbrenners in New York with the Yankees.
This means that small market clubs like Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and Kansas City have little incentive to pay big money to a big time coach who will help them win. And when fans see that the club is less interested in winning and more interested in pinching pennies, fans do not show up to ball games. Just ask Jaguars fans. We like to bash and berate them for not showing up to games, but I understand where they are going from. The Jaguars were a bad team this year, just like they were last year. Their coach is an idiot and their owner is clearly looking to sell. In the middle of a crippling recession, why would any family pay to watch that team?
Bash them all you want, but residents in Jacksonville are not dumb. They know a turd when they smell it.
Seriously, when owners tell us fans that "All I want to do is win," I think we can all agree that they are feeding us a load of elephant dung. Owners want to make money, and they do so by conning fans into believing they want to win. The trick for us is to know when we are being conned.
I firmly believe owners like Jim Irsay, Dan Rooney, The Mara Family, and the residents of Green Bay (who own a stake in their team) all have a desire to win the right way. They believe in revenue sharing and they believe that the reason the NFL has dominated professional sports for ten years is because the notion of "Any Given Sunday" is proven. In baseball and basketball, the same teams every year battle it out. Most of these teams are large market teams centered on the east and west coasts, leaving the center of the country to cling to amateur sports and racing.
The NFL cut through all that.
Now, with an uncertain future and owners more interested in cutting costs than winning, the people left out in the cold are fans. And when you see proven winners like Bill Cowher still sitting out there while idiots like Jack Del Rio remain employed, the message to fans is load and clear.