The final week of the 2008 NFL regular season has concluded, and right on cue, teams have begun to fire coaches. Some of the firings were obvious; Rod Marinelli was at the help of the first NFL team to ever go 0-16, so it’s no shock that the Lions cut him loose. Over in Denver, the Broncos decided that it was better to buy out the three years left on Mike Shanahan’s contract, than to let him continue running the team as head coach. Or in any position there. The Jets canned Mangini, while the
Dolphins,* Browns, Raiders and Rams all showed their head coach the door. Oddly, the Dallas Cowboys reacted to their worst finish in memory by promising to keep Wade Phillips, but in a token move fired Special Teams coach Bruce Read. In Houston, Gary Kubiak celebrated keeping his job by firing three coaches who worked for him, including his defensive coordinator. In San Francisco, interim head-coach Mike Singletary lost the ‘interim’ tag and began clearing house for new coaches, firing his offensive coordinator and two other assistant coaches, while many other teams are looking closely at their staffs to decide whether to ax someone, for poor performance, to open a slot for someone else, or just because everyone else seems to be doing it. Tis the season of the pink slip, and it happens every year.
What’s really goofy, though, is that these same teams will be looking for replacements for those coaches, and what they want in most cases is NFL experience at that position. So, the NFL being a closed market, a cartel if you will, most of these fired coaches will end up with another team, doing pretty much the same thing for the same money. Change of wardrobe, not much else. There are a few changes that happen; the 49ers got a real steal by signing Singletary, a real talent on the field and on the sidelines who was snubbed for many years for no reason other than he lacked head-coaching experience. And there are always a handful of NCAA head coaches who could be considered for open slots. But mainly, the NFL fraternity continues to take care of its own, promising far more change than ever really happens.
* Cameron was fired after the 2007 season, I mis-recalled.