I hate to beat up on the Browns again. Wait… who am I kidding?! No I don’t! I love it. Even Clevelanders like beating up on Clevelanders. But here’s a list of their last 7 head coaches, which hilariously only dates back to 1999 (7 coaches, 14 years) :
– Chris Palmer
– Butch Davis
– Terry Robiskie
– Romeo Crennel
– Eric Mangini
– Pat Shurmur (Who?)
– Rob Chudzinski
So from the Cleveland side, I get it. “Let’s get Jim Harbaugh!” Totally understandable fellas.
But for the Niners, I’m a bit more confused. Sure you’d get some sweet draft picks out of the deal, and you wouldn’t have to pay Harbaugh the reported $10 mil/year contract extension (dream on) he’s asking for (http://deadspin.com/has-jim-harbaugh-worn-out-his-welcome-in-san-francisco-1529632026), and you don’t have to deal with all the Jim Harbaugh-type things that Jim Harbaugh does (http://www.mercurynews.com/tim-kawakami/ci_24744746/kawakami-jim-harbaugh-and-trent-baalkes-competitive-tension), but this is the absolute definition of a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” type of situation to me.
And the 49ers certainly “ain’t broke” if you ask me. They were the second-best team in football last year behind the Super Bowl champs. 12-4 last year, and the year before that, 13-3 the year before that, 3-straight NFC Championships, a yard or two away from a Super Bowl with a brand new quarterback in 2013. I could go on and on. But they’re not broke.
How do I say this nicely? … The Niners aren’t good liars, but they’re certainly good deceivers, or “hiders,” I really don’t know the best way of saying it. “Oh we totally didn’t try to get Peyton Manning when he was a free agent. We freakin’ LOVE Alex Smith. Promise.” Remember that? “Hey yea, we’re gonna start Colin this week because we’re not sure Alex Smith has fully healed from his concussion,” to “Hey yea, we’re gonna start Colin this week but we haven’t abandoned Alex Smith, we’re moving forward with both of them being very much an integral part of this football team but… yea, Colin is going to take all the snaps.” Remember that? “There is absolutely no truth to the whole ‘we tried to trade Jim Harbaugh’ rumors” to “Hey, we looked at the trade for a couple seconds when it came across our desks but we didn’t really consider it. We LOVE Jim!” Haha. Please.
Side Note: Remember whose idea it was to draft Colin Kaepernick? Remember whose idea it was to groom Colin Kaepernick and start him over Alex Smith? Jim Harbaugh. The result? A yard or two away from a Super Bowl win had there not been a no-call on Crabtree in the endzone in last year’s Super Bowl.
Anyways… This whole mess kind of got me thinking, if a successful coach like Jim Harbaugh is as expendable as he apparently is, what does that mean for the job security of coaches in general? The Titans fired Mike Munchak for seemingly nothing last year. Two-time Super Bowl winner Tom Coughlin only got a one year extension a few days ago. Mike Pettine will almost assuredly meet the same fate as Chudzinski before him in Cleveland.
Thus, I give you, the NFL Head Coach Job Security rankings. This is in no way a ranking of how “good” or “bad” a coach is at coaching. Keep in mind for these rankings, much like Harbaugh’s situation, your track record of success or failure is only one factor in determining your job security. We’ll factor in age, contract status, the market of available coaches and many other things as well:
For added fun I based each category off football coaches from Hollywood (movie/TV titles in parentheses)
The Herman Boone (Remember the Titans) category:
1. Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick was pretty much convicted of cheating and fined more than any other coach in NFL history, deflected any/all blame during the Aaron Hernandez media fiasco, and OK’d the signing of Tim Tebow last offseason. That’s three kisses of death right there. The guy is bulletproof. Three rings and five Super Bowl appearances in a decade will do that for you I guess.
2 and 3. Sean Payton and Pete Carroll
I think Sean Payton has the better overall track record, but can you definitively say he’s a better coach than Pete Carroll? I can’t. Much like Belichick, Both of them have been able to show a teflon-like impervious ability to let scandal and controversy slide off of them on their way to success. Half the Seahawks defense has tested positive for banned substances of some sort and the Bountygate thing wasn’t a good look for Sean Payton. I mean, Goodell tried to crush Payton after the bounty scandal. Sean Payton just made a low-key statement, hung out at home for a year, brought his team to the playoffs this year, and is back at Brees’ house helping him shoot good-ole American Wranglers’ commercials. That’s why he’s the highest paid coach.
Side Note: There is nothing more American than the Drew Brees’ Wrangler commercial. Brees just looks in the camera and goes, “Hi, I’m Drew Brees, Super Bowl MVP. I have a smokin’ hot wife, a beautiful child who will probably be just as good as I am at football. Watch me throw this perfect spiral to my Golden Retriever. By the way, don’t I look damn good in these Wrangler jeans? They conform to my muscular physique and give me extra space in the crotchal region for things I can’t talk about on cable television.
Wrangler. Real. Comfortable. Jeans.
The Tony D’Amato (Any Given Sunday) Category:
4. Chip Kelly
5. Andy Reid
6. Mike McCarthy
7. Riverboat Ron
All players coaches here. They can be tough when they need to be, but they’re best at motivating. They have no problem replacing a QB and sticking with him when their starter goes down (Chip Kelly), easily dust off old players and show their full potential (Andy Reid), somehow manage to make the playoffs despite being beat up every single year (McCarthy, he also gives a hell of a halftime speech – see 2013 Cowboys-Packers game), or because they used to play they have a unique relationship with their players and their guys love them for it (Ron Rivera).
Are any of them bulletproof? Absolutely not. But we live in a what have you done for me lately world, and each of these coaches did a great job last season with teams that were (or should have been – Packers injuries) terrible. They did a tremendous job motivating their guys and with the slight exception of Rivera, none of their contracts are facing any kind of questioning.
Side Note: I actually wrestled a lot with what to do with Rivera here. I had him as high as 7, and then dropped him as low as 12. But I think something we have to factor in is recent success and a promise of continuity. Panthers love Rivera for some reason, and he righted that ship last year. A lot of young talent in a decent division tells me the Panthers are going to be good for awhile.Rivera will have at least two more years of “He just hasn’t figured out the playoffs quite yet” excuses going for him before we throw him in the “Marvin Lewis” Category.
The Kevin and Danny O’Shea Category (Little Giants):
8. John Harbaugh
9. Jim Harbaugh
Ok, so maybe I just put these guys in the same category because they’re brothers and it worked better for the list. Or maybe they actually do belong 8 and 9 on this list. Let’s start with Jon. The Ravens had to shell out a berzillion dollars to overpay Joe Flacco, because the only thing more unforgivable than icing a Super Bowl-wining coach is icing a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. You just don’t do it. You can’t get away with it (unless they’re Trent Dilfer). John’s been extended through 2016 at $7 million a year which makes him undoubtedly ahead of his brother in the rankings here. But if you think for one minute that the Ravens won’t buy him out after a couple seasons in the basement (which I think they’re in for) and a metric crap ton of disciplinary issues you’re wrong. I think they’re both safe, but theoretically it would be easier to get rid of him than Flacco if things went south.
As for Jim, we covered most of it above. The fact that he wants to be the highest-paid coach in the NFL is disturbing for a Niners’ front office that still doesn’t have a Lombardi since Steve Young was at the helm. Having said that, Jim is smart and even if his players don’t like him the fans do, and it would be tough to axe him. That said, no coach likes to be a lame duck coach without a deal past one year – it’s not like a player in the final year of his deal. I see some knock-down, drag-out fights over this contract extension if he’s serious about that kind of cash and the front office really hates him as much as it seems they do.
Side Note: Remember the little girl from Little Giants? The tomboy one? The “Icebox”? Uhh, yea. She grew up.
The Eric Taylor Category (Friday Night Lights):
Wo wo wo WO! Eric Taylor after Tony D’Amato and the O’Shea brothers!? You’ve got to be kidding me, Royal! What about Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!
I know what I’m doing folks hear me out.
Remember in Season 3 when Coach Taylor gets fired and replaced by the hot young Offensive Coordinator coach guy because he was the QB’s mentor and he was ready to implement that high-flying offense all the Panther fans wanted to see? Despite making his championship run and having some trophies in the case, Taylor got pushed out. Why? Because he coached a big market team that expected to win it all every year. Taylor fell victim of coaching at a place where football was too big. Fans and the boosters thought the grass would be greener on the other side. As great as he was, despite his success, in the end he was still very much replaceable. Just like these guys:
10. Mike Tomlin
Tomlin dropped some spots on this list this season because I think fans in Pittsburgh really started to question him as a motivator. I know the Steelers are getting old, but come on. There were some games where I didn’t recognize that team. No passion.
11. Tom Coughlin
Ditto everything I just said above. Here’s the added problem for Tom Coughlin. He’s OLD. Very, very OLD. For the record, I think Coughlin will be the coach of the Giants until he’s done being the coach of the Giants and wants to retire. That’s what two Super Bowl rings will do for you. But the writing is on the wall. They told him he had to get rid of his O.C. Kevin Gilbride, he said no, a couple weeks later Gilbride magically retires. Did I mention that he coaches in New York? #WhatHaveYouDoneForMeLately?
12. Chuck Pagano
13. Bruce Arians
First of all, its a crying shame that the Packers got a playoff spot last year and the Cardinals did not. The Cardinals were the most under the radar feel-good story of 2013. People just didn’t talk about them and it’s because they play in Arizona. Pagano and Arians are in the same boat because they found tremendous success with a Colts (and in Arians’ case the Cardinals) team that we expected to be in the toilet for some time. They were aided by Andrew Luck being a super rookie. They are both tremendous motivators much like Coach Taylor from FNL and they know how to get the most out of their personnel. However neither one is a household name type of guy where it would be impossible to fire them from a PR standpoint. Unlike the Panthers and Ron Rivera, I just don’t see either team loaded with talent for the future (outside of Luck, obviously). The Cardinals are very gifted defensively, there’s no denying that. But I see both teams struggling to make the playoffs next year, which is exactly where the bar of success has been set.
14. John Fox
15. Mike Smith
How can John Fox be this low on the list? His team shattered offensive records last year. Well, he had Peyton Manning, and he wasn’t even really the coach for like, half the year. He’s not getting a whole lot of credit for that success. You know what he is getting credit for? Losing the Super Bowl by approving that awful offensive gameplan. “Yea, lets throw it short. That’ll stump em’.” Mike Smith could easily be lower on this list. He was in the Marvin Lewis category before that shameful excuse of a season Atlanta had last year.
Cue Jim Mora. Playoffs? PLAYOFFS!? http://youtube.com/watch?v=-oSFYxDGKy8
The Jimmy McGinty (The Replacements) Category 1:
16. Ken Whisenhunt
17. Bill O’Brien
18. Jay Gruden
19. Mike Zimmer
Congrats fellas, you’re all here at the middle of the pack because you recently replaced another head coach and it’s your first crack at an NFL head coaching gig (except for you, Ken). Watch your back though, two years of underachieving is all it takes these days and you could be looking for work somewhere else to work (try Dallas, they love underachievers). Mr. Whisenhunt, while this is not your first NFL head coaching gig, for some reason you were the hottest guy on the head coaching market this year (for reasons that elude me) and therefore you are harder to fire. You kind of have to work or the Titans front office looks real, real bad, especially after firing a guy who did a fine job last year.
The Jimmy McGinty (The Replacements) Category 2:
20. Marc Trestman
21. Mike McCoy
22. Dennis Allen
23. Doug Marrone
24. Gus Bradley
You guys aren’t first-year replacements yourselves, but your team was so beat up last year you kind of remind us of the movie. Cutler can’t stay healthy and the Bears’ defense was starting dudes that guys like Logan hadn’t even heard of last year. Mike McCoy did a pretty good job getting that Chargers team back into the playoffs last year, but is lower on our list than guys like Trestman because his likelihood of being fired is higher for a few reasons:
– No one knew his name before the Chargers hired him last year
– I don’t care what you say, Rivers is either leaving, past his prime, and/or both of those things
– That division is going to be an absolute bloodbath until Peyton retires and I see some dark days ahead for San Diego
As for Bradley and Marrone, they have the distinct misfortune of coaching terrible teams that are badly in need of personnel. Still, in my opinion both the Raiders and Bills actually overachieved last year.
The Coach Norton (Saving Silverman) category:
25. Rex Ryan
Much like trying to remember what Saving Silverman has to do with football eludes us all, the original reason why the Jets fell in love with Rex Ryan eludes us all. He was a really great defensive mind I guess? Real passionate motivator? I don’t know anymore, who cares!? He’s hilarious, and we love keeping him around because as soon as he starts losing weight, grooming himself a little, gets a little control over his swearing problem, WHAM! Rex does something to break the dullness of the 24-hour sports news cycle. Sure he was on the hottest of seats last offseason, but he actually over achieved last year. And until recently, all the Jets really seemed to care about was beating out the Giants for the front page of the NY Daily News, by any means necessary. Rex would actually be higher on this list because he has such an attention-grabbing personality, but the new Jets GM is no fun and is really serious about trying to start winning again.
The Gary Gaines (Friday Night Lights film) Category:
The “Is Bill Cowher available yet? No? … OK I guess we’ll hire this guy” Category:
26. Jeff Fisher
27. Lovie Smith
28. Jim Caldwell
29. Mike Pettine
Wait, why isn’t Mike Pettine in the “first timers get a pass” category? Because he’s the coach of the Browns (see above about the whole the Browns go through coaches really fast thing). Jeff is at the top of this category because he found a lot of success for a very long time with the Titans and that can’t be ignored. Jim Caldwell was pretty much just the last guy left for Detroit after Gruden, Whisenhunt, and Zimmer got signed this offseason. I really like Lovie Smith and I think he got hosed in Chicago, but apparently most don’t agree with me on that so that’s the biggest reason he’s this low on my list. But you can’t tell me with a straight face that if Bill Cowher showed up out of nowhere and was like, “uhh, yea I wanna coach again” that these front offices wouldn’t scramble and find a way to buy these coaches out to sign Cowher.
The Bud Kilmer (Varsity Blues) Category:
Side Note: I don’t know why I feel this way, but Varisty Blues might be my favorite football movie of all time. I don’t want it to be. I know it’s not the best one. But for some reason it’s my favorite.
30. Joe Philbin
I’ve already been underwhelmed with Philbin’s performance thus far in Miami. But the Dolphins organization can say all they want about the Incognito/Martin situation not being a big deal, and maybe they even believe it. But public perception is what matters, and they’re getting crushed in the media right now. True or not, the perception is that Philbin not only has no control over his locker room, but that he is oblivious, inaccessible to his players, and slow to take responsibility for his actions or the lack thereof.
31. Jason Garrett
How does Jason Garrett have a job? He’s awful. Seriously! How badly do the Cowboys have to underachieve? God, it sounds terrible to say but Jerry Jones is such an idiot. The Cowboys’ coaching staff/hierarchy/organizational coaching structure whatever you want to call it is so convoluted, Filler and I need to get our interns to figure it out. It’s so discombobulated, they’re actually confusing themselves.
This is an actual article from “dallascowboys.com.” It’s not a joke. It’s not from some blogger like me or Filler. Please, just read the title. Actual quote from the article:
“One of the toughest parts of our job – and it happens probably a dozen or so times a year – is finishing up with a Jerry Jones interview and trying to figure out what was said.”
It’s like the Cowboys know what a football team is supposed to look like, but they’re like, “ehh, whatever, it’s cool. Just add another Offensive Coordinator, but he won’t call plays.” The Head Coach is, er, or was, also the Offensive Coordinator because he called the plays, their owner is also their President and general manager (and interim head coach when he feels like hanging out on the sidelines). I don’t get it. Seriously, what is taking our interns so long with the Cowboys’ front office flowchart?
32. Marvin Lewis
How many more awful playoff showing do the Bengals need to have before this guy gets fired? I think the answer is one. You’ve got your big time receiver (make no mistake, AJ Green is BIG time), your big time running back, you said you found your franchise QB (please excuse me while I laugh my ass off for the next 60 seconds… OK and we’re back), your team just resigned the best DT in the game, a scary linebacker corps and a decent secondary, and you’re running out of excuses, Marvin. Even Cincy fans are tiring of you, and they are some of the most patient fans out there. The Bengals will probably go 11-5 next year, win that division, and get destroyed in the first round again, just like this year. Marvin Lewis will get the blame, and Andy Dalton will get another year or two. The Bengals never should have been so definitively in the “we’re all in on Dalton” camp. Think I’m being too harsh? Answer this question seriously: On what planet do you ever see Andy Dalton leading any team to a Super Bowl victory? Can you actually visually picture him holding the Lombardi one day? Thought so. The defense rests.