The 2020 NFL regular season is over, and it’s time to look back, talk about horrific coaching and hope we all do better in 2021.
Welcome to the C’mon Coach Black Monday spectacular, where we round up Monday’s coach firing news and look ahead to try to answer such questions as:
- How spectacularly would Urban Meyer fail in the NFL if he becomes the next Jacksonville Jaguars coach?Was firing Anthony Lynn a mistake for the Los Angeles Chargers?What fresh hell does Adam Gase have in store for the football world?
And much, much more.
Cold Gase Files
Now that Adam Gase has been fired, it’s time to stop thinking about all the terrible things he did to the New York Jets and start thinking about all the terrible things he will do to his next employer.
Gase will be coaching next year, dear friends. And it won’t be for the Milford Mudlarks, either. Gase will get a plum gig at a high level, not as a head coach, but as an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach, keeping him close to opportunities for quick, unearned promotions.
Figuring out just where Gase will land next is tricky. Most coaches get swept onto the staffs of their buddies after their humiliating public failures. But Gase doesn’t have many buddies who are currently employed. That’s the downside of filling your offensive staff with yes-men and defensive staff with convenient scapegoats: there’s no one around who succeeded elsewhere to pull you up when you are down.
Gase’s past mentors and patrons — Mike Martz, John Fox, Mike McCoy — are also now in various states of retirement and unemployment.
Gase does still have a few connections, however, and coaches like Gase are experts in career rehabilitation, meaning that he could land on his feet with one of the following teams.
New England Patriots: Gase briefly coached under Josh McDaniels with the Broncos. Bill Belichick may order McDaniels to overhaul the Patriots offensive staff in the wake of the team’s 2020 reenactment of Navy’s 1987 offense. And high-strung, self-destructive people like Gase and McDaniels tend to gravitate toward each other in mosh pits, meth labs and the coaching staffs of organizations on the brink of a steep decline.
The best thing about a Gase return to New England (as a quarterback coach or “senior passing game advisor” or some junk) would be watching the local media who spent five years guffawing at the Dolphins and Jets suddenly stroke their beards and declare, “Indeed, ‘tis another masterstroke for Bill Belichick, hiring such a clever and misunderstood game planner and quarterback developer.”
On the other hand, no one wants to see Jarrett Stidham curl into the fetal position on the field during his first minicamp 7-on-7 drill.
Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning’s endorsement carries considerable weight with John Elway. Elway loves meddling with his Broncos coaching staff. And the current Broncos offensive staff, already loaded with blasts from the coaching past (Pat Shurmur, Mike Shula, Mike Munchak) could probably use a little meddling.
All Gase needs to do is flash his gold-laminated Peyton Pass, swap some 2013 stories with Elway, and presto! He’ll be back with the Broncos as some sort of passing game coordinator.
Imagine Drew Lock enjoying all the benefits of the coaching staff that developed Daniel Jones AND Sam Darnold! It could happen. And it’s just the sort of move that made the Broncos the team they are today.
University of Alabama: Gase worked on Nick Saban’s LSU staff very early in his career. Saban likes to grab and rehabilitate offensive assistants who flunked in the NFL (Steve Sarkisian, Lane Kiffin, Brian Daboll). And Gase has the self-preservation instincts of a cockroach. Two years of calling routine plays for an entire roster of 5-star recruits will get Gase right back on the NFL head coaching radar.
Las Vegas Raiders: Gase was briefly on Ted Tollner’s staff, Tollner is currently on Jon Gruden’s staff, and Gruden could hire Gase for exactly the same reasons why McDaniels would bring on Gase. C’mon Coach is all-in on the possibility of Gase and Gruden falling from the Hoover Dam with their arms wrapped around each other’s throats after a three-interception Derek Carr performance early next October.
Wherever Gase lands, he will be terrible, yet he will be shielded from accountability by his reputation (he was an NFL head coach for five years, so he MUST be doing a great job coaching wide receivers for the Pac-12 team losing by three touchdowns in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl) and the fact that assistant coaches really have to screw things up to get noticed.
Then, in two years, he’ll move back onto the list of potential NFL head coaching candidates with some tale about being “humbled” or “rejuvenated.”
That’s how the system works. Like it or not, it keeps C’mon Coach in business.
There are worse coaches for the Jacksonville Jaguars to hire to replace Doug Marrone (who was fired on Monday) than Urban Meyer. They could hire Gase, for example. Or a kindergartner. Or a Labrador Retriever with bladder control issues.
Meyer has been an incredibly successful collegiate head coach at Florida and Ohio State, of course. That’s why he’s so utterly unqualified to coach in the NFL. Meyer has the perfect college coaching skillset:
- Dazzling the fathers of 275-pound 17-year olds on recruiting visits with Tebow Tales;Coasting on offensive ideas from 20 years ago and getting away with it because he has better players; andSpouting high-minded boilerplate gibberish about “values” and being an “educator” while remaining willfully blind to both the inequities baked into the system that makes him rich and famous and the scandals and abuses happening right under his nose.
Everything that makes Meyer successful in the college ranks will guarantee his failure in the NFL. The first time an NFLPA rep tells him he doesn’t have the power of an ancient Mesopotamian emperor-god to force players to do build obelisks to his glory in exchange for college credits, he will balk.
The moment the local media treats him as anything other than a philosopher king, he will sulk. The moment a general manager explains the limits of the salary cap to him, he will be on the phone with every power conference athletic director he knows.
Nick Saban and the Dolphins. Bobby Petrino and the Falcons. Chip Kelly and the Eagles. The marriage of a collegiate supercoach and an NFL team in search of a savior almost always ends in front office friction, locker room grousing and (sometimes) a hastily-written resignation letter slipped under the owner’s office door in mid-December.
The Cardinals are starting to figure out that Kliff Kingsbury runs the team as if he thinks 8-8 is good enough to get them to the Birmingham Bowl. Heck,Marrone himself was a collegiate up-and-comer who walked away from the Buffalo Bills in a huff after two disappointing seasons.
So C’mon Coach does not want to see the Jaguars hire Meyer. Though in a way, we really, really want to see the Jaguars hire Meyer, because with Gase gone we will need an easy supplier of great content.
Coaching Carousel Speed Round!
Quick hitters on the latest coaching and front office news and rumors from around the NFL.Jaguars owner Shad Khan announces that he had roster control in 2020 and intends to keep it.Oh no: Shad Khan has been chugging Jack Easterby Energy Drink!
John Elway announces that the Broncos will hire a general manager. True power is the ability to reward yourself with a promotion for your own incompetence. Elway will no longer meddle directly in every Broncos decision but will instead meddle through an intermediary. Speaking of Elway intermediaries …
Gary Kubiak is contemplating retirement. Kubiak has been on more farewell tours than the Rolling Stones. The Vikings are planning to replace him with a parrot trained to say “Dalvin Cook off tackle” and “play action rollout.”
Cincinnati Bengals announce that Zac Taylor will remain the team’s head coach. The organization then turned out all the lights, pulled down the shades, shut off all the phones and went into hibernation until the week before the draft.
The Chargers Conundrum
Anthony Lynn, whom the Los Angeles Chargers fired on Monday, deserves a quick turnaround opportunity as a quarterback coach or offensive coordinator because of his role in developing likely Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. Lynn should also get a second chance as a head coach in a few years if he can cure himself of the impulse to call inside runs with ten seconds left and no timeouts.
Lynn left the Chargers in decent shape, which presents a quandary for owner Dean Spanos and general manager Tom Telesco: which of the two types of head coach should they hire?
Type 1: A win-now coach who realizes that the Chargers could leap into contention while Herbert’s contract is affordable over the next three years and is willing to build quickly around Hebert, Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, Derwin James (if he is ever healthy again) and other assets.
Type 2: A “culture builder” who looks at the roster and says, “oh dear, it will take time to teach these fellows how to WIN;” then spends a year ripping the air hockey table out of the locker room and replacing adequate veterans with more expensive free agent adequate veterans he coached at past stops; then blames any setbacks over the first two years on the “mess” he inherited and how much more important the process is than the product.
The problem is that Type 1 coaches are rare: Andy Reid and Bruce Arians are among the few recent examples that leap to mind. Just about every coach on the current market is a likely Type 2 coach, because futzing around for two years while delaying any expectations of results is a great way to keep your job.
While most coaches who yammer about changing the team culture believe what they are saying to a degree, they all know at least subconsciously that they are just investing in some built-in excuses for a few years of 4-12.
Let’s hope the Chargers didn’t just restart the clock on their rebuilding cycle. If so, they will finish the next coach’s “culture change” just in time to have to pay Herbert nine figures, making everything the team does after that much more difficult. And if the Chargers really wanted to mismanage their time that badly, they should have just kept Lynn.
Note: Late word via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com is that the Chargers are interviewing Jason Garrett. So they must be opting for Type 3: proven irredeemable doofus.
Walk Before They Make You Run
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is kinda-sorta-maybe semi-retiring for a year in a classic savvy veteran coaching move. Schwarts realizes that either:
- He would be fired as a sacrificial offering by Doug Pederson, either later this week or at the first sign of trouble in 2021; orPederson will be fired sometime in 2021, leaving Schwartz with an interim coaching gig for a crumbling team; orPederson and the Eagles will limp through 2021 to another 4-11-1 caliber finish, which would do nothing for Schwartz’s future coaching prospects or short-term quality of life.
Schwartz was not a problem during the Eagles’ post-Super Bowl slide into putridity (if you watched Sunday night’s loss to Washington, you know putridity is the proper term), though he hasn’t quite been enough of a solution, either.
Announcing his gap year before the Eagles wrapped their dignity in a plastic bag and chucked it into the Schuylkill River allowed him to escape most of the fallout that Pederson and the rest of the Eagles organization are facing this week and will face for months to come. And Schwartz won’t have to figure out what to do with a 2021 defense that may be gutted by the time the Eagles climb out of a $70-million cap chasm.
The moral of the story: it’s often better to go out on your own terms than to go down with the ship.
One of These Things is Not Like the Other
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport announced that the Detroit Lions already have some interviews lined up for their head coaching vacancy. Let’s analyze their choices:
Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs: Well, duh.
Robert Saleh, defensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers: Another fine candidate.
Arthur Smith, offensive coordinator, Tennessee Titans: Yet another solid choice, both because of the flexibility and explosiveness of the Titans offense and his hand in Ryan Tannehill’s resuscitation.
Dan Campbell, assistant head coach/tight ends coach, New Orleans Saints: No coaching search would be complete without interviewing one guy whose qualifications consist entirely of hanging Metallica posters in the weight room and telling stories about all the things Bill Parcells taught him about “toughness.” If the Lions somehow end up with Campbell, he will make Matt Patricia look like Vince Lombardi.