Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dollars & Sense - NFL Black Monday and the Blame Game

This week we saw 2012 to 2013 but not before the dreaded NFL Black Monday.  This season’s Black Monday happened to fall on New Year’s Eve and many coaches saw a dark end to their 2012.  With the dark ending comes the only-way-to-go-is-up mentality and all of these coaches are likely to continue their coaching lives in another city. Some of the firings make you wonder though.  Was it really the coach or was the coach a scapegoat for deeper organizational issues?

The Kansas City Chiefs are a perfect example.  The team fired head coach Romeo Crennel after an NFL worst 2-14 season.  In response to the firing, Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt said that the team is embarrassed with the team’s performance.  Kansas City has gone 29-67 since 2007, and Hunt is just realizing now that he’s embarrassed with the team?  Chan Gailey who was fired from Buffalo was put in a similar scapegoat situation. 

Both the Chiefs and the Bills have been bad in recent memory.  Their draft picks and contract decisions may have been worse than their record.  Look at the Bills’ first round picks going back to 2004:

2004 – Lee Evans
2004 – JP Losman
2005 – none
2006 – Donte Whitner
2006 – John McCargo
2007 – Marshawn Lynch
2008 – Leodis McKelvin
2009 – Aaron Maybin
2009 – Eric Wood
2010 – CJ Spiller
2011 – Marcell Dareus
2012 – Stephen Gilmore

From 2004 to 2009, who made an impact for the Bills?  The best players on the list, Evans and Lynch, didn’t even live up to their first round expectations in Buffalo.  Pair all of the failed draft picks with the ill-advised contract extension for Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the signs start to point to a General Manager and scouting problem.  The Chiefs have had mixed success with their draft picks, but the big contract giving to the mediocre Matt Cassel handcuffed the organization for a few years.

The Eagles fired Andy Reid after 14 years because their seemed to be a lack of response from the players.  It was an understandable move after a 4-12 finish to the season.  If you wanted to make a case for Reid, the Eagles have had their share of pro scouting failures as well.  Look at the signings of Ronnie Brown, Demetress Bell, Stacy Andrews, Vince Young, and Nnamdi Asomugha.  The secondary of Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman was a failure at almost historic proportions this season.  Sure Reid did have a say in personnel decisions, but there are more people in the process as well.  The Bears were in a similar situation with Lovie Smith, and tired of the continued mediocrity, let him go as well.

Surprisingly, I think the Jets actually made the best coaching decisions of all in firing GM Mike Tannenbaum and OC Tony Sparano while retaining coach Rex Ryan (for now).  The Jets were a team full of injuries, bad players, and a unnecessary media circus back-up quarterback.  That falls on the shoulders of Tannenbaum.  Mark Sanchez has regressed greatly over the past two seasons with his biggest step backwards coming this season.  That falls partly on the shoulders of Sparano.  In a season where the Jets have done very little to be commended, I think they got it right.

The coaching carousal is always spinning, especially in the highly competitive NFL.  Sometimes it’s deserved, sometimes it’s not.  That’s just the name of the game.  The owners in charge are let off the hook for their poor management of a perpetually bad team because they have all of the power.  It’s something that will never change.  That’s just the business of coaching in the NFL.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

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