Black Monday’s firings
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
The NFL had its annual Black Monday last week. There were more firings going on than a series compilation of The Apprentice. Cue the only Boomtown Rats song you know. It was an ugly one.
Seven coaches were handed their pink slips: Philadelphia’s Andy Reid, Chicago’s Lovie Smith, Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt, San Diego’s Norv Turner, Cleveland’s Pat Shurmur, Kansas City’s Romeo Crennel, and Buffalo’s Chan Gailey. In addition to this, several GMs were released as well: Arizona’s Rod Graves, New York Jets’ Mike Tannenbaum, Cleveland’s Tom Heckert, San Diego’s A.J. Smith, Jacksonville’s Gene Smith, and, more recently, Kansas City’s Scott Pioli.
But despite it all, none of the moves came as any real shocker. Andy Reid has had two miserable seasons at the helm of the “dream team,” and after this year’s 4–12 record, the writing was on the wall. Reid had been with the Eagles for 14 seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2005, but his strong history with the club wasn’t enough to save his job. His unemployment turns out to have been short-lived though, as the Kansas City Chiefs hired him on Friday. Good luck turning that one around, Andy.
Some would like to call Lovie Smith’s firing a surprise, but it really wasn’t. While Smith did manage a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, he’s led the club to only one playoff appearance in the last six years. Add to that the epic second half collapse this season (7–1 to start, 3–5 to finish), and it would have been a surprise if he had kept his job.
Ken Whisenhunt is the last of the Super Bowl appearance coaches to be fired, as he led the Cards to the championship game in 2008. However, three years of playoff-less football ended up sinking him. This season’s 1–11 finish after a 4–0 start certainly didn’t help his cause.
Norv Turner has consistently led the Chargers to decent records, but never really threatened in the post-season; one could dub him the master of high mediocrity. An AFC Championship game was the highest achievement of the Chargers under Turner, though his tenure is likely better remembered for two disappointing early playoff exits, followed by three years of early golfing to close out his time as head coach.
As for the last three coaches, there’s not too much to say. They all inherited terrible football teams and failed to do much with them in their short times with them. Gailey was only on the payroll for three seasons, Shurmur for two, and Crennel just had one full year. I highly doubt even Bill Belichick could have done anything with those miserable squads.
The one firing that should have happened but didn’t, would be Rex Ryan in New York. The team had a losing record (6–10) and was easily one of the least watchable teams in the league. The Jets don’t look to be going anywhere fast and have now missed the postseason two years in a row. However, this one reeks of a power struggle. With GM Mike Tannenbaum getting the boot, it looks like Ryan won this one. Jets fans, my condolences.