It’s that time again in the NFL! The day dreaded by coaches who have underachieved. The day in which heads begin to roll and the coaching carousel begins. Oh yes..
It’s BLACK MONDAY!
Jim Harbaugh – San Francisco
Following a 20-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh “mutually agreed to part ways”. I don’t buy that for a second. There has been speculation all year long that he would be out as coach of the 49ers following extreme friction with the General Manager and Owners. Combine that with reports about the University of Michigan, Harbaugh’s Alma Mater, offering him the head coaching job there after canning Brady Hoke, and the writing was on the wall.
In 4 seasons under Harbaugh, the 49ers were a staggering 44-19 and he took them from a team that had not won more than 8 games in a season the previous eight seasons to three straight NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl appearance.
In most work places, there are always conflicts of personalities, philosophies and ways of doing things that might not mesh. To be successful, you have to rise above those personality challenges and come together on other levels. When you fail to come together, you just fail.
The 49ers ended the season at 8-8 and Harbaugh is headed back to the college ranks. All of this could have been avoided had the GM and Owner stayed out of the way and let Harbaugh run his team his way. Unfortunately, when egos get in the way, things go South in a hurry.
Harbaugh will be fine as the new head coach at Michigan. The 49ers on the other hand, will struggle.
Rex Ryan – New York Jets
Rex has been riding a thin line for a few seasons now. His general manager (who also got the axe) hasn’t given him enough players to be successful. The quarterback carousel and a horrible running game have doomed the Jets for the past few seasons. Their offensive line is horrible, their front office is a mess, and the fan base is screaming for change.
Rex led the Jets to back to back AFC Championship game appearances 2009-2010 but has failed to win more than 8 games or make the playoffs in four seasons since. All of the problems with the Jets stem from the offensive side of the ball. The Jets boast the 6th ranked defense in total defense for the season. Unfortunately, they also have the 4th worst turnover differential in the NFL. That led to a lot of short fields for opponents and a 4-12 record.
Whoever rolls into New York as the next Jets head coach will have a defense to lean on, but will need to fill several key rolls on the offensive side of the ball starting with a quarterback, a running back, and the offensive line is in major need of an overhaul.
Rex Ryan will land on his feet somewhere, speculation is Atlanta, but that remains to be seen. The Jets, well, they will still be the Jets.
Mark Trestman – Chicago Bears
Ah, The man who did so little with so much. In two seasons as the head man in Chicago, Trestman went 13-19 with ProBowl caliber players at key offensive positions.
WR – Brandon Marshal
WR – Alshon Jeffrey
RB – Matt Forte
TE – Martellus Bennett
WR – Alshon Jeffrey
RB – Matt Forte
TE – Martellus Bennett
I won’t even put Jay Cutler in this conversation because that guy is a head case. Unfortunately in the NFL, as the quarterback goes, so goes the head coach. Trestman was brought in to be the quarterback guru to finally open up the Pandora’s box of Jay Cutler’s perceived Pro Bowl talent. All he did was prove to the rest of the NFL that Jay Cutler is anything but a big time quarterback.
Bad decision making and ill-advised throws.
And Trestman is out in the cold and out of a job. Trestman is another example of a college coach who tried to bring a collegiate game plan to the NFL and failed. There are a lot of things that work at the college level that do not work in the NFL. The players are bigger, stronger, and much faster. You have to adapt your game to the talent you are working with.
Unfortunately for Mark Trestman, he wasn’t able to do that, and it showed as the Bears finished the season with a 5-11 record and losers of their final 5 games of the season. The players gave up on Trestman, and so did ownership.
The Bears are probably wishing they still at Lovey Smith right about now.
Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons
After the 2008 season, Falcons fans were excited about the future of the Dirty Birds! Rookie head coach Mike Smith and rookie quarterback Phenom Matt Ryan combined to take the Falcons to an 11-5 record and their first playoff appearance in 4 years. In his first 5 seasons, Smith led the Falcons to a combined record of 56-24 including two division title and 4 playoff appearances. (1-4 in the playoffs)
Everything seemed to be on the right track, and headed into the 2013 season, fresh off an appearance in the NFC Championship game the previous season, the Falcons were soaring high.
Then the wheels fell off.
The Falcons stumbled to a 4-12 record and finished 3rd in the NFC South, a game better than the lowly Buccaneers. Hopes were once again high coming into this season. A healthy Roddy White and Julio Jones made great targets on the outside. Stephen Jackson running the ball kept the offense balances and should have opened up some great passing opportunities for Matt Ryan.
Even with all their struggles, they were still playing for a chance to represent the NFC South in the playoffs on the final week of the season. At home in the Georgia Dome no less! The Falcons had no answer for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, and Matt Ryan looked pedestrian at best throwing two picks, both returned for touchdowns in a 34-3 drubbing at the hands of the Panthers.
Mike Smith didn’t have his team ready to play at home, with the division title on the line. That will get you fired every time. He is good with young quarterbacks, however, and I could see him in Oakland tutoring Derek Carr, but then again, who can really win in Oakland?
You never like to hear about anyone losing their jobs, but hey, it’s part of life and part of professional sports. If you are a fan of these franchises, you are absolutely ecstatic that you won’t have these guys on the sideline calling plays next season, unless you are a 49er fan. In that case, you might want to get your University of Michigan gear before next season.
As these vacancies start getting filled, I will be back with more updates and analysis on your favorite team, and where they could be headed in 2015!
Next up on RSBSports.com is the breakdown Wild Card Weekend! So keep it right here, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @thewilriggs