Hireling and Fireling…NFL style…upandcomers and retreads…


You know it occurred to me its that time of year when coaches are hired and fired.  The Browns recently hired an unproven tight ends to be their new offensive coordinator with no play calling experience to save the Romeo Regime.  Chud is 38 years old, a native of Toledo, Ohio and grew up a Browns fan.  He is also a former Cleveland and San Diego coach who did not hesitate to pass up the chance to coach LaDanian Tomlinson to come back to be the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. 

Last year the Browns named Jeff Davidson assistant head coach so he could not leave to become the OC for the NY Jets.  Jeff got his chance to call plays in Cleveland this year for the last 10 games after Maurice Carthon was fired for incompetence.  Jeff did not do a good enough job in Cleveland to be given the OC job but was hired as OC for the Carolina Panthers.  Go figure.  Both of these men are up and comers.  Bright young men who are unproven but something about them has peaked an interest in NFL teams to place their trust in them to run the offense.   The Browns made a run at old standby Dan Henning but after being fired by Carolina he wanted to retire or the situation in Cleveland is too big a mess for him to fix.

That is the conventional wisdom today in the NFL.  Hire an up and comer.  Hire young.  The Steelers hired Mike Timlin, just 34 and only a coordinator for one year.  Eric (Mangenius) Mangini was the youngest and is just 36.  Oakland has just hired a 31 year old to be their next head coach.  Lane Kiffin was assistant coach at USC!  He is the son of a NFL defensive coordinator and there is some precedence to hiring sons of coaches (no pun intended).  The Falcons just fired Jim Mora, son of Jim (PLAYOFFS?) Mora former head coach of the Colts and the Saints.  Mike Nolan (son of Dick Nolan former 49er and Saint coach) is the coach of the San Francisco 49ers.  His Dad also coached the 49ers back in the John Brodie era.  One of the most successful son of a coach is Bill Belichik.  Belichik starting breaking down film at age 5 or so the legend goes.  Belichik has some other things in common with other successful head coaches. He was 39 when Art Modell hired him.

Belichik’s stint with the Patriots is not his first head coaching job.  He had 5 years on the job training with the Browns in the early 90’s.  He failed miserably.  Many feel his failure caused the city the franchise.  No one will no for sure.  Belichik learned from his mistakes, made some changes and 2nd time around he seems to have gotten it right.  Hall of Fame right.  Belichik was also at one time an up and coming hot shot coordinator.

As was Tony Dungy.  Tony was a hot shot up and comer defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers when he was hired to turn Tampa Bay around.  And did he.  He turned Tampa from perennial doormat to perennial winner.  Another extremely young Guru off the Bill Walsh coaching tree, Jon Gruden, (also a son of a coach and onetime youngest coach in the NFL) took Dungy’s Bucs to their Super Bowl Win in his second shot at head coaching. 

It also seems to matter what “coaching tree” you fall off of.  Who did you learn under?  There is the Paul Brown coaching tree (Don Shula, Weeb Eubanks, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh).  There is the Bill Walsh tree, (Sam Wyche, Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid, Mike Sherman, Mike Holmgren).  There is the Bill Parcell’s tree, (Bill Belichik, Romeo Crennel, Sean Peyton, Eric (Mangenius) Mangini.  Tony Dungy fell of the Chuck Noll tree, but the Tony Dungy tree is impressive with 4 current head coaches having coached for Dungy.  They include Herman Edwards, Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli and now Mike Tomlin.

Both Super Bowl coaches are former hot coordinators.  Lovie Smith tutored under Dungy at Tampa Bay but is not a retread.  I have already mentioned Bill Belichik and Sean Payton.  Andy Reid and Eric Mangini have fallen off coaching trees.  Did I mention Bill Parcells , Herman Edwards and Mike Holmgren?  There you have it, all the playoff coaches from 2006…

 So based on this, if you can find a one time hot assistant coach, whose dad was a coach, fell off a coaching tree and has been fired before, you may have something good on your hands.  If that is so why did Steve Mariucci fail in Detroit?  May have something to do with the GM. Who else?  I bet Mike Martz gets another shot soon as a head coach.  I bet Jim Mora does too.   Will Romeo succeed in Cleveland?  Not likely.  Also not likely he will get another chance.  Romeo is in his late  50’s.  He does not fit the mold.  Nor does Marinelli.  They are too old.

So why did they hire Romeo in Cleveland?  They needed stability.  They needed a steady hand to stop the turmoil.  Will it work, not likely, but the ship has been stabilized, and there is always hope for the future.  So after they fire him next year and Jim Mora is available….Or do you think former hot shot coordinator Bill Cowher will get another chance?  Coaches named Bill seem to have success…(Walsh, Cowher, Belichik)…

 Well, go hire yourself a coach…IMBO…



  1. WheresJim? Said:

    Dungy and Smith haven’t sold their souls in pursuit of the game’s Holy Grail, and yet here they are, reminding us that good men can do great things, that nice guys can and do finish first. Dungy learned from Dennis Green and Chuck Noll and passed it on to assistants Smith, Mike Tomlin, Herman Edwards and Rod Marinelli (all head coaches now) that it’s OK to enjoy life outside the facility. Dungy and Smith are family men. And they still win.

    You won’t hear either utter a word of profanity. And they still win. They care about and foster relationships with their players. And they still win. They serve their communities. And still, somehow, they find time to do what it takes to prepare their teams.

    Dungy can — imagine — spend the Saturday evening before the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots at the mall with his family. Or Dungy, Smith, Edwards and each of their wives can gather for dinner at P.F. Chang’s the night before Dungy’s Colts and Edwards’ Chiefs met in the first round of the playoffs. And yet it didn’t halt the Bears’ or Colts’ journeys to Miami.

    Dungy and Smith are Christian men who serve the Lord first and spend nearly as much time serving their communities. Doesn’t prevent them from winning. And often. In just three seasons Smith, last season’s Coach of the Year, has helped build the Bears into a league power. Dungy has won more regular season games than any coach since 1999. Where does color factor into that?

    After they won their conference championships, you heard Smith talk about his “being blessed” and Dungy give thanks to God. That isn’t just lip service with these guys. As Christians they believe it is their responsibility to let their light shine whenever they’re in the spotlight. Just as they have a game plan for each other come Super Bowl Sunday, both plan to use the global platform that the Super Bowl provides to speak words that could make an impact beyond football. At his oldest son James’ funeral last year, Dungy used the eulogy as an opportunity to teach lessons about manhood and fatherhood.

  2. Peter King Said:

    Stat of the Week II
    Age when Chuck Noll took the Steelers job in 1969: 37.

    Age when Bill Cowher took the Steelers job in 1992: 34.

    Age when Mike Tomlin takes the Steeler job in 2007: 34.

    For all you fans of Russ Grimm (48) and Ron Rivera (45), it was going to be an uphill battle to break that trend.

  3. Indeed, when an owner hires a new coach, the commodity he is most trying to sell is hope for the future. And anymore, hope for the future means not having a past track record.

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