In 2014, seven new NFL coaches were hired. Four of those coaches have made the playoffs, and the other three have been fired.
That’s life for a coach in today’s NFL: You’d better win quickly, because you won’t get time to build a team slowly.
The news that the Buccaneers had fired head coach Lovie Smith came as a surprise on Wednesday night, but maybe it shouldn’t have been: Smith has coached two seasons and hasn’t made the playoffs, so perhaps we should have expected him to have the same fate as the other two coaches from the class of 2014 who haven’t made the playoffs, Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Pettine.
In the coaching class from 2013, there’s been similar turnover: Rob Chudzinski was fired after one year, Marc Trestman was fired after two years and Chip Kelly was fired in his third year. Bruce Arians and Andy Reid remain, but that’s no surprise as they’re in the playoffs. It is a bit surprising that Mike McCoy and Gus Bradley are still on the job, although they both may have to make the playoffs next year to avoid getting fired in their fourth seasons.
The class of 2012 had seven new coaches, and five — Greg Schiano, Romeo Crennel, Joe Philbin, Dennis Allen and Mike Mularkey — have already been fired. A sixth, Chuck Pagano, was nearly fired despite winning three playoff games in his four years. The seventh, Jeff Fisher, is safe despite failing to make the playoffs in four years. If a nuclear bomb were dropped on the Edward Jones Dome, the only survivors would be cockroaches and Jeff Fisher’s coaching career.
From the 2011 class, just two of the eight coaches hired — Ron Rivera and Jason Garrett — remain. Pat Shurmur, John Fox, Leslie Frazier, Hue Jackson, Jim Harbaugh and Mike Munchak are all gone; Fox was fired after a 12-4 season.
So that’s the state of coaching in the NFL today: It’s almost impossible to keep your job for more than a couple years if you don’t win. Owners like to pay lip service to concepts like building a strong foundation for long-term success, but owners are usually too impatient to find out if coaches are going to succeed in the long run or not. In the NFL you win right away, or you’re fired.