NFL Coaching/GM Carousel Tracker 2012-2013
Throughout the offseason, we’ll be monitoring the 2013 head coaching carousel, with updates on all of the firings, hirings and rumors across the league.
Out: Andy Reid (4-12 in 2012, 130-93-1 overall with Philadelphia)
What Went Wrong: Um … everything? After starting the season 3-1, the Eagles absolutely imploded in all facets, aided by a brutal run of injuries that felled (on the offense alone) Michael Vick, Jason Peters, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy Todd Herremans and others.
Starting with a Week 5 loss to the Steelers, the Eagles dropped eight games in a row, sealing Reid’s fate — it was believed that he entered the season with a playoffs-or-bust stance from owner Jeffery Lurie. Despite Reid’s nine playoff appearances in Philadelphia, and a trip to the Super Bowl, back-to-back years of sitting home come January forced the Eagles to make a change.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman reportedly will keep his job.
Roster outlook: The big decision — one that must be made soon — concerns Vick’s future with the franchise. Assuming the Eagles cut bait on their $100 million man, mission No. 1 will be figuring out who’s under center next season. Nick Foles showed improvement when pressed into duty as a rookie, but will the Eagles turn the starting QB job over to him?
The Eagles reportedly are projected to be upwards of $18 million over the cap in 2013, so several other high-priced vets may join Jason Babin and head out of town. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is set to be a free agent, too, so the Eagles may need to find some help in the secondary.
More than likely, Philadelphia will carry its late-season youth movement into 2013.
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: Keith Armstrong, Jay Gruden, Chip Kelly, Dirk Koetter, Doug Marrone, Mike Nolan, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt
Hired: Chip Kelly.
Out: Lovie Smith (10-6 in 2012, 81-63 overall with Chicago)
What Went Wrong: The Bears collapsed following a 7-1 start this season, and even back-to-back wins in Week 16 and 17 could not save Smith’s job — or get Chicago into the playoffs. As SI’s Don Banks reported in his “Black Monday Primer,” Bears ownership had grown tired of the Bears’ inconsistency so, despite Smith’s Super Bowl trip back in the 2006 season, the franchise will head in another direction.
Injuries certainly did not help this season, with Matt Forte, Brian Urlacher and multiple offensive linemen falling. However, Chicago made an aggressive move last offseason to add Brandon Marshall, believing this team was close to contending for a championship. Missing the playoffs for a second straight season was a breaking point.
Roster outlook: The Chicago Sun-Times recently quoted an NFL executive as saying that the Bears “can do whatever they want” in free agency this coming offseason. They’ll have a ton of cap space — a cushion that could grow if the Bears cut ties with Julius Peppers (saving $8.1 million of the $17.6 million he’s owed in 2013) and restructure Jay Cutler’s contract into an extension.
Brian Urlacher and 2012 Pro Bowler Henry Melton lead the Bears’ list of potential free agents, but Chicago will return a boatload of talent next season and should be able to add to it. The question, as always: Can Chicago upgrade on the offensive line?
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: Bruce Arians, Keith Armstrong, Darrell Bevell, Pete Carmichael, Tom Clements, Joe DeCamillis, Rick Dennison, Mike McCoy, Mike Priefer, Mike Singletary, Marc Trestman
Hired: Marc Trestman.
Out: Norv Turner (7-9 in 2012, 55-41 overall with San Diego); GM A.J. Smith
What Went Wrong: Did the Chargers have an elite defense this season? No. What they did have, however, was a defense that finished in the top half of the league and was good enough to contend for a playoff spot. But, oh, that offense …
Ryan Mathews, expected to have a breakout season, broke his collarbone in the preseason and barely topped 700 yards rushing. With Vincent Jackson off to Tampa Bay, the Chargers never found a viable replacement, as Robert Meachem turned into one of the biggest free-agent busts of the past decade. And, behind an inconsistent offensive line, Philip Rivers failed to ever find a consistent groove.
The result: a third straight season without a postseason berth in San Diego.
Smith was unable to stop that downward spiral — both he and Turner somehow avoided being let go after 2011, only to flop again in 2012. Smith’s most impactful moment as the Chargers’ GM: drafting Eli Manning in 2004, then swapping him for Rivers in a trade that changed both the Chargers and Giants’ futures.
Roster outlook: San Diego currently has 19 players set to be unrestricted free agents and another five who could be restricted. Among the latter group is wide receiver Danario Alexander, who stepped up late to (finally) give Rivers a reliable target.
Of the potential unrestricted free agents, both starting guards (Louis Vazquez and Tyronne Green and both starting cornerbacks (Quintin Jammer and Antoine Cason), among others, could walk.
Rivers has three years and more than $40 million left on his deal.
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: Bruce Arians, Doug Marrone, Josh McDaniels, Jim Mora, Andy Reid; Jimmy Raye, Matt Russell
Hired: Mike McCoy; Tom Telesco as GM.
Out: Ken Whisenhunt (5-11 in 2012, 45-51 overall with Cardinals); GM Rod Graves
What Went Wrong: Is there a more inexplicable occurrence from the 2012 NFL season than the Cardinals’ 4-0 start, which included a win in New England? Arizona collapsed suddenly and spectacularly after that, losing 11 of its last 12. The meltdown cost Whisenhunt and Graves their jobs, and will leave Arizona hitting the reset button across the board.
The main culprit was one of the worst offensive lines in recent memory. Arizona had the league’s worst rushing attack — LaRod Stephens-Howling led the team in yards with 357 — and its QBs were sacked a whopping 58 times. Oh, and those quarterbacks? Well, there were four of them, each as unimpressive as the last. Kevin Kolb wound up missing 10 games, and John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer limped across the finish line.
The secondary, which was a top-five unit, was wasted by a defense that allowed more than 2,100 yards rushing.
Roster outlook: The Cardinals have done a decent job locking up their key players for the near future — Larry Fitzgerald, who is signed through 2018, is the linchpin there. Of those who could walk this coming offseason, safety Rashad Johnson, running backs LaRod Stephens-Howling and William Powell, and linebacker Paris Lenon will be among the players Arizona may consider keeping.
The offensive line needs a total overhaul, and a new QB likely has to be found. Those two chores will keep the Cardinals’ next coach busy.
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: Todd Haley, Ray Horton, Mike McCoy, Andy Reid; Dave Caldwell, Steve Keim
Hired: Steve Keim as general manager.
Out: Romeo Crennel (2-14 in 2012, 4-15 overall with Kansas City); GM Scott Pioli
What Went Wrong: The Chiefs started this season with high hopes, thanks to a 2-1 close to 2011 and the return of some key players from injury. They ended it totally beaten down, physically and emotionally.
The unquestionable, tragic low point came on the first day of December, when linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, then took his own life as Crennel and GM Scott Pioli looked on.
Everything football-related paled in comparison, but the Chiefs’ season had turned south well before the nightmarish Belcher situation unfolded. Remarkably, Kansas City did not take its first lead of the season until Week 10 (the Chiefs’ Week 3 win came in overtime). Taking a lot of the blame was QB Matt Cassel, who finished just 1-7 in eight starts before Brady Quinn took over the starting job.
Roster outlook: Kansas City’s rebuild has to start at quarterback, even though Cassel has two years left on his deal. Also likely headed out is Dwayne Bowe, who played out 2012 on a one-year contract. Glenn Dorsey, Peyton Hillis and Branden Albert are among the other key potential free agents. The Chiefs could be much tighter to the cap, though, than you’d want for a new coach taking over a 2-14 team.
The good news: Kansas City’s best playmakers (aside from Bowe) — Jamaal Charles, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry — all are under contract for 2013.
The Chiefs announced on Jan. 4 that GM Scott Pioli had been fired, as well.
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: Bruce Arians, Dirk Koetter, Andy Reid; John Dorsey
Hired: Andy Reid; John Dorsey as GM.
Out: Chan Gailey (6-10 in 2012, 15-33 overall with Buffalo)
What Went Wrong: Pretty much the same problems surfaces as in Gailey’s first two seasons in Buffalo — inconsistent quarterback play, awful run defense and an inability to win within the division.
So, where to start amongst those issues? Well, the Bills had the worst rush D in the league this season, with the Patriots and Seahawks each topping 240 yards against them and San Francisco grinding out 311 yards on the ground. Between a defense that could not get off the field and an offense that could not stay on it (Buffalo finished minus-13 in turnover differential and Ryan Fitzpatrick fired 16 interceptions), the Bills were fighting uphill battles constantly.
Gailey’s 4-14 mark against the AFC East no doubt helped push Buffalo’s brass forward on this decision.
Roster outlook: Buffalo could find itself with money to spend, especially if it wiggles out from under bulky contracts like that of Fitzpatrick. The Bills could save $4.45 million by axing their inconsistent QB, and he might be just the first of many to get a pink slip — Chris Kelsay, Nick Barnett and Georg Wilson all could be on the chopping block.
Getting pending unrestricted free agent safety Jairus Byrd back under contract will be a key, but the Bills reportedly have begun working on that goal already.
C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson and (if healthy) Fred Jackson return for a nice starting point on offense, and the defense should have plenty of room to improve, with a high-priced but underachieving defensive line leading the way.
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: Ray Horton, Doug Marrone, Mike McCoy, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt
Hired: Doug Marrone.
Out: Pat Shurmur (5-11 in 2012, 9-23 overall with Cleveland); GM Tom Heckert
What Went Wrong: For Shurmur, the most problematic development may have been the arrival of new owner Jimmy Haslam. It’s tough enough for coaching staffs to hang around through ownership changes, let alone when a staff then produces a 5-11 record. The same could be said for Heckert, who traded up high enough in the 2012 draft to land Trent Richardson … but not high enough to score either Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck.
Shurmur’s team competed well all season, despite the sub-.500 mark — eight of their 11 losses came by 10 points or less, including all of their first four. But there were not enough game-changers on offense, even with Richardson’s and Josh Gordon’s arrivals. There certainly was not enough pop to overcome a defense that finished near the bottom of the league against the pass.
Roster outlook: The Browns took some major strides to rebuild their offense, starting with QB Brandon Weeden and Richardson. Weeden endured a difficult rookie season and, at 29 years of age, will force the Browns to make a quick decision on him. A line built around left tackle Joe Thomas and 2012 draft pick Mitchell Schwartz could be a strength.
The Browns also should have some nice pieces back on defense, starting with cornerbacks Joe Haden and T.J. Ward. They could have some money to spend in the offseason, but the Browns have work to do to get out of the AFC North basement.
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: Ray Horton, Chip Kelly, Dirk Koetter, Doug Marrone, Bill O’Brien, Josh McDaniels, Nick Saban, Marc Trestman; Steve Keim, George Paton, Doug Whaley
Hired: Rob Chudzinski.
Out: GM Mike Tannenbaum
What Went Wrong: Arguably, the bigger news here is that (for now) Rex Ryan will stick as the Jets’ head coach. Owner Woody Johnson announced that decision along with Tannenbaum’s firing early on Black Monday.
Just two years ago, Tannenbaum could do no wrong as the Jets reached back-to-back AFC title games. They dropped to 8-8 in 2011 and 6-10 in 2012, though, with a roster plagued by talent gaps and a circus-like situation at quarterback. Owner Woody Johnson may have been the mastermind behind Tim Tebow’s arrival, but Tannenbaum handed Mark Sanchez an egregiously large contract.
Roster outlook: Will Sanchez return next season? Tebow is, almost certainly, headed out the door, one way or another. The Jets are in brutal shape with regards to the 2013 salary cap, meaning veterans like Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Sione Pouha could be headed out with Tebow. Even with those moves, however, the Jets would have very little money to spend — and upwards of 15 roster spots to fill.
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: Tom Heckert, Bill Polian, Marc Ross
Out: Mike Mularkey (2-14 in 2012, his only season with Jacksonville); GM Gene Smith
What Went Wrong: The Jaguars finished tied for the worst record in the league at 2-14. This was Smith’s fourth season as GM, so he has had ample time to deliver a winning product, and he simply has failed. With a new owner (Shad Khan) in place, the writing was on the wall.
Mularkey’s fate was left in the hands of new GM David Caldwell, and Caldwell wasted little time sending Mularkey packing. One day after the Jaguars announced that they had hired Caldwell, he made the decision to can Mularkey, who was given just one season on the Jacksonville sidelines.
Roster outlook: Disappointing QB Blaine Gabbert was one of Smith’s biggest gambles, and the Jaguars may have to start over at that position. Jacksonville has several key unrestricted free agents, including RB Rashad Jennings, DT Terrance Knighton and CB Derek Cox. Will the new GM choose a total overhaul of the roster?
Reportedly interviewed/interested in: David Caldwell, Steve Keim, Bill Polian, Marc Ross
Hired: Gus Bradley; David Caldwell as GM.