The NFL Coaching Merry-Go-Round Starts Rotating

The 2016/2017 NFL coaching merry-go-round is now in gear and in motion.  Jeff Fisher became the first coaching casualty of the season opening the first slot for aspiring coaches or folks hoping for another bite of the apple.  The Rams’ special teams coordinator, John Fassel, will be the interim coach for the final 3 games of the 2016 season.  If by some predestined forces the Rams were to win all 3 of those games, it will not be due to some nascent genius in the drawing up of “x’s and o’s”; it will be coincidental.

I am rarely in favor of firing coaches in mid-season.  Normally, what it shows is not much more than the frustration of the “higher-ups” with the results on the field combined in equal measure with their impotence in effecting change that manifests itself in different results on the field.  I do not expect the LA Rams to become world-beaters in the final weeks of December – but in this particular case, I do understand why Stan Kroenke thought he had to do something drastic.

The Rams have just returned home after a couple of decades of dalliance in St. Louis.  There is something you need to understand bout the sports market in LA; it is potentially very large but the fanbase is fickle and shallow.  Los Angeles is not a great sports town; Los Angeles is a great town for winning franchises.  Had the Chicago Cubs franchise been the LA Cubs, they would never have survived 108 years of losing; the Cubs would have been either outta town or outta business.

Stan Kroenke is building a new stadium complex and he is going to want to sell PSLs and season tix in a couple of years.  Look at the product on the field now and ask if this resembles in any way what a front-running fanbase demands:

  • Overall record is 4-9
  • Lowest scoring team in the NFL – even below the Browns
  • Lost the last 3 games by a combined score of 117-45

I did not see the Falcons/Rams game last Sunday; that was not the game in the late afternoon slot in the DC area and I have not had a chance to look for a replay on NFL Network.  However, there have been multiple reports that the crowd at the game was “disappointing”.  Evidently, there were plenty of empty seats at the kickoff (one report characterized the stadium as “half-empty” at the start); with the score 21-0 at halftime, reports say that some people did not come back for the second half kickoff; by the end of the 3rd quarter, the score was 42-0 and reports say that the stadium “emptied out”.  Forget the embarrassment factor and the competitive factor; the important thing here is the economic factor.  All of those folks who chose to do something else last Sunday instead of attending the Falcons/Rams game and/or who abandoned the stadium in mid-game are less motivated now to buy those PSLs and or season tix down the road.

Something had to be done and there are no realistic “player options” with regard to wholesale and splashy changes to be made.  The NFL waiver wire and unsigned free agent list in December is not fertile ground.  So, Stan Kroenke did just about the only thing he could do in this situation; it was really the only playable card in his hand.

Now comes the real challenge…  The next coach has to rebuild the program.  The defense has players; the offense has exactly 1 proven top-shelf NFL player (Todd Gurley).  There is another dimension to the challenge in LA.  The fickle/shallow fanbase would really prefer to have a recognizable coach – a “celebrity coach” if you will.  After all, the beautiful people deserve that – – right?

Immediately, rumors have surfaced with regard to Jim Harbaugh and Nick Saban from the college ranks.  Toss in names like Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Sean Payton and the ghost of Vince Lombardi to create sweet smelling stew simmering on the stove.  According to Forbes, Stan Kroenke has a net worth of $7.5B.  That means he can make a financial offer to any of the folks named above – including the ghost of Vince Lombardi – that would assure their agent would “take the call”.  I have no idea if any of them would be the “right call” from a football perspective but any/all of them would appeal to the need for a “recognizable coach” for the Rams.

Obviously, I have a preference for the new Rams’ coach.  If I could make it so, Jon Gruden would be their new coach not because of anything he might do positively or negatively for the franchise.  My preference here is that when he becomes the coach of an NFL team – any NFL team – he ceases to be on MNF.  To my mind, that would be a great leap forward…

The Washington Post had a story recently that makes you stop and wonder about the thought processes of some of our elected officials.  Evidently, several legislators in the State of Washington think that it should be legal for licensed gun owners to be able to bring their weapons with them into stadiums where baseball and football games are played – – such as Safeco Field and Century Link Field in Seattle.  I know; you think I am making this up; well here is the link to show you that I am not.

The NFL and MLB do not allow firearms in the stadiums; when they do the bag searches and the metal detector screenings, one of the things they want to keep out of the stadium is your random loaded gun. I feel confident that both organizations would oppose this sort of legislation.

There are sufficient incidents of fights and violence at sporting events – baseball and football games – that sometimes result in serious injuries and even death.  Wouldn’t it be great if the combatants were armed so that they might have the opportunity to injure some innocent bystanders in addition to the immediate objects of their dissatisfaction?  The “tailgating culture” particularly at football games is such that half of the people who enter the stadium for the opening kickoff would probably fail a breathalyzer test if they were driving a motor vehicle.  Clearly, this is the demographic that you want to be “packing” …

On the other hand, many fans have been very upset and very critical of bad officiating at NFL events for the past several years.  If the crowd included folks who were armed, you might see the quality of officiating improve.  Hey, I am trying to find any little nugget here that might make this idea something better than the dumbest thing I have heard so far this year.

Finally, since I mentioned – tangentially – the Chicago Cubs above, here is an item from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald about the Cubbies:

“The Chicago Cubs will pay $388,000 to repair damage to a park during their World Series victory celebration. No big deal. They’ve been saving up for 108 years.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



10 thoughts on “The NFL Coaching Merry-Go-Round Starts Rotating”

  1. I’ll agree that the new Rams’ coach has to have some celebrity, and would likely need to be tied to USC as well (UCLA if they absolutely must, but SC would be preferred). This person has to be a football athlete of some note (so no Kardashians) so perhaps the Heisman list gives the best possibility

    Mike Garrett (nope – he’s been the AD of SC, not on a coaching track and he graduated 50 years ago)
    OJ Simpson (nope – busy elsewhere for the time being)
    Charles White (Not coaching as far as I know)
    Marcus Allen – Possibly the most likely even without the coaching resume, he was an LA Raider as well so some name recognition will be there and no scandal I am aware of…
    Carson Palmer (still playing)
    Matt Leinart (not far enough back)
    Reggie Bush (famous for the wrong reason)

    Gary Beban (bar bet winning factoid as well as a “faux Bear” non-Trojan)

    I also do not think the successful coaches for SC / UCLA are available (perhaps Mora at UCLA will be interested) even before allowing for the changes. McKay wasn’t a bad coach but the NFL is a bit different and the Bucs at the time aspired to be awful.

    1. rugger9:

      I am less convinced of the need for a USC or UCLA connection than you are. I think – for example – that someone like Nick Saban would be a sufficient “celebrity coach” based on his success and on the narrative that “he failed in the NFL so he’ll fight to right that wrong on his resume”. You could make a similar case for Jim Harbaugh and the way he got “screwed over” by those twits who run the Niners. Bill Parcells would be a “celebrity coach” – but he is 75 years old and is not likely to be looking for work of that type any more. The coaching search will be interesting – – as will the contract details once they are revealed…

      1. I was thinking of the fickle LA market. Nick Saban would have the celebrity and perhaps the desire to run the Rams. The key word is “perhaps”, because Saban also could see how Bowden at FSU was able to do things as he liked for a very long time. Harbaugh would be more likely, I think, if it wasn’t for the fact he’s “home” and idolized.

        How about Urban Meyer?

        If either Saban or Harbaugh leave their current posts, it will be because of some sort of scandal like the one that overtook Meyer’s predecessor at OSU.

        1. rugger9:

          For a reason that I don not pretend to understand, Urban Meyer’s name never surfaces when rumors fly about college coaches heading to the NFL.

  2. The potential loss of beer sales alone can hurt in a ‘half empty’ stadium. Nine or ten dollars per beer per patron adds up, or I should say, subtracts down.
    Totally agree on the Gruden hiring for the Rams. I try not to watch games he talks through, and if I accidentally surf through to one of them I turn down the sound and pick up a guitar.

    1. Rich:

      The “half-empty” stadium hurts beer sales and that is a hit on the immediate bottom line. The “half-empty stadium” also is a bad look on TV and bad looks on TV are not good for the bottom line “going forward”. Just as the Jags had to cover up their unsold – and unsalable – seats with tarps, I think the Rams and the Niners could be in a similar situation if those teams do not improve on the field in short order.

        1. rugger9:

          Next year the Rams and the Niners can compete to see which team can have the greater percentage of empty seats in their home-and-home series…

  3. Referees are already afraid to mke calls at Seahawk games. What are they gonna do if some goofball Seahawk redneck sends a bullet whizzing by his trembling body for making a pass interference call?

    1. Tenacious P:

      I am sure you realize that my allusion to improving officiating by allowing the fans to be armed to the teeth was an attempt at hyperbole and humor. Forget the Seattle “problem” here. Imagine a Niners/Raiders game – at either venue – where each set of fans comes to the game armed. Only the survivors from the tailgate version of the “Gunfight at the OK Corral” would make it to their seats; then things would get really nasty… Or imagine if the goofs who threw snowballs at Santa Claus in Philly had been armed …

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