2013 NFL Head Coaching Firings: Chudzinski, Shanahan, Schwartz, Schiano and Frazier all Gone



The first day of the postseason in the NFL and five teams didn’t waste any time booting their head coaches.

Most notably for Carolina Panthers fans are Chudzinski and Schiano.

Rob Chudzinski, the Carolina Panthers’ Offensive Coordinator for several years through 2012, who was hired as the Head Coach for the Cleveland Browns prior to this year, was let go after his single season with the club.

His name had been floating about for years, for whatever reasons, by many as “the next big thing” in a head coach when he was given his chance by the Browns this season. Personally, I never was impressed with his game plans. Sometimes they were great and sometimes they stunk, but I recall having talked about it last season after two games.

The Panthers were a power running team then as well, and at the beginning of Cam Newton’s second season, “Chud” would switch around his approach. Passing? Running? I had noted that when the Panthers ran the ball twice for every pass thrown, they’d win. When they threw twice for every run, they’d lose. Perhaps a bit oversimplistic, but it underscored the lack of development by Newton at the time. He didn’t have the weapons around him to put the team on his shoulders and throw them to victories.

With Cleveland’s weak finish, despite WR Josh Gordon’s record-setting stretch at the end of the season, Rob Chudzinski’s firing came as no surprise as they finished 4-12.

Neither did that of NFC South rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Greg Schiano. His team finished 4-12 after an 0-8 start, but at least he pulled the team up to .500 over the second half and left the team with a new face at QB in Mike Glennon. However, Schiano’s iron-fisted coaching style never sat well with the adults in the NFL. He never changed his style a bit when moving from the 18-23 yr olds of college to the 30, 35+ year old NFL professionals. In fact, there are several stories of his temper, notably when an assistant coach simply walked “near” where Schiano was conducting drills. He turned and screamed at the assistant, threatening him with being fired if he ever “did that again.”

For just walking NEAR where a drill was being held? Okay then.

Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier meet following the game at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Lions 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

He also has a severe man-crush on New England Coach Bill Belichick. He wants to emulate his idol, but doesn’t have the track record (3 Super Bowl rings) to back up his bluster, so he’s out.

Jim Schwartz of the 7-9 Detroit Lions also had ample opportunity to have his team make some noise but failed to do much. With megastars like Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson, a young Matthew Stafford and a high-powered passing offense, he never could get over the hump and get his team to consistently perform up to their level of talent and is perhaps best-known for a post-game blow-up with Jim Harbaugh in “Handshakegate” two seasons ago.

Leslie Frazier is perhaps the one guy who possibly didn’t deserve being fired…at least not like the others. He actually led the Vikings to the playoffs last season in a surprise run while the team had huge holes to fill – and still does. They have an aging defensive front and really need help in the secondary. Adrian Peterson is the only person other teams fear on offense although rookie Cordarelle Patterson is a dangerous return man.

His career is on the rise and he looks to be a breakout WR candidate in his second season. While WR Greg Jennings wasn’t the weapon they thought they were getting, that’s the GM’s job. Perhaps he didn’t get enough out of QB Christian Ponder, but I always thought he had a relatively low ceiling since he was drafted. Josh Freeman fared worse, although he had little time to absorb the offense, having been acquired in mid-season and veteran Matt Cassel has never shown the same form he did as Tom Brady’s replacement with the Patriots when Brady was injured years ago.

Ah, to the final firing so far – Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.

Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan walks off the field at halftime against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Firstly, the Redskins have been a dysfunctional franchise for the past 15 years or so since Daniel Snyder acquired the team in the 1999 from the Cooke family. While Snyder has made big splashes in free agency with the likes of LaVar Arrington, Albert Haynesworth, a 33 year old Deion Sanders, Adam Archuletta, Jeff George, and remember a coach named Steve Spurrier?

All those were Snyder-led moves and they all flopped.

Enter the 2012 NFL Draft and moving tons of picks over two years to move up two spots to get Robert Griffin, III and add one sophomore slump, mix in his dad, Robert Griffin, jr. and his heavy involvement in his son’s career and a head coach with ego and control issues, and you’ve got quite a recipe for disaster.

That disaster manifested itself in the 3-13 train-wreck of a season for the ‘Skins, which now includes a head coaching vacancy that any established coach would be crazy to take on due to the dysfunctional nature of the franchise. They’ve created a media circus since the pre-season when RGIII really wanted to play as the team’s “star” QB and Head Coach sniped at each other via the media and seemingly “coded words” for each other.

Turns out that RGIII was really worried over losing his job to Kirk Cousins, but there were a lot more moving parts here than can be covered in an overview of the small scope of this piece.

I personally think the Snyders have given too much power or cushion or whatever you want to call it to RGIII, and his Dad’s continued meddling only makes things worse. The Redskins likely won’t land the top head coaching talent – at least not established talent – to fill the position as those coaches are probably looking to Minnesota, Detroit, and/or Tampa Bay (Bucs due to a talent-laden, underachieving roster already in place) for their “dream job.”

Even Cleveland, dysfunctional an organization as they may be, looks to be a better gig for a head coach. They have Indy’s first-round pick via the Trent Richardson trade, so the team could move up in the draft to target whoever the current regime likes in the upcoming QB class. That remains to be seen, as the likes of Terry Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel are underclassmen and don’t have to commit to the draft until mid-January, so they have time to get things together and see how the situation plays out before having to make a move. The latest is that Johnny Football will be entering the NFL draft in 2014.

The Washington Redskins indeed appear to be the team in the most dire straits and the least enticing for a potential new head coach. They’ll probably have to take an untested or younger person for that job as their leader for 2014. That man will have to fight Snyder’s urge to empty the wallet and blow valuable cap space on underachieving and/or over the hill players as well as their propensity for mortgaging the future for a single player that they think could turn a 3-13 record into a 13-3 one.

Good luck with that. RGIII couldn’t sustain it once the other 31 NFL defenses got his NFL tape. Perhaps the Redskins and Daniel Snyder have finally seen the light, but this power struggle between the “franchise” QB and their multiple Super Bowl-winning head coach fell on the side of the second-year QB. ANY potential head coach that sees that knows where the head coaching position falls on Snyder’s list of importance and that would be pretty far down on it.

Lastly, the word is that the New York Jets will keep Rex Ryan for 2014, so at least we’ll have some good entertainment from him. He certainly can yak it up a lot better than that “other” NY coach, Tom Coughlin.

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