Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good NFL Coaches?

Kevin O'ConnellCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2009

First Mike Shanahan and now Jon Gruden.

NFL teams have always had an itchy trigger finger when it comes to the firing of head coaches, but in recent years it almost seems to be getting out of hand. Could this also have to do with the lack of loyalty in sports?

Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden are two of the more successful head coaches in NFL history, and as a lifelong Chargers fan, I'll be the first to say that I would LOVE to have either of these coaches (even with their former Raiders/Broncos ties) to be the head honcho in San Diego.

Other than their past Super Bowl successes, Gruden and Shanahan both share common ground in that their teams both took part in historic collapses during this past season.

Gruden's Bucs started 9-3, only to finish 9-7 while missing out on a playoff spot that subsequently went to the Eagles.

Shanahan's Broncos lost their final three games including a 52-21 blow out at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to finish the season. This allowed the Chargers to be the first team to start 4-8 and win their division.

The question is, do the recent collapses completely cancel out what these coaches have accomplished in their prestigious careers with their respective teams?

Yes, the Broncos have missed the playoffs in the past three years, but they have also been rebuilding with one of the most promising young QB/WR tandems in the NFL.

You also have to consider the fact that any time a team has 15+ players on the IR (seven of them being running backs), it makes it hard to compete in any division—even the AFC West.

You have to think that a man who has coached a team to two Super Bowl victories in 14 years can do a lot of damage with Cutler, Marshall, and a healthy running back corps.

The Bucs have yet to match their incredible 2002 run to the Super Bowl, but they have still had their share of successes since then. Gruden is still one of the young fiery coaches in the NFL.

The Bucs are (almost) always competitive. Not everyone can be the New England Patriots—and even THEY didn't make the playoffs this year.

If the Broncos and Bucs have plans to hire better head coaches than their former Super Bowl winners, I'd sure like to hear it. Maybe then Dean Spanos could emulate them. Until then, I'll just hope that Spanos can take advantage of their mistakes, hire one of the two proven winners, and get Norv out of town.

Granted, firing a Super Bowl winning coach (Billick) has worked out thus far for the Ravens, but we'll see if that translates into a ring or not.

Only one team can win the Super Bowl every year, so whenever a coach leads a team to a ring (or two in Shanahan's case), he's a lifelong winner in my book.