Tenured NFL Coaches Are Hard to Find in Today's Microwave Culture

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Tenured NFL Coaches Are Hard to Find in Today's Microwave Culture
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

In today’s workforce, there is an above-average rate of turnover among workers. Few are given the time needed to excel anymore.

This modern way of acting and thinking has some referring to it as the "microwave culture," where success and results must be made now.

The NFL is no different.

Coming into this NFL season, a whopping nine clubs will be premiering brand new coaches; that's over one-fourth of the league! That doesn't even include the Oakland Raiders or San Francisco 49ers, whose current coaches began midway through last season.

Seven of these coaches are rookies with zero wins and zero losses in the NFL. Granted, two of these nine teams had long-time coaches retire (Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts and Mike Holmgren of the Seattle Seahawks), but the number is still staggering.

This inferno of new coaches hasn't been consistent with years past.  Just last season, not including Tom Cable and Mike Singletary, only four teams showed off a new coach, which amounts to around 13 percent of the league.

In 2007, just one coach was removed midseason, that being Bobby Petrino of the Atlanta Falcons, who left on his own discretion.

In 2006, two teams had midseason coaching changes.

As a matter of fact, 2006's coaching turnover is the only recent season that even begins to compare to 2009!

The trend becoming popular nowadays seems to be firing coach’s midseason.  Last year, three coaches were fired in the middle of the season.  Apparently owners and front office people who don’t see enough production want to try to remedy the problem immediately. 

In 2009, assuming all current coaches keep their job up until Week One, only six coaches out of 32 have kept their job longer than five seasons.  Two in the NFC (Andy Reid and John Fox) and four in the AFC (Jeff Fisher, Marvin Lewis, Jack del Rio, and Bill Belichick).

This means that 26 teams have had their current coach for five seasons or less (though it should be noted that Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears and Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants have coached for five total seasons with their current teams). That is, percentage wise, 81.2 percent of the NFL.

There were nine coaching changes this offseason.  Why? Well, we can eliminate two because of the retirement of Dungy and Holmgren. The other seven, though, were fired.

Eric Mangini and Jon Gruden were fired likely due to late season meltdowns.  Rod Marinelli had a 10-38 career record with Detroit, so he probably left for the better.

Jim Haslett, the interim head coach of the St. Louis Rams, was replaced by Steve Spagnuolo. This brings the number down to three.

I still can't think of a logical reason Denver fired Mike Shanahan, but he was one of the seven victims. The other two, Herm Edwards of the Chiefs and Romeo Crennel of the Browns, were fired due to subpar seasons and careers.

Of those seven, Mangini, Gruden, Shanahan, and Crennel had been to the playoffs in the last four seasons. And the coaches combined record from 2008 was 30-34, which just goes to show that one bad season anymore could spell doom for any coach.

And despite all those firings, there are still several on the hot seat!

Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings had fans chanting for his firing at home games, even though he made the playoffs. Wade Phillips has been on the hot seat in Dallas, as well as Marvin Lewis and Dick Jauron.

But don't just blame the front office. We fans have indulged into the microwave culture as well.

On ESPN.com, the fan-made coach approval ratings (after Week 17, but before the playoffs) have Phillips rated at 12 percent. Jauron is 13 percent, Lewis is at 35 percent, and Childress is at 43 percent.

Fans have screamed about how the Cowboys don't properly use their talent, and how Jauron makes some of the worst on-field decisions of any coach in the league.

Fans don't like how Lewis can't keep the locker room together, and how Childress seems clueless (when asked by reporters about whether Brett Favre can help his team, Childress responded, "Don't know. Stay tuned.") 

However, just as the microwave culture is a put-down to unsuccessful coaches; it can also be a lift-up for recently successful ones.

The top three coaches on the ESPN.com approval ratings?

All rookies.

Tony Sparano of the Dolphins is at 95 percent, Mike Smith at 93 percent, and John Harbaugh at 92 percent.

Despite the fact that the Tennessee Titans had the best record in the NFL, coach Fisher is only the seventh best rated. Super Bowl winner Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers was eighth on the list.

Fans are obviously used to the microwave culture so much, that they can bring it down to a span of just six games. In Fisher's case, he went 3-3 over the last six games of the season, likely the reason of his drop in rating.

In Tomlin's case, his rating came down to one game! His rating dropped due to the fact that Ben Roethlisberger was injured and seemed to likely be out for the playoffs (though he would rally back and play) in the final game of the season against the Cleveland Browns.

The pressure to succeed in professional sports is increasing, with number-one draft choices being paid $41.7 million over six seasons.

With higher risks and more incredible athletes, being an NFL head coach is not an easy job. The microwave culture, though, acts immediately, either for the benefit or the detriment.

It will be interesting to see how it affects the number of coaching jobs lost over the next season.

 

 

 

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