The 2011 NFL Head Coaching Carousel

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The 2011 NFL Head Coaching Carousel

Or as I like to call it, the NFL’s answer to NASCAR’s Silly Season.

To say it’s been odd is an insult to odd things everywhere. Surprise firings, surprise re-hirings, and then there’s the Miami Dolphins. Owner Stephen Ross’ courting of Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh takes the cake as the craziest part of a crazy time, partly due to the Dolphins still having Tony Sparano under contract as their head coach.

Not only is that a disservice to Sparano and the team as a whole, it’s unethical and not proper business. If you want Person A to join your company at a position that is currently held by Person B, but you think Person A will do a better job, you should release Person B. It convinces Person A that you really want them, and it lets Person B not fret about where they stand.

Well, Ross certainly failed at that. Courted Harbaugh for the head coaching “vacancy” and failed. You’ve got to wonder how Sparano feels about his boss right now. You also have to wonder how the team, the rest of the coaching staff, and even the fans feel about Sparano too. Ross basically ended up saying to the world that Sparano is okay enough to tolerate, but we really wanted Harbaugh badly, so we’re just going to have deal with Sparano for now.

Not exactly a resounding stand for the head coach of an NFL team, I would say.

It will be interesting to see how this team fares in the face of adversity if they struggle early.

The Dolphins appeared to quit at the end of the season, even before they were eliminated from the playoffs. They were outplayed by the Buffalo Bills in a game that the Dolphins needed, a game in which the Bills appeared to want it more.

The Dolphins also continued to look disinterested in a huge loss to the New England Patriots. So did the team quit on their head coach? Did they quit on each other? I honestly don’t now. Those questions will be answered at the start of next season, though. It will be an interesting process in Miami until then, that’s for sure.

Then again, who could really blame Sparano for saying enough is enough and leaving the Dolphins after this debacle? I’m not saying he should, because this is an NFL head coaching job, but I also wouldn’t be surprised or blame him if he leaves.

The Dolphins’ head coaching saga isn’t the only one of note for its craziness right now, though. It may be the craziest, but as always, the Oakland Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t going to let other teams hog the craziness.

The Raiders, a team that was in shambles after former head coach Lane Kiffin left, looked to be turning it around this year, playing hard down the stretch and actually going undefeated in the AFC West.

So what does owner Al Davis do? He doesn’t pick up the option on head coach Tom Cable. So they’re going to turn to their offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who many believed would be the coach-in-waiting at Oakland, right?

No, they let him interview with the San Francisco 49ers. To top that off, according to this story on, “Raiders senior executive John Herrera says the team has not talked to any candidates yet. “ Okay, Miami is still in the lead, but Al Davis is doing his best to keep in the running.

The third team responsible for this crazy head coaching riot is the Bengals.

Now they didn’t fire anyone, nor pursue another head coaching prospect while they had a coach under contract. No, they go 4-12, looking for most of the season like a team that had no self respect, and then sign the head coach to a contract extension.

Okay, that is a special level of crazy, at least on the first layer. However, I still rank the Dolphins and Raiders higher due to one reason: head coach Marvin Lewis, for all his faults, brought the Bengals out of the basement of the league. They weren’t that good this year, but they still aren’t the laughingstocks they were before he became coach.

I also think the Bengals can turn this around pretty quickly. They need to stay away from wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ocho Cinco, however. Those two severely hurt the chemistry on offense, as shown by how well the offense played at the end of the year when both were on the sidelines.

So there you have it.

The first round of the playoffs hasn’t even been played yet, and we already are getting more entertainment than we bargained for. So who’s next?

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