NFL Coaching: Beware of Coordinator Robbery

Ryan CallahanAnalyst IJanuary 1, 2009

At the end of each NFL regular season, it has become common for unsuccessful teams to immediately dump their head coach or coordinators and attempt to start from scratch.

They immediately start the search for a replacement so that they can get off on the right foot for next season. Most of the time, the names that top their list of prospective coaches are coordinators from playoff teams.

This season was no different as immediately after the season ended multiple coaches were fired.

Rod Marinelli, the coach of the winless Detroit Lions, was sent packing. Mike Shanahan, the 14-year coach of the Denver Broncos was fired after an epic collapse near the end of the season. Romeo Crennel was fired from a Cleveland Browns' team that had high hopes after just missing the playoffs last season. Eric Mangini was fired after his third season with the New York Jets because he failed to make the playoffs.

Other teams fired their coaches in the middle of the season. Teams such as the Raiders, Rams, and 49ers will decide or have already decided to stick with their interim coach or start the hunt for a new coach.

Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator Rex Ryan has been linked to four job openings since the regular season wrapped up; the Lions, Rams, Jets, and Browns.

Miami Dolphins' assistant coach Todd Bowles has announced that he will interview with the Lions next week. The Rams also plan to ask permission to interview Bowles.

What do these two men have in common? They are going against each other in a playoff game this weekend. Instead of concentrating on preparing their units for the big game this weekend, they are off scheduling job interviews while there are still games to be played.

If a player started negotiating with another team before the season was over, he would risk fines and suspensions. So why are coaches allowed to do just that?

The Lions are reportedly trying to distract a coordinator from every playoff team possible. They have announced they will be interviewing several of the hot defensive coordinators; The Giants' Steve Spagnuolo, Titans' Jim Schwartz, and Vikings' Leslie Frazier.

The biggest victim of coordinator robbery this season? The Tampa Bay Bucs. Their defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin announced that he was leaving after the season to go coach with his son Lane Kiffin at Tennessee. At the time, the Bucs were 9-3 and looking at a possible playoff bye. Then the Bucs lost four straight to miss the playoffs, mainly because of poor defensive play.

They let up 38 points in a loss to Carolina, 41 points in a loss to San Diego, and perhaps the most pathetic is 31 points in a Week 17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

We will see which coaches (and their players) have their mind on this week or if they are too busy planning their interview schedules.