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It’s January 4th. The NFL regular season is done and the playoffs are less than one week away.
The NFL talk should be about how the Packers “ran the table” just as Aaron Rodgers said they could and how they’re set to face the New York Giants. Or about how the Lions led by a talented, gritty Matt Stafford will face the Seahawks. Fans should be praising the Cowboys, Falcons, Patriots, and Chiefs for earning a first-round bye.
Instead, a large focus is on six teams who are looking for new head coaches.
Gus Bradley, previously the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars underperformed with a team that many people thought could take the next step in the development of Blake Bortles after a promising 2015 season. In a somewhat weak AFC South, the expectation wasn’t necessarily that Bradley could lead his team to the playoffs but that he could win seven maybe eight games. Bortles apparently played this season while dealing with two shoulder separations and wrist tendonitis as reported by ESPN earlier this week. Whatever the case may be, Bradley with more talent on his roster than previous seasons, didn’t step up and ultimately paid the price.
Jeff Fisher couldn’t even keep his job with the Rams through the end of the season as he was fired after he tied the NFL record of most losses all-time as a head coach with an astounding 165 losses. Case Keenum couldn’t take the team anywhere and number one overall pick Jared Goff didn’t perform right away as it seemed Fisher thought he would. The team finished 4-12 and scored 89 points the whole season. To put that into perspective, in the Rose Bowl USC and Penn State combined to score 101 points in one game. Yes, that’s a college game but come on, 89 points scored in 960 minutes of football is a joke.
Mike McCoy’s Chargers were decimated by injuries as the team had 19 players on Injured Reserves including Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, Manti Te’o, Brandon Mebane, Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers to name a few. It’s fair to say that the former Chargers head coach had a lot of obstacles but it appears that San Diego wants to go in a new direction after McCoy reached nine wins in his first two seasons with the Chargers before winning four and five games respectively.
Chip Kelly didn’t have a clue he would be fired as reported by Fox. But when you win two games in your first season, you can’t expect to have any real job security. The 49ers started what seemed like two backup quarterbacks during the season with Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick collectively winning two whole games, with the supposed quarterback guru, Mr. Chip Kelly. His offensive coaching style combined with defensive-minded GM Trent Baalke clearly didn’t gel.
Rex Ryan, along with his brother Rob Ryan, like Jeff Fisher got run out of town before the season finished. The Bills had some good pieces this year like Tyron Taylor who stepped up and showed he’s a better-than-average QB in the league, Lesean McCoy is one of the NFL’s most talented running backs and had a great season, and Ronald Darby became one of the best young cornerbacks in the league. McCoy criticized Ryan after the firing, saying that the team had the talent to win and the former head coach didn’t instill discipline in the team.
Gary Kubiak is stepping away from the Broncos organization just a year after winning Super Bowl 50 with Peyton Manning. He started experiencing health problems this season and had to miss one game due to “a complex migraine condition that caused extreme fatigue and body weakness” as stated by John Elway. He had an emotional press conference following the Broncos 24-6 win over the Raiders on January 1st in which he said that his health scare had started to affect his routine and he didn’t want to coach anymore if he couldn’t do it to the best of his ability. Kubiak was a great head coach and his run to a Super Bowl Championship with Manning in the 2015-2016 season will not be forgotten.
While 12 teams are going to the playoffs, six teams are already looking for new head coaches. That means there will be constant alerts on smartphones about any potential candidate for a team. Soon, the story will be about the playoffs and who can win Super Bowl 51, but for now all the talk seems to be about six teams with no head coach and the possibility of even more coaching moves.
I’m an aspiring sports journalist with experience interviewing and reporting on collegiate and professional athletes since 2014. I study at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and am majoring in sports journalism.