SBD/January 4, 2011/Franchises

Black Monday Turns Uncharacteristically Sunny For NFL Coaches

Gary Kubiak Among Coaches Retained During Black Monday

Black Monday "turned out to be uncharacteristically sunny" for NFL coaches as "only one move was made on the day normally reserved for franchises' house-cleanings," according to Matthew De George of the DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES. The Browns fired coach Eric Mangini yesterday, but the "prevailing mantra" yesterday was "You're hired," not "You're fired." The Vikings removed Leslie Frazier's interim tag, "installing him as the permanent head coach," and the "embattled Jack Del Rio and Gary Kubiak both were retained" by the Jaguars and Texans, respectively. De George: "Perhaps a part of the stand pat mentality is the looming labor uncertainty and the doubt that the 2011 season will be played. If there's no assurance of a season, why worry about who'll be sitting at home with nothing to do like the rest of the league?" But De George notes the "lack of shuffling" yesterday "isn't fully representative of the staff turnover experienced this season, as the four coaches sacked midseason was a greater than normal contribution to the nation's sky-rocketing unemployment rate" (DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES, 1/4). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "With this whole lockout situation … it seems like owners are reluctant with that uncertainty to commit (big money to a new coach).” They are “not sure how many off-season activities they're going to have the players for. That plays inasmuch as, say, 'I want to get rid of this guy.' They're just holding steady for now" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/3).

NOTHING DOING: USA TODAY's Mike Lopresti tracked yesterday's NFL moves with a running diary. Mangini was fired at 10:15am ET, but at noon, Lopresti wrote, "It's quiet out there. Too quiet." He wrote at 2:00pm, "Did the NFL declare a firing freeze?" He ended the diary at 5:00pm, writing, "This has been Reprieve Monday. Except for Mangini, the day has been as bloodless as pin the tail on the donkey. Could it be the NFL owners have grown patient? Or did they just take Monday off?" (USA TODAY, 1/4).

FIRE DRILL: ESPN's Bob Ley noted with the "economic uncertainty staring" at the NFL with a possible work stoppage, "some teams would hesitate to make moves, but the Browns are not in that camp" after they fired Mangini ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 1/3). Browns President Mike Holmgren said that the search for Mangini's successor "would have no timetable and money would be no object." But "in a mild surprise," Holmgren "eliminated himself as a candidate 'right now'" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/4). ESPN.com's James Walker wrote, "This will be the most important decision Holmgren makes during his tenure in Cleveland. The stakes are raised even higher considering the next coach -- fair or unfair -- will be compared to what Holmgren may have accomplished had he coached the team" (ESPN.com, 1/3). In Cleveland, Terry Pluto writes Holmgren "has to make good on the promise 'to get this right.'" That process "should include Holmgren remaining in his current job with Tom Heckert staying as general manager -- and the two of them finding the best coach available." Pluto: "Until the Browns have a powerhouse front office, they will never win on the field -- no matter the coach. A reason to feel confident about the latest hunt is that Holmgren is the man at the top of the organization" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/4).

NO TIME FOR A CHANGE: Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf, as he formally introduced Frazier yesterday as the eighth head coach in franchise history, said that he "saw little reason for a shakeup." In Minneapolis, Judd Zulgad notes Wilf and his brother, team President Mark Wilf, "took the interim label off Frazier's title and rewarded him with a three-year contract." The Wilfs "did not come out and say it," but it is "clear they realized [former coach Brad Childress] had too much power and they feel Frazier will be better at getting along with others." Meanwhile, there "had been speculation" that VP/Player Personnel Rick Spielman "might be named general manager, but there will be no title changes" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/4).

Raiders Have Until Jan. 18 To Decide On
Picking Up Cable's Two-Year, $5M Option
AROUND THE LEAGUE: In Houston, Richard Justice writes, "When you hear the Texans say how much they love Gary Kubiak and how they'd take a bullet for him, this isn't necessarily the kind of thing that makes for a winning organization. But the Texans haven't won enough to know the difference. ... Losing is a culture that only can be changed at the top." By "playing it safe," Texans Owner Bob McNair is "gambling Kubiak can somehow change a culture that he is responsible for creating." The Texans "passed on an opportunity to do something spectacular, and whether it was a good decision or a bad decision will be played out in the years ahead" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/4)....SI.com's Don Banks cited sources as saying that Raiders Owner Al Davis "will take his time before making a call on" coach Tom Cable's future. Banks: "At least 10 days or so. Maybe a bit longer." Cable's contract "has expired, but the Raiders have a two-year option they can activate by Jan. 18 if they care to." If nothing else, keeping Cable around "for the time being gives Davis some contract negotiation leverage with whomever he might be pursuing as Cable's potential replacement" (SI.com, 1/3)....Titans Owner Bud Adams yesterday said that he is "going to continue his evaluation process before making a decision" on keeping coach Jeff Fisher. Adams yesterday met with Titans Senior Exec VP & General Counsel Steve Underwood and Exec VP & GM Mike Reinfeldt. Fisher said that he "could meet with Adams at some point this week but that nothing has been scheduled" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/4).

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