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SBD/December 30, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The Redskins this morning fired head coach Mike Shanahan, a "widely anticipated move that now leaves the franchise on yet another coaching search -- its seventh since owner Daniel Snyder bought the team" in '99, according to Maske & Jones of the WASHINGTON POST. Shanahan "has completed the fourth season of a five-year contract that pays him" an estimated $7M per season. The Redskins "would have to pay" an estimated $6M in additional money to members of Shanahan’s coaching staff to "dismiss the entire staff because of contracts for some coaches that run beyond this season." Shanahan's hiring in January '10 was "greeted with expectations that he would bring stability and professionalism to a franchise that for years has often lacked both." But four years later, the organization "is in disarray." Meanwhile, the Redskins "could restructure their front office this offseason," but team Exec VP & GM Bruce Allen, "an ally of Snyder who is expected to remain, is considered more of a contract negotiator and salary cap manager than talent evaluator." The Redskins "potentially could hire an executive under Allen to make decisions on personnel unless they add a coach with enough clout to have final say over all player-related matters" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/30). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports Snyder “has instructed" Allen to "start putting a list of names together, 10 to 12 names deep" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/30).
A TEAM IN DISARRAY: In DC, Babb & Maske wrote the Redskins franchise "remains in ruin, and perhaps at Shanahan’s feet is greater destruction than what came before him." Babb & Maske cited approximately 20 Redskins sources as suggesting that a "root cause for the downfall lies with the very power Shanahan insisted on and Snyder granted him four years ago." Shanahan, "like many football coaches, puts high value on the control he has over his team," but he "seemed to become more protective of his authority -- and Snyder’s role -- particularly after" Robert Griffin III's emergence last season. The "push and pull helped to poison Shanahan’s relationship with Griffin, the team’s most important player, and ultimately, with Snyder himself" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/29).
ONUS ON THE OWNER: In DC, Sally Jenkins writes of the Redskins' loss yesterday to the Giants at MetLife Stadium, "Yet another brief Redskins era ended, under a dirty rain in a stadium full of jeering malcontents wearing garbage bags." The field "looked like an environmental waste site, and so did Mike Shanahan." To "summarize Shanahan’s tenure as coach: the Redskins are so defective, so toxically malfunctioning, that they are beyond the repair of a mere professional." The problem, and it has "been the same problem all along, what’s chronically wrong with the organization, is that the owner would rather be a central figure on a losing team than a marginal figure on a winning one." Snyder "simply can’t live with being a mute observer," and this means "drama instead of success, year after year." The problem is "pervasive, and goes way beyond this particular coach." Shanahan, "once known for consistent professionalism, has been undeniably damaged." But then, "no coach under Snyder, with the exception of the beatified Joe Gibbs, has escaped with reputation un-dinged" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/30). ESPN’s Ron Jaworski said, “I don’t think anyone was surprised by this. It has been a very acrimonious relationship with Dan Snyder and Mike Shanahan over the last year.” He added the Redskins are "the poster child of instability in an organization," but Snyder has "been the most consistent part" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/30).
The Browns on Sunday night fired coach Rob Chudzinski after one season, citing a "concerning step backward in the second half of the year," according to Mark Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The announcement came "about five hours after the Browns closed their season at 4-12 with a 20-7 loss" to the Steelers, the Browns' seventh straight loss and tenth in 11 games. A source said that the firing came "after a lengthy meeting" among Chudzinski, Browns CEO Joe Banner and Owner Jimmy Haslam III "in which Chudzinski had an opportunity to plead his case." A source said that the Browns "regretted having to fire Chudzinski after one year, but that they saw the team regressing and felt it was time to cut their losses" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 12/30).
SUDDEN MOVE: In Akron, Nate Ulrich writes fans "should know to expect the unexpected with the Browns, especially" with Haslam and Banner in charge. The "only thing the new regime could’ve done to blindside the public more severely than trading" RB Trent Richardson to the Colts in September "was to hand Chudzinski a pink slip less than a year after hiring him." Chudzinski "has three years left on a four-year contract worth slightly more than" $3M a year. Browns LT Joe Thomas after Sunday's game said, "You look at the great franchises. They don't fire your coach after the first season. You can't do it. ... It sets everything back. You just hit the reset button. Anytime you hit the reset button, it severely damages the organization" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 12/30). NFL.com's Marc Sessler wrote the firing was "a move nobody saw coming as recently as a few days ago, when it was assumed that Chudzinski was part of a front-office plan to restore a sense of continuity to a franchise that has chewed through coaches like cotton candy since returning to the league" in '99 (NFL.com, 12/29).
BAD SIGN? In Akron, Marla Ridenour writes the Browns' move "illustrated the height of their arrogance, the cartoonish level of their dysfunction." The Browns "actually believe there’s a future NFL coaching star out there who wants to work with an owner under federal investigation" and a CEO in Banner and GM in Mike Lombardi "who have yet to prove they know anything about talent evaluation." The firing showed Haslam "learned nothing from his days as minority owner of the Steelers, who pride themselves on continuity." Ridenour: "If Paul Brown were alive, he’d want his name removed from the team he founded." If Haslam "thinks he sent a message of accountability by firing Chudzinski, it’s coming with a side dish of hypocrisy." Chudzinski "received no support when it came to personnel moves and no patience from his bosses." Haslam, Banner and Lombardi "believe they can do better." The "only hope of that would be to make the next coach a quasi-GM, power that Banner and Lombardi would never cede" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 12/30).
ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE: In Cleveland, Tom Reed wrote few NFL franchises "have shown greater instability than the Browns in recent years." Chudzinski was the team's fourth coach in the last six years, and only the Raiders and Chiefs "have gone through as many coaches in that span without an interim in the mix." Chudzinski "becomes the sixth NFL coach fired after only one season" since '07. A seven-game losing streak "tested the patience of the organization’s decision makers." Haslam’s legal issues with Pilot Flying J "only add to the uncertainty surrounding the organization." The team recorded its seventh 12-loss season since '99 and has had "20 starting quarterbacks in the past 14 seasons." Reed: "The revolving door in Berea keeps spinning" (CLEVELAND.com, 12/29).
WHO'S NEXT? ESPN.com's Pat McManamon wrote the Browns "just blamed the band for the fact that the Titanic sank." McManamon: "Good luck to whoever is next, because you’re walking into a losing environment and losing culture, and you won’t have a say in how things go." That is "where the Browns are right now." Many in the NFL "are not chuckling at a team that has perfected the term 'dysfunction' in so many ways and from so many people." While teams like the Steelers "hire a guy and stand by him in down times and share responsibility as an organization," the Browns franchise "jettisons that type of coach with kind words and a big check." A new Browns coach "will walk into this system: Joe Banner guides football." There is "no sense kidding about it; he makes final decisions on personnel." Lombardi "assesses personnel, and the coach has input," but Banner "makes the decisions" (ESPN.com, 12/29). In Cleveland, Terry Pluto writes, "Let's hope the Browns have a firm plan in mind." The team "better have a good idea for a better candidate" than Chudzinski, "not another career assistant who has not been a head coach before" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 12/30).
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross after the team's loss to the Jets on Sunday emerged from a back door at a Sun Life Stadium locker room, "looking lean and beaten down" after an 8-8 season, and "basically announced no one’s job is safe," according to Armando Salguero of the MIAMI HERALD. Ross "wasn’t ready to say anyone ... would be back" in '14. Ross: "I’m disappointed. What else can I tell you? For everybody, you know? I have a lot to think about. I’m going to look at everything. When you’re disappointed you don’t make decisions on the fly" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/30). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes, "There is no team besides the Dolphins that could have a season like this, a season of bewildering underachievement on the field and staggering embarrassment off it, and not expect a change at the top." Ross "has two paths to take now." One would be to sit team GM Jeff Ireland and coach Joe Philbin "in a room, tell them he's giving them one final year to make the playoffs or else they're fired next season." A case can be made for "patience and organizational stability," because "really, starting all over is in some ways the last option." Hyde: "But what do you do when the last option is also the necessary option? When your season underachieved because the names at the top of the flow chart did?" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 12/30). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda writes Ross "should fire somebody ... or risk being labeled as stay-the-course blind to the Dolphins' myriad problems" (PALM BEACH POST, 12/30).
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones after his team lost to the Eagles and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season said that he "won't fire himself as general manager, and he’s confident better times are ahead," according to Brandon George of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Jones said, "The one thing I know, that is you are for sure not going to get there if you quit. It’s important to me that we have the kind of success that our fans want, and I’m the best one to ultimately make these decisions." He added, "I’m not discouraged at all. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing and having initially got involved if the picture couldn’t be important. I certainly do believe and am committed with any and all resources that I have to win, and win more than we’re winning at .500 each year" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/30). In Austin, Cedric Golden notes the Cowboys are in their "longest playoff drought" since Jones bought the team. Golden: "Such is life for a .500 franchise, and that's what Jerry has constructed." Coach Jason Garrett "has to be held accountable for not getting this team over the hump yet again" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 12/30). But in Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote since Jones "will not be relinquishing control any time soon, firing Garrett would be pointless." To fire Garrett "ignores the gray-haired, Arkansas-accented elephant in the room" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/29).
Raiders Owner Mark Davis, coach Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie on Monday will have meetings "to discuss the future" of the team, which is "completely up in the air," according to Ann Killion of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The Raiders fan base "is frustrated" and Allen is "under fire." The team's chances of "being competitive soon seem extremely remote." Killion: "You wanted continuity? You've got it. In all the worst ways" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/30). In San Jose, Tim Kawakami writes the Raiders' loss to the Broncos was "yet another bad and boo-filled Coliseum end to yet another horrible Raiders season, and Allen's tenure has to be in some jeopardy because of it." It sounds like McKenzie and Allen "will plot out an aggressive plan for the offseason in the next few days ... then McKenzie will present that plan to Davis." If Davis "still has faith in McKenzie -- and I believe he does -- then McKenzie's faith in Allen will present Davis with a reason to pick stability over disruption." Kawakami: "I think it's also the correct decision, understanding the bleak situation these two men inherited." Allen and McKenzie have "shepherded the Raiders through the barren times and probably deserve to see what they can do with money to spend and draft picks to use" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/30). NFL Network’s Michael Silver said McKenzie and Allen are "getting signals" from Davis that he is "leaning towards keeping both.” However, Davis and former Raiders coach Jon Gruden “remain in touch.” If Gruden would come back, Davis would “turn it all over to him and blow everybody out,” but that is “not likely to happen” (“NFL GameDay Morning,” NFL Network, 12/29).
LEADER OF THE PACK: In Newark, Dom Cosentino notes Jets Owner Woody Johnson after making it known that coach Rex Ryan will be back next season has "taken the extra step of emailing a letter to season-ticket holders to personally explain the organization's decision." The e-mail was sent Sunday around 7:00pm ET. It read in part, "Like any NFL Head Coach, he's had ups and downs, but Rex has been a tremendous leader of this football team" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 12/30).
REMEMBER THE TITANS: In Nashville, Jim Wyatt notes Titans President & CEO Tommy Smith yesterday "was in attendance for his fourth straight home game since taking over for the late Bud Adams." He saw the team "fight until the end even though it was eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago." But Smith "also saw plenty of empty seats." He "declined to comment when approached in the tunnel underneath the stadium after the game." All indications are "it could be several days before a decision" about coach Mike Munchak is announced (TENNESSEAN, 12/30). Also in Nashville, David Climer writes, "Personally, I can't see records of 6-10 and 7-9 in the past two seasons as an indication that better days are ahead." It is "time for a change" (TENNESSEAN, 12/30).
TEXAS TWO-STEP: NFL Network’s Silver, on the Texans' head coaching search: “There is a reason that they fired Gary Kubiak during the season, so they can get a jump on people like (Penn State coach) Bill O’Brien. I’m told that Owner Bob McNair is very much spearheading this process and that they are telling people they would like to be done by Tuesday” (“NFL GameDay Morning,” NFL Network, 12/29).
Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik “have been fired,” according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer. Glazer: “[Buccaneers Owner the] Glazers were really hoping they would be vindicated on Schiano but in the end they fire him and GM” (TWITTER.com, 12/30). ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas wrote the Glazers “are very private.” Yasinskas: “They’re also unpredictable and I’ve found it wise to not even try to guess what they’re going to do. But the one thing I do know with certainty about the Glazers is that they despise being embarrassed.” A 4-12 season “is embarrassing, especially when it’s capped off by a 25-point loss against a division opponent” (ESPN.com, 12/29).
FEELING MINNESOTA: In Minneapolis, Scoggins & Craig write the Vikings fired coach Leslie Frazier on Monday "after a season of promise dissolved in blown fourth-quarter leads and curious quarterback decisions." Frazier, who led the team to the playoffs last season, had one year left on his contract (STARTRIBUNE.com, 12/30). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, on some reasoning behind Frazier's firing: “Remember this: They are getting ready to build a new stadium. They’re going to be playing the next two years at the University of Minnesota. They have put together a PSL, a seat license committee and they're going to sell their PSLs for the new stadium this year, and sometimes these things drive coaching changes because they're going to want to energize their fan base” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/30).
IN THE LIONS DEN: The Lions dismissed coach Jim Schwartz on Monday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter.com, 12/30). In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes if team Owner the Ford family are "truly daring, they might consider pulling the plug on" President Tom Lewand and GM Martin Mayhew as well (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/30). Sharp writes it is "no longer a question of whether" Schwartz "should be fired, but whether the line at the guillotine should stop at him." The "prevailing wisdom" is that Lions Vice Chair Bill Ford Jr. "will make the final call" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/30). However, both Lewand and Mayhew are expected to attend a press conference announcing Schwartz’ firing Monday afternoon (DETROIT NEWS.com, 12/30).
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: In Newark, Conor Orr writes the future of Giants coach Tom Coughlin "was the most pressing topic" after the team's win over the Redskins on Sunday, even if Coughlin "didn’t want it to be." He said, "Don’t ask me that. There will be an evaluation of everything, I’m sure, and we’ll go from there" (NJ.com, 12/30).