NFL coaches get the ax early this year

Published 8:04 am Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It did not take long for the National Football League to enter its offseason.

Teams used to wait until what was known as “Black Monday” to begin the process of firing head coaches, general managers and staffs.

But in Cleveland and San Francisco that process began almost as soon as the  games ended Sunday.

Cleveland fired coach Mike Pettine as expected, as well as general manager Ray Farmer.

The Pettine’s Browns were not good in either of his two seasons and as a result he was shown the door.

The 49ers only gave Jim Tomsula one year before letting him go.

I wonder how the 49er fans feel about the fact that management ran Jim Harbaugh out of town at the end of last year?

The Giants’ Tom Coughlin resigned Monday after 12 years and two Super Bowl champions.

I expect the ax to fall again before the end of the week and certainly before the NFL Draft.

Heck, Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, Joe Philbin in Miami and Ken Wisenhunt in Tennessee did not survive the season.

There are still a handful of coaches who have been on the hot season throughout the 2015 season.

Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts, Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints and Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions are at the top of that list.

Mike McCoy of the San Diego Chargers survived Monday, but his staff was fired.

Payton is in a unique situation as the Saints’ ownership may not be looking to dump him, but other teams may make them an offer they cannot refuse for his services.

The Lions already made some staff changes midway through the season and I have to say I think they paid off.

Detroit finished the year 6-2 and looked much improved on both sides of the football, but especially on offense where Jim Bob Cooter worked some magic with the offense as the new coordinator.

I have long been a Matthew Stafford critic, but what I saw from him the second half of the season left me with hope that should the Lions keep him, he could be the quarterback most of us thought he would be coming out of college.

Detroit must keep Calvin Johnson if they want to be taken seriously as a contender in the NFC North.

Letting Johnson go would be a huge mistake. He and Stafford were on the same page much of the final eight games and with continued work with Cooter, could get back to being one of the top offensives in the NFL with Golden Tate, Theo Riddock and Joique Bell.

The offensive line also showed improvement thanks to getting the ball out quicker and I believe there is enough talent there to build a solid group through some trades and future draft choices.

Detroit’s defensive under Teryl Austin was also improve over the final eight games, part of that being that the offense held the ball longer and gave it a chance to rest.

The Lions could lose Austin, who is expected to interview for the Browns’ head coaching vacancy.

That gets me to Jim Caldwell.

I believe he needs to be given more time to turn Detroit into a consistent playoff contender.

The Lions made the playoffs last season, but took a step backward this year through the first eighth games.

Over the final eight games Detroit showed that it could be a contender for a division title and perhaps even more.

Caldwell is a good coach and I believe I have seen enough to give him at least another year.

Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears showed me the Lions are headed in the right direction.

So let’s give them a chance.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at