Dallas Cowboys fired Wade Phillips on 11/8, a great loss for Dallas-haters everywhere (and we are everywhere). Interim coach Jason Garrett, long-groomed for the HC post, went 5-3 and there is no question that he had the team playing better. He takes over a charhouse of overexposed pretty boys and bluster-buckets. Come August, they will once again be preseason favorites. But they will come up short, because they are assholes.
Minnesota Vikings fired Brad Childress on 11/22 and by all accounts it was necessary. Interim coach Leslie Frazier went 3-3, including a surprising win over the Eagles which drew the blueprint for how to stifle Vick. Frazier was rewarded with a contract and will build from a team similar to the pre-Favre explogasm: talented but mercurial and desperately lacking a QB. Far too early to tell if Frazier is up to the task, but guarded optimism is reasonable.
San Francisco 49ers fired Mike Singletary on 12/26 and people have been piling on Singletary since then. Absurdly high expectations in a weak division were shattered by week one (31-6 loss at Seattle) and the team nosedived. This is a team still without a QB and full-time RB. Former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has a strong pedigree and this team could be relatively good in a bad division. They are young and need true leadership.
Carolina Panthers did not renew the contract of John Fox after a miserable, withered 2-14 season. They are replacing him with top-flight Chargers D-Coordinator Ron Rivera. The success of this move depends on first-time O-Coordinator Chudzinski, former TE coach in San Diego. Rivera has no HC experience to fall back on and the team is in desperate need of guidance especially at QB. I don't expect a quick turnaround for this franchise.
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Denver Broncos fired Josh McDaniels on 12/6, a move welcomed by all. McDaniels tore apart a good team to build a monument of ego. But it was, in fact, a tomb. Denver wisely hired John Fox, a steady and experienced defense-first HC. This franchise was driven off the road: it might be a season or two before the Broncos are competitive.
Cincinnati Bengals inexplicably re-signed Marvin Lewis. The "leader" of the most dysfunctional, poorly-behaved team in the league (that's right, Raiders and Cowboys) was retained, despite mountains of police and reality TV evidence. The Bengals clearly have no interest in being a good team.
Cleveland Browns fired Eric Mangini on 1/3. They hired Rams O-Coordinator Pat Shurmur. Although the Browns showed some signs of life during their 5-11 season, Cleveland chucked Mangini for an inexperienced HC who is brother to Fritz Shurmur, confidante of Holmgren. Bleh. Incompetence, or merely nepotism? Either way, the Browns won't field a winner any time soon.
Oakland Raiders fired Tom Cable on 1/4, despite signs that his team was finally improving. They swept the AFC West, but missed the playoffs. In a move which must be infuriating for Raiders fans, Al Davis cut Cable loose and replaced him with O-Coordinator Hue Jackson. Call me cynical, but I don't think this relationship will last very long.
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Tennessee Titans fired Jeff Fisher on 1/28. It was a surprise. Fisher had been forced to fire several of his coordinators, and his desire to hire his son may have played into the decision to fire the longest-tenured coach in the NFL. The team itself has been in a rut, much of which can be attributed to inconsistent QB play; a tremendous lack of discipline is impossible to ignore. Mike Munchak will rise from O-line coach to HC; he'll need quality coordinators and that might be a problem.