NFL owners don't allow new coaches to develop
The firing of Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell Tuesday means only two of the 11 NFL coaches hired in 2009 remain in their positions -- Lions coach Jim Schwartz and Jets coach Rex Ryan.
Think about that.
Only three seasons ago, 11 NFL franchises put their faith in new leaders -- many of them first-time head coaches like the Broncos Josh McDaniels, the Bucs Raheem Morris and the Chiefs' Todd Haley -- and now they are ready to start over.
Ryan, after leading the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games, failed to make the playoffs this season and will begin 2012 on the hot seat. Schwartz took the Lions to the playoffs this season.
This is not an attempt to criticize the firing of Morris, 35, who lost his final 10 games by wide margins. The Bucs clearly have more problems than their coaching staff.
But in general, some teams may be making mistakes by not giving first-time head coaches a chance to develop. Certainly, it's a microwave society that demands immediate gratification. That said, what if owners had always had a three or four year window for head coaches to prove their worth?
The Cowboys Tom Landry did not have a winning record until his seventh season. Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll had three straight losing seasons to start his head coaching career with the Steelers and wound up winning four Super Bowls. Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula reached the playoffs twice in his first five years and went 0-2 in the post-season during that stretch.
Shula survived the early years with the Colts to win an NFL title, two Super Bowls with the Dolphins and a record 328 career games.
Interestingly, of the nine class of 2009 head coaches that have been fired, only former Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora has received interest to become a head coach again, albeit with the UCLA Bruins.
As the Bucs begin a week of interviews with candidates with no NFL head coaching experience, coordinators such as Mike Zimmer, Rob Chudzinski and Joe Philbin, it makes you wonder how serious they are about hiring another first-time head coach. What's more, how committed are they to allowing that person grow into the position?