In the closing weeks of the season, it became apparent which coaches would be hitting the road following week 17 and which ones would be safe, but that didn’t prevent at least a couple surprises. Rex Ryan was given a ringing endorsement from Woody Johnson immediately following the Jets’ victory over the Dolphins, and Rob Chudzinski was fired before the dust from the Browns’ loss to the Steelers had even settled. So, who deserved their fate and who was a sacrificial lamb?
Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland Browns
As previously mentioned, Chudzinski was cut loose by the Browns after Cleveland finished just 4-12, but what was the front office really expecting? Chudzinski had to wade through a steaming pile of incompetence at the quarterback position, was given very little say in roster decisions, and the roster he was given had limited talent as a whole. Although the Browns did show promise at times during Chud’s one and only season as the team’s head coach, it appears that management wanted to look like they were doing something to actively help their team. Unfortunately, the premature dismissal of Chudzinski means the Browns are back to square one.
Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Let’s give the Vikings a little credit; they stuck with Frazier longer than some teams would have. *cough* Browns *cough* Still, Frazier was given very little to work with in 2013, and at times, the Vikings played very well, especially with Matt Cassel at quarterback. The Vikings still have a lot of work to do in filling their roster with talented players. Until that’s done, any coach will have a hard time putting a winning group on the field.
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
There’s no doubt that Shanahan’s best work was during his days with the Denver Broncos, but there’s also little doubt that Shanahan was trying to bring his magic into one of the most intrusive environments in the NFL. Reports surfaced this season that Shanahan had originally intended to leave after last season following the Redskins’ postseason berth, but Robert Griffin’s injury postponed those plans. Snyder has to learn to let his employees do their jobs without his interference. If that doesn’t happen, there’s little reason to believe the Redskins will improve anytime soon.
Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
Under Schwartz, the Lions can only be described as being an undisciplined team that chronically underachieved. Schwartz led the Lions to just one playoff appearance in five seasons, winning no games in the postseason. His players may have loved playing under him, but Schwartz was never able to put a respectable product on the field on a consistent basis, leading to a worthy dismissal.
Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Schiano came into the NFL with a reputation as being a ruthless control freak, and at times, that seemed to be the case. Schiano grossly mismanaged the talent of Josh Freeman, and reports flooded out of Tampa Bay that players were unhappy with his coaching style. That would be fine if Schiano had the Bucs playing at a high level, but at 4-12, his fate was sealed. Expect Tampa Bay to go in the opposite direction with their next hire.
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
Kubiak was the only NFL head coach relieved of his duties during the season, and you’ll hear no complaints from fans about the terms of his firing. Kubiak’s team, which was supposed to contend for a Super Bowl, started 2-0, but after losing 11 straight games, Kubiak was terminated. His team finished what he had started, however, finishing 2-14 on the season.
At the time of writing, the above is an up-to-date list of the head coaches who had been fired.