Decade Debate: 10 Worst NFL Head Coaching Hires

Perhaps more than any other sport, a bad head coaching hire in the NFL can ruin a franchise for the better part of a decade. When you consider the free agent and draft acquisitions that are made to fit a coach’s style and philosophy, it’s no wonder that it usually takes years for a team to rebound after a bad coaching hire. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, here are the 10 worst head coaching hires of the past decade. To be clear, this ranking is based on the result of the hire, and not necessarily the hire itself. (Although the ranking could be a combination of the two.)

10. Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns, 2009

One might argue that since Mangini hasn’t even gotten through his first year in Cleveland yet that he doesn’t deserve to be on this list. But others will argue that since he was absolutely despised in New York that the Browns should have never hired him in the first place. After all, was the one winning season he had with the Jets worth the Browns giving him a shot? Some of the moves that Mangini has made since arriving in Cleveland haven’t been bad at all: Trading Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, trading down multiple times to acquire more picks in the draft, acquiring safety Abram Elam, etc. But considering he hasn’t won many players over with his crass attitude, has made two quarterback changes and only has one win under his belt, things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start in Cleveland. It’ll be interesting to see if the Browns fire him after only one season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Zorn to coach the rest of the season

According to a report by, Washington general manager Vinny Cerrato said that Jim Zorn would remain the head coach throughout the rest of the season.

“Let me start by making a few things very perfectly clear,” he said. “Jim Zorn is the head coach of the Washington Redskins and will for the rest of this season, and hopefully into the future.”

Zorn isn’t going to be the Redskins’ head coach in 2010. There’s just no way. It’s difficult to replace a head coach in the middle of the season, so it makes sense that the team would endorse Zorn for the rest of the year. If he has a lucky charm up his ass and magically turns the Skins around, then Cerrato and Daniel Snyder can re-asses the situation at the end of the season. But the more likely scenario is that Snyder already has a list of coaches that he wants in 2010 and is planning on speaking to them after the season.

You can’t lose to three previously winless teams and hang onto your job at the end of the year. (Especially when one of those previously winless teams was the 0-19 Detroit Lions.)

Phase One of Operation Fire Jim Zorn initiated

The Washington Post reports that offensive consultant Sherman Lewis will take over playcalling duties from Redskins head coach Jim Zorn following the team’s 14-6 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday.

Lewis has been out of the league since 2004, but has over 30 years of NFL experience and has worked extensively with the West Coast Offense. The Redskins might not see a complete reversal of fortunate with this change, but H.R. Pufnstuf would be a better playcaller than Zorn.

This change is just one of many indications that Zorn’s time in Washington is quickly coming to an end. The players aren’t stupid – they know when their head coach has been stripped of power and it’s only a matter of time before owner Daniel Snyder makes a wholesale change.

Although defensive coordinator Greg Blache reportedly has no interest in the position, there are one or two candidates on staff to replace Zorn if he is fired midseason. Secondary coach Jerry Gray is probably the most logical choice if Blache doesn’t change his mind.

One advantage of firing Zorn in season is that Snyder could get a jump on talking to Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan and all the other head-coaching candidates that are currently available for 2010.

Campbell benched in Redskins’ loss to Chiefs

Things have gone from bad to worse for Jason Campbell and the Washington Redskins, who sunk to a new low on Sunday by losing to the previously winless Chiefs, 14-6.

Campbell was benched and replaced by backup Todd Collins in the second half on Sunday after throwing for just 89 yards on 9-of-16 passing. He also threw an interception right before halftime and missed Santana Moss on what could have been a big gain. To be fair, Moss also dropped a pass that could have produced a big play.

After the game, Washington head coach Jim Zorn said that Campbell “was not comfortable” and that wholesale changes might not be coming at the quarterback position. How Campbell wasn’t comfortable facing a defense as brutal as the Chiefs’ is staggering, but I digress.

Campbell certainly wasn’t good, but he wasn’t bad enough to force Zorn to make a change. Zorn is just clueless and is grasping at straws at this point. His offense is so bad that instead of trying to game plan differently, he makes a half-assed decision to replace his quarterback in the middle of the game and it proved to be unnecessary. He’s not long for Washington and quite frankly, neither is Campbell, who would benefit from a fresh start elsewhere.

Does Snyder want Gruden to coach Redskins?

According to a report by the Washington Examiner, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder wants Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden to be his next head coach.

Sources close to Snyder say he began considering options to replace coach Jim Zorn after losing to Detroit on Sept. 27; a victory that ended the Lions’ 19-game losing streak. The Redskins loss to Carolina on Sunday was its second in three games to a winless team. It followed a turbulent week when Snyder hired an “offensive consultant” to give Zorn another “fresh set of eyes” on a beleaguered offense.

Snyder has not contacted Gruden, say sources, but he believes the former Oakland-Tampa Bay coach might be the best fit among five Super Bowl winning coaches without jobs. Gruden currently is a Monday Night Football commentator who arrives in Washington for the Redskins-Philadelphia Eagles game on Oct. 26. Snyder and Gruden could meet during routine pregame research for the MNF program.

On the surface, this seems like a great fit. Gruden felt as though the Glazer family didn’t try to compete in Tampa, namely because they didn’t spend. The Buccaneers finished $45 million under the cap last year, which was Gruden’s final season in Tampa.

With Snyder’s free-spending ways and the NFL approaching an uncapped season in 2010, Gruden could construct the roster he wants right from the start. The key would be whether or not he could get the Redskins to play as a cohesive team, which is something Jim Zorn has struggled with.

This will be an interesting storyline to follow this season. That said, don’t be surprised if Snyder goes after some of the other big name head coaches that will be available in the offseason, including Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan.

Related Posts