The end of the regular NFL season always marks the end of a few jobs. Coaches with losing records all line up to the chopping block to hear the final verdicts. Within a day of the season ending, a total of five coaches had their contracts cut and were booted out the door. Don’t feel too bad; with the money promised from their contracts, they’ll be living a happy, golf-filled retirement. Among those losing their jobs lie Detroit’s Schwartz, Washington’s Shanahan, Minnesota’s Frazier, Tampa’s Schiano and, shockingly, Cleveland’s Chudzinski. We’ll throw them out to sea and explore the “implications” (Always Sunny in Philadelphia reference) involved with each of the coaching situations. This’ll be a five part series that explores each of the coaches individually. WARNING: this article is largely based on opinion. Deal with it.
Greg Schiano – a Free-man!
Apparently Schiano is a hard ass; like, take out the belt and whip you raw hard-ass. In fact, he was so controlling over every little aspect of the team that he decided to fire the team’s (virtually) only quarterback: prized pony Josh Freeman. In defense of Schiano, the QB had been missing meetings and showing up late to practice regularly. On the other hand, the entire team was beginning to become frustrated with the coach’s strict policies. Then, just this season, Schiano diseased his entire team! Ok, so the viral infection in the locker room really had nothing to do with Greg at all – it was really just the icing on the cake of an already cursed season. Tampa dropped their decent 2012 record of 7-9 to a pitsy 4-12. Looking at Greg’s college successes, however, that shouldn’t have been too alarming. In his first four seasons at Rutgers, he combined for a record of 7-41. Yikes. It was in the fifth season that Schiano managed to rebuild enough to get the team their first bowl appearance in nearly forty years. Does Tampa have five years to wait on results? Not really. The NFL is a quick-paced environment where coaches need to prove their worth fast. The players’ dislike of the coach diminished his chances of surviving on the team even more. There’s a difference between disciplining your players and pissing them off. Greg, it seems like you only pissed them off.
The players to note on Tampa based on last season are Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson. New coach Lovie Smith is already a recognized and welcome face on the team and has already stated that he wants to re-establish the team’s early 90s reputation of being “relentless.” I can see Lovie implementing a Steelers-esque offense and defense. For the offense, I’d assume this would mean some good ol’ fashioned ground-and-pound ball. Doug Martin’s 2013 campaign was severely underwhelming compared to his debut. He started 6 games and then ended up on IR. In those 6 games, Martin’s stats were less than exciting with 1 TD, 2 fumbles and respectable yardage. This big shoulder injury is worrying because, should Tampa switch to ground-and-pound, I’m not entirely confident Martin is the man for the job. This short back doesn’t seem like the type to be content with vertical running and might not have the endurance to survive the kind of hits Smith has in store for him. I’d be reserved about where I’d draft him – just be sure not to overpay. As for Vincent Jackson, his fantasy upside seems unhampered by his QB situation. Even with a tough and run-centric offense, I think he is talented enough to thrive in fantasyland. In fact, (and this is entirely speculation) this may even help his fantasy game. If a quarterback is not trusted enough to clip their way up the field, they often end up playing ballsy by tossing long distances to mix up the run. With a stacked box, I wouldn’t doubt Jackson will explode for a couple of long grabs each game – no matter who ends up under center. I’d keep an eye on this team next season; they don’t have major rebuilding to do, just some kinks that Lovie Smith can likely work out.
Finally, Chudzinski’s overly complicated last name goes under the microscope…