Five days before the start of the playoffs, the NFL saw the coaching carousel spin out 7 men from their jobs, dismissed mostly because of poor performance.
The media had been beating the drums in advance of the dismissals of at least two. Philadelphia sacked Andy Reid after 14 seasons, during which he won 6 NFC East titles, and took the Eagles to 5 NFC title games and a Super Bowl, losing to New England. Philadelphia, however, isn't the class of the division anymore, and had not been the last couple of seasons. Reid lost his son, Garrett, before the start of training camp, and perhaps, that emotional distraction took its toll over the course of 5 months.
In San Diego, beleagured Norv Turner was shown the door, finishing light years behind Denver in the AFC West. I don't think we've seen the last of him, though. I've a feeling he'll be back, with all the openings.
Kansas City dumped Romeo Crennel after a dismal 2-14 campaign, made even worse by the suicide last month of Jovan Belcher. Suffice it to say, Crennel fared worse than he did in Cleveland. The Browns, oh, by the way, let coach Pat Shurmur go after 2 seasons, and Buffalo sent Chan Gailey packing after 3. Apparently, Gailey's next gig will be back in the college ranks, where he seemed to fare better while at Georgia Tech.
Back in the NFC, Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt, 4 seasons removed from taking the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, where they lost to Pittsburgh, was dumped after the Cards went 1-11 in their last 12 games after a 4-0 start. The collapse was inexplicable and unexplainable, and now Arizona needs to find someone new. I think I have an idea........!
The biggest shocker was Chicago cutting loose Lovie Smith after 9 seasons, despite a 10-6 record. The only coach with a winning record who was fired, Smith was cut when the Bears were eliminated from the playoffs following Minnesota's last-second win over North division champ Green Bay.
Almost immediately, speculation began running about certain college coaches, such as Chip Kelly, being courted for pro jobs. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, who was a winner in Oakland & Tampa Bay, was rumored a few weeks ago to be considering a return to the sidelines, but it would be a stunner if he actually left the booth.
So how do you fill the empty spaces, with nearly 4 months before the draft? I honestly don't know. If I could venture a guess, I'd say Turner & Reid will spend the next year or two doing TV. Smith, I think, will head to the AFC (Kansas City or Buffalo would be a good spot), as would Whisenhunt (Cleveland). Outside of that, I don't know, and I'll leave it at that.