The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

It's Kiffin, and "No!"

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When a team gets to the point that the firing of a coach seems to be a necessity, it's rarely a cure-all unless the coach replacing him comes in with the kind of sweeping personnel authority that allows the new coach to make decisions which correct the mistakes the old coach had to live under. Sometimes, those mistakes are the fault of the fired coach -- other times, to quote the great American philosopher Curly Howard, that coach is a "victim of soicumstance!"

When you look at the four main coaches on the chopping block right now, there are varying levels of hope for their replacements. Oakland's Lane Kiffin is the obvious man in the crosshairs, and firing him will obviously do nothing to cure what ails the Raiders. That's on Al Davis, and everyone knows it.

St Louis' Scott Linehan has suffered from an uninspiring and unspectacular coaching tenure, but he's also been the victim of some really bad decisions by those above him. Bad drafts, "interesting" player placements (seriously -- Adam Carriker at nose tackle?) and uncertainty about the future of the franchise leave Linehan's hands tied as long as he's the custodian of the NFL's worst team. His replacement will fare no better, because there's no system in place to succeed, and little desire on the part of any truly great coach to enter such a dysfunctional situation.

In San Francisco, Mike Nolan took over what was the NFL's worst team in 2005 and got them to a level of mediocrity that has to be seen as a decent improvement. But the thought seems to be that Nolan's demise will be tied to the epic failure that was the career of Alex Smith. As Smith struggled through four different offensive coordinators and two major shoulder injuries, Nolan seemed incapable of handling the situation with tact, resorting to a public feud with his own quarterback (Note: This tendency to alienate his own players in a clumsy fashion may make him attractive to the Raiders.) Should Nolan be fired, a coach with a fresh start and the ability to co-exist with mercurial offensive coordinator Mike Martz could have something impressive sooner than later.

If Herm Edwards is fired in Kansas City, his replacement will have to take a longer view. The Chiefs had a great draft in 2008, but there are so many personnel holes, any coach will have to be patient -- and any front office will have to be patient with him.

Coaches are like quarterbacks; they often get too much credit in victory and too much blame in defeat. It's just as important, if not more so, to look at the front offices hiring the coaches if you want real insight into their chances for success.

By Doug Farrar  |  September 23, 2008; 9:36 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Accelerated Chopping Block | Next: Dissension and Dysfunction

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