Is the coach always the problem?

It’s that time of year when the regular season comes to a close and NFL teams hope to make it to the playoffs comes to a bitter end. It’s also the time when we see coaches and other team leaders on the chopping block. On Dec. 30, the New York Giants head coach, Pat Shurmur, was fired and left the team looking yet again for a head coach for the third time in five years, leaving a legacy of a 9-23 record during his stay. 

The same can be said for the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Freddie Kitchens, who was relieved from the team on Dec. 29 leaving behind a 6-10 record. 

According to an article by SBNation, four head coaches and two general managers have been axed from their respective teams and the teams are looking for worthy replacements. 

This isn’t uncommon in the NFL. After the regular season, there are some changes in the authoritarians on the team. In fact, there is a term for this phenomenon: “Black Monday,” in which teams look at what has transpired during the regular season and decide what to do for the betterment of the team next season in hopes of reaching the playoffs. Now, it’s understandable if a team is not doing great that things need to change and that might mean the one calling the shots and making the hard decisions gets the boot. But, I don’t think that should be the knee jerk reaction of the organization. 

Take the New York Giants; this is their third time in five years looking for a new coach. Now, how does that saying go? “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice shame on me?” The Giants have been fooled three times now into the belief that the downfall of the organization and the reason for not making it to the playoffs is their coach. But if this is the third time in a row, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. 

Yes, the head coach is a large part of the success of a team, but so are the players, the owners, managers, communication, plays and many other aspects. Sometimes, a team might just have a bout of bad luck they can’t bounce back from. I’m not saying that it can’t be the coach that is the problem, because in some instances, it might be, but it’s important to strategize and take a hard look at all the other aspects before throwing in the towel and trying to hire someone completely new who may also not get to the root of the problem.

Photo: J. Lin

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