NFL AM: 3 Coaches Should Get Another Year


One More Year, At Least

This is the time of the year when coaching seats heat up and jobs are evaluated based on win-loss records.  We’re going to take a look at two last place coaches and one third-place coach and make the case why they should be given another year.

Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers

Coming off a last-place finish in 2015, the Chargers are currently bringing up the rear through 12 weeks this season.

It’s rare that a head coach gets two consecutive last place finishes and keeps his job, especially if it’s not his first two years.  It makes it rarer when you consider that the team has a potential Hall of Fame quarterback playing at a very high level.

So why are we making the case for Mike McCoy?

He’s a really good coach who can make the best out of any situation.  McCoy’s Chargers have had an unbelievable amount of bad injury luck over the last two years, but 2016 has almost been laughable.

“I don’t worry about any of that. I am coaching this football team the way I know how to do it, and we’re going to grind,” McCoy said.

McCoy’s Chargers have needed to grind.  They lost their best wide receiver, Keenan Allen in Week 1 to a torn ACL.  It was utility running back Danny Woodhead’s turn in Week 2.  Linebacker Manti Te’o, running back Branden Oliver and tight end Jeff Cumberland have all been lost to Achilles injuries.

That alone is enough to completely blow up anyone’s season.  But wait, there’s more!

San Diego’s best cornerback, Jason Verrett was lost for the season with a partially torn ACL. Nose tackle Brandon Mebane was lost for the season with a torn biceps.  Running back Dexter McCluster was placed on injured reserve for a forearm fracture on an off the field incident.  Add in defensive tackle Caraun Reid, who tore his ACL and that would keep any coaching staff up at night trying to figure out how to get by on a week-to-week basis.

Through the litany of injuries McCoy has kept his team competitive on a weekly basis and if not for a few fluke finishes would have the Chargers looking at a playoff spot, instead of being a very respectable 5-6.

Close losses and injury non-luck are usually year-to-year types of dilemmas. McCoy has put his team in position to win on a weekly basis and if you look ahead toward 2017, San Diego will have a fairly high draft pick, a great quarterback still in his prime and Joey Bosa for the entire season.  McCoy and the Chargers fans deserve a shot to see how that can play out.

John Fox, Chicago Bears

By anyone’s expectation, the Chicago Bears have had a nightmarish 2016 season.

They have a 2-9 record and there seems to be more questions than answers at key positions, including quarterback.

How much of this is on head coach John Fox?  The right answer should be not much.

Sure, Fox is going to have a pair of last-place finishes in his first two years as head coach, but when you evaluate the Chicago roster, how much is there to really like?  General Manager Ryan Pace traded away the team’s best receiver, Brandon Marshall prior to Fox coaching his first game.  The veteran head coach who has led to teams to the Super Bowl was granted Jay Cutler as his quarterback.

Enough said?

Fox has endured major injuries this season as he’s started three separate quarterbacks, lost two of the best players on his offensive line and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was suspended for four games for a violation of the league’s PED policy.  Their highest profile free agent signing, linebacker Danny Trevathan was also lost for the season.  Add in 2015 first round pick wide receiver Kevin White, veteran Eddie Royal and tight end Zach Miller and the little firepower Chicago entered the season with is on the sideline.

Last Sunday, the Bears dressed a wide receiving corps of Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Marquess Wilson and Cameron Meredith.  The most hardcore NFL fans have no idea who these guys are and with good reason.  The team dropped 10 passes in their 27-21 loss to Tennessee last week.

Instead of using the receivers as a scapegoat, Fox tried giving them some confidence during the week of practice.

“I’ve been doing this for a long (time),” Fox said in his press conference on Monday afternoon. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen receivers catch more balls in practice.”

Are the Bears any better since Fox took over prior to the 2015 season?  No.  But it’s difficult to imagine that the guy forgot to coach and when you look at the lack of weaponry and the injury situation and it’s tough to blame a chef when he’s trying to make chicken salad out of…well, you know.

Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills

If you’re not a Rex Ryan fan, he will give you plenty of reasons to dispute his employment.

The elder Ryan brother is brash, he speaks his mind and usually doesn’t make many excuses.  He’s always a great quote for the media, and his openness also supplies many with ammo to go after him.

Injuries are a part of football and most teams go through their fair share.  Everyone knows that the loss of starters affects depth, but it’s rarely spoken about.  Ryan isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

Two weeks ago, the Bills head coach was asked if he feels bad for wide receiver Robert Woods, who suffered a potentially season-ending injury.

“Right now I’m feeling bad for myself, but yeah, probably for Robert, too,” Ryan said. “He is, he’s playing great and, you know, he’s a heck of a receiver. Now it’s the knee. He had the foot before. It’s just, man, it seems like we’re a little snake-bit this year. Hopefully, we can get guys healthy and ready to go. I know we’re a fresh team. It’s what we do. We train to be at our best at the end of the year. I think we’re fresh as a football team, but it seems like these injuries are hurting us.”

The Bills have played without wide receiver Sammy Watkins for much of the year and lost center Eric Wood for the season in Week 9 with a broken leg. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has played in just three games this season, while Aaron Williams is on injured reserve after suffering a neck injury in Week 7.

“I feel deflated a little bit about the injuries because I know what this team can do, man,” Ryan said. “We’re going to be pretty tough, and that’s what it takes. Right now, I feel great. We needed a win desperately obviously. We’ve given away some games like this-this year, and it feels good to be on this end of it but, you know, we’ll see where we go from here. I know our guys are 100 percent committed to each other, and that’s encouraging for me.”

Ryan shouldn’t get a pass solely because his team has faced bad injury luck, he should get a pass based on what his team has accomplished.  Sure, they’re in third place in the AFC East, but Buffalo is above .500 at 6-5 and is in the thick of the playoff race, without all of those pieces and potentially without a legitimate answer at quarterback.

Like him or hate him, it’s tough to say that Ryan hasn’t extracted the most he could out of this Bills roster.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.