Win And Get Fired: NFL Head Coaches Face An NBA Dilemma

nfl head coaches

You got your team to the playoffs, but that was never good enough. Getting fired after a playoff loss is common in the NBA, but these NFL head coaches now face a similar fate.

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Head coaches have a really hard job. They can do everything to get their teams in position to challenge for a title, only to have players fail to execute. And in most cases, the coach is a much easier scapegoat for failure than any impactful player. NFL head coaches are placed on a hot seat after one down year, but what about after a slightly above average season?

The difficulty of coaching is true for all sports, but the NBA is on another level. Even “great” coaches fall victim to teams not living up to expectations or never getting over the hump. Heck, even if they do get over the hump, win a title, even win freaking Coach of the Year, that doesn’t buy them much time. Their next firing is right around the corner.

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This NBA postseason, we have already seen high-profile failures by the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns lead to firings of coaches who have met those very peaks just outlined. Within the last decade, Mike Budenholzer won Coach of the Year twice and won the championship once. He is gone. Monty Williams was voted as being the best coach in the league LAST SEASON. He was fired too. You sure don’t get much time.

NFL head coaches don’t get much time either, but getting fired after winning the title or being voted Coach of the Year is almost unheard of. You normally buy yourself one to three more seasons in the NFL with such success. Normally. We’ve entered uncharted territory, because several NFL head coaches may get fired THIS SEASON after making the playoffs, but losing therein.


NFL Head Coaches Face Win AND Go Home



Todd Salem: Cowboys and Chargers Vulnerable

The next man out in the NBA was Doc Rivers in Philadelphia, after a disappointing finish for another season. He sets the bar for this, as Rivers fits into a different category all together. He hasn’t won a title or CotY in over 15 years. People assume he’s still a great coach because of the pedigree, but recent postseasons seem to indicate he can’t get the job done. If “the field” was losing series after leading 3-1, Rivers is the Einstein or Shakespeare of his field. No one compares.

That is the NBA, though, where coaching often comes down to substitution patterns, lineup alignments, and out-of-bounds plays. Everything else is hoping the players execute. Obviously an over-simplification, but we aren’t designing game plans like in the NFL. Presumably, NFL head coaches do more and get more time on the sidelines to do it.

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I can’t see this type of firing actually happening in the NFL. Coaches get fired all the time…for running terrible organizations. When’s the last time a football coach got let go after leading his team to the playoffs? Is it fair that NFL coaches seem to get a much longer runway to find success? Is there anyone currently manning a sideline who could potentially fall into that bucket of an NBA-type firing? Yes, there are two.

I don’t need my NFL head coaches to be a former Coach of the Year or title winner, because that bar is too high for the NFL. But someone who could be fired after making the playoffs and bombing out? That list is longer than you’d think. The ones that immediately come to mind are Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys) and Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers). No one else would even be in consideration for me.


nfl head coaches
Photo Credit: ESPN


Dan Salem: NFC East Ripe For Firings

The issue with NBA coaches is that they don’t get much credit when their team wins, or not enough, leading to them easily being disposed of when their team loses. It’s truly foolish to think a new coach will do better with the same players in an upcoming year, especially when the departing coach took that same team deep into the playoffs before getting fired. NBA coaches design plays and manage their player’s workload, along with deciding how best to form a five man group on the floor. This is hard, but doing the same thing in the NFL is harder. One player is never enough.

Owners in the NFL realize the job of their coach is harder than most, so they don’t immediately fire someone when expectations are not met. Reaching the playoffs is a huge accomplishment in the NFL, but not nearly as impressive (if at all) in the NBA. You don’t get very long in the NFL as a head coach, but you do get two or three seasons on average to reach the playoffs. Getting there usually buys you another season or two. Usually.

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Mike McCarthy is certainly the easiest pick of the bunch. I thought he was going to be fired in 2022, so if his Cowboys fail to reach the NFC Championship this season, I can easily see him being let go. Staley is another solid choice, because he’s been on the hot seat for a season or two already. What would happen if the Buffalo Bills or Philadelphia Eagles got bounced in the Wildcard playoff round?

I don’t think that means the end for Philly’s head coach Nick Sirianni, because he just had his team in the Super Bowl, but Buffalo is another story. The Bills have been “Super Bowl or Bust” for several seasons, yet never even got there. Losing to the Jets or Dolphins in the Wildcard round could mean the end for Sean McDermott. It’s also plausible that last year’s Coach of the Year winner, Brian Daboll with the Giants, could be fired if his team musters up only two or three wins this season. Again, not the same NBA comparison, but as close as you get in the NFL.


Meet our NFL Head Coaches Writers:

Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.

Photo Credits: and via Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News

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