NFL Coaches Who Have Failed
Becoming a coach in the National Football League is a highly coveted achievement. To be considered in the ranks of greats like Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson, and Tony Dungy is a dream come true for those who make coaching football their life’s work. Unfortunately, for every truly great NFL coach, there are plenty who have failed in their quest for greatness. Here are four who will go down in the sport history books—but not in the way they had hoped.
When rumors leaked about Greg Schiano being hired as the head coach for the Tennessee Volunteers, the backlash was immediate. It was purported that the resistance was due to the allegations that Schiano was privy to knowledge of colleague Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse scandal. However, since the allegations are shaky at best, it’s more likely that Schiano was shot down for the head coach position because of a decidedly lackluster coaching record.
Though Schiano boasts six winning seasons and six bowl appearances when he was coaching the Rutgers team, his overall record there was a mere 68-67. When he was tapped for an NFL head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he turned in a record of 11-21 with a missed playoff season. He was fired, along with the general manager who selected him, midway through his second season. Schiano did find employment with the Ohio State Buckeyes as a defensive coordinator/associate head coach, but his failure as an NFL coach will forever mar his reputation and likely lead to the revocation of his Tennessee head coaching offer.
Chip Kelly’s success as a collegiate coach with the Oregon Ducks unfortunately didn’t translate well to the NFL when he was hired as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. When he arrived in Philadelphia, hopes were high that he could turn the squad into an offensive powerhouse. If he would have stuck to coaching, Kelly arguably could have been effective in the big leagues. Unfortunately, after making himself his own General Manager, Kelly made a series of questionable trades and releases, leading to a spate of losses and a quick downhill slide. He was released with only one game remaining in the 2015 season and found a new home in San Francisco.
Kelly didn’t fare much better as the head coach of the 49ers, but it’s pure speculation whether that was due to his coaching talents or the fluctuating roster of players who haden’t found their groove. Kelly was released after posting a 2-14 losing season and returned to where he initially found success—in the college ranks. He is currently the head coach for the UCLA Bruins.
There seems to be a curse on those who coached under legendary Bill Belichik and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel experienced the full force of it when he attempted to move up to head coach. After the Patriots scored a third Super Bowl win in 2004, Crennel was named head coach of the Cleveland Browns, a team that had been struggling for years. After four years with the organization, he boasted only one winning season and moved on to become the interim head coach for Todd Haley in Kansas City. He was named head coach of the Chiefs the next season and posted a miserable 2014 record.
His time with the Kansas City Organization was not only marked by failure on the field, but also tragedy off it as he witnessed linebacker Jovan Belcher’s suicide after he fatally shot his girlfriend and mother of his daughter. Crennel was fired in 2012 and is now the Assistant Head Coach of the Houston Texans.
Though Brian Billick has a Super Bowl win under his belt during the time he was head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, he is ultimately seen as a failure due to his arrogant and uncaring coaching style as well as his final record. Though he coached the Ravens for nine years, seven of those seasons were marked by only one playoff win. After winning the Super Bowl in 2000, Billick’s team continued to experience offensive problems and was never again able to recapture its former glory.
In his last season, Billick posted a losing 5-11 season and management decided it was time for a change. Though they had recently signed him to a four-year contract and would owe him $15 over the next three years, the Ravens pulled the trigger in hopes that a new coach would be able to get them back to the Super Bowl.
Coaching in the big leagues is not an easy job, as the above four coaches learned. Due to scandal, inability to translate collegiate strategy to the NFL, or just bad luck, these four coaches will go down in history as major league fails.