Falcons fire HC Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff: A/B Grade
Everyone makes mistakes. The problem is repeating mistakes, so the Falcons are doing a great job of avoiding repeated blunders by firing Dan Quinn.
The Falcons should have fired Quinn last year, but the coach saved his job by winning some meaningless games late in the year. This ended up being harmful in the long run, as Atlanta missed out on landing Chase Young, Derrick Brown or Jeff Okudah in the 2020 NFL Draft, as they had to settle for A.J. Terrell with the 16th pick instead. There was some optimism for the Falcons heading into 2020, but they continued to drop winnable games, including two where they led by double digits in the second half. This, of course, was a repeat of what transpired in Super Bowl LI when they blew a 28-3 lead to the Patriots. Quinn at least did a good job of getting the team there, but I think we now know that Kyle Shanahan was most responsible for it.
A Quinn firing allows the Falcons to tank, perhaps giving them a shot at landing Justin Fields or even Trevor Lawrence (I have them taking the former in my 2021 NFL Mock Draft.) They can move on with a new regime, which is what they need to do. Thus, I'm giving the Quinn firing an "A" grade.
I'm not as bullish on the Thomas Dimitroff firing, but I can get behind it. Dimitroff has done a decent job of acquiring talent over the years, and he built some teams that have reached the NFC Championship or further. However, Dimitroff made some crucial mistakes in recent years, including his failure to fire Quinn last year. I don't have a problem with Atlanta pursuing a new general manager. Here are some potential general managers for Atlanta:
Texans fire HC/GM Bill O'Brien: A++++++++ Grade
Wow, I'm shocked. I thought the Texans would never fire Bill O'Brien. Owner Cal McNair went out of his way to defend O'Brien multiple times on Twitter. It was so odd that I was going to write an Emmitt on the Brink entry about McNair taking O'Brien as his lover. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Though I'm utterly surprised, this is the right move. O'Brien has been an abysmal personnel decision-maker for the Texans, and he's also been highly disliked by his players. Deshaun Watson had also seen regression under O'Brien. He had to go.
This firing doesn't just deserve an A+ grade. It deserves an A++++++++ grade. Eight pluses...
One plus for trading Jadeveon Clowney for nothing.
One plus for trading DeAndre Hopkins for nothing.
One plus for trading two first-round picks for Laremy Tunsil.
One plus for trading a third-round pick for Duke Johnson and then not using him properly.
One plus for trading a second-round pick for Brandin Cooks.
One plus for ousting general manager Rick Smith.
One plus for firing everyone in what was formerly the top scouting department in the NFL.
One plus for blowing a 24-0 lead to the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs.
I've never given an A++++++++ grade before, but then again, we've never seen anyone as incompetent as O'Brien hold so much power in the NFL. Sure, we've had Matt Millen and Rich Kotite, and the like, but O'Brien was both the worst coach and the worst general manager for years.
The good thing is, it's done. The nightmare is over. O'Brien is finally gone. This is a move that should've been done years ago, but better late than never.
Chiefs extend HC Andy Reid, GM Brett Veach (6 years): A+ Grade
Andy Reid and Brett Veach were both extended to 6-year deals Monday night. When I saw this, I thought I'd grade these moves when financial figures attached to them were available. However, Facebook friend Blake H. reminded me that the money is irrelevant, so I can grade these moves now.
I love both of these moves by the Chiefs. Veach has proven to be an outstanding general manager, while Reid is arguably the second-best coach in the NFL, trailing only Bill Belichick. Reid is 62, so there was some question as to how much longer he would remain in Kansas City. Assuming Reid stays on throughout the duration of his contract, Patrick Mahomes will be 30 by the time the Chiefs potentially have a new head coach. Over the next six years, Reid can help Mahomes transition from the best quarterback in the NFL to someone who could eventually be known as the greatest quarterback in league history, so keeping Reid for six years is a no-brainer.
Texans name Bill O'Brien general manager: F- Grade
If the Texans knew what they were doing, they would've fired Bill O'Brien years ago. His team's epic collapse against the Chiefs was further proof of his incompetence as a head coach. O'Brien has gotten lucky to win the division several times during his tenure in Houston, but only because Deshaun Watson carried him in an AFC South that has been mostly lackluster in recent years. Houston stands no chance of making a deep playoff run as long as O'Brien is calling the shots. He's that horrible.
As bad as O'Brien is as a head coach, he's far worse as a personnel decision-maker. He has no feel for talent - he didn't even want to draft Watson - and he trades away draft picks as if they were nothing. He has no concept of leverage, which is why he dealt Jadeveon Clowney for a ham sandwich. He can't work with talented personnel evaluators. He wants all the power, and he doesn't get along with anyone. He's probably the least-qualified person in the NFL to be general manager of the Texans.
This is the easiest F- grade of all time. Hiring your cat to do your taxes would be a better decision than the Texans giving O'Brien more power.
Browns hire GM Andrew Berry: F Grade
The Browns had their sights set on Vikings general manager George Paton. They interviewed him twice, but Paton removed his name from consideration after the second meeting. Paton undoubtedly realized that the Browns just wanted a "yes man" to be the general manager, so he correctly decided that he should wait for a real job.
Cleveland moved on from Paton and found its "yes man." That would be Andrew Berry, who was involved in the Browns' former 1-31 tenure. I don't know why anyone would hire someone who was partly responsible for a 1-31 record to be the general manager, but these are the Browns we're talking about, so they were bound to do something stupid.
Jaguars hire OC Jay Gruden: C Grade
Jay Gruden didn't have a very successful tenure as the Redskins' head coach, but he did a good job as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator before then. I'm sure this hire will be seen as a positive by many because of that.
I'm personally not too sure about that reasoning. It seemed as though Gruden lost his passion for football late in his Washington tenure. I think he needed some time off to regain his fire. I know this isn't anything that's concrete, and I can't say anything here that can prove it, but I think my hunch is correct, so I don't want to grade this very favorably.
Giants hire OC Jason Garrett: D- Grade
When I heard that the Giants hired Jason Garrett, I assumed it was for the open male cheerleader position. Garrett claps so enthusiastically that I figured he would be a great fit for the job.
However, this was not the case. The Giants apparently thought it was a good idea to make him the offensive coordinator. This is confusing because Garrett once called the plays in Dallas, but was so bad at it that he had to relinquish his play-calling duties. Given that, why do the Giants think that Garrett would be a quality option as their offensive coordinator? It's not like Garrett has any sort of new ideas. He hasn't had any time off to brainstorm any new innovations, so I'm not exactly sure what he's bringing to the table, outside of some knowledge he has of the rival Cowboys.
Broncos hire OC Pat Shurmur: B+ Grade
The Broncos hired Pat Shurmur to be their replacement for Rich Scangarello as their offensive coordinator. Kenny described Shurmur as plain Cheerios in our DFS podcast:
And I agree. He certainly is not Fruity Pebbles, or even Honey Nut Cheerios, for that matter. Shurmur is a solid offensive coordinator. He's going to be an upgrade over what the Broncos had last year. There may have been more upside in other hires - Chad O'Shea, for example - but there's certainly a high floor with Shurmur. If Drew Lock fails, it won't be because his offensive coordinator let him down.
Panthers hire OC Joe Brady: C Grade
This grade isn't fully based on how I believe Joe Brady could fare in the NFL, but rather the situation. Brady did a tremendous job coaching up LSU's offense this past season. I can definitely understand why teams would be interested in hiring him as their offensive coordinator, like the Panthers did.
However, I don't like the fit in Carolina. New head coach Matt Rhule barely has any NFL head-coaching experience. He needed to bring in coaches who have spent lots of time in the NFL. This is something Sean McVay did when he became the youngest head coach in the pros. He brought in Wade Phillips and Greg Olson, both of whom were vital to his early success. Rhule needed to do something similar, but Brady, like Rhule has barely spent any time in the NFL.
Browns hire HC Kevin Stefanski: D Grade
The Browns reportedly were eyeing Robert Saleh and Kevin "Run, Run, Pass" Stefanski as two of their final head-coaching candidates. The two squared off in the divisional round of the playoffs, and Saleh coached circles around Stefanski. You'd think that after that performance, Cleveland would favor Saleh to be their head coach. Of course, this is why the Browns are the Browns.
Stefanski did a rather unimpressive job in Minnesota. His run-run-pass play-calling was predictable, and he struggled to get the most out of all the talented players on his offense. Only Dalvin Cook lived up to expectations in 2019. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, conversely, were frequently frustrated with their roles.
I'm not sure what kind of "leader of men" Stefanski is, but he obviously pales in comparison to Saleh in that regard. Saleh was the better candidate, by far, and yet the Browns made the decision to hire a coach, presumably, because they didn't have one and wanted one now. This is the sort of decision-making that Browns fans have become accustom to under the horrible regime of owner Jimmy Haslam. While Haslam is a smart, albeit allegedly crooked businessman, he's pretty dumb when it comes to owning an NFL franchise, and this is yet another stupid decision on his part.
Eagles fire OC Mike Groh: A+ Grade
The Eagles also fired receivers coach Carson Walch, but let's focus on Mike Groh, who was a failure of an offensive coordinator. He was given two years after Frank Reich moved on to Indianapolis, and he did a poor job as Reich's replacement. Carson Wentz regressed under Groh's watch, and it's not like the play-calling was innovative and unpredictable. The Eagles can do much better than Groh as their offensive coordinator, so it would've been a failure had they not fired him.
By the way, some of the blue checkmarks on Twitter seemed peeved that Doug Pederson lied to them. Pederson told the media Wednesday that he planned on retaining Groh, so he's being accused of lying. First of all, Pederson is not required to tell the truth to journalists. Second, it's possible that Pederson could have changed his mind after thinking about the situation and discussing it with other people within the organization. Thus, I really don't care that Pederson did something different 24 hours after saying the complete opposite to reporters.
Redskins hire OC Scott Turner: D Grade
My "D" grade for this hire doesn't have much to do with Scott Turner. Ron Rivera has familiarity with Turner, as the two worked together in Carolina last year. Turner did a nice job with the receivers, so he deserved a chance to be a full-time offensive coordinator.
My issue regarding this hiring is allowing offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell to walk. I don't overly prefer O'Connell to Turner, as both are young offensive-minded guys with upside, but I don't think that putting Dwayne Haskins into a new system is a good idea. One of the primary reasons young quarterbacks fail is because they're constantly learning new systems. Haskins showed some major improvement late in the year under O'Connell's tutelage, so why begin anew? And what if Turner sucks? The Redskins will have to fire him and bring in a new coordinator, and then Haskins will be starting from scratch a third time. This could ruin his career.
I don't like this decision-making from the Redskins. Again, this is nothing against Turner, but I think separating Haskins from O'Connell is a bad idea.
Giants hire HC Joe Judge: B+ Grade
Who is Joe Judge? Interesting question! Judge was the Patriots' special teams coordinator since 2015, and he also took over wide receiver coaching duties this past season. He never played in the pros, but he's been with New England since 2012, and he coached under Nick Saban at Alabama prior to that.
Judge is a surprising hire, but it's not like special teams coordinators haven't panned out in the past. Just look at John Harbaugh; he's one of the best coaches in the NFL even though he was the Eagles' special teams coordinator before taking the Baltimore job. Judge has a lengthy history of learning from both Bill Belichick and Saban, which is not insignificant because we've recently seen Belichick's former assistants thrive in the NFL.
I like the Giants taking a chance on an unknown with a great background over hiring a proven failure like Jason Garrett. This deserves a favorable grade just for that reason alone. I like this hire.
Panthers hire HC Matt Rhule: C- Grade
Matt Rhule was a tremendous college coach. He took over two dead programs - Temple and Baylor - and brought them to prominence. He nearly led Baylor to a Big XII championship, falling just short of defeating Oklahoma. This was very impressive, so I can understand why NFL teams were highly interested in him.
However, I'm not sure how this translates to the pros. Reviving a pair of bottom-barrel college football teams, which barely had any NFL-caliber talent, has nothing to do with motivating professional athletes. In fact, Rhule has never coached a professional athlete in his life, save for 2012 when he was the Giants' assistant offensive line coach. That's his only NFL experience.
There's an extensive history of college-only coaches failing in the NFL, so I don't see why Rhule would be any different in Carolina. What Rhule is proposing might seem impressive, as he's planning on instituting a sports science and recovery program. That sounds great, and those who believe in analytics will love how different it is from Ron Rivera's successful regime, but getting the players to buy in is not a given. Chip Kelly tried something similar in Philadelphia, and it failed miserably. I'm not sure Rhule can connect with NFL players using science and analytics, despite what the blue checkmarks on Twitter may think.
I don't think it's a given that Rhule will fail in the pros, but there's some major history going against him. Panthers owner Bobby Axelrod even gave Rhule a 7-year contract, which is ridiculous enough for me to grade this in the C-/D+ range.
Rams fire DC Wade Phillips: F Grade
This is incredibly stupid. The Rams improved defensively this past season compared to where they were during their Super Bowl run. They were ninth in defensive DVOA even though their stop unit had to be on the field more often as a result of the offense stalling out because of Jared Goff's regression.
The Rams wanted a scapegoat because they missed the playoffs, so it ended up being Phillips. This was a bizarre conclusion for Sean McVay and the front office to make, given that Phillips barely had anything to do with the Rams' disappointing 2019 campaign. The Rams will be worse defensively without Phillips, as there is no viable replacement for the legendary defensive coordinator.
Cowboys hire Mike McCarthy: LOL Grade
I'm grading this as an "LOL" because I literally laughed out loud so hard that I nearly threw out my back when I first saw this news.
If there's been a coach who has been nearly as bad as Jason Garrett in the previous decade, it was Mike McCarthy. In fact, I saw someone describe McCarthy as a "fatter Jason Garrett," and I thought it was brilliantly accurate.
People will point to the fact that McCarthy won the Super Bowl, but that was Aaron Rodgers winning in spite of McCarthy. If the Packers had a coach better than McCarthy, they would've claimed multiple Lombardi Trophies with Rodgers. As everyone learned this year, McCarthy held back the Packers from reaching their full potential. He utilized archaic and predictable schemes, showed no feel for the game, and constantly clashed with his future Hall of Fame quarterback. In fact, Rodgers even lost on purpose to Arizona in 2018 because he despised McCarthy so much.
McCarthy did such a poor job in Green Bay that I would've shocked if he earned another head-coaching gig in the NFL prior to seeing this news. Yet, here we are. The Cowboys, for some strange reason, have decided to hire McCarthy in what is an utterly embarrassing move. Almost anyone would've been a major upgrade over Garrett, but McCarthy was one of the few exceptions.
It took the Cowboys six years too long to fire Garrett, yet they're stuck with the same trash coaching them. This is the easiest "F" grade I've ever posted. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to fetch my heating pad.
Cowboys fire HC Jason Garrett: A+ Grade
I had the urge to grade this as a "C" or something of that nature, only because it took Jerry Jones five years too long to make this decision. It was clear that Jason Garrett wasn't a good head coach by 2014. Everyone knew this except Garrett and anyone clueless enough to believe he'd be a good head coach of their team at the present moment.
Garrett always prepared his teams poorly, struggled to make adjustments and was frequently out-coached by the opposition. He had no feel for the game, and his teams always underachieved. I don't understand what took Jones so long, but he finally made the correct decision.
As for Garrett's next stop? The only thing Garrett does well is clap enthusiastically, so any NFL team in need of a male cheerleader should pursue Garrett for that position.
Redskins hire DC Jack Del Rio: A Grade
The Redskins made another outstanding hire. Jack Del Rio has proven to be a very mediocre head coach, but he's been an excellent defensive coordinator throughout his career. He should be able to vastly improve Washington's beleaguered defense.
Del Rio has been out of the league the past two years after he was fired as Oakland's head coach, which could be a good thing. The time off to surf the waves may have energized Del Rio, who could have some new ideas to bring to his latest post. He's also another authoritative voice to turn things around for a team that sorely lacked discipline.
Browns fire GM John Dorsey: C- Grade
The Browns are being the Browns once again, I see. It's amazing how this organization just doesn't seem to understand how to function properly. Firing good personnel men is not a good recipe for success. Owner Jimmy Haslam is a moron when it comes to football matters, but perhaps he'll learn this one day.
John Dorsey made some mistakes with the Browns, most notably failing to bolster the offensive line after trading Kevin Zeitler away for an aging edge rusher. I don't understand that trade at all, and hiring Freddie Kitchens was a major blunder, but Dorsey did so many more positive things. He built a good roster that most head coaches could've turned into a playoff contender. I think the Browns could've gotten there had Dorsey hired a much better coach after firing Kitchens, but this franchise will have to begin anew once again.
Jaguars retain HC Doug Marrone: F Grade
I may have to send another invoice. This time, to ESPN's Dianne Russini, who published some fake news about the Jaguars planning to fire Doug Marrone following Week 17. This led to a five-unit bet on the Colts in what was a disastrous Week 17.
In Russini's defense, it made all the sense in the world for the Jaguars to fire Marrone. The players completely quit on him in the second half of the year, so why would they retain him? Marrone has no positive attributes as a coach, and his own players don't even like him. This might be the dumbest decision any NFL team makes this offseason, so this is an easy "F" grade.
Dolphins hire OC Chan Gailey: D Grade
I can't say I understand why the Dolphins felt the need to downgrade from Chad O'Shea to Chan Gailey. The 68-year-old had been out of the NFL for three years after bombing with the Jets. Perhaps he picked up some new tricks during his hiatus, but I doubt it.
The one positive about this signing is that Gailey has worked with Ryan Fitzpatrick before, so it's nice that Fitzpatrick will know Gailey's system. However, Fitzpatrick didn't do particularly well with Gailey in 2016 - he threw for 17 interceptions and only 12 touchdowns - and was much better with O'Shea, so none of this makes any sense to me.
Redskins hire HC Ron Rivera: A Grade
New Panthers owner Bobby Axelrod made a big mistake by firing Ron Rivera this past season, so the Redskins should consider themselves fortunate that they obtained one of the best coaching options available. This is a terrific hire, worthy of an "A" grade.
Rivera built a winner in Carolina, and he can do the same in Washington. He's capable of constructing a great defense, and the players will work very hard for him. Most of all, he brings respectability to the sidelines, which might sound trivial for most teams, but the Redskins need it after all of the Trent Williams drama that occurred this past season.
Dolphins fire OC Chad O'Shea: F Grade
There must be something going on behind the scenes because this firing doesn't make much sense otherwise. Chad O'Shea did a fantastic job as Miami's offensive coordinator this season. He was masterful in finally getting the most out of DeVante Parker, while Ryan Fitzpatrick never regressed under O'Shea's watch, like he did under other coaches.
I have to grade this an "F," at least until we receive some news about this. O'Shea should be highly sought after, as he'll be a terrific hire for any team in need of an offensive coordinator.
Giants retain GM Dave Gettleman: B+ Grade
Like Bruce Allen, Dave Gettleman is widely hated by the media. Gettleman's politics aren't in question, but rather his aversion to analytics. Gettleman has some archaic stances, but contrary to progressive groupthink opinion, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Gettleman built a good team in Carolina and has made some positive decisions with New York, though with some glaring mistakes mixed in.
Gettleman was widely criticized for selecting Daniel Jones sixth overall, but Jones showed high upside during his rookie campaign. He seems like he could become a great quarterback in the future, provided he gets some good coaching. Gettleman also found Darius Slayton in the fifth round and made some terrific free agent signings and trades. For instance, he obtained Kevin Zeitler for an aging pass rusher, and he signed Markus Golden (10 sacks in 2019) to a very cheap deal. Conversely, Gettleman has blown some selections, particularly the cornerbacks he has chosen in the early rounds.
I don't understand why the Giants would consider firing Gettleman. They can at least wait and see if Jones ends up being as good as some people think he can be. No one expected the Giants to do well in 2019 because they would have a rookie signal-caller going through growing pains, so committing a panic move by firing Gettleman probably would've been a mistake.
Giants fire HC Pat Shurmur: A Grade
Pat Shurmur, in three head-coaching stints, which includes an interim gig with the Eagles, is 17-45 in his career. I could be wrong, but winning 27.4 percent of games is not going to cut it in the NFL.
While Shurmur is a quality offensive coordinator, he has shown no signs that he can be a successful head coach in the NFL. He constantly made mistakes with the Giants, while other coaches easily out-schemed him on a weekly basis. Shurmur was not one to galvanize the troops either like a Mike Tomlin or a Ron Rivera, so I'm not sure what he brought to the table as a head coach.
I don't see how this decision could be criticized in any way. Shurmur was doing a poor job in every facet, and I didn't trust him to fully develop Daniel Jones, so the Giants are better off finding someone better to fill his job.
Redskins fire team president Bruce Allen: D Grade
This is a move the media has greatly applauded this morning. It seems as though the consensus in the press is that firing Bruce Allen was a tremendous decision by the Redskins. The media, as usual, is wrong.
Let's think back to what happened a couple of years ago. Almost all sports writers and everyone on ESPN and NFL Network constantly criticized for the Redskins not extending Kirk Cousins. Washington was constantly chided for not paying Cousins what he wanted, but despite the heavy criticism, Allen was steadfast in his belief that Cousins was not a franchise quarterback. Rather than dive deep into cap purgatory, Allen opted to let Cousins go, choosing instead to acquire Alex Smith. Cousins ended up as a huge failure for the Vikings, while the Redskins - most forget this - were 6-2 last year and seemed poised to win the division easily before Smith suffered a gruesome, potentially career-ending injury.
The Redskins had to begin anew following Smith's injury, so they drafted Dwayne Haskins, who played well in his final couple of starts this season. Allen was also able to surround Haskins with some young, promising talents like Derrius Guice, Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims Jr., and Kelvin Harmon, none of whom were selected in the first round of any NFL Draft. Defensively, Allen found steals like Quinton Dunbar, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Matt Ioannidis, all of whom performed well in 2019. Dunbar was especially tremendous.
Allen built a promising, young group that could contend for the playoffs soon, and also had plenty of cap space to spend this offseason. Yet, the circle-jerking media, which has not accepted responsibility for being dead wrong about the Cousins stance, is thrilled about this decision. They have an irrational hatred for Allen, perhaps because of his politics, so despite what they say, this is not a move that will benefit the Redskins over the long haul.
Perhaps it was just time for a change, and Allen made some mistakes just like any other general manager. However, there's no reason to think that the Redskins will improve in the wake of his firing, despite what sports reporters have to say. If most of the media is telling you something, the opposite is usually true, and that certainly is the case in this instance.
Browns fire HC Freddie Kitchens: A+ Grade
The Browns had no choice but to fire Freddie Kitchens, so this can't be graded as anything less than an A+. Kitchens is simply not suited to be a coach in the NFL. Whether it's making abysmal play-calls, having no feel for the game, being responsible for Baker Mayfield's regression, or fighting publicly with his players, Kitchens did everything wrong and nothing right in his one and only season as Cleveland's head coach.
Cleveland absolutely had to fire Kitchens to prevent another dumpster fire next year. More importantly, keeping Kitchens around could've further ruined Mayfield's career to the point where he'd be broken beyond repair. The Browns need to hire a sharp, offensive-minded coach to tutor Mayfield so that the young quarterback can pick up where he left off in his rookie campaign.
Falcons retain HC Dan Quinn: A- Grade
The Falcons lost out on Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and perhaps even Derrick Brown because they didn't fire Dan Quinn in the middle of the season. Thus, it wouldn't make any sense for them to let him go at this stage.
Quinn made some great adjustments during the bye, allowing the Falcons to go 5-2 following their week off. They laid just one egg, which was a blowout loss to the Buccaneers, but that was four days prior to a Thanksgiving battle against the Saints. Otherwise, Atlanta has played very hard and well for Quinn in the second half of the season, so it seems like the right decision to retain him.
Jaguars fire VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin: A Grade
Tom Coughlin was a Hall of Fame-caliber coach, but that didn't translate to the front office. The Jaguars regressed every year under Coughlin, as he wasted draft picks and spent way too much money on Nick Foles. He was also forced into trading one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Coughlin made some good decisions, but Jacksonville has gotten worse under his leadership.
If this weren't bad enough, Coughlin violated CBA rules by fining players for non-football reason, prompting the NFLPA to advise free agents not to sign with Jacksonville. Coughlin had to go, so the Jaguars made the correct decision to fire him.
Panthers fire HC Ron Rivera: C- Grade
It was a great run for Commander Adama, but his tenure in Carolina is over, as the Panthers fired Ron Rivera Tuesday afternoon. So say we all.
Losing to the Redskins at home is grounds for a firing, but I don't think this is a particularly good move. I don't understand how it's Rivera's fault that he didn't have a healthy Cam Newton all year. I thought it was rather impressive that the Panthers were 5-3 at one point despite ranking in the mid-to-low 20s in DVOA. Rivera clearly got his team to play above its talent level, so why would he be fired?
I don't absolutely hate this move because I think the Panthers can do better with a more innovative coach, but Rivera was good at his job and didn't deserve to be axed. I think we're going to quickly discover that new Panthers owner Bobby Axelr-, I mean David Tepper is far worse at his position than Jerry Richardson was. This might just be a first example of Tepper's terrible meddling.
Chargers fire OC Ken Whisenhunt: A+ Grade
It's about time. I don't know why Ken Whisenhunt has been employed by the Chargers for so long. Maybe it's because he looks like Bill Cowher? I have no idea, but the Chargers finally made the right move by canning him.
The Chargers need to enter the 21st century. They've spent too much time trying to establish the run with the out-of-shape Melvin Gordon, while their offense has moved at a very glacial pace. The camel that broke the straw's back, as a former NFL player once said, was Whisenhunt's decision to completely ignore Austin Ekeler in last week's game plan. The Chargers won that contest, but a better offensive game plan centered around Ekeler would have resulted in a San Angeles blowout victory rather than a close call that was decided by a missed field goal.
Redskins fire HC Jay Gruden: A+ Grade
This is a no-brainer A+. I used to think highly of Jay Gruden, but it's become apparent that he hasn't been taking his job seriously. It's almost like he got burned out from being a head coach, both literally and figuratively.
Gruden's nonsensical decision to start Colt McCoy over the team's first-round rookie quarterback was the final camel that broke the straw's back, as a Hall of Fame running back once said. It was clear Gruden wanted to get fired and receive money in the process, but the Redskins apparently one-upped him by releasing the video of him smoking weed. Whoops!
My only criticism was that this didn't occur sooner. The Redskins reportedly had the video of Gruden a year ago, so why didn't they fire him during the offseason, when it was apparent that he lost his team late last year and was against the Dwayne Haskins pick?
Buccaneers extend GM Jason Licht (3 years): F Grade
Umm... what? Are we in an alternate universe where Jason Licht didn't constantly screw up? I don't understand this move. I suppose, if you're the Buccaneers, any time you have a chance to extend your horrible general manager, you have to do it.
Licht has committed blunder after blunder while running the Buccaneers. His first-overall quarterback is on the verge of officially being declared a bust. He traded up for a kicker in the second round of the NFL Draft. He spent too much money on Eagles cast-offs who haven't done anything. He gave lots of money to his terrible left tackle, Donovan Smith. He passed up on Derwin James in favor of two-down player Vita Vea when there were tons of talented defensive tackles to be had the following year. He wasted a second-round pick on Ronald Jones. Licht has made some good selections as well, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.
I don't understand the need to do this. Was Licht going anywhere if the Buccaneers didn't extend him? Couldn't they wait to see if his new batch of players panned out? Licht has done nothing to warrant any sort of extension, so this has to be graded as an "F."
Jets hire GM Joe Douglas: A Grade
Charlie Campbell tweeted this back on May 15:
Scouts around the league are saying it's a done deal that Joe Douglas is the Jets general manager. Director of college scouting Jon Carr might get a sham interview to satisfy the Rooney Rule but they think the Jets and Douglas have an agreement.
It only took 23 days, but the Jets finally hired Joe Douglas. Perhaps they did this in response to the Texans firing Brian Gaine, as they may have feared they'd lose Douglas to Houston.
It's unclear how Douglas will fare as general manager for the Jets, given that he's never held that post before. However, he was a top scout for quite some time and was the vice president of personnel for a Philadelphia team that has been excellent as far as personnel moves are concerned, so this seems like it could end up being a great hire.
Texans fire GM Brian Gaine: A Grade
A year ago, Bill O'Brien nonsensically fired many talented people in Houston's personnel department because he wanted "yes men." O'Brien was able to pick his own replacement, so he had the Texans hire Brian Gaine. It turns out that Gaine didn't even last an entire year.
O'Brien really embarrassed himself with this move. The Texans made some blunders in the offseason, most notably not having a "Plan B" for when Andre Dillard was not on the board at No. 23 overall. Houston humiliated itself by reaching for Tytus Howard, who was considered by some to be a third-round prospect. Gaine, as a result, was fired.
On the surface, it looks bad to get rid of a general manager after one year, but it was clear that Gaine was doing a poor job. If the Texans want to make better personnel decisions, they'll hire someone O'Brien doesn't recommend this time. This next general manager may want to find a better head coach.
Jets fire GM Mike Maccagnan: B Grade
Mike Maccagnan's tenure as the general manager of the Jets produced mixed results. He was guilty of some horrible picks on the second day of the NFL Draft - Christian Hackenberg, Jordan Jenkins and ArDarius Stewart - and there were some poor free-agent signings. These were the three worst moves:
Jets re-sign WR Quincy Enunwa (4 years, $36 million; $20 million guaranteed)
Jets sign C Spencer Long (4 years, $28 million)
Jets re-sign G Ben Ijalana (2 years, $11 million)
However, Maccagnan had more positive transactions than negative ones. He hit some gems on the third day of the NFL Draft, as Chris Herndon and Elijah McGuire both outplayed their draft status, while sixth-round corner Derrick Jones showed some potential late last year. Maccagnan also was able to secure Sam Darnold by trading up without surrendering too many resources, and he brought in some nice free-agent signings as well, including Le'Veon Bell, Avery Williamson and Teddy Bridgewater at cheap prices. Bridgewater didn't stick around in New York because of Darnold, but Maccagnan was able to flip him for a third-round pick, which was an excellent move.
I'd normally grade the Jets poorly for firing Maccagnan, who didn't deserve to lose his job. However, there were reports of major friction between Maccagnan and new head coach Adam Gase. The Jets would've been hurt by a toxic situation like that, so I think it's best for the two parties to move on. Gase was just hired, so it would've made no sense to get rid of him. Thus, it's natural that Maccagnan had to be the one to be fired.