The NFL coaching carousel has it’s first official shocking offseason casualty: Eric Mangini. According to PROFOOTBALLTALK and, shortly thereafter, FOX SPORTS’ Jay Glazer, the Jets dumped the former Patriots defensive coordinator after the Jets dropped their final two games with a playoff berth on the line.
The move is one of three head coach firings on “Black Monday”, with the more expected falls of Browns head man Romeo Crennel and Lions coach Rod Marinelli also receiving post Christmas pink slips.
The move was a surprise, particularly after the Jets midseason surge that had many heralding the official arrival of the glory years of a Mangini-Mike Tannenbaum era.
“For the current New York Jets organization, we’ve made the decision to move on,” owner Woody Johnson, who was reportedly ‘visibly upset and agitated after Sunday’s loss’ said at a news conference Monday morning. “It’s a judgment call.”
The move doesn’t say much about Johnson’s truthfulness, after the owner pledged last March that Mangini and Tannenbaum would “absolutely” be back in 2009.
Yet as bad and backstabbing as things are in New York, they’ve been even worse in Cleveland for awhile. A day after the Browns dumped GM Phil Savage, he of “f*(k you!” emails to season-ticket holding fans, the team officially fired coach and fellow former Patriots coordinator Romeo Crennel, a move that has reportedly been in the works for weeks.
(Romeo Crennel: Not nearly as excited to leave Cleveland.)
Of course, many had speculated that the Browns were pulling the trigger on Crennel to make a big-dollar move for longtime Steelers coach Bill Cowher. Well, no sooner than the team announced Crennel was out, the media was told Cowher has decided he is out of the running to succeed Crennel, too. Cleveland owner Randy Lerner reportedly met with Cowher on Saturday and was told that the former sideline jowl master is too comfortable with life in North Carolina to return as a full-time head coach.
So where does this cast of characters go from here? Lerner is reportedly targeting New England VP of Player Personnel Scott Pioli, as will everyone else who has a GM opening. There’s no reason to believe that Pioli would be interested, particularly since he’s turned down much more attractive offers in recent years (Seattle anyone?). If that doesn’t work, the team will almost certainly scramble to sign the biggest name they can as coach and GM in a desperate attempt to return some legitimacy to the system.
As for Crennel, there will undoubtedly be rumors of a return to New England, whispers which may actually have something behind them. Bill Belichick and Crennel shared a close relationship when the latter was the former’s defensive coordinator, and despite continued success, it’s likely that he could carve out some role for the return of a prodigal but still beloved son.
And in New York? That’s a head scratcher. Cowher’s supposedly off the table for everyone, and Johnson has yet to say whether Tannenbaum will be back, indecision that would seem to indicate he’s safe. Will Tannenbaum try and bring in another hot young coordinator, perhaps raiding New England again for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel? Will he try to make a splash by trying to lure an ascending head coach like Ken Wisenhunt away from Arizona?
No matter what he does, he’ll have an easier time of it than Mangini, who may have tainted himself out of future employment with his role in the Spygate scandal of 2007. It’s possible that he could land a job as a defensive coordinator somewhere — PROFOOTBALLTALK cites Houston, where Gary Kubiak will reportedly dump his entire defensive staff — but even that might take a lucky break.
Meanwhile, in the stinkhouse that is Ford Field, the Lions inexplicably promoted Martin Mayhew to General Manager after he was integral to the team’s dismal failure across recent years. They also pushed Tom Lewand upstairs, moving him from COO to President, a move which, as far as we can tell, is eerily like the management style that got the “Big Three” motor companies in the financial turmoil they’re stuck in.
So, nothing new in Detroit. They’re certain to hire an overmatched idiot to take over the team and keep things depressingly stale and winless. Sorry Michigan, you don’t deserve it.