Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Browns' misfire

The Cowboys hired a 36-year-old first-time head coach in 1960. The team went 0-11-1. Dallas stuck with native son Tom Landry and enjoyed tremendous sustained success.

Bud Grant won just three games his first year but went on to win 11 division titles in 18 seasons with the Vikings.

The perenially putrid Pittsburgh Steelers gave Cleveland native Chuck Noll, age 37, his first head coaching job in 1969. He promptly went 1-13, their worst result ever. But the owner stuck with him, and it turned out OK. In fact, no other coach has won four Super Bowls.

Eddie DeBartolo didn't cut bait on Bill Walsh when his first-time head coach failed to improve on the 49ers' 2-14 record in 1979. 

Bill Parcells went 3-12-1 as a rookie head coach with the New York Giants in 1983, worse than Ray Perkins had ever done before him.

New Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hand-picked a 46-year-old NFL newbie to succeed Landry, who went 3-13 in 1988. Jimmy Johnson failed to show instant results, as they traded stud running back Herschel Walker mid-season in the rebuilding effort. After a 1-15 rookie season, Johnson stayed on to soon reestablish a top-notch winning culture in Dallas.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers regressed from 7-9 to 6-10 under first-year coach Tony Dungy. He never had another losing season, and it's not because his owner got impatient and fired him.

I'm not saying that Chud is as good of a coach as any of the legends above. But the Browns' 4-12 mark does not brand him a failure. And his rash, premature firing doesn't prove he was a bad hire. It does deny him the opportunity to continue in his dream job and perhaps achieve the success that history shows is very possible even after a rocky, rebuilding, rookie year.

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