Named and shamed: The NFL coaches having a disastrous impact on their teams
Coaching is often a huge difference-maker in the NFL.
Bill Belichick is known for his ability to prepare his team for its best performances in the biggest games because he knows his players’ individual strengths and his opponents’ weaknesses. He combines that knowledge with a strategy of how to get the best matchups of strength vs. weakness, and that’s a big part of the reason the New England Patriots have won a record six Super Bowls.
John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens knows how to get the most out of his players’ talent. Quarterback Lamar Jackson has become the favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award this season because Harbaugh recognized his second-year superstar’s brilliant ability and has allowed him to play with freedom.
The best coaches know how to influence their team to play with courage and get the most out of their talent. The worst coaches feel the pressure that is heaped on them by their bosses, the media and the fans, and they are trying to avoid failure.
That creates a heavy burden on players that cannot be overcome in the long run. Those coaches drag their teams down, and they invariably lose their jobs.
Here’s our look at the four worst coaches in the NFL.
1. Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns
This was supposed to be the year that the Cleveland Browns overcame the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens and made a run at the AFC North title. The combination of quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb and superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was going to give the Browns an unstoppable offense.
The defense was led by pass rusher Myles Garrett, and 11 or 12 wins seemed realistic. All Kitchens had to do was to keep his team focused on an every-week basis and play with discipline.
Kitchens has done neither, as the Browns started the season with six losses in their first eight games. The key to those losses was their tendency to fall behind early and commit costly penalties. The worst of those came in Week 11, when Garrett was thrown out of a game against the Steelers when he ripped the helmet off the head of Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph and hit him in the head with it.
Garrett was thrown out of the game and suspended indefinitely for his action.
A coach who is leading his team with discipline would never allow that to happen. Kitchens needs to be shown the door if the Browns are going to live up to their potential.
2. Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Patricia came to the Lions prior to the 2018 season after a successful run as the defensive coordinator of the Patriots. The Lions were getting one of the premier defensive minds in the game, and perhaps the NFL’s smartest individual.
Why would we say that? Because Patricia’s college degree is in Aeronautical Engineering, meaning that he could have gone into rocket science if he had not chosen coaching.
Patricia is supposed to be able to out scheme his opponents and find the favorable matchups. At the very least, the Lions were hoping he could help them become one of the strongest defensive teams in the league. That has not been the case in either of his two seasons in Detroit.
The Lions finished in last place in the NFC North in 2018 with a 6-10 record, and they ranked 23rd (out of 32 teams) in yards allowed. It is not better this year, as the Lions are 3-9-1 and 29th in yards allowed.
Patricia has been unable to inspire consistent performances from his team, and he does not appear to have the demeanor of a winning head coach.
3. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars appeared to be an up-and-coming team in 2017 when they made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Marrone made the most of the team’s limited talent on offense and inspired a brilliant defensive performance to earn a 10-6 record and win the AFC South.
But despite some of the best defensive talent in the league, Jaguars were unable to follow up on that t season as they finished in last place with a 5-11 record in 2018. It’s no better this year, as the Jaguars are 4-9 and in last place once again.
Things hit rock bottom with a 45-10 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last week, and it’s clear that football operations boss Tom Coughlin will let him go at the end of the season.
4. Pat Shurmur, New York Giants
The Giants are a mess and have been for several seasons. They have had one playoff season since winning the Super Bowl in 2011, so it’s clear that the organization has a mountain of problems and can’t put all the blame on Shurmur.
However, it seems that every move that Shurmur makes causes problems for the Giants. He is supposed to be an offensive guru who can raise his players’ level of play, but the Giants are just 2-11 and they have been unable to play 60 minutes of consistent football this season.
They will show flashes of ability as they did Monday night in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the team fell apart in the second half and lost the game in overtime.
Additionally, the Giants have one of the worst defenses in the league – they have given up 362 points (ranking 28th) – and that’s not Shurmur’s area of strength.
He will almost certainly be shown the door after the Giants conclude their season at home against the Eagles in Week 17.