NFL Owners And GMs Beware: There Are Many Perils In Making a Coaching Change


It is that time of year as the NFL season begins to wind down that the speculation begins as to who is going to be fired, stay or leave for another opportunity. Who will have new contracts under their New Year’s tree?

Those who are going to make the decisions about who stays and who goes have to deal with the reality that there are no perfect solutions and certainty in the choices they are going to make.  Just like the rest of us.

The futures of NFL coaches Jason Garrett, Mike Shanahan, Rex Ryan and Jim Schwartz among others who are all rumored to be on the hot seat will be determined by decision makers who not only have personal and professional agendas, but must deal with the fact that there is little certitude in the choices they are going to make

I talk with people every day who want, need and crave assurances that their decisions are the right ones and are correct, when in fact most life situations and decisions present with having no perfect solutions.

This causes many to ruminate, procrastinate and often cry over the fact that few outcomes are assured or predictable. Going to the medicine cabinet for headache relief is also a path some take.

It has also been my experience that people tend to back endow themselves with knowledge. By that I mean if they just obtained or learned a new piece of information they apply it to a situation that has already been resolved or decided upon.

It is almost like psychological time travel which we all know cannot be done. But many will reopen the internal discussion based upon the new information. By doing so it restarts the process of ruminating, procrastinating, second guessing–all in an attempt to find a comfortable psychological resting place.

Making choices requires the acceptance that there will be both positive and negatives aspects and consequences to the decisions one makes

Those who are able to understand that there is no perfect solution do better than those who seek certainty, certitude or assurances when there are not any of these to be found.

The only thing that is left is to understand that you did all that you could to either achieve your goal or make your decision.

This entails gathering all the information you can obtain and making the decision based upon your data. Be it personal or otherwise.

By doing such you are getting not only your best statistically predictive outcome but also your psychological one. There is no substitute for being thorough.

Sometimes for those under the gun it does come down to whether they have been naughty or nice. Mike Shanahan’s name comes to mind as he has reportedly been in a tiff with his owner Daniel Synder, while also being required to nurse RG3 to NFL maturity level.

I have never seen an employee win a scruff with an owner and Shanahan will lose if Synder wants him gone.

Then there is Jason Garrett who despite promises from his owner, GM and co-coach Jerry Jones that he would be back in 2014, is no lock to return given the current status of his team. Jones’s promises in regard to his football decisions have been known to be as good as confederate money.

Jim Schwartz is an enigma. He has some initial success with a previously down trodden team, then they tanked and this year they are breaking hearts, as Matt Stafford cannot seem to break the habit of throwing the ball to the other team at the wrong time. (With the loss to the Giants Jim Schwartz is gone).

Most interestingly we have melodrama in New York with Rex Ryan dangling from the high wire.  Ryan is the best example of it can go either way, and is a tough choice to make. Aren’t they all?

Clearly the players love playing for Ryan and that should count. On top of that he has done a great job with average teams and a good job with really poor teams. He has also rounded out into a more melo and mature head coach.

But new brooms sweep clean and John Idzik will most probably want his own coach and hire. Ryan has little to worry about he will get a job in a nano second probably not as a head coach, but most certainly as a defensive coordinator.

There are always titanic  emotional reactions within an organization when changes are made.  One should take heed of such before they make them.

So what is an owner, GM or for that matter any of us to do?  In life you can do all that you can and it still does not work out the way you want it to. Conversely you can do things in a less than an enhancing manner and it works out.

Those who are able to understand that there is no perfect solution always do better than those who seek certainty, certitude or assurances when there are not any to be found- a good life lesson.