Fans hate to see their teams struggle, and NFL coaches, executives and franchise owners know it.
This is why, when a season ends without success or achieving the goals expected of the team, a few Head Coaches get fired at the end of the season, but some that survive will look for a scapegoat. The definition of a scapegoat is: a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.
The scapegoat is usually the Offensive or Defensive coordinator. Sometimes it may be a player, but that is a rare occurrence. This will buy the Head Coach time and appease the fans, but in my opinion it’s usually just a bandaid to cover up the problems of the team.
Some of the notable scapegoats this offseason are:
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was fired after just one season. Admittedly their defense struggled, despite surprising success in the win-loss column. Once the higher seeded Vikings were upset by the New York Giants, and QB Daniel Jones carved up the Minnesota defense and led an effort that collected 431 yards of offense. Viking fans and brass may want to question why Head Coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense struggled when it faced good teams. O’Connell is an offensive coach and he’s the team’s play caller. The Eagles, Cowboys and Packers completely shut down the Vikings offense in those blowout losses.
Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was fired after another disastrous post season failure by the team. Shortly after retiring in 2018, the former quarterback joined Dallas’ staff as a quarterbacks coach and quickly rose to offensive coordinator under Jason Garrett. When the Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy, he kept Moore on as offensive coordinator. I doubt that he had a choice, because owner Jerry Jones calls all the shots. I have always thought that Moore was overrated as the OC. He was not the young genius that the Cowboys hyped up, but let’s face it he was the fall guy for McCarthy and overrated QB Dak Prescott.
Moore got hired right away by the Los Angeles Chargers. They fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi following a brutal loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Super Wild Card round. He lasted two seasons as the OC.Lombardi was previously the Detroit Lions OC from 2014-15 and otherwise spent 11 seasons as an offensive assistant over two stints with the New Orleans Saints. I believe the bigger problem with the Chargers is Head Coach Brandon Staley.
Staley has looked inept and overmatched in his two seasons as Head Coach. He stepped into a team with a young franchise QB (Justin Herbert) and a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. Lombardi was not a great coordinator, but Staley should not have been retained.
There are many more scapegoats out there, but these three teams are prime examples of larger problems, than just firing a coordinator.
Photo courtsey of the Star Tribune