NFL Coaching Heat Seat: Jason Garrett, Freddie Kitchens Running Out of Time

Also, Dan Quinn's status is still up in the air despite the Falcons’ push to win meaningless games, Doug Marrone under fire after the NFLPA’s recent investigation (and victory) and Pat Shurmer’s Giants still teetering on the brink of disaster.
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Jason Garrett, Dan Quinn, Freddie Kitchens

The Lions announced on Tuesday that they were keeping head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn for their third and fifth years on the job, respectively.

With a soft playoff mandate intact, owner Martha Ford is creating a gentler form of accountability than Jim Caldwell ever saw during his tenure there. Regardless, a pair of much-speculated names have been removed from the offseason coaching and executive churn. With a constantly dwindling pipeline and a few teams poised to make high-risk college hires this offseason, perhaps the familiar is preferable to starting over.

Other coaches did not get the same vote of confidence Tuesday, though. With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, Black Monday (and realistically a more chaotic Sunday night when more coaches are actually let go) is approaching quickly. For reference, our last check-in was back on Dec. 4, so you can see how times have changed over the past few weeks.

Let’s get right to it…

WARM

Anthony Lynn, Chargers; Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

As we’ve mentioned before, the only way the Chargers let go of Lynn is because of a dunderheaded marketing decision made by the same people who thought moving to Los Angeles was a good idea in the first place. If you separate Lynn from his aging quarterback, injury-ravaged roster and wildly unfortunate luck at the end of games, he has done almost everything you could ask of a coach. He’s successfully managed a veteran staff. He’s weathered off-field drama. He’s piloted a team through the constant hell of a 16 road game season.

For Garrett, while Jerry Jones insists his coach’s status does not change with each result, I could only imagine the glee in the owner’s box this weekend when his embattled coach throttled Sean McVay and the Rams to stay in the divisional hunt. Sunday against the Eagles goes a long way toward deciding what ultimately happens. The Cowboys missing the playoffs would almost certainly lead to a difficult breakup and, consequently, one of the most expensive and exhaustive coaching searches we’ve seen in modern times.

HEATING UP

Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons

I know almost everyone is ready to bury Quinn, but I’ve tried to keep a healthy skepticism. At the least, I’ve tried to mention at every turn how obvious it is that the Falcons are trying their best to salvage meaningless games for their head coach. Beating the 49ers may not save a job but maybe it sets the table for a discussion to be had. Finishing the season strong against winnable opponents (Jaguars, Buccaneers) could force a discussion about salvaging instead of scrapping.

ON FIRE

Freddie Kitchens, Browns; Doug Marrone, Jaguars; Pat Shurmur, Giants

Kitchens was hollered at on the sidelines by one receiver, who also begged the Arizona Cardinals to trade for him. Kareem Hunt is accusing the team of taking plays off. Baker Mayfield has, multiple times, mentioned a lack of accountability and discipline. While not all players were expressly pointing the finger at their coach, where does all of that responsibility lie? NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted on Sunday that the Browns are leaning toward keeping Kitchens, but is that a tentative vote of confidence? Might that just be the final salvo fired by an organization desperately clinging to the idea that they’re functional and non-chaotic anymore?

Given the sharpness of a recent NFLPA probe into the Jaguars, it’s hard to imagine anyone survives there. While general manager Dave Caldwell deserves credit for taking this roster from the studs to the brink of a Super Bowl (with Blake Bortles under center), the Jaguars may need a complete pivot in order to avoid a nuclear status from free agents. Marrone, too, probably gets caught up in the crossfire.

Shurmur, despite piloting the Giants to a win over the hapless Dolphins this weekend, is probably best remembered over these last few weeks for helping Eli Manning get a hero’s sendoff. While that will be appreciated, it won’t be enough to save a franchise on the brink of complete disaster. The only question is whether or not the team also moves on from general manager Dave Gettleman (or, if Gettleman takes another role elsewhere).

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.