Turn back the clock with me if you will, back to a time when Raheem Morris was the best young coach in the NFL and Todd Haley was the passionate, fiery genius hire of Scott Pioli. If you look closely enough, you'll find the clock is only turned back one year. Welcome to the NFL (Not For Long).
Raheem Morris was just let go today as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team is going in a new direction after going in a new direction just three years prior. The Bucs were on a slide that few teams in the NFL this season could even relate to, but not a single person expected the Bucs to mail in performances, like Sunday's game against the Falcons. And the recent 10-game slide is the reason that Morris is gone.
But it wasn't so long ago that the number ten represented the opposite. The Bucs won 10 games in 2010 and Morris was declared to be a great young head coach -- a guy who could relate with his players, who were also quite young. Tampa Bay was building a dynasty in the south and Morris and his quarterback Josh Freeman were going to give the Saints and Falcons a run for their money for the next decade.
Pause that story for a second. Because it's important to catch up on a very similar story in the Midwest.
Todd Haley endured the same fate as Raheem Morris this year, albeit three games earlier. The Kansas City Chiefs let their young head coach go with three games to spare, making Romeo Crennel the interim head coach after his solid display this season as the defensive coordinator. Haley's team had laid several eggs in 2011, losing at historically bad levels through the first three games of the season and failing to win games at home against bottom dwellers like Miami.
Yet Haley also enjoyed the same exact success that Morris did in 2010. His Chiefs team seemed sparked by his energy and call for discipline. Dwayne Bowe became an elite receiver and led the NFL in touchdowns at his position. Matt Cassel made the Pro Bowl. Jamaal Charles dominated and Tony Moeaki emerged. Haley was a keen young offensive mind who carried his team to an AFC West title and the future seemed bright.
Press play again on that last story.
Raheem Morris and Todd Haley are two lives that are connected in ways that they likely do not want to be. They are the latest examples of coaches who did what they were paid to do -- turn their teams around. When they failed to repeat that success the very next season, they were let go. Win now is the only message that can be taken from this, since these coaches were lauded just one season ago.
It's interesting to note that both of these teams could easily grow and become competitive again next season. Yet in that instance, whoever is the new head coach will receive the credit. No one will look close enough to see that a soft schedule was responsible for the wins just as no one is looking now to see that injuries or a difficult schedule is responsible for the losses. Either a coach wins or loses. That's it and that's all.
Is it fair? It doesn't matter. Anyone who cries about whether or not these firings are fair has already lost since the NFL doesn't have to obey the rules outside of its own kingdom. If anything, the stories of Todd Haley and Raheem Morris are just the latest examples of how short-lived one's own history can become in the NFL.