Ashley Fox: NFL coaches behaving foolishly

Eagles LB Ernie Sims ' hit on Titans WR Lavelle Hawkins cost $50,000.
Eagles LB Ernie Sims ' hit on Titans WR Lavelle Hawkins cost $50,000.
Posted: November 07, 2010

There are ways to lose a locker room and then there are ways to lose a locker room. In the National Football League this season, there are two prime examples of coaches who are perilously close to losing their teams - if they haven't already.

Exhibit A: Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins. Shanahan is all about being the Man. Everybody knows he's always been that way, dating back to his days in Denver.

In his first season in Washington, in an apparent attempt to show the Redskins players that he is the boss - not that anybody doubted it - Shanahan publicly humiliated Washington's defensive star, Albert Haynesworth, during training camp by failing him multiple times on his conditioning test. Public flogging does not go over well with the men who play football.

Now, Shanahan has publicly embarrassed Donovan McNabb, a very, very popular player in the locker room. It was bad enough that Shanahan replaced McNabb with Rex Grossman, a turnover waiting to happen, late in the game against Detroit on Sunday. First, Shanahan said Grossman had a better handle on the two-minute offense, which implied that McNabb wasn't smart enough to grasp it. Next, he said McNabb wasn't in peak condition, which implied he was fat and lazy. Not smart by the coach.

Exhibit B: Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings. Before Randy Moss arrived in Minnesota a month ago, Childress' hold on the Vikings locker room was tenuous at best. Everyone knew the truth: Brett Favre runs the team. How else could he command $16 million this season and not bother with training camp?

When Moss arrived via a trade with New England, he evaluated the situation, saw it for what it was, and acted up. That's why he gushed last Sunday night about his old boss, Bill Belichick, and questioned his new coach's tactics. On Friday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that after the game Moss also told Vikings owner Zygi Wilf that Childress was a bad coach and should be fired.

Childress had no choice but to get rid of Moss. But the damage has been done.    Losing the locker room is one of the fastest ways a coach can get fired, because while players will play for each other, they won't play for a coach they don't respect. The line between winning and losing is so fine that if maximum effort isn't there, teams are doomed. Players who don't like their coach won't play hard for him, and the results will show it.

Minnesota has enough veteran talent that it could make a little run and be back in the NFC North race. But if the Vikings drop to 2-6, forget about it. Washington is at .500, with the Eagles up next after the bye week. That game doesn't need any more drama, but it will get it after what Shanahan did to McNabb.

Goodbye, greenbacks

Eagles linebacker Ernie Sims wasn't happy about getting fined $50,000 for a hit he made on Tennessee wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins two weeks ago. While the sum was significant, it wasn't nearly as much as Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison has lost.

For the third time this season, the league fined Harrison, this time after he was late on a hit on New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. The fine: $20,000. Add that to the $80,000 Harrison has already paid the league.

"The amount of money is becoming an issue," Harrison told the Associated Press on Thursday. "The fines that they issued to me, two of them weren't even called penalties. I don't even know what to say anymore."

Say goodbye to 100 large.

Pressure is off

As upset as Adrian Peterson was that the Vikings waived Moss, Chris Johnson had to be overjoyed that his Tennessee Titans picked him up. While Moss will open things up for the Titans' other receivers, he also will force defensive coordinators to not stack the box to try to stop Johnson and the running game.

Johnson certainly doesn't need much help. He is third in the league in rushing with 721 yards this season, behind Peterson (776) and Houston's Arian Foster (737). But the Titans rank only 10th in the league in rushing, so there is room for improvement, and the addition of Moss should help.

On the way out?

Jerry Jones tried to minimize the drama in Dallas on Friday, saying during a radio interview on KRLD-FM that despite the team's abysmal 1-6 record, Wade Phillips will be the Cowboys coach for the duration of the season.

Jones really had no other choice but to say that. But what happens if the Cowboys, who lost to Jacksonville last week by 18 points after losing four other games by a touchdown or less, pack it in and continue to lose by double digits?

Probably won't matter much, since the Cowboys are out of it anyway. Still, it is difficult to imagine Phillips as the coach when the Eagles play the Cowboys for the second time on Jan. 2 in Philadelphia.


Contact staff writer Ashley Fox

at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AshleyMFox.

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