Lockout Threat Has Owners Hiring “Interim” Head Coaches Early

Jaguars owner Jerry Richardson is promising changes in a letter to PSL holders in Jacksonville (via Steve Reed at the Gaston Gazzette).  But Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com questions Richardson’s commitment:

“‘I want all of you to know that we plan to look at every aspect of our organization,’ Richardson wrote. ‘What we do in the future will entirely be geared toward putting the best possible team on the field. I am committed to fielding a winning team, and I’m willing to invest the resources necessary to make it happen.’

“Plenty of Panthers fans would take issue with that last statement. If anything, it appears that Richardson has tightened the belt. And there’s a growing belief that, when it’s time to hire a new head coach, Richardson will refuse to dish out the kind of money that would attract a guy like Bill Cowher.”

In Richardson’s defense he’s likely going to face a problem this year that all of the owners are facing.  Its the collective bargaining agreement.

With so much financial uncertainty its going to be very hard for anyone to dish out money to do anything to change any organization.  How can you hire a new coach and a new staff only to pay him a huge mount of money through a lockout?  I know that protections against a lockout have already been built into contracts and will continue to be.  But who is going to want to pay two coaching staffs even a minimum amount of money not to work?

What’s most likely to happen in places all over the league is what’s already happening in Denver, Dallas and Minnesota.  Fired head coaches will be replaced by assistants who are already being paid.  This is why head coaches are being fired especially early this year.  In Minnesota, owner Zygi Wilf can already claim that his team got better under interim head coach Les Frazier.  In Dallas Jerry Jones can say the same about Jason Garrett.  These owners can now claim that they did the best thing for their franchises while simulataneously protecting themselves financially in a lockout.  Obviously Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, who fired Josh McDaniels early,  is hoping he’ll be able to claim the same about interim head coach Eric Studesville.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Richardson do the same.  But it won’t be to hire Cowher or Bill Parcells or Jimmy Johnson or anyone else like them.  No one around the league will be looking to do that.  Its going to be a great year to promote assistants this off season.

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