Six for Sunday: Would Reid or Lovie get boot from patient Steelers?

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The regular season ends. The exodus of fired coaches ensues, including Andy Reid and Lovie Smith. Would either coach -- each has a Super Bowl appearance and a winning record -- would be fired by the Steelers?

1. Are all the coach firings necessary?

Be careful what you wish for, as many teams are firing coaches around the league. It just seems like teams won't learn from the Steelers. The Steelers didn't have a typical season but there never were any rumors that Mike Tomlin was going to be unemployed.

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Here's a great example of why the Steeler way is usually the right way. First, players know from the beginning that the coach isn't getting fired and he's the boss. That's a powerful message to players about that team. Second, coaching-staff continuity means player continuity and a building process that continues rather than constantly tearing it down and starting over.

In 1998 and 1999 Bill Cowher went 7-9 and 6-10. The Steelers didn't fire him -- they gave him a new contract. In the next three seasons, Cowher went 32-15 and went to a Super Bowl. It happened again in 2003 when the Steelers went 6-10 and -- you guessed it -- followed with a 26-6 record over the next two seasons.

Firing Lovie Smith and Andy Reid on Monday doesn't really seem like a good idea to me, and I bet the Steelers wouldn't have done it if those men were their coach.

2. Left with QB questions

It is tough to end a losing season and look at all the shoulda-coulda-woulda situations. Tougher than that is ending the season with a question mark at quarterback. What makes it even worse is if your hands are tied by a QB contract, or a recent first-round pick that hasn't developed yet or a change at the top of an organization.

This season ended with the Jets, Bills, Browns, Titans, Jaguars, Raiders, Chiefs, Eagles and Cardinals wondering what to do next. Where do these teams turn in the offseason to solve the most serious problem a team can have and the biggest reason coaches get fired.

People can say what they want about the draft class of 2013, but there will be at least three quarterbacks drafted in the first round as teams look for an answer.

3. Play with pride

Tom Coughlin asked his New York Giants to play with pride in Week 17, with only a slim shot at the postseason, and they did.

Eli Manning led the way with five TD passes in 13 completions. It is always great to see true professionals handle themselves the right way and finish the job even if the season is lost. I tip my hat to the players on the Bucs, Bills, Browns, Titans, Panthers, Rams and Cardinals, who all played their hearts out trying to get a win and give fans what they expect when they watch the NFL.

I can't say the same for the Jets or Eagles, who did not finish with pride. It happens to teams when players don't want to get hurt in the final game, especially if they're headed for free agency or there are going to be major changes in the organization.

4. Rookies continue to rock

Three rookie quarterbacks are leading their teams into the playoffs (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson), which is more than impressive.

But the class of 2012 finished the regular season with a 46-44-1 record. They threw 102 TD passes to only 76 interceptions and 17 300-yard games.

The performance of this class will change how front offices and coaches view playing young quarterbacks. Don't expect the class of 2013 quarterbacks to be sitting on the bench next year. Those days are over.

5. They fell short, but what a year

Week 17 is usually when long standing records have a chance to fall. This year Adrian Peterson cracked 2,000 yards rushing, finishing only 9 yards short of the all-time record.

Could any player be more professional about missing the record? Peterson explained that winning the game and getting into the playoffs was his objective.

The Packers told me they were going to do everything they could to prevent that record falling against them.

Already in possession of the all-time mark for receiving yards in a season, Calvin Johnson needed 108 yards in his final game to reach 2,000 yards. After being held to three catches for 34 yards in their first meeting this year, Johnson had 72 receiving yards -- right at his 10-game average vs. Chicago.

Bears players told me during the week they also were going to do what they could to prevent that record on their watch.

J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith were chasing Michael Strahan's sack record (22.5) and came up short as neither player could get to the QB -- another pair of examples of the opponent (Indianapolis, Arizona) not letting a record be set on their watch.

I loved watching all four men race for the record books and I commend the opponents that put up the final stand to prevent the record. A little different than Brett Favre letting Strahan get his record.

6. He lost money on Sunday

I have enjoyed watching Eagles QB Michael Vick. There's no doubt he can be exciting, but he needed a big day Sunday to spark serious interest from any of the other 31 teams in the NFL.

He is going to be 33 next season, he hasn't played a full schedule since 2006 and he now has an 18-18 record as the Eagles' starter. I wonder if there is a team willing to pay him starter money next season. Maybe Andy Reid takes him with him wherever he goes. At this point, the best Vick can hope for is a chance to compete to start on a deal that takes the financial risk off the club and on him.

Teams that need a QB will go through every play of the 2012 season just for starters.

For the Eagles, Vick threw 52 touchdowns in 1,159 attempts (one every 22), was sacked 85 times (one every 14 pass plays) and had 30 interceptions and 32 fumbles.

His final game against the Giants looked like a money loser not a money winner.


Pat Kirwan has been around the league since 1972, serving in a variety of roles. He was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers, a coach for the Jets as well as the team's Director of Player Administration where he negotiated contracts and managed the team's salary cap. He is the author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, and the host of Sirius NFL Radio's Moving the Chains.
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