Yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys fired head coach Wade Phillips after a 1-7 start. Even though the Bills are 0-8, one could argue that the Cowboys have been the worst team in the league this season.
But in a sport where the season is only 16 games long, and much of a team’s success is based on systems and game plans, many are left wondering if a mid-season coaching change would benefit a team at all.
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the most recent mid-season coaching changes in the NFL.
In the last 20 seasons, there have been 20 coaching changes during the season. Here are a few notes on those changes…
- The winning percentage for coaches before the change was .280 and they averaged a 2-6 record. Coaches that took over those teams had a .322 winning percentage, and an average record of 2-5.
- Of the 20 coaching changes, four had winning record after the coaching change. That list includes Wade Phillips who was 2-1 after replacing Dan Reeves on the 2003 Falcons. The others were the 2008 49ers (Mike Singletary, 5-4), the 1996 Bengals (Bruce Coslett, 7-2), and the 2000 Lions (Gary Moeller, 4-3).
- Three teams have had more than one mid-season coaching change in the last 20 years (Bengals, Falcons, Rams).
- No team in the last 20 years had a mid-season coaching change and made the playoffs. Only one team finished with a winning record (2000 Lions, 9-7). Two other teams finished 8-8 (2000 Redskins, 1996 Bengals).
- Two teams had a winning record at the time of the coaching change (2000 Redskins 7-6, 2000 Lions 5-4).
Jerry Jones may have been left with little choice but to fire Phillips. But based on recent history, don’t expect Jason Garrett to suddenly turn the Cowboys into a winner.
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