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Jerry Glanville famously explained what NFL really stands for during a 1980s sideline conversation with an official:
Not For Long.
The former Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons coach was ahead of his time. Because when he made that comment, teams mostly committed to coaches. And quarterbacks.
In those days before free agency, players often spent their entire careers with the same teams that drafted them.
This season, perhaps more than any other, the NFL has taken Not For Long to previously unimagined extremes. The league, like the media and social media that surrounds it, has little tolerance for failure. Simply, in a day when attention spans have waned, so has the NFL’s patience.
We’ve seen that multiple times recently:
Nathaniel Hackett Not For Long
On Monday the Denver Broncos fired coach Nathaniel Hackett. He signed a 4-year contract to lead the team on January 28th and was gone 11 months or 11 losses into his coaching tenure.
This is not an outlier, folks. This is becoming standard operating procedure for NFL teams.
Frank Reich signed a five-year contract extension in Aug. 2021. “We have as great a general manager – head coach combination as there is in the NFL,” club owner Jim Irsay said in a statement.
But in November Irsay released a different statement, this time firing Reich with four years remaining on that extension.
The Colts’ culture is one of embracing quick change now. They traded for starting quarterback Carson Wentz in March of 2021 and traded him to Washington in March of 2022. They traded for starting quarterback Matt Ryan in March of 2022 and benched him by November.
Frank Reich and Matt Ryan Not For Long
Ryan has now been benched by two Colts coaches — Reich and interim coach Jeff Saturday. And a source tells OutKick the Colts currently plan to move on from Ryan after this season.
Not surprisingly, the Colts will be moving on from Saturday, too. Although he may get an interview for the fulltime coaching job after the season, the same source said it is “improbable” he will be the one hired.
Wentz, by the way, is quite familiar with Not For Long. He spent that one season in Indy before being traded to the Commanders. And when he injured a finger on his throwing hand in October he lost his starting job to Taylor Heinicke.
But the beauty of Not For Long is that Heinicke may soon lose his starting job back to Wentz — perhaps as early as this week. Commanders coach Ron Rivera said he’s considering his options and will announce his decision soon.
Mayfield, Darnold, Trubisky, Mariota Roulette
Quarterbacks losing their jobs quickly has been a theme this season.
Baker Mayfield was traded to Carolina on July 6 and won the starting job to open the season. But Not For Long, people, so Mayfield was released by the Panthers on Dec. 5th. His stint as the Panthers starter lasted six starts.
Mayfield is now on his third team this year after being claimed by the Los Angeles Rams.
Amazingly, the Panthers benched Mayfield in favor of Sam Darnold, whom they benched in favor of Mayfield in September after he got one season as their starter in 2021.
The argument can be made players who aren’t good enough get benched all the time. That’s true. Except Mayfield has been playing well for the Rams since joining them. And Darnold has been playing relatively well for the Panthers since returning to his role.
So this isn’t about moving on from bad players. It’s not having the patience to develop players.
And it’s not just the Panthers. The Falcons signed Marcus Mariota in March and he won the starting quarterback job in September.
Then he lost the starting quarterback job in December and, again, his future in Atlanta is murky — after less than one season.
Mitch Trubisky signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in March and also won the starting job in September. FOX Sports reported coach Mike Tomlin planned to play Trubisky the entire season while rookie Kenny Pickett developed. Didn’t buy that one.
Trubisky started four games before being benched at halftime of an Oct. 2nd loss to the New York Jets. Trubisky started another game when Pickett was injured, but his days as the team’s No. 1 quarterback seem over.
Jets Decision On Zach Wilson Looms
All of this must seem familiar to New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. He was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft.
And after a rough rookie season and some bad outings this season, Wilson finds himself this week benched for the second time in 2022. He’s had 22 NFL starts and there are pundits in New York and reports in the media saying his career with the Jets is over.
Coach Robert Saleh has said the opposite. He has said Wilson’s time with the Jets is indeed not over. And multiple league sources have told OutKick the Jets have not decided to move on from Wilson at this time.
But that’s not the point. The point is a conversation about a team moving on from a quarterback drafted No. 2 overall after only 22 starts was unheard of years ago.
But this league-wide Not For Long trend shows no signs of stopping.
Cardinals And Texans To Make Big Decisions
The Arizona Cardinals signed both coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim to contract extensions in March. Both have deals through the 2027 season.
But multiple league sources are telling OutKick both are “likely” to be fired after this season. That would be 10 months after the team committed to both on a long term deal. A final decision will be made not long after the season.
The Houston Texans hired Lovie Smith as their head coach in February.
But with the Texans posting the NFL’s worst record at 2-12-1, league sources are telling OutKick “a thorough and thoughtful evaluation” of Smith has already begun and a decision on his future also will be made soon after the season ends.
Smith could understandably expect to be retained because he’s had only one season to put right a franchise that has struggled with losing records for three consecutive seasons. But previous coach David Culley had similar expectations when he was hired in January 2021.
And he was fired after only one season in January 2022.
Not For Long.