By Bill Foley
The NFL is the ultimate throw-you-under-the-bus league.
Once again Black Monday saw another slaughtering of NFL coaches, with six more thrown to the wolves by owners and general managers.
That brings the total to eight coaches being shown the door this season once you add Aaron Rodgers’ firing of Mike McCarthy and Baker Mayfield’s axing of Hue Jackson during the season.
It should be noted that all 32 NFL general managers, including fantasy-land Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, kept their jobs.
It is the general managers, by the way, who supply the coaches with the talent. The underlying problem for teams that fired coaches was a lack of talent. They didn’t have a good enough quarterback, they had weak offensive lines, or their defenses weren’t very good.
Those are problems that speak worse of the GMs than they do the coaches, yet those GMs will lead the search for the next coaches to be fired.
The firings during the season and on Black Monday might also shed some light on what could be a major race problem for the league. Five of those canned coaches are black, including Steve Wilks and Vance Joseph.
The Cardinals fired Wilks after just one season. ONE SEASON. By comparison, John Elway and the Broncos have the patience of a monk by giving Joseph two years before sending him down the trail.
As it now stands, a league in which 70 percent of its players are black has exactly two black head coaches. Since hardly any of the coordinators in the league are black, that might not change much any time soon.
More than anything, though, the NFL has a major accountability problem. The league motto appears to be, “The buck stops over there.”
Some shaky coaches who did manage to keep their jobs did so by throwing some assistants under the bus.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer fired his offensive coordinator after a couple of losses that clearly weren’t his fault. Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn, meanwhile, fired his offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coach the day after the regular season came to a merciful end in Atlanta.
They must not have any mirrors in that new Atlanta stadium.
There is something to be said for stability in a sports team. There is also something to be said for accountability. Both seem to be greatly lacking in the NFL these days.
But who cares? It’s playoff time, baby. We’ll worry about all that institutional racism and finger pointing some other time.
I’m entering the playoffs on a roll straight up. Last week I put together another solid 11-5 performance, bringing me to 162-94 on the season. I went just 7-9 against the spread, however, and I finished the season at a disappointing 126-128-2.
So, I’m firing my gambling coordinator.
Following are my Wildcard weekend picks. The lines are from ESPN, where half the fired coaches will go to work.
Saturday, 2:35 p.m.
Indianapolis (plus 1.5) at Houston
Andrew Luck and the boys are red hot. They’ve won four straight to qualify for the playoffs. That run, by the way, started with a 24-21 win at Houston.
Go with the hot hand.
Colts by 1
Saturday, 6:15 p.m.
Seattle (plus 2) at Dallas
Matching up the league’s top two front-running fan bases works out quite well for the rest of us. It means a lot of annoying people will shut up after this prime-time battle.
Seattle enters as winners of five of six. Dallas has won seven of eight. So, the hot factor is pretty much a wash.
Instead, go with the team that has a huge advantage at quarterback, head coach, general manager and owner.
Seahawks by 3
Sunday, 11:05 a.m.
Los Angeles Chargers (plus 2.5) at Baltimore
These two teams met in Los Angeles two weeks ago, and Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson had a “signature win” as Baltimore won 22-10.
Jackson is 6-1 as a starter, and the Ravens have the second-best defense in the league. Plus, Philip Rivers and the Chargers always seem to disappoint when it matters most.
Ravens by 4
Sunday, 2:40 p.m.
Philadelphia (plus 6) at Chicago
Last week, Matt Nagy and the Bears gave the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles a late Christmas gift by curb stomping of the Vikings’ playoff dreams.
When nobody would have blamed the Bears for resting all their key players, Chicago went for the jugular against its division foe. The victory, coupled with Philly’s win at Washington, ended the Vikings season. It also kept the Eagles’ season alive.
But only for one week.
Bears by 10