Numbers on 1st-year coaches who struggled

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
5:34
PM ET
The Browns provided results of a 20-year study they did on coaches who struggled in their first season.

Some of the numbers are interesting.

In the past 20 years -- the salary cap era -- 28 coaches were hired (not counting Rob Chudzinski) who won four or fewer games in their first season. Among them were Chris Palmer and Pat Shurmur in Cleveland.

Six were fired after just one season -- Mike Mularkey in Jacksonville, Romeo Crennel in Kansas City, Cam Cameron in Miami, Art Shell in Oakland, Joe Bugel in Oakland and Richie Petitbon in Washington.

Of the 22 who returned, only five (23 percent) had a winning record in Year 2.

Sixteen of the original 28 were given a third season.

Only four lasted four years or longer.

Only six (28 percent) reached the playoffs at any point in time. And only two (nine percent) had multiple playoff appearances -- Jim Mora in New Orleans and Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville. Coughin was .529 in eight years, Mora .500, and Dom Capers .281 in four years in Houston.

The combined won-lost percentages of the coaches did not make great strides over three years. Coaches won 19.6 percent the first year (91-373), 41.1 percent the second (135-194-1) and 38.5 percent the third (92-147-1).

Five of the six teams that fired their coach after one bad season improved the following season, and two improved by at least nine games (Tony Sparano at Miami in 2008 and Andy Reid this past season with Kansas City).

This would be the argument for making a change when a team feels it’s needed; the evidence would indicate that sticking with a struggling coach only makes him struggle longer.

However, it does not take into complete account the quality of the team the coach inherited. In some cases, though not all, the team-building mirrored the struggles of the coaches.

What it also does not take into account is if the coaches took over bad teams in their first season. It would seem a coaching change was made for a reason.

What’s interesting is they generally took over bad teams and did worse.

Eighteen of the 28 coaches coached their teams to worse records than the year before they were hired, including Dennis Allen taking Oakland from 8-8 to 4-12, Raheem Morris taking Tampa Bay from 9-7 to 3-13, Cam Cameron taking Miami from 6-10 to 1-15 and Marty Mornhinweg taking Detroit from 9-7 to 2-14.

What might be most interesting is that the Rams were 2-14 the year before Steve Spagnulo arrived, and 1-15 his first year.

Of the 28, 18 took a step back, three stayed the same, three were expansion coaches and four had better records than the year before they took over -- albeit to four wins or fewer.

Teams won 32.2 percent of their games the year before the new hires, 19.6 the year after.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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