Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions after the Detroit Lions fired special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs on Monday:
Why do this now?
I’ll give interim coach Darrell Bevell the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think he would have made such a drastic decision with two games left if he didn’t have a very compelling reason — or several reasons over the course of the past few weeks — to get rid of the team’s best coach this season. Bevell didn’t go into much detail about why Coombs was fired, other than making the fake-punt call on his own. But he gave a pretty good answer about why he had to fire Coombs. Bevell said he has a philosophy and “when things happen that are outside of it then there needs to be something that happens. If something doesn’t happen then really you lose some credibility.” Bevell was asked twice if this wasn’t an isolated incident with Coombs and if there were other issues behind the firing. He declined to answer those questions, but my gut tells me you don’t fire a good coach for one incident with two games left. It sounded as though Coombs’ action — and perhaps other past actions — forced Bevell’s hand.
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Would this have happened if Matt Patricia were still around?
I doubt it. When a coach and a general manager are fired during the season, it creates a power vacuum within the organization. This is why I’m rarely in favor of in-season firings of coaches and GMs. It sometimes does more harm than good. Some people get promoted, some people don’t. Feelings get hurt as duties and power are redistributed. Then you have different motives for the people who are put in power. Say what you will about Patricia, but he was the coach and no one was going to usurp his title or challenge his authority. Firing Patricia might have appeased the masses, but so far the net result is one win, two losses, an act of sedition, a front-office hiring, another firing and bunch of questions.
Will there be fallout from the move?
There could be, and it won’t be good. Coombs’ unit has had some success this season and he was popular with his players. He was engaging and well-spoken during his conference calls with reporters. Several Lions special-teams players took to social media to support Coombs on Monday. Returner Jamal Agnew openly questioned the firing when he tweeted, “What we doin man, cmon.” I don’t think a player revolt is brewing, but Bevell will have to give a convincing explanation during the entire team meeting Tuesday. Whether disagreements or factions develop in the locker room among players is moot because the Lions are eliminated from the playoff hunt. But one thing Coombs’ firing certainly does is it gives the whole organization a black eye. It raises questions of dysfunction, and that’s the last thing you want when you’re a struggling franchise that’s hoping to hire the GM and coach who will change decades of failure.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.