Pat Kirwan put together a list of the worst head coach firings in NFL history, and that list is weird. Not the entire list, though. Just the mention of Tom Landry and Tony Dungy on that list. Because, well, how are you going to justify calling firing a failing Landry to replace him with the man who would set up three Super Bowl victories one of the worst firings ever? More importantly for us Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, how can you call firing Tony Dungy one of the worst firings ever if the Bucs won the Super Bowl the very next year under Jon Gruden?
Tony Dungy was a terrific coach. He produced one of the greatest defenses in NFL history, took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the dumps and got them to the playoffs year after year. Unfortunately, after 1999 that's where the story ended each season, mostly because of an inept offense. In part that was a result of personnel. Trent Dilfer, Jacquez Green and Shaun King just weren't good enough to consistently playoff games. But in part it was due to Dungy's stubborn and conservative nature on offense.
It's hard to argue with the results, too. The Bucs won a Super Bowl the very next year. That's not that bad, now is it? Yes, Dungy went on to win a much-deserved Super Bowl in Indianapolis while the Buccaneers suffered through a decade of irrelevance.
Okay, when I put it like that, it's pretty bad. But was that because the Bucs fired Dungy, or was that simply a result of awful personnel decisions year after year? Gruden had something to do with that, but it can't really be his fault that almost every high draft pick turned out to be a bust and I don't see how Dungy would have magically fixed that. Most of his first-round draft picks weren't slam dunks, either, with players like Marcus Jones, Reidel Anthony and Kenyatta Walker among them.
All that to say that firing Tony Dungy was not a popular decision and is certainly questionable. But one of the worst firings ever? That's nonsense.