The end of the 2018-2019 regular season has come to a close in the NFL, with Wild Card playoff games starting next Saturday.
With the end of each regular season comes one of the most humbling days for NFL coaches, otherwise known as Black Monday. Black Monday falls on the first Monday after the completion of the NFL regular season, and this is when many teams who carried high hopes going in to the season, decide to make coaching changes.
Black Monday fell on New Years Eve this year, and while several of the firings were very expected, it is jarring to think about the fact that 25% of NFL coaches were either fired mid-season, or shown the door yesterday.
There are always unexpected firings on Black Monday but several of these were truly surprising.
Lets break them down:
Cleveland Browns: The Browns fired Hue Jackson at the end of October after a 2-5-1 start. Jackson compiled an astonishingly bad record in Cleveland, going 3-36-1 overall. This has been an incredibly strange story, to say the least. Jackson coached through mediocrity for several seasons and the Browns decided to cut bait after another slow start. Obviously this worked out well for the Browns, finishing the rest of the season 7-8-1 under defensive jerk-ass, Gregg Williams.
Hue Jackson joined the coaching staff of the Bengals, almost immediately, a move that we will have to discuss at another time. Jackson took a job on Marvin Lewis’ staff, with a lot of people assuming that he would take the reins once Marvin Lewis was fired. That may still come to fruition but many have expressed frustration by replacing Marvin Lewis with Hugh Jackson.
Green Bay Packers: Mike McCarthy was fired by the Packers at the beginning of the season, a move many thought should have happened far sooner. McCarthy lost his voice with the Packers, but has proven to be a winning coach over time. A lot of folks thought that he would have until the end of the season, however, it became abundantly clear that the relationship between McCarthy and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had deteriorated past the point of repair. The Packers will look to replace McCarthy with a younger, offense driven mind, who can get the most out of a once- dynamic offense.
As for Mike McCarthy: he will be coaching elsewhere next season. The Browns and Broncos have already been in touch, and there will certainly be more teams looking.
Arizona Cardinals: Steve Wilks replaced Bruce Arians after the 2017-2018 season, and unfortunately, did not get the time that he may have needed. It’s a shame for Wilks, who came up as an assistant under Norv Turner, Ron Rivera and Lovie Smith. The Cardinals are in a weird limbo state of rebuilding but also trying to compete. They have a lot of amazing pieces in guys like David Johnson and Patrick Peterson, who are all being wasted while the team tries to navigate growing the their QB of the future, Josh Rosen. The team went 3-13 this season, securing them with the first pick in a draft that is, overall, very weak. Since Arizona has the first pick, they will likely net notable edge rusher Nick Bosa.
Denver Broncos: It was hardly surprising that the Broncos opted to let go of Vance Joseph. Joseph entered his second season as the Broncos head coach, starting from behind. The Broncos did not perform well in the 2017-2018 season, going 5-11, after Joseph replaced Gary Kubiak. Joseph went 6-10 this year and it became evident that John Elway and the Broncos were going to make a change.
Miami Dolphins: This was the most surprising, yet least shocking firing that happened on Black Monday. Adam Gase finished his 3 year coaching tenure with the Dolphins, compiling a 23-25 record. Gase was brought in as an offensive guru to help with the development of Ryan Tannehill. That did not go as expected, as Tannehill sat out an entire season with a knee injury in 2017. There were other places that trouble began to bubble up for this Miami team, and ownership decided that a change was in order. Gase will be a hot commodity as a coordinator, on the NFL job market.
Cincinnati Bengals: Three words here: About. Damn. Time. Marvin Lewis has been spectacularly bad in Cincinnati for the past 16 seasons. Lewis had a very annoying tendency to miss playoffs, and one would think that after 15 or 16 seasons, that would draw the ire of ownership, but alas, it did not. Evidently, Bengals owner Mike Brown was forced to make a change, relieving the longest tenured NFL head coach of his duties, once and for all. Although, Marvin Lewis has the desire to continue coaching in the NFL, I’m not sure that many teams are in the market for a mediocre coach.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Many folks saw this one coming, as Dirk Koetter’s relationship with QB Jameis Winston fell apart. Koetter began the season having to use Ryan Fitzpatrick as his starting QB, while Jameis sat out 3 games for violating the league’s behavior policy. (Remember Fitzmagic? Feels like that was 4 seasons ago) Once Jameis returned, the Buccaneers never got things going, despite having a litany of talent such as Mike Evans. The Buccaneers will be looking for someone to pair with Winston, as they have already picked up his team option for the coming season.
New York Jets: The Todd Bowls era of the New York Jets has officially come to a close. Bowls, the former Arizona Cardinals DC, was hired to be a defensive mastermind for the Jets, however the lack of consistent talent did not help Bowles be successful. The team won 10 games under Bowles in his first season, however, things went downhill from there. Overall, Todd Bowles compiled a 24-40 record during his time in New York. The biggest travesty here is the fact that the Jets opted to fire Todd Bowles, but keep GM Mike Maccagnan.
The coaching carousel is always a wild ride but this year was particularly brutal. The next few weeks should shape up to be very interesting as teams begin to make their hires and names begin to come off the board.