Black Monday Comes
We’ve reached the end of another NFL regular season, which means two things will happen this week. While the playoffs kick off in Houston on Saturday the real intrigue starts today, as coaches that missed the playoffs face the traditional league wide bloodletting that is Black Monday. With three coaches already fired (Tony Sparano, Todd Haley and Jack del Rio) this could be a good year for firings. Below we take a look at all of this year’s also-rans and see which coaches are likely to find themselves without a job in the next few days.
Teams are in order starting with the worst record.
Current Coach: Jim Caldwell, 3rd Year
Career Record: 26-22, 2-2 in the postseason
Outlook: Caldwell had success with the Colts over the last two season, but most of the credit for that went to his Quarterback, Peyton Manning and his predecessor, Tony Dungy. With Manning missing the season due to a neck injury the Colts nose-dived in the standings in 2011, leaving Caldwell the target of most of the criticism. While two late wins kept the Colts from finishing the season winless, the team looked like it had given up for most of the season, which should spell the end of Caldwell’s tenure in Indianapolis
2012 Head Coach: Mike Mularkey. As the Offensive Coordinator in Atlanta, Mularkey helped develop Matt Ryan into one of the league’s best young QBs. Look for the Colts to hire the former Buffalo head coach to groom Andrew Luck
St. Louis Rams
Current Coach: Steve Spagnuolo, 3rd Year
Career Record: 10-38
Outlook: Spagnuolo sandwiched two horrific seasons around a 7-9 second year. That record, along with a team that finished at or near the bottom of every major offensive category, should mean the end of the line for Spags. A complete overhaul of his coaching staff is possible, but unlikely to save his job, as ownership may be in the mood for a fresh start with a new Coach and General Manager
2012 Head Coach: Brian Billick. With 2nd year QB Sam Bradford regressing and a weak supporting cast, the St. Louis job won’t appeal to the bigger coaching names on the market. With Billick, the the Rams would add a Super Bowl winning coach with an offensive background and a solid track record.
Current Coach: Leslie Frazier, 2nd Year
Career Record: 6-16
Outlook: Following a solid 3-3 interim campaign last season, Frazier fell short of expectations this year in Minnesota. Veteran QB Donovan McNabb turned out to be ineffective and rookie Christian Ponder proved unready to lead a team in one of football’s toughest divisions. Rookie growing pains should be enough to justify giving Frazier another season and his popularity with the players doesn’t hurt his chances either.
2012 Head Coach: Leslie Frazier. He has done enough in a year and a half to give him the benefit of the doubt
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Current Coach: Raheem Morris, 3rd Year
Career Record: 17-31
Outlook: Coming off a strong 2010 many experts predicted big things for the Bucs this season, and a 4-2 start did nothing to dispel that idea. A ten game losing streak to close the season, with a couple of them being blowouts, should mean a pink slip for Morris. Recent comments that he shouldn’t be fired and a GM worried for his own job won’t help him either. The only hope Morris has of returning for a 4th year would be rumored financial difficulties for the Glazer family, who own the Bucs
2012 Head Coach: Mike Zimmer. While Bengals Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden is the familiar name in Tampa, it’s Defensive Coordinator Zimmer that is the better fit for a team that appeared to stop playing defense at the end of the year. The veteran coach should provide some quality leadership with a team that sorely needs it
Current Coach: Pat Shurmur, 1st Year
Career Record: 4-12
Outlook: It’s rare that a first year coach gets the boot, especially with eight of the teams’ losses coming to playoff teams. Shurmur had the team playing with passion, if not skill, and should be given the opportunity to return.
2012 Head Coach: Pat Shurmur. They hired him last year for a reason, he will get at least one more year to right the ship, potentially with a top flight rookie QB
Current Coach: Mike Shanahan, 2nd Year
Career Record: 11-19
Outlook: While the high profile veteran Coach hasn’t had much success in D.C. his job should be secure for this offseason, especially with $21 Million left on his contract. While owner Dan Snyder will insist on some changes on the staff, Shanahan will be given a chance to be successful with a real QB under center in 2012.
2012 Head Coach: Mike Shanahan. Snyder is enamored with him and he is too expensive to replace.
Current Coach: Mel Tucker, Interim
Career Record: 2-2
Outlook: Tucker finished the season for dispatched Coach Jack del Rio, but probably won’t be given an opportunity to build on his .500 record next season. With a new owner in place looking to make a splash and a dwindling fan base, look for Jacksonville to let Tucker go in favor of a higher profile coach
2012 Head Coach: Jeff Fisher. The former Titans Coach has a solid record and knows the division well following his extended run in Tennesse. Having ridden Eddie George and Chris Johnson to success in the past, the Jags’ Maurice Jones-Drew make the job appealing for Fisher.
Current Coach: Todd Bowles, Interim
Career Record: 2-1
Outlook: While the players may support the likeable Bowles, he has little chance of securing the full time job in Miami. Ownership has been seeking a high profile coach since last offseason, and didn’t fire Head Coach Tony Sparano to promote their own Secondary Coach. Bowles might wind up a popular target for teams in need of a Defensive Coordinator, but the head coaching job is out.
2012 Head Coach: Rob Ryan. While owner Stephen Ross will go hard after Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher, both coaches seem likely to remain in the broadcast booth for 2012. With no obvious names among the college ranks, look for Ross to hire Rob Ryan, the Cowboys DC and brother of Jets coach Rex Ryan to make a splash.
Current Coach: Ron Rivera, 1st Year
Career Record: 6-10
Outlook: A 6-10 record with a rookie QB and an awful defense should be enough to justify Rivera’s return. The players like him, ownership trust him and he has the team moving in the right direction.
2012 Head Coach: Barring a public spat with management, Rivera should be enthusiastically invited to return.
Current Coach: Chan Gailey, 2nd Year
Career Record: 10-22
Outlook: After a strong start the Bills fell off, finishing a distant third in the AFC East. A final game meltdown, where the Bills allowed 49 straight points after taking a 21-0 lead, moved this job from safe to questionable. Gailey has a couple signature wins this season, but it probably won’t be enough to overcome some embarrassing losses.
2012 Head Coach: Mike Sherman. The former Packers coach has been in the college ranks for the last few seasons, but he has a solid record in the NFL at 59-43, and should be inexpensive enough for Buffalo’s penny pinching owner Ralph Wilson.
Current Coach: Pete Carroll, 2nd Year
Career Record: 14-18
Outlook: A pair of 7-9 seasons (and a playoff run in 2010) mean Carroll is one of the few coaches who can rest easy this week.
2012 Head Coach: Pete Carroll. No reason to fire a guy who is doing what they expected him to do, without an NFL quality quarterback on the roster. Look for him to make a move for the Packers’ Matt Flynn and a take a run at a division title next year.
Kansas City Chiefs
Current Coach: Romeo Crennel, Interim
Career Record: 2-1
Outlook: Crennel did everything asked of him after taking over for crazy street person Todd Haley, beating the undefeated Packers and then the division champion Broncos. He is already campaigning for the full time job, and the players seem to be on his side.
2012 Head Coach: Romeo Crennel. This might be the best job that could change hands in 2012, with a number of starters coming back from injuries to a team that only missed the playoffs by a game. Crennel will be given a chance to return without the interim tag next season.
San Diego Chargers
Current Coach: Norv Turner, 5th Year
Career Record: 49-31, 3-3 Postseason
Outlook: As usual, the Chargers closed well in 2011,finishing 4-1 over the last month of the season. This year it probably won’t be enough to save the job of the perennially under fire coach. A playoff run might have saved him yet again, but ownership has been rumored to want to replace him for years and this looks to be the right time.
2012 Head Coach: Jon Gruden. While the Miami job is unlikely to draw Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth, the San Diego job is a different story. A playoff caliber team with weapons on both sides of the ball on the West Coast should appeal to Gruden, along with the boatload of cash on the table.
Current Coach: Andy Reid, 13th year
Career Record: 126-81, 10-9 postseason
Outlook: It’s hard to replace your longtime, successful coach, but this should be the end of the road for Reid in Philly. An inability to grasp concepts like clock management, challenges and player relationships, along with some poor personnel decisions like the Mike Vick extension help explain why the supposed “Dream Team” failed to even qualify for the playoffs. The Eagles enter 2012 with an unreliable quarterback, a potential Desean Jackson holdout and future salary cap issues. A fresh start at head coach is the first step in regrouping.
2012 Head Coach: Vic Fangio. The DC for surprising San Francisco is a Pennsylvania native and long time NFL assistant who should be a popular choice to interview. Philadelphia should look to bring in a separate coach and GM to manage their rebuild, which will keep them from hiring one of the top names.
Current Coach: Hue Jackson, 1st Year
Career Record: 8-8
Outlook: It’s rare that a first year coach deserves to be fired for an 8-8 record but Jackson is the exception. He strong-armed a midseason deal that mortgaged the team’s future in exchange for QB Carson Palmer. The deal backfired when Palmer failed to lead the Raiders to the playoffs, which would lead to Jackson’s dismissal with most teams. The only thing saving him is the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the Raiders following the in-season death of owner Al Davis.
2012 Head Coach: Hue Jackson. He doesn’t deserve to be back, but since he appears to be in charge of the front office in Oakland there isn’t going to be a change.
New York Jets
Current Coach: Rex Ryan, 3rd Year
Career Record: 28-20, 4-2 Postseason
Outlook: A .500 year following a pair of very successful seasons shouldn’t get Ryan fired, but will probably lead to a new offensive coordinator and the drafting of a quarterback on day two.
2012 Head Coach: Rex Ryan. He might be brash, abrasive and annoying, but they win games and that’s all that matters.
Current Coach: Jason Garrett, 2nd Year
Career Record: 13-11
Outlook: Owner Jerry Jones says Garrett is safe, for what that is worth, but he probably shouldn’t be looking to buy a house in Dallas. A number of boneheaded calls and late game meltdowns this year moved Garrett firmly on to the hot seat moving forward. Expect Jones to insist on Garrett bringing in a playcaller and offensive coordinator for 2012
2012 Head Coach: Jason Garrett. Ravens’ RB coach Wilbert Montgomery is a sleeper pick for both OC and the coaching spot.
Current Coach: Lovie Smith, 8th Year
Career Record: 1-57, 3-3 postseason
Outlook: Lovie has had plenty of success in Chicago, going to the NFC Championship last year before losing to the Packers after QB Jay Cutler was knocked out. The biggest objection Smith faces is that he failed to add a reliable backup to Cutler this year, which doomed the Bears to an extended offseason.
2012 Head Coach: Lovie Smith. Chicago should be right back in the mix for the playoffs next season, none of the coaching candidates offers a significant upgrade for the Bears in 2012.
Current Coach: Ken Whisenhunt, 5th Year
Career Record: 40-40, 4-2 playoffs
Outlook: An exceptionally average year for a team led by an exceptionally average coach. Cheap owners are unlikely to pursue a big name coach to replace Whisenhunt, which should provide him with job security for 2012.
2012 Head Coach: Ken Whisenhunt. It is tempting to replace him with someone more dynamic, but, much like with Lovie Smith, there isn’t a big enough upgrade out there
Current Coach: Mike Munchak, 1st Year
Career Record: 9-7
Outlook: The Titans missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker in a year where their top player, RB Chris Johnson, underperformed and they started the process of training a new QB for the future. Titans management has no cause for complaints from this coaching staff.
2012 Head Coach: Mike Munchak. No reason to move on from a successful coach unless he chooses to leave for the Penn State job.