Even though there wasn’t an NFL game on Monday night this week, there was still plenty of news to be heard around the league. Black Monday, as it is called, is the day after the regular season ends, as do the tenures of many coaches from around the league. Before the clock even struck midnight on Sunday, we had already seen one firing, Rob Chudzinski of the Browns, and Monday would bring four more. Here are the coaches that were fired, who could replace them, and how it could affect the teams in the future.
It’s understandable that the NFL is a league where results are all that matters. But for the Cleveland Browns, their coaching carousel is about as bad as it gets. Just one year ago they had fired Pat Shurmur, who only had a year and a half under his belt before getting the boot. This year, it was Rob Chudzinksi who was relieved of his duties on the final day of the season, after a 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. That loss put the Browns at 4-12 on the season. The problem with Cleveland, from an observer’s eye, is that there is so little consistency within the program. It’s uncertain as to the future of Brandon Weeden on this team, so the Browns also may be looking for a quarterback in the upcoming draft. That’s not the best way to approach it, especially since they just took Weeden in the first round in 2012. Their other pick in 2012 was Trent Richardson at #3 overall, but he was traded to Indianapolis earlier this season. The Browns will need to not only bring in a new coach, but they’ll need it to be a name that entices players to want to come and play in Cleveland. Because as things are sitting right now, it isn’t, nor has it been, a destination that calls for talent. No word has been released yet as to who the Browns are interested in taking Chudzinski’s place.
It was speculated for weeks that Mike Shanahan would get fired from his position as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. And while some coaches are given the chance to step down, Shanahan’s comments this past week about wanting to come back next year gave the Redskins franchise no choice but to let him go. The good news about the Washington franchise, unlike Cleveland, is the fact that they have a decent core already in place led by Robert Griffin III. Some names that have been thrown around for the potential new coach in Washington have been RGIII’s coach at Baylor, Art Briles, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, Chargers assistant coach Ken Wisenhunt and a few more. It’s apparent that Redskins owner Dan Snyder is looking for a coach who will utilize RGIII’s familiarity with an up-tempo college-like offense, of which the aforementioned coaches all seem able to do.
After his second year in Tampa, Greg Schiano was fired on Black Monday after accumulating an 11-20 record with the Bucs. Along with Schiano, the Bucs also got rid of Mark Dominik, the GM of the team. Tampa is another one of those teams that doesn’t have a whole lot to build off of right now. This year they released Josh Freeman, who was thought to be the future of the franchise. And Doug Martin, the standout rookie from last year, had injuries that slowed him down. What made all this worse was the fact that Schiano was not shy to saying things to the media to ignite even further response that didn’t help with Tampa’s struggles. Initial word out of Tampa is that the Bucs are interested in Lovie Smith to take over as the new coach. Smith was the long-time Chicago Bears coach who was fired this time last year, after leading the Bears to an 8-8 record (which, by the way, they came shy of this year with a new coach). The Bucs also seem to be interested in Gary Kubiak, who was fired by the Texans earlier in December. Tampa could be a desirable destination for coaches, but they have their work cut out for them in the NFC South.
The Vikings looked to be showing promise last year, going 10-6 and making the playoffs. But after a 5-10-1 season this year, Leslie Frazier was fired on Monday. Frazier had over three seasons of time with the Vikings, of which he went 21-32-1. The Vikings allowed a league- most 480 points this season and had the second worst QBR allowed at 66.9. The Vikings also started three different quarterbacks this year, Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman. And when none of them could get the ball moving as needed, it didn’t help much that Adrian Peterson also had a down year with his production as well. Reports are saying that the Vikings may not only be looking for a new head coach, but also they could be shopping Peterson. No word yet as to where, but those to moves, and the potential of a new quarterback, could have huge implications on how the Vikings do in the NFC North next year.
Another NFC North coach that was fired on Monday was Jim Schwartz. Unlike some of the guys on the list of those being fired on Monday, Schwartz had a high-caliber team with both offensive and defensive studs. That said, it wasn’t enough for him to improve a team that went 29-51 after five seasons, including 1-6 in the final seven games this year, with Schwartz on the sidelines. The good news for the Lions could be that they don’t have nearly as much rebuilding to do as some of the other teams on this list. That makes them one of the more desirable options for coaches out there. Schwartz was able to take a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2000 and earn one in 2011. No news yet as to who may take this job, but you can bet that with more potential firings to happen this week, there could be plenty of options available.