The NFL season is over and “Black Monday” has claimed quite a few candidates, 8 to be exact. For my non-sports fans, Black Monday is the day after the NFL regular season finishes where head coaches typically get fired. There’s been between 6 and 8 coaches fired each year since 2011. If you’re thinking that sounds like a lot; I’d agree. That’s about 25% (8 of 32) teams changing coaches every year. What’s the reason for this? Well, you have about 20 owners who expect to make the playoffs each year. There are only 12 teams that make the playoffs so there is a gap in expectations vs results. We’ll run through each opening, answer why the coach got fired, what the team is looking to hire and give a most likely/ideal candidate.
The following teams have an opening: Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’ll go from the worst job available to the best.
8. Arizona Cardinals
In my opinion, this is the least attractive coaching job available. The Cardinals have been a mess for the past year since Bruce Arians, a former coach, left at the end of the 2017 regular season. They then hired defensive-minded Steve Wilks, drafted QB Josh Rosen in the 1st round to replace the retired Carson Palmer. None of it seemed to work. The team limped to a putrid 3-13 record, but have the #1 overall pick.
As a result of that, the team fired Wilks after only one season. On top of that, Josh Rosen looked horrible at points this year. He didn’t have much around him but a lot of his games ended with a stat line around 8/23 with 100 yards (They picked Rosen over Lamar Jackson…yikes). David Johnson, their premiere RB seemed to also take a step back, unable to find his footing to get back to his All-pro form of 2016. The team lacks talent everywhere and just joined the infamous one-and-done club: They hired a coach to fire him after 1 season. This is the least attractive job in my mind.
My prediction: Adam Gase. Arizona will be looking for 2 main things – an offensive coach to develop Rosen and someone with coaching experience. Gase fits the bill on both.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m going to rank this as my second least attractive job in the NFL. The team fired their HC Dirk Koetter after the team went 5-11 this season, balancing between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston as their quarterbacks. Winston began the year suspended so Fitzpatrick took over, then Fitzpatrick was bad so Winston took over, and it went back and forth all year, eventually ending with Winston. The GM, Jason Licht, has stated that any coach coming in has to be committed to Winston as the starting QB. Yikes.
Beyond Winston, there are other issues. Desean Jackson wants out and other players are getting unhappy. There are some talent issues among the team and their cap situation isn’t ideal either. They’ve missed on some big free agents over the past few years.
My prediction: John DeFilippo. Getting fired by Zimmer didn’t necessarily hurt his resume, as teams will look at the body of work with Wentz/Foles. The Bucs will look towards an offensive coach to build up Jameis Winston and DeFilippo could be their coach.
6. Miami Dolphins
Miami comes in as the 3rd least attractive job opening for me. The fins fired Adam Gase after 3 seasons, 1 playoff appearance and a 23-25 record. Gase was brought in as an offensive genius and quarterback whisperer, but he never panned out like that. The Dolphins didn’t finish higher than 24th in total offense in any of his 3 years. Ryan Tannehill didn’t make the necessary progressions either to keep the coach around. The team is also stuck in a division with the New England Patriots thus providing an even tougher time getting to the playoffs. While you are stuck with Tannehill as your QB in a weaker draft for the position up and coming, there is some talent around the team and that’s why I have them 6th. They have improvements to make but the RB position is talented and the defense is going to get better with rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick developing. Whoever takes this job needs to get through the Patriots and figure out the quarterback situation, as Tannehill is already 30. (!!!)
My prediction: Mike Munchak. He’s the former Titans coach that compiled a 22-25 record with them from 2011-2013. The Dolphins will want to get a head coach in that has some experience and can bring some much-needed discipline to the team.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals fired Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons and an 0-7 playoff record. Even though Marvin couldn’t get it done in the playoffs, he was the best coach in Bengals history. They have a rough history of being the laughingstock of the NFL, particularly since the original owner, Paul Brown, passed away. As a Bengals fan I’m excited about the move, it was time to move on from him as I believe he hit his ceiling as a coach here. That being said, I have my concerns about who the owner, Mike Brown is going to bring in. For those that may not know, the Bengals don’t operate like your typical team. The money the owner has comes from the value of owning the team. While other owners have businesses that make them a lot of money, Kraft and his group, Jerry Jones and his side work, the Brown family has the team and that is it. (If you’d like to read more you can: here). It’s unlike most other teams as they also don’t have a general manager. The Bengals are quoted as being difficult to work with as well.
That’s what makes this job unattractive. However, there are quite a few positives remaining on the team. This team isn’t too far removed from making the playoffs 5 years in a row from 2011-2015. There’s a lot of talent spread out on the roster starting with Andy Dalton who was having a great season before the injury. They also have skill players like AJ Green, breakout player Tyler Boyd, and running back Joe Mixon. Then you have up and coming lineman Billy Price, Geno Atkins, William Jackson, and Jessie Bates. There’s talent all over, it’s about finding a coach who can put it together and motivate them. As a lifetime Bengals fan I’m excited for the new coach, but having hope in Mike Brown to make the right decision, can be a waste of time.
Last note: in what seemed to be a really tough division has Ben Roethlisberger getting older and older with drama including Antonio Brown/Le’veon Bell, the Ravens may move on from Harbaugh here shortly but look beatable, and the Browns are hopefully still going to brown.
My Prediction: The team is too tough to work with to nab someone like Josh McDaniels/Zac Taylor, so they hire Hue Jackson in what’s a safe but unintelligent move.