Black Monday: Teams Fire Five NFL Coaches
The least surprising thing about Dan Snyder firing Mike Shanahan on Monday was that two other NFL clubs canned their coaches before the Redskins had canned theirs. Even if he hadn’t lost his last eight games, Shanahan would still be looking for a job. Mishandling an injured Robert Griffin III in last year’s playoff loss to Seattle, brazenly leaking embarrassing information to the press about his boss, and compiling the league’s second worst record for the league’s third most valuable franchise doesn’t add up to a fifth year as coach.
To add injury to insult, the St. Louis Rams own the Redskins’ number-two pick in the 2014 draft. It may get worse before it gets better in Washington, no matter who the Redskins hire to coach their team.
Whereas one dead-man walking the sidelines accepted his fate over the last half of the 2013 season, another one rebelled against it. Rex Ryan leading the Jets to three wins in their last four games means that the colorful coach will return for a sixth season in New York. Ryan, who learned of his fate prior to Sunday’s win over Miami, reacted, “I love being the head coach of the New York Jets, plain and simple.”
By midday Monday, four other teams had joined the Redskins by handing walking papers to their head coaches.
The Vikings parted ways with Leslie Frazier after languishing in last place after three of four seasons with Leslie Frazier at the helm. The team migrates from the Metrodome to a temporary home at the University of Minnesota’s football stadium next season before landing in a yet-to-be-named, yet-to-be-built home.
Jim Schwartz, who inherited a 0-16 team, departs as the head coach of the Detroit Lions losing six of his last seven. With the starting quarterbacks for all three divisional rivals falling to injury, and the Lions fielding one of the more talented teams in the NFL, Detroit fans expected to be playing in the postseason.
The Browns surprised many by axing first-year coach Rob Chudzinski—including Chudzinski. “I was shocked and disappointed to hear the news that I was fired,” he remarked in a prepared statement. “I am a Cleveland Brown to the core, and always will be.” The Browns owe the fledgling head coach, their sixth in ten seasons, $10.5 million.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik. Schiano lost his first eight games of the season and appeared to lose his locker room, too. But the second-year NFL head coach turned it around by winning four of five games. Unfortunately for the former Rutgers coach, who endured “Fire Schiano” billboards posted by a local radio station, his team played in their last three games much the way they did in their first eight.
The Texans, who haven’t officially fired Wade Phillips, appear poised to hire Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, whose vacancy may open the possibility of Schiano to return to the college ranks. Jerry Jones reiterated his commitment to Jason Garrett, despite the Cowboys failing to make the playoffs by falling to the Eagles in the final game on the 2013 schedule.
Other coaches who will soon learn of their futures include Mike Munchak of the 7-9 Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans interim coach Wade Phillips, Dennis Allen of the Raiders, and Joe Philbin, whose Dolphins found themselves embroiled in a national scandal over the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying controversy during the season and blew a playoff berth by losing two winnable games to close the season.
Even if NFL coaches survive Black Monday, there’s no guarantee that they will survive to coach their teams next season. The Jacksonville Jaguars, after hiring a new general manager, fired coach Mike Mularkey on January 10, 2013—nearly two weeks after the end of the regular season.