Black Monday in the NFL – What You Need to Know
Black Monday is traditionally the day after the last regular season NFL game, where coaches that have not been fired during the season get their walking papers. Some of these are just a formality as we have seen the writing on the wall all season, and some of these come as quite a shock. Regardless of the circumstance, what this does is leave a chasm at the top of an organization’s coaching structure. Considering the fact that there are only thirty-two coaching jobs in professional football, this is a pretty sweet, pretty sought-after gig. Here are the open coaching positions ranked in order from most to least desirable. How do you rank them, you may ask. Because anything and everything can get a coach fired, be it the team he has inherited, a poor general manager, to an owner that doesn’t really know what he is doing, that is all taken into account when ranking the jobs.
1.Broncos – Gary Kubiak retired
This is definitely the marquee coaching job that is currently open, even with the big question mark at quarterback. However, with one of the better general managers in football, and one that has been known to go out and get whoever he needs to make the team successful, it’s safe to say that whoever gets the job will at least have a solid team around him. Of course, he will also have higher expectations. An offensive minded coach would probably be the best way to go here, especially if they decide to roll the dice with Siemian or Lynch at quarterback next year. Could someone like Scott Linehan out of Dallas be a good choice with the way he has shepherded the development and maturation of Dak Prescott this year?
2.Chargers – Mike McCoy was fired
If you want to look at teams with an abundance of weapons, look no further than the San Diego Chargers. While they have been underperforming for McCoy’s entire tenure, this year’s poor performance can easily be attributed to an injury-bug that swept through the Chargers’ locker room like plague. The Chargers are in one of the toughest divisions in football, which will be hard for any coach to gain ground in, but they have some good, young pieces to build around as Philip Rivers enters the twilight of his career. The running game bounced back mightily this year and the defense has been solid. If they can get the right coach in there, this could be a fringe-playoff team in a year or so. I think the best bet is a solid “walk-around” head coach that has a great staff in place. One of the older guys that is coaxed out of retirement could really do well here.
3.Jaguars – Gus Bradley was fired in-season
Aside from the glaring hole at quarterback, the Jags have a good set of players both on the defense as well as on most of the offense. Allen Robinson’s down year can be attributed to Blake Bortles’ regression and the fact that the Jags also have Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee that played well at times at the receiver position this year shows me that they have the opportunity to have a good offense as long as their field general is competent. The big question is, will the higher-ups be forcing Bortles on their head coach for a year until his contract is up to see if they can make a competent quarterback out of him, or will they let the coach freelance a bit and find someone that can lead the team? There is always a chance that they become the London Jaguars in a couple years, but that is something that you’ll have to take as it comes. With the talent on that team, and the fact that the AFC South is pretty much a dumpster fire, this could turn from a disappointment of a team to a playoff team overnight.
4.Bills – Rex Ryan was fired in-season
Rex was supposed to inspire his defense to play better and create a culture of winning in Buffalo. Instead, he blustered a lot and hired his brother to coach the defense which looked really good some weeks and like the Browns in other weeks. Fixing the defense is a priority, but also answering the question at quarterback is the first thing on everyone’s mind. Is the Bills’ quarterback currently on their roster? Tyrod Taylor has been sneaky-good, but is that something that can be relied on into the future. I think it’s safe to say that EJ Manuel, and probably even Cardale Jones are not the answer. This is more of a rebuilding process than Rex had when he took over, and in a division with New England, and the surprisingly competent Dolphins, a lot of work will need to be done if the Bills are going to break their playoff drought.
5.Rams – Jeff Fisher was fired in-season
Jeff Fisher ran this franchise into mediocrity. Sure, maybe it was not all his fault, but as the head coach, he has to bear the responsibility. With the sale of the team and the move to Los Angeles, the expectations were higher than they probably have ever been. So the incoming coach not only has to deal with those expectations, but also the dumpster-fire of personnel that was left. The defense is decent, but the offense is atrocious. Todd Gurley could be a good running back, but he has yet to show the consistency that you need. The offensive line needs a major overhaul, and the quarterback, who was taken first in the draft mind you, is a huge question mark. Is Jared Goff able to be the guy? This is something that the new coach will have to deal with as well as a fan base that wants a winning football team to go along with their new stadium. All of that pressure along with an uncertain roster may chase away the older guard of coaches, leaving this to the second tier of coaching candidates, aka coordinators who should be elevated. Is this a spot where we could see Josh McDaniels from New England land?
6.49ers – Chip Kelly was fired
Granted, Chip did not have much to work with in his year by the Bay, but hitting the reset button so quickly here shows that the 49ers do not have too much hope for the future. This is a once proud franchise that needs a lot of help. The offense is bad, and the defense is no better, and while they will have a high draft pick this coming year, we all know that is no guarantee for future success. Do the 49ers pull a Cleveland and punt next year too, stockpiling picks to increase their odds of finding impact players, or go forward in this draft trying to hit a home run with the number two selection? All of this needs to be addressed by the new general manager before the coach is even hired, which makes you wonder if San Francisco will try to land an older, seasoned coach that will also want GM responsibilities (like Mike Shanahan) in order to shepherd in a new era in San Francisco football. Because of all the instability in the franchise, combined with a roster devoid of talent, this has to be one of the worst jobs in football.
Colts – If Chuck Pagano is indeed fired, this could easily turn into one of the better jobs in football. I would still put the Broncos ahead of the Colts here, but not by much. An incoming coach would have one of the better young quarterbacks in football and a team that is definitely built to win now in a terrible division. I could easily see a quick turnaround for this team if they get a new voice in there and a few more pieces on the offensive line and defense. I know, tall orders for sure, but the pieces are in place.
Saints – If Sean Payton is let go, the next coach will be tasked with trying to get the Saints one last championship while Drew Brees is still a viable quarterback (in the next 3-4 years at best). This is a tall order considering the fact that the defense needs a lot of help (a constant area of concern in New Orleans). Luckily, the offense with Brees at the helm is always humming right along. If you get a good defensive-minded coach in charge of the Saints, I could easily see them challenging for the South crown and a playoff spot next year. Of course, Sean Payton may just try to stay on with Brees until the end of his career and win one more there, but if that’s not the case, both the Saints and Payton will be two of the hottest tickets on the market this offseason.
What do you think? What’s your ideal coaching job? Is this list way off? Who would be a good fit for each of these teams? Let us know in the comments!