10 NFL coaches who could be fired on Black Monday
As the song goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone is in the holiday spirit with Hanukkah and Christmas just passing, but that will be short-lived for those in the NFL.
Just days after Christmas has concluded, the dark clouds will begin to approach and then, as the new year is ushered in, many across the NFL will likely be ushered out. That is, of course, because Black Monday is right around the corner and as the name indicates, it’s one of the most difficult days on the league calendar.
This year, as many as 10 coaches could be sent on their way, joining two who have already been sent packing in Hue Jackson (Cleveland Browns) and Mike McCarthy (Green Bay Packers). Here’s a look at the 10 head coaches or coordinators who could be given the boot only days after Christmas.
10. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
This space could have just as easily gone to Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, but early indications are that he’ll return to the team in 2019. That leaves Doug Marrone, who is also likely to return in 2019, but he may be on shakier ground than Rivera. The Jaguars opened the season with Super Bowl aspirations, but have completely fallen apart. They’ve gone 2-9 over the last 11 games, falling out of contention and once again looking like bottom of the NFL barrel. And with Tom Coughlin still calling most of the shots, that sort of futility will not stand for very long. If Marrone is brought back in 2019, it could be his last hurrah unless he manages to win 10 games and return to the playoffs.
9. Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins
It wasn’t all that long ago the Washington Redskins were leading the NFC East and looked like a shoo-in for the playoffs. Three quarterbacks later, the Redskins are losers of five of their last six games, have lost their stranglehold on the NFC East, have been eliminated from the playoffs and will barely hold off the New York Giants to avoid a basement finish. And following their latest crushing loss, safety D.J. Swearinger ripped defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and the coaching staff, leading to his release. But the veteran’s outburst and subsequent release shouldn’t be swept under the rug as it raises a huge red flag — a fractured locker-room and the beginning of a revolt against those in charge. Things are toxic in DC, and Gruden may pay the ultimate consequences as a result.
8. Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins
Tempers were already beginning to boil in Miami even prior to a Week 16 loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, but that embarrassing display just pushed things over the edge. After starting the season off hot, the Dolphins have since collapsed save for a last-second fluke upset victory over the New England Patriots, and as a result, vice president Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Adam Gase may suffer the consequences. After finishing at 10-6 as a rookie head coach in 2016, Gase’s Dolphins have gone 13-18 since, dropping his coaching record below .500. That may cost him his job in a win-now league. Whether or not Gase gets another shot elsewhere remains to be seen, but his first head coaching stint could be ending after Week 17.
7. Steve Sarkisian, Atlanta Falcons
No, Steve Sarkisian is not a head coach. He’s the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, but the reality is that Dan Quinn will not be fired and someone may need to take the fall for an ugly season in Atlanta. That will likely be Sarkisian, whose offense, despite being stocked with incredible talent, will finish near the middle of the pack when the season ends and has managed over 20 points just twice since Week 9. The fall from grace has been dramatic and swift, both on the road and at home, which not only cost the Falcons a chance at the playoffs, but really calls into question their overall direction entering 2019. Quinn will likely survive this go-around, but Sarkisian may not.
6. Ron Zook, Green Bay Packers
If you think fans only clamor for head coaches to be replaced, you’d be wrong. Those in Green Bay cannot wait for Zook to be fired as the Packers’ special teams coach. He’s in his fifth season with the Packers and fourth as their special teams coordinator. Last week’s overtime win over the Jets wouldn’t have been as close if not for all the mistakes by Zook’s units, which included terrible kick and punt coverage, and fumbles. The Packers are allowing 25.6 yards per kick return (4th worst in the league), one of only five teams to allow a kick return for a TD, and they’re in the bottom part of the league for yards gained per punt and kickoff return. He deserves to be fired.
5. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis is always an interesting name when the Black Monday rolls around because he always seems like a coach who could be cut loose, but never is. 2018 will be no different as the Bengals have once again faded into mediocrity, this time even finding themselves in the AFC North basement behind the Cleveland Browns. The decision to bring on Hue Jackson seems like a poor one, as they’ve gone 1-6 since his arrival, and that doesn’t even take into account Lewis’ playoff record. For reference, the Bengals have won a grand total of zero playoff games (0-7) during his 16 years as head coach. There is speculation that Lewis could walk away from the team after the season.
4. Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dirk Koetter could have very well topped this list, but the Buccaneers aren’t exactly keen on further shakeups. Additionally, quarterback Jameis Winston and other players have spoken out publicly in favor of Koetter, saying they’d like to have their coach back in 2019. Tampa Bay may very well oblige, but that decision has not yet been made. In the meantime, Koetter remains on the hot seat and could find himself on the chopping block if the Buccaneers are blown out in Week 17 and sent home for the season with a 5-11 for the second consecutive year. Either way, Koetter represents a true 50/50 coin flip come Black Monday — he could get one final opportunity or the Bucs could move on.
3. Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos
Vance Joseph will likely be fired at the conclusion of the season, with an ugly loss on Monday night perhaps cementing his fate. Quarterback issues have plagued Joseph’s two short seasons in Denver, and it very nearly cost him his job a year ago before the franchise gave him a second shot. Reports suggest that John Elway & Co. already have their sights set on John Harbaugh, should he become available, but either way, Joseph is not the future. Instead, he’ll probably hit the market and could end up serving as defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals or another team.
2. Steve Wilks, Arizona Cardinals
Leading up to Week 16, expectations for Steve Wilks’ future were somewhat mixed. He is a first-year head coach after all, but his rookie campaign not only failed to live up to the hype, but has been a complete disaster from top to bottom. And following the team’s 12th loss of the season, it was reported that the Cardinals will part ways with Wilks at the conclusion of the season. That means he’ll be handed his walking papers immediately after the team’s Week 17 game or will be among the first fired on the morning of Black Monday. Either way, his Cardinals tenure will end much sooner than anticipated. If they finish the season with a 3-13 record, it will match the team’s worst record since moving from St. Louis to Arizona in 1988.
1. Todd Bowles, New York Jets
Todd Bowles insists he’s not worried about his future with the Jets, but the reality is, he should be. Expectations were that he’d be fired weeks ago, but owner Woody Johnson has held off for now. That said, the writing is on the wall and Bowles’ exit from East Rutherford appears inevitable. Already there have been rumors about potential interest in Jim Harbaugh — something the Jets have publicly denied — and that’s likely just the beginning. And while they will appear true to Bowles for at least another week, his name is one of many that will appear in the headlines come Black Monday, fair or unfair.