The Monday after the NFL’s regular season ends has been known as Black Monday. It is when coaches get fired after their first, latest or last failure with that particular club.
Forget Black Monday. Nobody waits. The hammer falls on Sunday, the final Sunday of the season, with no reason to wait another 12 hours.
The San Francisco 49ers ditched Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke on Sunday. Gary Kubiak told his Denver Broncos players he would step down due to health reasons. The San Diego Chargers dumped Mike McCoy after back-to-back finishes at the bottom of the AFC West. Earlier in the week, the Buffalo Bills had fired Rex Ryan. That followed earlier dismissals in Jacksonville (Gus Bradley) and Los Angeles (Jeff Fisher).
Everyone wants to find the next genius. Everyone wants to get a leg up. But how many geniuses-in-waiting can there be?
Several teams want to talk to New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who failed previously as the Broncos head coach. Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is on numerous short lists (and has a history in Denver). We’re really not hearing any names from the college ranks, so how will six teams fill their vacancies?
The Buffalo Bills may stick with interim head coach Anthony Lynn. This trick rarely works. Other hot assistants include Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith (who had some success as Atlanta’s head coach). The NFL just burns through coaches faster than it can create them.
Consider the 49ers. They fired Chip Kelly after one year (2-14). He replaced Jim Tomsula (5-11), who had replaced the successful but irascible Jim Harbaugh. So the Niners will be on their fourth head coach in four years. Not exactly the path to success or stability.
Shanahan has bided his time, moved around as an offensive coordinator and had great success this season with the Falcons. At 37, he’d still be among the NFL’s youngest head coaches but not a child prodigy. Smith has a track record of success. And then there is always the odd, mystery hire that seems to come from nowhere.
Busy times await those failed teams with a legacy of losing. Their futures are at stake. Making the right call won’t be easy but is so crucial.
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Twistity.com’s Larry Weisman joins Ed Berliner’s podcast “The Fastest Show in Sports” for some NFL talk. Listen in here: