NFL Black Monday 2014 Roundup: Who’s Staying and Who’s Leaving?
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Monday, the day after the NFL regular season ends, is ominously known as Black Monday, a day in which the league's worst teams fire coaches and general managers in hopes of getting a jump on replacement candidates.
For many, it's the annual concession to a failed season. Maybe coaches and players didn't mesh, or injures depleted the roster's depth. Turmoil between coaches and the team's front office could have boiled into the locker room, as it did in New York and Washington. Regardless of cause, the burden primarily lands on the head coach's shoulders.
Three head coaches got the ax, one more resigned, and a few were given second- and third- chances. Let's take a closer look at Monday's bloodbath.
Rex Ryan (4-12, last in AFC East in 2014)
Rex Ryan, the most beloved of Black Monday's victims, received a pink slip after six years in the Meadowlands, along with General Manager John Idzik. Ryan led the Jets to consecutive AFC championship games but hasn't held a winning season since 2010. His defensive prowess was lost when a dysfunctional front office took flyers on Tim Tebow, Michael Vick, and Mark Sanchez.
A final, undeserved blow to Ryan's tenure came over the weekend as Jets owner Woody Johnson reportedly wanted to hold on to him until a new general manger was found. This, after Ryan cleared out his office last Friday following reports that Johnson was shopping his job.
Marc Trestman (5-11, last in NFC Central)
Few could have predicted that the Chicago Bears would self-destruct.
Injuries mounted. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, arguably the league's most feared wide receiving duo, were underutilized. The team's offensive coordinator openly criticized quarterback Jay Cutler's play management, offering a tearful apology soon after.
The Bears are a mess and the blame falls squarely on Marc Trestman, who inherited a 10-6 team and promptly led them to obscurity. Angry fans eventually targeted Trestman's family, directing nasty tweets towards his daughters following a blowout loss to Green Bay.
Mike Smith (6-10, 3rd in NFC South)
Even winning the division crown Sunday would have saved Mike Smith's job, not after a 6-10 campaign that saw the Falcons lose all but one game outside the NFC South.
Smith compiled 56 wins through his first five seasons but won just 10 games over the last two, including a 1-4 postseason record. The Falcons suffered through a season-ending five game losing streak, despite having top-10 caliber talent in quarterback Matt Ryan and wideouts Roddy White and Julio Jones.
Tom Coughlin (6-10, 3rd in NFC East)
Members of the New York Giants' brass confirmed Monday that Tom Coughlin would be back for an 11th season. The Giants have missed three straight playoff appearances following their Super Bowl 46 victory.
Coughlin has one year remaining on his contract, though it's unlikely it gets extended beyond 2015. Consistency may be one of the reasons he's staying onboard. Eli Manning and first-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo were getting in rhythm at season's end, giving the team's front office a confidence boost.
Jay Gruden (4-12, last in NFC East)
Amid the Washington Redskins' name controversy, the starting quarterback battle, and reviled team owner Dan Snyder's inability to inspire confidence, it's a wonder Jay Gruden wasn't fired on Monday.
The Redskins finished with four wins in Gruden's first season in our nation's capital. All but one came behind a quarterback not named Robert Griffin III.
Washington is a circus, and Gruden is underqualified to juggle the internal drama. He's a straight shooter that often brushed off Synder's request. Gruden wanted RGIII gone. Synder didn't see it that way. At one point the Redskins will choose between the coach and the franchise quarterback, regardless of the latter's mediocre play.
Ken Whisenhunt (2-14, last in AFC South)
Tennessee's season went downhill after their Sept. 7 victory over Kansas City. Ken Whisenhunt's first season in Nashville was marred by devastating injuries, none more inhibiting than Jake Locker's dislocated shoulder.
Locker became the 13th Titan player placed on injured reserve and the ninth starter.
Still, Whisenhunt wasn't very flexible when it came to adjusting his offensive schemes. He couldn't adjust to his players' skillsets. Come 2015 injuries won't be an excuse and an already shortened leash may lead to a mid-season firing.
Jim Harbaugh (8-8, 3rd in NFC West)
Three consecutive NFC title game appearances, one Super Bowl appearance, and a instilling a winning attitude missing in the Bay Area since the mid-90s weren't enough to keep Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco.
Harbaugh wasn't fired as much as he was pushed out. The 49ers' front office tried and failed to him to Cleveland last winter and did little to match University of Michigan's reported $8 million per year coaching offer. Their relationship was an acrimonious one; full of bickering and general distaste for one another, especially between Harbaugh and General Manager Trent Baalke.
The 49ers had 39 wins in the seven years before Harbaugh. That's five fewer than he won as their head coach. That will be hard, if not impossible, to replicate in the near future.
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