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NFL Black Monday head coach Primer: NFC South

It’s onto the NFC South for our look at the state of front offices. AFC North | AFC East | AFC South | AFC West |  NFC East | NFC North

We’re going to go around the league, looking at each division and seeing what vacancies could open up for Black Monday. Chances are, there won’t be any in Santa Clara, but a coach could bail to fill one of the vacancies elsewhere. Today, we have the NFC South.

Last year, the NFC South was on lockdown their firings. A lot of back and forth of division winners and mainstays like Sean Payton running around will make the year end pink-slips difficult. This year, not much has changed. I said that there was one seat in particular that was hot and since nothing happened, this year it’s a lava rush of heat. There are some other seats getting warm as well.

New Orleans Saints

The rebuild for the Saints is over. They went through a rough stretch of losing and trying to fill the needs of the team after departures and salary cap casualties left them a shadow of their former, Super Bowl-winning selves. The Saints are back, and this time they might be back in the Super Bowl. They’ll have to get through the Los Angeles Rams first, but they managed to beat them in the regular season and if things continue as they are, there’s no denying they could do it again if the Rams have to go through New Orleans to get to the Super Bowl.

Not only is the rebuild over, the Saints have the best defense they may have ever had. It’s ranked 10th per Pro Football Reference and when you combine that with an ageless quarterback in Drew Brees, you are going places.

All said, there’s no way the Saints start firing anybody. They’ve gone decades to have stability and winning seasons and wouldn’t want to return to the old days of perennial losing. while rumors would fly some seasons that Sean Payton wanted out, he’s still there. The Saints are safe.

Who should/will get fired: Nobody

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers play in the same division as the Saints and that’s been the big problem. They nabbed a wild card spot in 2017 and are playing for more or less the same in 2018. While Ron Rivera managed to get them to a Super Bowl a few years prior, the resilience of a Super Bowl appearance is starting to wear off and he may be put under the microscope soon if he still can’t get the job done.

Not much will happen this year if the Panthers can snatch a wild card spot, or even if they can’t, provided they don’t go on an awful skid and lose out via blowouts to close the season. So why would Rivera be on the hotseat? The Panthers removed Dave Gettlemen and inserted Marty Hurney as the new GM. If the Panthers continue to not meet expectations, Hurney may want to go get ‘his’ guy. It’s a mistake, given the success the Panthers have had with Rivera in the past, but it’s a possibility.

But that’s all a long ways off. Next year around this time, with that record, Rivera could be getting a long hard look. But even then, he’s won the South three times in a row followed by a subpar season and another season back in the playoffs. Firing Rivera without at least two more years of underachieving would be asinine.

Who should/will get fired: Nobody

Atlanta Falcons

.500, one Super Bowl appearance, one playoff appearance, and now a very bad team make up the first four years of Dan Quinn’s resume. As bad as the Falcons are in 2018, there’s still the backdrop of going to a Super Bowl and a team kept afloat.

Just one problem, that Super Bowl year was more on the shoulders of their offensive coordinator than it was on their head coach. While Quinn turned in a decent season following the Super Bowl loss, the Falcons have trended downwards since said, “coordinator of offense,” left to go do something else.

They haven’t trended downward enough to merit a coaching change. Though they may make a change at the play-caller since Steve Sarkisian isn’t the answer. The Falcons under that shadowy god of offensive coordinators had the No. 1 offense in 2016, per Pro Football Reference. In 2017 they dropped to 15th. 2018 they moved up a spot to 14th. Now that’s not terrible for any team, but when you have Matt Ryan as your quarterback and Julio Jones as your wide receiver, that’s unacceptable. Reports have said as such. There won’t be a change at head coach, but expect a new offensive coordinator to come in.

Who should/will get fired: Steve Sarkisian

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Nothing quite says you’re about to get canned with a back and forth at quarterback. The Bucaneers have had a tag-team duo of quarterbacks in Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick starting at different points. Both did some good things, but the only consistency they provided was skill at dial-a-turnovers.

The running game is a mess and the pass catchers are under performing. The defense? 30th. The Buccaneers have worse problems getting turnovers than the 49ers do.

There’s two people getting shown the door. For sure it’s Dirk Koetter. That ship sailed the moment he started Winston...the third time. General manager Jason Licht needs to go as well. If you’ve been with the Buccaneers since 2014 and your roster is this bad, that’s on you. Don’t forget, this is the team that traded draft picks to get into the second round in order to draft a kicker who is out of the league. Picks don’t work out, in fact, some drafts only one pick will work out, but when you trade picks for a kicker, in the second round, you as a GM simply don’t work out. Licht is finishing out his contract, but for purposes here, he’s fired as far as we’re concerned.

Who should/will get fired: Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter