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NFL Black Monday head coach primer: AFC North

Our look at possible vacancies continues to the AFC North. This is a bit more unstable.

We’re going to go around the league, looking at each division and seeing what vacancies could open up for Black Monday. Thankfully there probably won’t be any in Santa Clara, but a coach could bail to fill one of the vacancies elsewhere. We started with the AFC East, and today, we have the AFC North.

The AFC North has some of the best consistency in the NFL, three of the four teams have had their coaches for nearly a decade. That’s all coming to an end this year as there is one open vacancy (that none of those secure coaches occupied) right now and two more that may show themselves by Black Monday. I say may because one is the Baltimore Ravens with reports on John Harbaugh leaving while the other is the Cincinnati Bengals, and they say that every year. Like seriously. It’s not working this time.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns fired their head coach. That’s just the most repetitive thing you can write. This time, Hue Jackson was shown the door after getting what may have been a decent quarterback, running back, and other nifty tools. In walks Gregg Williams (of Bountygate fame) and the Browns manage to win. Two games. In a row. Now, for some that sounds obnoxious, but to the Browns, that’s running the table.

Regardless, the word is out John Dorsey (who was hired as general manager last year) had enough of Jackson. Now he can go get his own guy to run this team. The Browns spent the first pick overall in the 2018 draft on quarterback Baker Mayfield who will need someone to help him develop his skills to the next level. Given the investment, it’s a good chance they’ll start looking at offensive-minded coaches first.

As for Williams, who would have thought he’d be a head coach, even an interim one after all that Bountygate fiasco.

Who has been fired: Hue Jackson
Who else should get/will get fired: Nobody

Baltimore Ravens

Remember when Joe Flacco was getting lots of money and considered elite? Now he might not have a job since the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson. Jackson looks like a Colin Kaepernick 2.0 at the moment, and was used as such early in the season when the Ravens would pull Flacco to run their own version of the 49ers’ 2012 Kaepernick package.

They’ve also had a carousel of running backs with Alex Collins, Buck Allen, Gus Edwards and the recently activated Kenneth Dixon. They just can’t figure out who they want to use due to injuries. Gee, this sounds familiar.

But every year since the Super Bowl, the Ravens seemed to be rebuilding something and nothing has been able to materialize besides some seasons just over .500 and an early exit from the 2014 playoffs. Reports are coming out that John Harbaugh and the Ravens will mutually part ways at season’s end (no really, it’s actually a mutual thing) opening the door to a new coach. General manager Ozzie Newsome will also be exiting as the Ravens make a change in the front office as well (which may have been the catalyst for Harbaugh’s soon-to-be departure). Harbaugh had been with the Ravens since 2008, and a coach who has been there a decade has been doing something right. It sounds like both are simply ready for a change as there isn’t any documented bad blood as of yet. Or at least what I could find.

Remember, the Ravens weren’t perennial losers, they’ve had only one losing season since Super Bowl XLVII but they’ve also hit 10 wins just once. It’s just time for a change.

Who should/will get fired: John Harbaugh

Pittsburgh Steelers

If anyone would have been gone last year I said it was Todd Haley for a head coaching job. Haley didn’t get a head coaching job, he got another offensive coordinator job. With the Browns and that didn’t even make it through the season. My how the mighty fall.

The Steelers in 2018 don’t know what they want to be. Some weeks Antonio Brown is the best wide receiver in the league, others Ben Roethlisberger can’t connect a pass with him to save his life. The one thing consistent year to year is Mike Tomlin, and he isn’t going anywhere.

Under Tomlin, the Steelers have not had a single losing season and hit .500 twice in his 12-year tenure as head coach. You just don’t get rid of guys like that unless you’re absolutely sure you know what you’re doing...or if you’re the San Francisco 49ers. There’s no one worth booting Tomlin for, despite what some may say. Unless Big Ben wants to work with Mike McCarthy.

Who should/will get fired: Nobody. Too secure and consistent.

Cincinnati Bengals

Tell me if you haven’t heard this one: Marvin Lewis will coach his last season in Cincinnati. We all thought that was the case year after year. In 2017 it was all but certain. Then he was going to be an advisor. Then he just returned as head coach.

Well let me tell you. If getting thumped by the Cleveland Browns doesn’t get you fired, nothing will. Hue Jackson, after getting canned by the Browns was re-hired by the Bengals to witness said thumping first hand. Word on the street is the Bengals will be his new gig in 2019. This of course is dependent on Lewis stepping down, and as we’ve seen, Lewis isn’t exactly the best at leaving a job.

But Jackson? That’s what running the table backwards and then still struggling with a boatload of talented players gets you? Another gig? If Jackson can’t turn the Bengals around, Jeff Fisher is going to think he’s had too many chances.

In all seriousness, the Bengals have issues. A.J. Green is off to IR for the season, their backfield is inconsistent, and their quarterback is hot or cold depending on the day. There’s some talent here, but Jackson is going to have to work with some young players again. Kinda like what he did in Cleveland.


Who should get fired: Marvin Lewis...yet again
Who will get fired: No one gets fired. Marvin Lewis will step down if anything. One simply does not fire Marvin Lewis.