Black Monday began early this year with teams wasting no time to show their coaches the door once their final games concluded. Monday and Tuesday both had some activity and it’s time to run down it all.
This year, eight vacancies open up in the NFL head coaching ranks with six of those happening over the last couple of days. We’ll be looking at the coaching pool in subsequent posts, but for now, we want to look at who has been fired. We also want to pull our own quotes from our Black Monday primer, just to see how we did in some of these predictions.
Adam Gase (Miami Dolphins)
What we said: Retained — “A coaching change could be looked at, but Gase has said the right things and brought the right people in. He’s going to get another year.”
What happened: Fired — Dolphins made this decision long before the last game.
I really felt that Gase would stick around. His three seasons, while nothing amazing, were much better than when Joe Philbin was running things. Gase managed to take them to the playoffs his first year, and had to deal with an injured Ryan Tannehill in his second and third years. The Dolphins had enough and will be not just looking for a new head coach, but a new quarterback as well, Tannehill isn’t it.
Todd Bowles (New York Jets)
What we said: Fired — “Given how long Bowles has been there and the offensive movement the Jets are showing as of late, it’s time for him to go.”
What happened: Fired — Jets are going after Jim Harbaugh.
With a defensive-minded coach averaging losses of almost two touchdowns a game, and a shiny new quarterback under center. The Jets had to make a move. Bowles gets credit for what he did in 2017, a season the Jets should have tanked hard in, and instead remained competitive. Reports indicate the Jets are going to make a run at Harbaugh. Good luck with that.
What we said: Retained — “Considering they went to the AFC Championship last season, it’s safe to say Marrone— and Tom Coughlin by extension—aren’t going anywhere.”
What happened: Retained — Marrone
The Jaguars did the right thing by having owner Shad Khan put the decisions in Coughlin’s hands. Khan said he wanted consistency, and voiced other desires but the final decision rested on his V.P. of football ops. Coughlin kept Marrone around. Now, the Jaguars are going to need to find a quarterback.
Vance Joseph (Denver Broncos)
What we said: Retained — “The Broncos have shown some good pieces to develop and Joseph can get one more year. But don’t be surprised if he gets canned to save face.”
What happened: Fired — Joseph
Here’s a good way to get canned real quick. After we say a coach gets another year, have your team lose to the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns (yes, they are better than their record indicates, I’ll give that) and the Oakland Raiders over the next three weeks. Joseph had to go. That said, I’ll just tell them what I told them to do in the 2018 Black Monday recap: Get. A. Quarterback. Case Keenum isn’t it.
Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals)
What we said: Retained — “One simply does not fire Marvin Lewis.”
What happened: Fired — Lewis
As I said, if getting thumped by the Cleveland Browns doesn’t get you fired, nothing will. Truth be told, the Browns are not the reason Lewis got fired, having an embarrassing last three years is. Many think that Hue Jackson, who returned to the Bengals this season after getting canned by the Browns the same week, is the front runner. Given how his last two head coaching stops turned out, the Bengals would be wise to think long and hard on that decision.
Steve Wilks (Arizona Cardinals)
What we said: Retained — “Someone has to fall for this, and while the talent is lacking, there’s something wrong here.”
What happened: Fired — Wilks
The Cardinals have the first pick in the draft and Wilks looked downright in over his head during several games. Well, except those two where he beat the 49ers. Despite the records, the draft picks, and all the negativity, it was his first year. That alone made it so a firing was unlikely.
The Cardinals need an offensive minded coach to develop Josh Rosen. Given what they gave up to get him, they will go after someone with a mindset to that side of the ball.
Jim Bob Cooter (offensive coordinator, Detroit Lions)
What we said: Retained — It was head coach Matt Patricia’s first year.
What happened: Mutually parted ways—Cooter and the Lions.
Well, this is surprising. News came out Tuesday that Cooter and the Lions would part ways. It’s odd because Cooter has turned in some decent offenses and quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrived under Cooter’s tutelage. This puts the Lions in a tough spot and Patricia, being a defensive minded guy, in an even worse spot. I guess we’ll see where things go.
Jason Licht (general manager, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
What we said: Fired — “Picks don’t work out, in fact, in some drafts only one pick will work out, but when you trade picks for a kicker that will last two seasons in the league, in the second round no less, you as a GM simply don’t work out”
What happened: Retained — Licht
Not only is Licht sticking around, he’s already making Jameis Winston the de facto QB for 2019. I can’t imagine this going well for anybody. The Buccaneers had a back and forth between Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick to go through 2018 and Winston hasn’t looked the greatest. How is Licht staying behind his quarterback? Why he’s telling any coaching prospects they are stuck with him. Coaching prospects? Yep, that leads us to:
Dirk Koetter (Buccaneers)
What we said: Fired — “For sure it’s Dirk Koetter. That ship sailed the moment he started Winston...the third time.”
What happened: Fired — Koetter
The most obvious firing of the year goes to Koetter. Everyone knew he was gone with that quarterback eeny, meeny, miny, moe he had going on. Licht is sticking around for now, and the new coach will have to inherit Winston as a quarterback. The Tampa Bay job looked attractive, but when you’re saddling a head coach with a specific quarterback that gets mixed reviews in production, that’s going to weed a lot of coaches out. We’ll see where this goes, but I’m sure no one is shocked at this development.
Steve Sarkisian (offensive coordinator, Atlanta Falcons)
What we said: Fired — “There won’t be a change at head coach, but expect a new offensive coordinator to come in.”
What happened: Fired — Sarkisian
The Atlanta Falcons had the No. 1 offense in 2016. In 2018 they are ranked 10th per Pro Football Reference which is generous since they were 14th at one point. That’s a terrible drop when you have Matt Ryan as your quarterback and Julio Jones as your wide receiver. If Koetter was the obvious firing of the year, Sarkisian becomes obvious coordinator firing of the year. if you have those toys mentioned above at the pro level and you turn in this offense? You might not work out at the NFL level.
Jay Gruden (Washington)
What we said: Fired — “It’s a mistake, this season is not Gruden’s fault, especially when he lost his starting quarterback while ahead in the division. But he’s not handling himself well in press conferences and someone will have to go down.”
What happened: Retained — Gruden
There’s only one reason I can think Washington didn’t fire Gruden and that was the look they would have. There’s an awful lot of competition this year for a head coaching job and no one would want to go to Washington after they fired their head coach for the season he had. Gruden had Washington at first in the division before injuries piled up (imagine that). Washington has their own issues to deal with right now too, mostly with public perception.
Every year as a sort of right of passage, the coaches all deserve a proper send off. That send off is “The Vince.” The requirements of The Vince are simple: get fired. If you retire, step down, or do anything that is not getting your job yanked from you, you do not get The Vince.
This year’s Vince recipients are: Mike McCarthy, Hue Jackson, Adam Gase, Marvin Lewis, Todd Bowles, Vance Joseph, Steve Wilks, Dirk Koetter, and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. This one’s for you guys.
Note: Jim Bob Cooter does not get the Vince because he “mutually parted ways” with the Lions.