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NFL Black Monday head coach primer: AFC South

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Our look at possible vacancies continues to the AFC South.

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.

The AFC South is a bit of a weird one. There were some questionable coaching decisions, almost strong-armed, last minute decisions, but they are also young decisions. A lot of coaching turnover happened last year to half the division and the other half just hasn’t reached a point where they want to go in a different direction. Don’t be surprised if there are no vacancies in the AFC South.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts deserved all the pity people threw upon them at the start of 2018. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels agreed to be the Colts’ new head coach. Then, at the 11th hour, and I mean the absolute 11th hour, McDaniels pulled out and elected to stay in New England. The interview process to get McDaniels was drawn out due to the Patriots deep playoff run and the NFL’s interview guidelines and this incident shows why the rule needs a revision. Perhaps coaching interviews for the NFL at large can’t happen until after the Super Bowl? Who knows, but with McDaniels leaving, and all the other hires gobbled up, the Colts turned to Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich.

For 2019, it got worse. Andrew Luck retired and the Colts once salary cap-surplussed team and loaded roster now had issues. They will be quite busy in 2020.

The Colts haven’t been awful this year, they sit just under .500 as of this writing, but it’s going to get worse. They travel to New Orleans in Week 15 and the Saints can’t be happy about losing to the 49ers in the Superdome. That game will get ugly.

Given that Reich was a last-minute decision a year ago and not a ‘second choice’, as well as them retaining all of McDaniels’ assistant coaches after McDaniels bailed (leaving Reich with no choice in his staff) may mean they decide to get a new coach with their now-developing, Andrew Luck-less roster. It depends on what third-year general manager Chris Ballard decides. Owner Jim Irsay would get into this too.

I think Reich deserves on more year as the Colts have been victims of bad timing for two years straight, but it’s understandable if it’s time.

Who should get fired: Nobody
Who will get fired: Frank Reich

Houston Texans

I’ll be honest; I didn’t get what the Texans were doing before the season started. The Laremy Tunsil trade helped quarterback Deshaun Watson, but it didn’t help the Texans’ future for everything they had to give up to get him. Right now they are at 8-5, which is terrific, but so are the Tennessee Titans. The Texans were one of the most balanced teams in the league for 2018, but that balance is turning to a time of need, and without draft picks, things can turn quick. The Titans will be in a better position than the Texans for the future, but maybe the Texans can get somethign together.

The 49ers are in a similar situation, but the thing is they’ve nailed BIG with their last few drafts to the point they don’t need additional picks. The Texans? Well they gave up Jadeveon Clowney for very little and gave up a lot for Tunsil.

Again. I could be completely wrong on this. Tunsil is an elite tackle and Watson NEEDED protection. So looking at that, good move. Look at Andrew Luck; get your quarterback a good O-line before they turn 30 so they don’t retire at 30.

So fire Bill O’Brien? Every year it seems like stories come out with fans wanting him out or that the Texans are ready to. This year? doubtful given the Tunsil trade. I know some are thinking if he loses another playoff game he’ll be out, but with the decisions the Texans made, he’s got one more year even if the Texans stink it up in the playoffs.

Who should/will get fired: Nobody.

Tennessee Titans

Mike Vrabel, former DC of the Houston Texans has the Titans at 8-5. I did not see this coming. I never was thinking the Titans could sustain success, but even with quarterback issues (Marcus Mariotta has been benched), the Titans sit at 8-5, tied with the Texans.

Unless something drastic happens with the Titans down the stretch, this is the best two years they’ve had since Jeff Fisher in 2007 and 2008. With the way the AFC is, a wild card spot is not out of the question. Unless management wants Vrabel out for whatever the reason, they have to keep him around. Despite quarterback issues, the Titans are winning. It can’t be stressed how impressive that is. Maybe another draft and they could really be something.

No one is going anywhere.

Who should/will get fired: Nobody

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars being a dominant force seems like forever ago. They were something weren’t they? A defense so good, it meant something when Jimmy Garoppolo carved them. I sure loved Niners Nation’s Twitter war with Jalen Ramsey too.

But just as quick as the Jaguars became relevant in 2017, they went back to the pit of mediocrity. Blake Bortles is gone and they had Nick Foles replace him. Then Foles got injured, so in is this kid with a weird mustache to be later known as Gardner Minshew to fill in. Minshew did well enough that he became the starter. Well, well enough or Foles didn’t play up to par in Jacksonville. Minshew’s later games haven’t been as spectacular as earlier ones, but the Jaguars just might have found their quarterback.

So what happens to head coach Doug Marrone? Reports have come out that the plan is to fire him at the end of the season. Since taking over, he’s had just one winning season out of three years. The Jaguars extended him in the 2018 offseason to 2021, but they have to be running out of patience especially with how this season has gone.

The Jaguars are sitting at 4-9. General Manager David Caldwell has to be on the hotseat in this as well. With Tom Coughlin as executive VP of football operations, he just might get that itch to coach. In 2018, it was reported that he might want back on the sidelines with a headset. There’s going to be a house cleaning with this team. For sure Marrone is gone, Caldwell may follow him.

Who should get fired: Doug Marrone and David Caldwell
Who will get fired: Doug Marrone