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Black Monday Preview -- 2016 Edition

For some guys that have a stressful, uncertain job in the NFL, 2016 will not get off to a happy start. Which coaches are probably going to clean out their offices on January 4?

Coach Kelly has a week head start searching for his next job.
Coach Kelly has a week head start searching for his next job.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


The following coaches should be back for their teams next season:

AFC West:  Andy Reid - KC; Gary Kubiak* - Denver; Jack Del Rio* - Oakland

NFC West: Pete Carroll - Seattle; Bruce Arians - AZ; Jeff Fisher (1) - St. Louis.

AFC North: John Harbaugh - Baltimore; Mike Tomlin - Pittsburgh; Marvin Lewis - Cincinnati.

NFC North:  Mike Zimmer - Minnesota; Jim Caldwell - Detroit.  John Fox* - Chicago

AFC South:  Bill O'Brien - Houston.

NFC South:  Ron Rivera - Carolina; Lovie Smith - Tampa Bay; Dan Quinn* - Atlanta

AFC East:  Bill Belichick - New England; Rex Ryan - Buffalo; Todd Bowles* - NY Jets

NFC East:  Jay Gruden - Washington.

* - First year Head Coach


Here are the men that I would consider possible casualties of Black Monday (in no particular order):

Jim Tomsula - San Francisco:  A lot is riding on the front office crew in Santa Clara for Tomsula to succeed; after all, this was the guy to replace the popular coach that nearly got another silver football in the ‘niners trophy case.  Tomsula will probably get another season with the flameout of Kaepernick and general deterioration of the roster being the fig leaf for his return. (UPDATE:  The 49ers "relieved Jim Tomsula of his head coaching duties" Sunday Night.  This appears to leave the door open for him to remain in the organization.  Tomsula has survived more than one regime change in SF.)

Mike Pettine - Cleveland:  This one is a coin flip.  The situation in Cleveland is as much on the GM as it as on the coaching, but still...  The NFL is a (mostly) performance based league and the play on the field does leave a lot to be desired.  There were some signs with the handling of Manziel that the coaching staff and front office were not on the same page, which is a bad sign, too.   (UPDATE: Both Pettine and the Browns GM Ray Farmer were both fired on Sunday Afternoon.  There were also widespread reports of Johnny Manziel drinking and partying in Las Vegas on Saturday night.)

Tom Coughlin - NY Giants:  This remains a peculiar situation.  While the team is not the dumpster fire this year that is has been recently, rumors began to circulate in December that the O'Mara family was thinking about cleaning out the coaching staff if the team could not get to the playoffs.  The only real reason that argues for the return of Coughlin and the other coaches is to let Manning the Younger have the same offensive system to play in next year in a division that has to be considered winnable with even a 9-7 record.  Latest word from New York is that the Mara's are having an internal debate on Coughlin's future.

Jason Garrett - Dallas:   The last public words that Jerry Jones uttered about his coaches was calling them out on their inability to coax wins out of teams quarterbacked by Brandon Weedon, Matt Kassel, and Matt Moore.  There has been ominous silence since.  What I believe happens is that one or more coordinators get fired and the team replaces them with newly unemployed head coaches in January.  This would be quite a Jones-ian way of communicating to Garrett that he needs to be watching his a—in 2017.

Gus Bradley - Jacksonville:  This is another coin flip.  While Bortles did make some progress this season and the team was certainly entertaining to watch at times, ownership had to be hoping for some growth in wins.  I can imagine that the frustration of seeing a winnable division right in front of them has to be a consideration in the front office also.  My suspicion is that he gets a chance to coach for his job next year.

Mike McCarthy - Green Bay:  McCarthy is a cautionary tale.  The team's talent is unquestioned, but the inconsistent and seemingly unmotivated play over the last 8 weeks has led Pack faithful to start questioning if maybe McCarthy is more problem than solution.  A playoff miss or one and done on wildcard weekend may prompt the Green Bay front office to emulate John Elway last season and get a new head coach to see if that improves matters.


In no particular order:

Dan Campbell (Interim) - Miami:  After impressing with two victories right after taking over for Joe Philbin, the Dolphins have flopped worse than the proverbial fish out of water since then.  Miami will be on the market for a new head coach.

Mike Mularkey (Interim) - Tennessee:  Another interim head coach that failed in an extended interview, he will not be brought back as the team will look for somebody to groom Marcus Mariota.  It would be extremely convenient if Mariota gets reunited with the college coach that recruited him, but the Eagles firing of Chip Kelly has made that scenario fairly plausible, if Kelly wants to take the job.  Kelly is on record as saying that he believes Mariota will "win multiple Super Bowls", so there is some faith in the Titans long term prospects on that side of the equation.

Chuck Pagano - Indianapolis:  Pagano would be on the "questionable" list except for the early-season word that he and the front office had become openly hostile to each other.  He has one more year on his contract, but was not offered an extension amid rumors that he asked the team's owners for increased say in player personnel decisions.  In a repeat of what was seen last year with the 49ers, the GM will win the power struggle against a successful head coach and Pagano will be looking for a job.

Sean Payton - New Orleans:  With the amount of rumors floating around about Payton's run being over, this is pretty much in the same category as Rex Ryan was last season.  Years removed from unprecedented success, Payton has presided over a Turner-esque deterioration of the Saints and will be let go on the 4th.  Look for him to get an extremely lucrative coordinator offer (if not an offer to take over for Jason Garrett) from his old friend Jerry Jones.  (Payton's family still lives in the Dallas area, the Jones family still considers Payton to be a member of the Cowboys ‘family', and Jones prefers dealing with people he knows.)  He will also probably get calls from the Colts and Eagles, too.

Pat Shurmer (Interim)  - Philadelphia:  It is unlikely that Shurmer gets to remain the HC into 2017 after coaching one meaningless game on Sunday.  This is a team that would probably look to get a high profile, established coach and look for them to make a serious run at Sean Payton or Chuck Pagano.

Special Cases

(1) Jeff Fisher is still trying to locate a franchise QB.  That may save him for another year, but with a relocation caveat.  If the Rams are going to be playing in Inglewood next season, the team's ownership may decide to make a fresh start and make-over the team.  This will start with parting ways with Fisher that is seen around the league and knowledgeable fans as an old school coach that produces dirty teams.  Kroenke would most likely want to keep that perception away from LA.

Lastly, let us not ignore our own beloved San Diego Chargers (or despised Southern LA Chargers)...  On most other teams, McCoy would have dropped by the office early on Saturday to box up his personnel items in preparation for his Monday firing.  Then he would board the plane to coach his last game on the road.  That may yet happen.

I suspect it does not.  With ownership preoccupied by relocation efforts and (at best) unconcerned with the product on the field, what better way to add some grease to the north pointing skids than by retaining McCoy?  He has become widely disliked among the fan base.  Fans believe that on a team which lost all 6 games decided by one score or less, that coaching was a primary culprit for the pratfall that was 2015 Chargers.

On the other hand, if Spanos has any interest in preserving San Diego as an option, McCoy and the rest of the staff will be released on Monday the 4th.  McCoy's future, in many ways, could signal how the Spanos family is feeling about San Diego and if "getting the best deal possible" even remains a consideration.  What probably happens is that the coordinators get released and McCoy is retained without a contract extension being offered to him.