The 2015 NFL regular season came to a close on Sunday and with the end of the season came the winds of change. No, we’re not talking about the hit song from the band Scorpions, we’re talking about the turmoil that comes whipping through organizations after seasons that fail to meet expectations. This season’s Black Monday was no different as when all was said and done, several teams were looking for new head coaches while other teams were seeking replacements for key assistant jobs.
Black Monday got an early start this season as the Philadelphia Eagles canned head coach Chip Kelly last Tuesday, five days before the season finale against the New York Giants. When the dust settled and the smoke cleared Monday, six teams are looking for new head coaches while at least three other teams retained their head coaches but are seeking a new coordinator. Two teams are looking to replace their defensive coordinator and one will seek a new offensive coordinator. As the head coaching jobs fill, it could lead to more coordinator positions opening up with other teams.
Let’s take a look at who is looking for new coaching staff pieces as the offseason for 20 teams gets underway.
Seeking New Head Coaches
The Eagles won 10 games in each of their first two seasons under coach Chip Kelly but things bottomed out this season. Kelly, who took on the role of general manager in addition to being coach, made some personnel moves that ended up not panning out. LeSean McCoy was dealt to Buffalo for Kiko Alonso, who was coming off a torn ACL that cost him all of last year. Alonso hurt his knee this year and missed time as well while McCoy, despite battling a series of injuries, went on to be a Pro Bowl running back.
Nick Foles, who was solid at quarterback, was dealt to the Rams for the oft-injured Sam Bradford. Bradford has a ton of talent but he’s as brittle as an eggshell. He missed two games this season and had a 19:14 touchdown to interception ratio. Philadelphia threw a ton of money to DeMarco Murray, who led the league in rushing in 2014 for Dallas. He struggled for the Eagles as he ran for just 702 yards and a 3.6 yard per carry average. Kelly let Jeremy Maclin, who had caught 85 balls for 1,348 yards and 10 scores in 2014, leave as a free agent. He went to Kansas City and posted 87 receptions for 1,088 yards and eight scores. The receiving corps was lost without Maclin: while Jordan Mathews had 85 catches for 997 yards and eight scores, no other wide receiver caught more than Josh Huff’s 27 passes. Factor in a defense that was 28th in the league in scoring defense and the writing was on the wall.
Add Mike Pettine to the scrap heap of discarded head coaches from the Browns’ organization since they came back into the league in 1999. Chris Palmer, Romeo Crennel, Butch Davis, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski and now Pettine have all come in and gone out as head coach. Only Davis led the Browns to the postseason; Davis and Crennel are the only coaches to post a winning season on the shores of Lake Erie since 1999. Pettine finished the year 3-13 and the Browns will pick #2 in the 2016 NFL Draft thanks to beating the Titans, who also finished 3-13, earlier this season.
Cleveland was 10-22 in Pettine’s two seasons at the helm as the Browns continue to deal with inadequacy of their personnel, both on and off the field. With the head case that is Johnny Manziel, who might be out of the mix next season, and Josh McCown at quarterback, it’s no wonder that things aren’t going well for the Browns. It will be interesting to see how things will pan out in the future. Not only is Pettine gone for the Browns, the team fired general manager Ray Farmer as well. Paul DePodesta, who was featured in the movie Moneyball, was hired as part of the new front office.
San Francisco 49ers
The 2016 season will mark three years and three different coaches for the 49ers, who are dealing with issues. The team parted ways with Jim Harbaugh after the 2014 season, who then went to Michigan and revitalized his alma mater. The 2015 season was a train wreck for the 49ers as things simply went downhill after they opened the season with a 20-3 win over the Vikings on Monday Night Football. Losing Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith to retirement and the release of Aldon Smith from his off field issues dealt a series of body blows to their defense.
Colin Kaepernick struggled all season long and was benched before going on the shelf with a shoulder injury. When you’re early in a six year, $114 million contract and riding the bench for a first round bust like Blaine Gabbert, it’s hard to like your chances of sticking around long term. Carlos Hyde missed most of the season with an injury, leaving a series of journeymen and scrubs in the backfield. Who paid the price for all these issues? Head coach Jim Tomsula is the correct answer. He spent one year as the head coach in the city by the bay and finished 5-11.
New York Giants
The Giants are looking for a new coach as Tom Coughlin announced he would step down after 12 seasons at the helm. New York won a pair of Super Bowl titles under Coughlin, beating the New England Patriots both times. The downside of things is that the Giants were 6-10 this season and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season and sixth time in the last seven years. New York had their third straight losing season as the defense continued to be a major issue.
New York finished 102-90 in the regular season under Coughlin and went 8-3 in the postseason. After a combined 20-28 record in the last three seasons, Coughlin made the decision to step down on his own merits rather than put ownership in the position where they may have had to fire him. Prior to his stint with the Giants, Coughlin had coached the Jacksonville Jaguars as the first coach in franchise history. He was 68-60 with Jacksonville and reached a pair of AFC Championship Games in eight years with the team. At age 69, it remains to be seen if he will resurface somewhere or not.
It seems like Miami has been firing or replacing guys all season long. Joe Philbin was fired after the team’s week 4 loss in London to the Jets with the team 1-3. Philbin was 24-28 in his three plus seasons in South Beach and was replaced on an interim basis by Dan Campbell. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was fired on November 30 after less than two seasons on the job and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was canned on October 8. The team went 5-7 under Dan Campbell as head coach, including a season ending win over New England, but there is no guarantee that he’s in the mix. Campbell will get an interview but who ends up with the job will ultimately be inheriting a dysfunctional situation.
Tennessee dumped Ken Whisenhunt seven games into his second season with the Titans with the team 1-6. The Titans were just 3-20 under his guidance, even with former Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Marcus Mariota running their offense. Tennessee went with Mike Mularkey as their interim coach and the Titans didn’t fare much better as they were 2-7 down the stretch. The Titans had problems on both sides of the ball as they are 28th in the league in scoring offense and 27th in the league in scoring defense. There still are several holes that the Titans need to patch up in order to try and fix their disaster but they’ll have the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to try and grab an impact player.
Looking For Coordinators
There were many people that thought that Chuck Pagano was going to get fired as head coach but as it panned out, both coordinators were dumped this season. Pep Hamilton was fired as offensive coordinator earlier in the season and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was let go Monday. The Colts, despite veteran acquisitions like Trent Cole, Frank Gore and Andre Johnson, finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs as Houston won the AFC South. The Colts were 25th in scoring defense, 26th in total yards, 24th in passing defense and 25th in rushing defense on the year.
Bob Babich was the fall guy for Jacksonville’s 5-11 season while head coach Gus Bradley was retained. The Jaguars offense improved dramatically in the second season for Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and company. While the offense was much better than it was a year ago, the defense was terrible: Jacksonville finished second worst in the league in points allowed. The Jaguars finished 27th in the league in forced turnovers with 18. Jacksonville finished 29th in passing defense, giving up 29 passing scores compared to just nine interceptions. The Jaguars will need to tighten up on that side of the ball in order to help the Jaguars compete.
San Diego Chargers
Someone had to be the fall guy for the Chargers, who finished 4-12 for their worst record since posting the same mark back in 2003. Surprisingly, it wasn’t head coach Mike McCoy, who is 22-26 in his three seasons at helm with just one playoff berth. Five assistants have been let go and defensive coordinator John Pagano isn’t off the hot seat at this point in time either. On the flip side of that, offensive coordinator Frank Reich was relieved of his duties.
Reich is a great guy: he’s known for engineering a comeback from 31-0 down at the half for Maryland against Miami (FL) in college. In 1993, he led the Bills from a 35-3 second half deficit to stun the Oilers 41-38 in overtime in the greatest comeback in NFL history. It wasn’t all his fault that the Chargers slumped offensively: while San Diego was 26th in the league in scoring, they were 9th in total yards. The Chargers were 4th in the league in passing but finished with the league’s worst rushing offense. Injuries to receivers and offensive linemen hurt the Chargers but their inability to move the ball on the ground in the red zone did them in. That can’t be laid at the feet of Reich.
It will be interesting to see how things unfold. Who do you see filling the current vacancies around the league?
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