NFL UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE – The 2013 regular NFL season is in the books, and thus it’s Black Monday, when the pipe organ of the coaching carousel cranks up and bodies start spinning off the wooden horses and into the frenzied crowds. There were record numbers last year when eight head coaching positions changed hands, but the air is thick with disappointment after a wacky final day yesterday, and nobody’s safe.
It was this time last year when the Browns leadership ushered in the Rod Chudzinsky Era in Cleveland. It wasn’t the most benevolent age, with a carousel at QB and a marquis young running back traded away for a draft pick Chudzinsky never got to coach. Now they’re citing the usual need for a new direction. That direction is apparently sideways, as a prime candidate to replace him is Josh McDaniels… another reconstituted sour fruit from the Belichick coaching tree, whose previous head coaching experience ended with him being run out of Denver on a rail just three Black Mondays ago. The other candidate is, incredibly, Jim Schwartz, who hasn’t officially even been fired from Detroit as of this writing, but what else can you expect after a 1-6 finish to a season they were once in control of? They accommodated the Vikings yesterday, allowing Leslie Frazier to win the last game in the Metrodome… before he is probably fired today.
There will be no more Shanahanigans in Washington, as Mike Shanahan’s angry red face will no longer represent the team name. Now they’ll have to change it or something. A long time ago, Shanahan was fired from the Raiders, a distinction Dennis Allen may share with him today because, well, it’s the Raiders. Shanahan was basically a lame duck already yesterday when he lost perhaps his final game as a coach to the Giants and Tom Coughlin, who despite a sucky season is safe, along with skinny Rex Ryan, who perhaps saved his job with a better-than-expected season and a solid spoiler over the Dolphins yesterday, perhaps ending Joe Philbin’s reign of bully-enabling.
The most notable victim of last year’s Black Monday purge was Andy Reid, and there are certainly pundits in Pittsburgh who feel that perhaps he should’ve stayed that way yesterday after he started the Charleston Chiefs instead of his Kansas City regulars. The Chiefs still almost won, and it was because the one regular starter he did play, his normally reliable kicker Ryan Succup, missed a game-winner. The Steelers started the season 0-4 and in this year’s AFC that was almost good enough to make the playoffs (and in fact, was… if not for a blown call by the refs on that kick). It’s enough to keep Mike Tomlin’s name off this list, and certainly the Chargers’ Mike McCoy, himself hired on last year’s Black Monday (filling Norv Turner’s tiny shoes) even though he did everything he could to lose that game, including an absurd fake punt in overtime on his own 30! It worked, and McCoy bought himself some time.
So there is always hope. Of the eight new coaches brought in last year, three made this year’s playoffs: McCoy, Reid, and Reid’s replacement in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly. Kelly’s Eagles won the battle of attrition that was the NFC East by beating the Dallas Cowboys, who will almost surely can Jason Garrett after yet another 8-8 season. 8-8 three yeas in a row for Garrett, which is the kind of success rate that just may have him right back in line to board the next go-around.