7 NFL Coaches Who Must Get the Ax on Black Monday
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“Black Monday” is nearly at hand, the day where sweeping changes are made to organizations throughout the NFL. This coming Monday, we’ll witness moves both predictable and unpredictable, as many of the league’s worst coaches will be fired.
Here, I present you with the seven coaches that must get the ax on Black Monday. While I think that more than seven coaches could lose their jobs, these are the teams that most need an organizational upheaval.
First, the honorable mentions:
I believe Ken Whisenhunt should keep his job.
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1. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
It’s been an awful season in the Motor City. The Lions are the NFL’s most disappointing team. They’ve shown a lack of discipline both on and off the field, and Schwartz failed to continue the momentum of 2011’s magical ride to the playoffs.
Still, I believe Schwartz deserves one more year to make it happen. Despite his longtime friendship with defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Schwartz make a change on that side of the ball.
2. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
I’m a huge fan of Whisenhunt. What he’s been able to accomplish in the desert is remarkable.
However, I fear for his job. This has been a grotesque season for the Cardinals. When you look at their 5-10 record, it’s difficult to imagine that they started the year 4-0. The quarterback situation is the worst in the history of NFL.
I hope that Whisenhunt is retained, along with defensive coordinator Ray Horton. However, someone needs to pay the price for 2012’s debacle. It should be general manager Rod Graves.
3. Mike Mularkey, Jacksonville Jaguars
Although the Jaguars are 2-13, I’m impressed with the way they’ve played for Mularkey all season.
He’s not the one who drafted Blaine Gabbert as a franchise quarterback, nor did he take punter Bryan Anger five picks before the Seahawks selected Russell Wilson. That would be general manager Gene Smith, who I believe must be fired.
I worry that the new GM will want to hire his own coach and let Mularkey go.
4. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Ron Rivera will most likely lose his job, but he’s not the only one to blame for the problems in Carolina.
Former general manager Marty Hurney, who was rightfully fired in October, is the man responsible for the Panthers lack of talent and on-field disappointments.
Just like in Jacksonville, the new GM will likely want to hire his own coach. So, even though the Panthers have played better, winning four of their last five, I don’t expect Rivera to return.
Now, the seven teams that must make changes on Monday:
7. Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans
Mike Munchak might be cold in this picture, but his seat is hot.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Munchak hasn’t done a good enough job. He fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, but that failed to spark a lackluster offense. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray won’t survive Black Monday, as his unit has been among the worst defenses in the NFL having allowed a league-high 451 points.
Quarterback Jake Locker’s lack of development hurts Munchak as well. Locker has regressed since returning from a shoulder injury. In his last five games, Locker has thrown only four touchdowns against nine interceptions.
If that weren’t enough, Titans owner Bud Adams indicated to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean that changes could be on the way.
I like Munchak. I thought he did a great job in guiding the Titans to a 9-7 record in 2011. He’s certainly not the most deserving coach on this list who will lose his job, but an awful 2012 and Locker's poor play means Munchak will be the ex-coach of the Tennessee Titans come Black Monday.
Look for the Titans to target an offensive coach to help speed Locker’s development. 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman would be an excellent fit.
6. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
"I'm starting Sanchez. Yeah, I can't believe it, either."
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Cue the “Benny Hill” music. The Jets are an absolute circus.
And Rex Ryan is the ringmaster.
The only joke this season has been Ryan’s coaching performance and handling of the team.
Ryan’s first mistake was hiring the clueless Tony Sparano as his offensive coordinator. Sparano has set back offensive football to the stone ages and will certainly lose his job on Black Monday.
Ryan’s blind faith and quizzical devotion to Sanchez has been his undoing. Sanchez has been atrocious in 2012, and Ryan’s handling of the situation won him no favors in the locker room.
While the Jets should fire Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, I believe both will return in 2013. Despite the awful 2012 campaign, Ryan has taken the Jets to two AFC Championship Game appearances in the last four years, so he isn’t one of the coaches most deserving of losing his job.
5. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
Only one more Sunday of the Norv Turner Face. Sigh.
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Sunday marks a sad day in NFL history, as we’ll likely never see the Norv Turner Face again. Turner will absolutely be fired on Black Monday.
Turner and general manager AJ Smith haven’t done enough to turn the Chargers into a consistent winner. To say that Turner fails to inspire on the sidelines would be an understatement. Late-game collapses have been a hallmark of the Turner era, or should I say “error,” in San Diego.
This will be San Diego’s third consecutive year missing the playoffs. That’s not good enough.
So, while Turner did nearly guide the Chargers to the Super Bowl in 2007, his time has come.
With Philip Rivers likely to return as the team’s starting quarterback, I expect the Chargers to hire an offensive-minded head coach to get that side of the ball back on track. Look for the team to interview Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
4. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
It's been a great run for Andy Reid, but his time has come.
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Reid’s run in Philly has been nothing short of incredible. His record stands at 130-92, and he guided the Eagles to five NFC title games and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX, where they lost to the New England Patriots.
Despite his success, it’s time for change on both sides. Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie said in the preseason that 8-8 wasn’t acceptable. The team is 4-11. You do the math. It’s been a tough year for Reid as well, with the passing of his son. The best thing for both parties is a parting of ways.
Reid needs to go, but he’s a significantly better coach than the three remaining names on this list.
I expect the Eagles to target Oregon’s Chip Kelly as Reid's replacement.
3. Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
Pat Shurmur should be done in Cleveland.
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UPDATE, 12/30 10:50am ET: According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Shurmur is all but out in Cleveland, as the organization will likely go in another direction at head coach moving forward.
-- End of Update --
The writing has been on the wall in Cleveland ever since new owner Jimmy Haslam took over the club and installed Joe Banner as his top decision-maker.
I wrote that Shurmur would need to dazzle the new regime and prove that he deserved an opportunity to return in 2013.
He’s failed to do so.
His in-game management would make Herm Edwards blush, as he doesn’t coach to win, but not to lose. That fact has been evident in losses against Baltimore, Dallas and Indianapolis.
The offense is ranked 27th in the league, which isn’t good enough given Shurmur’s supposed expertise in that area.
The Browns do have some talent throughout their roster, but Shurmur isn’t the coach to lead them to the next level. He will lose his job on Black Monday.
I’d like to see Haslam and Banner target two coaches from inside both division and state: Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Both men deserve to be head coaches and could turn the Browns around.
2. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
Can you name the quality head coach in this picture?
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I feel very strongly about this one. Chan Gailey is clueless and overmatched as an NFL head coach. I fully expect the Bills to jettison him on Black Monday, and I’m hoping that general manager Buddy Nix joins him, as the Bills' great fanbase deserves better than them.
The Bills are 15-32 under Gailey. His play-calling has been laughable. Where has the ground game been with C.J. Spiller? Where was it with Fred Jackson? It’s baffling that Gailey, a supposed “offensive guru,” can't get the ball in the hands of his best play-makers.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t improved under his tutelage. Fitzpatrick will never be a quality starter in the NFL, but outside of a six-game stretch in 2011, Gailey hasn’t been able to coax even average play out of him.
Plus, Gailey cannot attract premier assistant coaches. It’s been evident in his defensive hires, the latest being Dave Wannstedt, who seemingly believes that the function of the defense is to allow the team to run the ball up and down the field (Buffalo is last in the league at stopping the run).
Gailey isn’t good enough to be an NFL head coach, and his time as one will come to an end on Black Monday.
The Bills should take a look at Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, assuming he doesn’t take over for a fired Ken Whisenhunt.
1. Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs fans haven't had much to clap about.
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There is no team in the NFL that needs to be purged like the Kansas City Chiefs.
2012 has been nothing short of an abject failure for the team, and head coach Romeo Crennel doesn’t deserve the chance to get it right in 2013.
Crennel, along with general manager Scott Pioli, have presided over one of the worst teams in the history of the franchise. Once Kansas City loses to Denver on Sunday, it will complete a season in which it will be 0-6 in the division and 1-7 at home.
The Chiefs have played pathetic and uninspiring football, and it starts with their head coach. By all accounts, Crennel is a nice guy, but smiles and handshakes don’t win games in the NFL.
Owner Clark Hunt needs to slam his next hire out of the park. I expect him to try and woo former Chiefs defensive coordinator, Bill Cowher, out of the pre-game studio and back onto the sideline.
Nick Kostos is the executive producer of the "SiriusXM Blitz," hosted by Rich Gannon and Adam Schein, on SiriusXM NFL Radio. You can follow Nick on Twitter.