Ranking the Most Surprising Firings of Black Monday in the NFL
After the first regular season in which no head coaches were fired since 2006, seven different head coaches were let go by their respective franchises on Black Monday.
While the two facts obviously correlate, the seven total firings represent more than the last three Black Mondays combined.
A majority of the firings were widely reported and predicted before Monday. Philadelphia's Andy Reid, San Diego's Norv Turner and Kansas City's Romeo Crennel were each expected to be let go shortly after the end of the 2012 regular season.
However, not all the firings were necessarily that predictable.
In the following slides, we'll give you three most surprising firings from Black Monday.
3. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Let me preface Reid's inclusion on this list by stating that all seven of the coaching fires this season were expected, to varying degrees. By the end of 2012, Reid's name was probably the most likely to go.
However, his firing can still fit this narrative.
A winner of 130 games and 10 playoff games with the Eagles, Reid represented one of the last remaining coaching pillars in the NFL. His 14-year tenure in Philadelphia was the longest in the NFL and something only a handful of men in the history of the league can say.
The Eagles' expectations are always high (thanks in part to Reid), and back-to-back seasons watching the playoffs from home was enough to make a change. But that doesn't change the fact that Reid's offensive line was decimated by injuries, and a defense with rocks in the secondary and pass rush regressed towards the bottom of the league this season.
Change for the sake of change sometimes works in the NFL, and sometimes it doesn't. Reid is going to have a head coaching job in 2012, but you have to wonder if the grass will be any greener on the other side for Philadelphia.
2. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
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Arizona won just 18 games the past three seasons under Whisenhunt, so there was some writing on the wall for his firing. Losing 11 of the final 12 games in 2012 was likely the final nail in his coffin with the Cardinals.
However, Whisenhunt is still a widely respected member of the coaching profession, and Arizona's league-worst play from the quarterback position was more to blame for the Cardinals' collapse in 2012 than anything else.
With Kevin Kolb healthy, Whisenhunt and the Cardinals started the season a perfect 4-0. With another year, maybe Whisenhunt and Kolb could have put together a playoff-caliber season in 2013. All the other pieces—defense, special teams—seem to be in place.
1. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
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The Bears haven't finished lower than 7-9 since 2004, Smith's first season on the job. But five missed playoff trips in six years was enough for Chicago to give Smith the axe after nine successful years as the head coach.
That said, the Bears did just win 10 games in 2012, and had the Green Bay Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings in the season finale, Smith would be preparing Chicago for a playoff game this week. That margin—something completely out of Smith's control on the final day—likely cost him his job.
Smith exits Chicago a winner of 81 games in nine years. He is likely to be widely courted at a number of openings around the NFL.
The Bears' decision to fire Smith certainly isn't the most surprising one in the history head-coaching fires, but it was the most unexpected on Black Monday 2012.