Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, was the annual day known in National Football League circles, as “Black Monday.” This is the first Monday after the NFL’s regular season ends, and is normally the day we find out which coaches who were on the hot seat, are going to be looking for employment.
This season, before 12:00 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 29, three NFL coaches had been given their walking papers. Four coaches, if former San Francisco 49ers Head coach Jim Harbaugh counts.
Harbaugh held a Press Conference the night before, and announced he and the Niners would be peacefully parting ways. Harbaugh had taken the Niners to the NFC Championship game in each of his first three seasons as Head coach, and made it to the Super Bowl, once. This season, the Niners missed the playoffs, amidst swirling rumors that this was to be Harbaugh’s last season in the Bay Area.
Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons: Gone after seven seasons. Smith and Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan had been together since Smith’s first season. Ryan was a rookie QB, and the Falcons made the playoffs in each of Smith’s first five seasons. The highlight was when they made it to the NFC Championship game in the 2012 season, before losing to the Super Bowl bound San Francisco 49ers. The last two seasons, have been rough. The Falcons have missed the playoffs both seasons, while only earning 10 total wins. This season, they could have won the NFC South division, and made the playoffs had they beaten the Carolina Panthers in a Week 17 showdown. Instead, they suffered a miserable 34-3 defeat in front of their home fans. During a Monday Press conference, Atlanta Falcons’ team owner Arthur Blank said, “This is the most difficult decision that I’ve ever had to make, and I mean that, sincerely.“
Rex Ryan – New York Jets: Much like Mike Smith, Ryan enjoyed early success with a young QB. With Mark Sanchez under center, the Jets made it to the AFC Championship game in each of Ryan’s first two seasons (2009-10). In 2010 season playoffs, the Jets beat both the Peyton Manning-led Colts, and the Tom Brady-led Patriots, before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. That was as good as it got. Since the 2010 season, the Jets have not had a season in which they finished above.500, and have not been back to the postseason. They finished 4-12 in the 2014 season. For good measure, the Jets also fired GM John Idzic as well, citing his questionable personnel moves. Said Team President Woody Johnson, “We’re in the ‘win’ business, and we’re not winning.” Simple enough.
Marc Trestman – Chicago Bears: Simply put, the situation in Chicago had become toxic. After the 2012 season, former Head coach Lovie Smith had been fired after a 10-6 season in favor of Trestman. The latter was supposedly an “offensive guru” who could get the most out of Chicago QB Jay Cutler. Cutler has a $million arm, but a fragile psyche. In short, the experiment was a disaster. The Bears missed the playoffs in both of Trestman’s seasons. This past season, the Bears gave up 50 points in back to back games for the first time in team history. With the season spiraling downward, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer made it public, that the team had lost faith in Cutler. In short, the Chicago Bears did major housecleaning. Trestman was fired, as was Kromer. One would think that a good GM would have been able to control this mess. Probably so, that is why GM Phil Emery was also fired. It will be an interesting offseason in the Windy City. The Bears finished the 2014 season with a record of 5-11.