The fallout from Black Monday in the NFL was swift. All told, four coaches lost their jobs before New Year’s, including Rex Ryan, Mike Smith, John Harbaugh and Marc Trestman. None were a shock to anybody following the season’s tea leaves, with reports constantly surfacing about their potential oustings.
However, it was a light day for firings in comparison to the last few years. In 2013, seven jobs opened up for new coaches to come in. In 2012, another seven coaches were given the pink slip on Black Monday.
It was surprising that a few under-the-radar firings didn’t occur as they normally do. Every year it seems, we get a Rod Chudzinski-type change that makes everybody stop and wonder what happened. With only four coaching openings this year, the coaching carousel will be slow-moving.
With that in mind, here are three other jobs that should have opened up on Monday:
1. Washington Redskins, Jay Gruden
Could the Redskins be any more of a train wreck? Gruden certainly didn’t help things in his first year, taking over for Mike Shanahan. Normally, you give a coach at least two to three years in hopes of turning things around, but this season is an exception. Gruden benched three different healthy quarterbacks, threw Robert Griffin III under the bus during press conferences, and watched the team quit on him by Thanksgiving.
Washington needs a complete overhaul, beginning with owner Daniel Snyder and not stopping until the last janitor has been given his walking papers. Gruden appeared overmatched all season, leading to a brutal -137 point differential, an NFC worst. All you need to do is read this Thomas Boswell column in the Washington Post, and then try to justify keeping anything in Redskins Park that isn’t bolted down.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars, Gus Bradley
Bradley is a smart football man and coaches with a ton of enthusiasm. It appears the players really want to win for Bradley, but things are simply terrible in Jacksonville. The Jaguars went 4-12 in Bradley’s first year, but finished the campaign 4-4 in the last eight games. The momentum seemed on the way, but then the Jaguars stumbled to a 3-13 season in 2014.
In fairness to Bradley, he does not have much to work with. However, Jacksonville is failing to gain an identity. The Jaguars rank 21st or worse in the run and pass categories on both sides of the ball. When you can’t do anything well, it is time to move on. Over the past two years, the team’s point differential is -364, a league-worst over that span.
3. Miami Dolphins, Joe Philbin
Philbin has failed to help the Dolphins reach a playoff berth in each of his first three seasons at the helm. Last year, Miami was 8-6 and only needed to beat the Buffalo Bills or New York Jets for a postseason spot, but lost both while scoring a combined seven points. This year, the Dolphins went 2-3 in December to finish 8-8, including blowout losses to the New England Patriots and Jets.
Philbin has a talented young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, an excellent defense and a solid cast of skill position players. The Dolphins should have made the playoffs each of the past two seasons, but instead are sitting on a six-year drought.