Folks, Black Monday is upon us. This is the time of the year where coaches who aren’t in the playoffs decide to make coaching changes and go in different directions with their franchise.
Coaches will inevitably get fired on Monday and the buzz will begin. Candidates will be dropped on Twitter quicker than a hiccup and hot boards will be made, but most of the top candidates will be the same.
Here’s your tracker of all the NFL coach firings, complete with an explanation for why and potential candidates.
Houston Texans fire Lovie Smith
This honestly felt inevitable. Lovie Smith wasn’t the Texans first choice, probably wasn’t the second choice either. He was given a poor roster with a QB that was more than likely a lame duck. Firing another Black coach after one year is also something that needs to be discussed.
With that being said, the Texans were a really bad football team. The offense felt archaic and lacked explosiveness, while the defense just didn’t have enough impact playmakers. Smith was probably not given a fair shake, but that team and that roster were both extremely bad.
I’m not sure how attractive of a job this will be. There’s no QB in place and there’s few young impact players on the roster (Jalen Pitre and Derek Stingley are both very good in the secondary). However, the biggest landmine here is the GM. Nick Caserio might not be there when the coach is hired, but if he is, it’ll be the third HC he’s hired in three years. Not exactly the best track record. I’d be wary.
Coaches to watch out for: Demeco Ryans, 49ers DC, Jonathan Gannon, Eagles DC, Shane Steichen, Eagles OC
Arizona Cardinals fire HC Kliff Kingsbury
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury was fired after the Cardinals went 4-13.
Sources: The Arizona Cardinals fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who 10 months ago signed a contract extension through the 2027 season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2023
The Cardinals still never have had a head coach - any head coach - last longer than six years while the team has existed for over 100 years. pic.twitter.com/kYWb1AfjIG
There was no way this could’ve continued. Between the offensive miscues this year and the constant arguing between he and QB Kyler Murray, something had to give. Despite signing a contract extension ten months earlier, Murray is the QB and face of the franchise and that holds a lot of weight.
In addition, the pairing of Kingsbury and GM Steve Keim made misstep after misstep in terms of team building. The roster was top heavy and lacked depth, and once the aging OL got injured, that was all she wrote. Kingsbury will probably rebound as an offensive coordinator somewhere though.
Candidates to watch out for: Shane Steichen, Eagles OC, Ken Dorsey, Bills OC, Vance Joseph, Cardinals DC
Denver Broncos interviewing HC candidates
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Denver Broncos are preparing to interview Rams DC Raheem Morris and 49ers DC Demeco Ryans for their head coach vacancy. In addition, CBS’ Jonathan Jones is reporting that Denver has officially put in requests to interview Cowboys DC Dan Quinn, former Saints HC Sean Payton and Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh.
The Broncos have officially put in requests to interview DeMeco Ryans, Dan Quinn, Jim Harbaugh, Sean Payton and Raheem Morris for their vacant head coaching position, per source.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) January 9, 2023
The Broncos fired Nathaniel Hackett 15 games into what was a tire fire of a first year only comparable to the job Urban Meyer did with the Jaguars. With the Broncos being under new ownership led by Rob Walton, they could look to make a splash with their big hire, and want to throw money around. This leads to thinking Jim Harbaugh will be the guy there.
An interesting side note in all of this is the future of Broncos DC Ejiro Evero. Evero guided the Broncos defense to a top ten finish in EPA/play allowed and is seen as a rising star in the business. With most of the candidates interviewed being defensive-minded guys, Evero could want to find somewhere else to work. Keep an eye on his name popping up in assistant circles if the incoming HC decides not to retain him.
Steve Wilks interviewing for Panthers HC job
According to The Athletic’s Joe Person, Panthers interim HC Steve Wilks is interviewing for the permanent position on Tuesday.
Steve Wilks will interview for the Panthers’ head-coaching job on Tuesday, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. https://t.co/939kt9ZOLX— Joe Person (@josephperson) January 9, 2023
Wilks seems like the odds on favorite to get this job, mainly because the players love him. After firing Matt Rhule, Wilks got the franchise turned around, got great play out of both sides of the ball and almost made the playoffs. Wilks deserves this opportunity.
Texans begin their HC interviews
According the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, the Houston Texans have put in requests to interview multiple coaches. Pelissero reported that the Texans are interviewing Detroit Lions OC Ben Johnson, and Rapoport said that they’ve also requested 49ers DC Demeco Ryans, Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon and Broncos DC Ejiro Evero.
Coordinator hirings and firings
- Atlanta Falcons DC Dean Pees is retiring after a long career as a defensive coordinator.
#Falcons DC Dean Pees just informed players he is retiring, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 9, 2023
Pees, 73, had been weighing the decision in recent weeks. Expect a wide search for Atlanta’s next defensive coordinator. pic.twitter.com/DwjPZAOhxZ
- The Cleveland Browns have fired DC Joe Woods, and according to reports their first interview for the same position is Patriots LBs coach Jerod Mayo.
Joe Woods has been relieved of his duties as defensive coordinator. pic.twitter.com/m7nMjLGaTT— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 9, 2023
The Cleveland Browns, who relieved defensive coordinator Joe Woods of his duties, requested permission today to interview Patriots’ inside LB coach Jerod Mayo for their defensive coordinator job, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2023
- The Tennessee Titans have fired OC Todd Downing, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Downing is among four assistants fired today
The Titans have fired 4 assistant coaches, including OC Todd Downing.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 9, 2023