We knew it was coming. We knew heads would roll. But who knew Black Monday would be this bloody?
By New Year’s Eve day, seven NFL head coaches and five general managers were unemployed. Dozens of coordinators and assistants followed. A post-regular-season house cleaning like we’ve never seen. More head coaches lost their jobs Monday than in the previous three seasons combined.
Some teams chose to start over completely, removing both the general manager and head coach. The Arizona Cardinals did so with Coach Ken Whisenhunt and General Manager Rod Graves. The Cleveland Browns with Coach Pat Shurmur and Manager Tom Heckert. And the Chargers followed suit with Coach Norv Turner and Manager A.J. Smith.
New Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan chose to fire General Manager Gene Smith. And the New York Jets turned General Manager Mike Tannenbaum loose after a season that proved to be interesting, yet disappointing. No word yet on Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan’s future. In fact, we’re still waiting for his end of the season press conference.
Four other teams chose to part ways with their coaches: The Buffalo Bills with Chan Gailey, the Kansas City Chiefs with Romeo Crennel, the Eagles with Andy Reid, and the only real surprise…the Chicago Bears with Lovie Smith.
Smith’s firing created a backlash in the Bears locker room as well as the national sports media. Because…well, everybody loves Lovie. Both Tony Dungy (a close friend of Smith’s) and former Bears Coach Mike Ditka referred to the decision as “ridiculous.” Bears star Wide Receiver Devin Hester is reportedly so distraught by the news that he is pondering retirement.
One person who won’t be retiring…Lovie Smith. He is a hot commodity in the now busy market for NFL head coach shopping season.
So, what happens now? Does a game of musical coaches ensue…cut your guy and pick up the one to your right? It’s already started, with Andy Reid reportedly interviewing with the Chiefs today and Cardinals tomorrow.
And the bloodshed may not be over.
In the meantime, we’re still waiting…