2020 has been a pretty horrendous year for most. But for some NFL head coaches, the start of 2021 won’t exactly buck the trend. The Monday following Week 17’s spate of matches is affectionately known as ‘Black Monday’ where underperforming NFL franchises make the decision as to whether to part ways with their coaching and/or front office staff. In reality these days, as soon as the games end on a Sunday we seem to find out who’s staying and going but hey ho. Here’s our take on who should be sweating in the lead up to Black Monday.
Let’s not forget though that three teams have already made that decision. The Texans have parted ways with Bill O’Brien, the Falcons said goodbye to Dan Quinn and the Lions gave Matt Patrcia the heave ho. All of these teams will also be looking for new GMs. The Jaguars also let GM Dave Caldwell and the Panthers likewise to Marty Hurney.
Should be Gone.
Adam Gase – New York Jets
As we said on the podcast this week, and many others have also commented on, the Jets can’t even lose properly. They’re on a two game winning streak which has confirmed the second pick in next years draft. Despite the winning streak I think it’s safe to say that Gase will be on his way out of New York. A 9-22 record over two years with a potential franchise quarterback failing to progress to the same level as his fellow draft class is almost enough as it is. Couple that with a locker room that isn’t cohesive and the lack of much of a plan and it’s all but inevitable that Gase will be gone. GM Joe Douglas should be given another year at least and the opportunity to hire his own head coach.
Doug Marone – Jacksonville Jaguars
The team are quite obviously tanking now to solidify that top pick which is now complete. At least Marone knows how to lose. With Caldwell gone, Marone has lost an ally in the front office. The Jags have never recovered from losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship. Egos took over the dressing room and many players who performed in that season believed their own hype, didn’t perform for the Jags again and have left for pastures new. With the almost guaranteed prospect of Trevor Lawrence entering the building, owner Shad Khan will look for a complete rebuild which has started with the front office and will continue to the coaching staff.
Anthony Lynn – LA Chargers
The Chargers have seemingly stumbled upon a star quarterback in Justin Herbert. I don’t think anyone expected him to perform at the level he has in his first campaign. But Lynn isn’t the coach that can continue to help him develop and get the best out of the team. Failure to manage games successfully and the inability to get the best out of the talent on this team has been Lynn’s undoing. Recent victories shouldn’t be enough to keep Lynn employed in LA.
Watching the phone nervously
Mike Zimmer – Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have missed out on the playoffs and the team is playing below it’s talent level. Zimmer’s past performance as a head coach should be enough to buy him another year at the healm but he’ll need success in 2021 to keep him there any further.
Doug Pedersen – Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are in a bit of a mess at the moment with a looming quarterback controversy and a roster that will be over $70m above the cap come the start of 2021. Injuries have dealt the Eagles a cruel hand with the Eagles starting team being the moved inconsistent throughout the year. Dreams of that Super Bowl win will be enough to keep Pedersen safe but there’s no doubt about the fact that the Eagles will need to see progress next year.
Matt Nagy – Chicago Bears
The ultimate coin flip now. Earlier in the season on the back of a six game losing streak it looked like Nagy’s time in Chicago was done. Nagy turned over the play calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and it was the best decision Nagy has made. The Bears have been transformed back into the team that started the year 5-1 and are now in serious contention for a playoff spot. The Titans were the last team to part ways with their coach following a playoff appearnce (Mike Mularkey at the end of the 2017 season). Don’t be shocked to see Nagy be the next but equally we could very well see him back in 2021. GM Ryan Pace on the other hand may not be as lucky, it feels like his time is done in Chicago.
Zac Taylor – Cincinatti Bengals
I personally have advocated that Taylor should be safe on the podcast many a time but my colleagues point to his winning record (or lack of it) so it would be remiss of me not to add him onto this list. True, the Bengals have got a pretty dire record but I saw enough from Joe Burrow and the Bengals in 2020 to warrant giving Taylor another year (along with an offensive line and a defence). Robbing Taylor of Joe Burrow midway through the season was cruel, but the team was playing much better than they did in 2019. With some more pieces on the line and investment in the defence and this team could make another step forward in 2021.
Main image credit: “Mike Zimmer” by Matthew Deery is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/