11:56 p.m.: It appears that “Black Monday” has come to an end. For the 25 coaches that remain, that’s a good thing. To recap, Andy Reid, Lovie Smith, Pat Shurmur, Ken Whisenhunt, Romeo Crennel, Chan Gailey and Norv Turner have been fired.
Some of the popular names circulating as possible head coach candidates are Bill O’Brien, Dirk Koetter, Josh McDaniels and Chip Kelly. Reid is expected to find another job, as is Smith. Check out our Top 10 list to see who all could get some consideration.
8:41 p.m.: The Eagles have narrowed their head coaching search to five candidates — all offensive-minded coaches. Those five potential head coaches are Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, according to Howard Eskin of WIP radio.
8:33 p.m.: Chip Kelly has been tied to numerous teams this offseason, but we may have a frontrunner now. The Oregon head coach is the Browns’ No. 1 choice to fill their vacancy, according to Eagles broadcaster Adam Caplan.
Cleveland’s quarterback, Brandon Weeden, doesn’t fit the typical Kelly passer, so it’s unclear what would happen to the No. 22 pick in the 2012 draft if the Oregon coach were to take the job.
8:17 p.m.: The Eagles have asked permission to interview three Atlanta coaches. They’re planning on interviewing defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong on Wednesday, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.
7:25 p.m.: The Panthers are interested in two Giants executives, Dave Gettleman and Marc Ross, to fill their GM vacancy. The Jets are also interested in Ross.
7:15 p.m.: Lovie Smith is already getting garnering a lot of interest on the open market. Four teams have contacted the former Bears coach, according to ESPN.
Chicago could fill the void left by Smith with Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, according to the USA Today. The Bears will interview Sullivan soon for their head coaching vacancy.
The Cardinals are already looking for replacements for Ken Whisenhunt. Among the names they will interview are their defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Andy Reid and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, according to AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban.
It’s not a surprise that Bill O’Brien’s name is being thrown around as a possible head coaching candidate. Multiple teams will be checking in on the Penn State head coach, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
4:15 p.m.: Josh McDaniels was quick to bat away interest in him becoming another team’s head coach today, but he appears to have taken that a step further.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that McDaniels has notified teams that he will not take interviews for other team’s head coaching jobs now, and that he will remain in New England. Schefter also says that McDaniels would like to be a head coach one day.
What’s interesting about the way Schefter phrased his report is that he’s not clear whether that means that McDaniels is open to interviewing for head coaching jobs after the season — or even after the Patriots’ next game. (What does “now” mean?) Hmm.
3:35 p.m.: The Titans will be hanging on to coach Mike Munchak and general manager Ruston Webster. But senior executive vice president Mike Reinfeldt, who used to be the general manager, is being shown the door.
“He has two more years to go on his contract, but I think we’d be better off without him,” owner Bud Adams told The Tennessean. “I don’t think he was getting the job done. Mike Reinfeldt is out.”
3:30 p.m.: Mike Ditka still has quite a bit of clout in the Windy City, so listen up when he says he doesn’t like something.
Ditka is irked about Lovie Smith being let go, calling the move “stupid.”
“I think Lovie is a very good coach,” Ditka said Monday on The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000. “Everybody is a little bit different in their manner. I think that’s a 10-win season. They started 7-1. This team, there’s a reason they lost some games in between. A lot of the wins they got in the 7-1 run were because of turnovers by the defense were turned into points. The offense didn’t score enough points in those other games. That’s the bottom line.”
Ditka also bemoaned the injuries that afflicted the team throughout the season, but he saved his harshest criticism for Smith being fired despite the Bears being in the playoff conversation until the last game. If the Vikings hadn’t won Sunday night, Chicago would have played again, likely saving Smith’s job.
“If Minnesota would have lost last night and the Bears were in the playoffs, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “That’s a fact. So how stupid is it then? It really is stupid. If they would have made the playoffs, this would not have happened. They did what they did. They took care of their business, and Minnesota played a great game against Green Bay.”
Ditka also seemed to say the front office didn’t set Smith up with the tools to succeed.
“The organization doesn’t need turning around like a lot of the other ones,” Ditka said. “If they want to get back to the Super Bowl, you’re going to have to have the right players.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
3 p.m.: You’ve got to feel bad for some of the NFL coaches losing their jobs today, and it looks like Kurt Warner does.
Warner, who led the Cardinals to within a few plays of the Super Bowl under Ken Whisenhunt, gave his former coach a shout-out on Twitter as the carnage continued Monday.
Whisenhunt was 45-51 as the Cardinals’ head coach, including a Super Bowl appearance with Warner at quarterback in 2008. That year was followed by another playoff appearance, but since then, the Cards have posted two 5-11 seasons and failed to make the playoffs.
Check out Warner’s tweet below.
Something's I hate about NFL: great ppl & great coaches being fired (Lovie, AReid, & KWhisenhunt)! Too many think "Grass is Greener"!—
Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) December 31, 2012
2:40 p.m.: Bears fans may have been united in wanting Lovie Smith to go, but his players certainly weren’t.
Devin Hester is suddenly talking about retirement after Chicago fired Smith on Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“We already knew what the news was,” Hester said. “Just hearing it from him. The media, the false fans, you all got what you all wanted. Majority of you all wanted him out. As players, we wanted him in. I guess the false fans out-ruled us. I thought he was a great coach, probably one of the best coaches I have ever been around. He brought me in.”
Hester, 30, said he’s been thinking about not playing for two years, and now he’s seriously considering leaving the game.
Jay Cutler, meanwhile, seems to have found a way to drum up controversy shortly after Smith’s firing. While he said he was “surprised” and “shocked,” he also dropped one of those “change isn’t always a bad thing” quotes today, too, according to the Chicago Tribune.
2:30 p.m.: We can’t forget the many college coaches who are out there when it comes to who will fill those seven suddenly empty head coaching spots.
Chip Kelly of Oregon has received a lot of attention, and Bill O’Brien’s name is now popping up again, too. O’Brien did a great job at Penn State this past year, leading the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 finish and getting himself the Big Ten Coach of the Year award, but the next half-decade or so are going to be no picnic in State College. O’Brien faces a mounting pile of limitations thanks to NCAA sanctions, and an NFL job may be his next move.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the Eagles and Browns are most likely to go after O’Brien.
2:20 p.m.: Ron Rivera is on the hot seat, and that hasn’t ended well for many coaches today.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Rivera is meeting with owner Jerry Richardson “to discuss his future,” and we don’t think he means Richardson’s future. Rivera has been under some heat after the Panthers had a rough start to the season, but the team’s general manager getting sacked seemed to keep him safe for a bit.
So far, coaches who have sat down for chit-chats today are seven-for-eight, as far as we know. Rex Ryan is the only one who hasn’t been let go.
1:25 p.m.: Offensive coordinators are expected to be in high demand with all these coaching jobs opening up. We’ve already mentioned that Denver’s Mike McCoy and New England’s Josh McDaniels are getting attention.
Now Atlanta’s offensive guru, Dirk Koetter, is reportedly the hot hire. Koetter is already lined up for interviews with the Eagles, Browns and Chiefs, and possibly others, according to FOX Sports.
With the Falcons having a bye this week, Koetter should still have his plate full.
1:17 p.m.: Hold that thought. It looks like Ken Whisenhunt is gone, too, also per Adam Schefter. The Cardinals never looked good under Whisenhunt this year, but Arizona now has to eat about $5 million in that leftover contract.
Coach count is at seven.
1:16 p.m.: Most people suspected that Ken Whisenhunt would be the first to go in Arizona, but it appears general manager Rod Graves got the axe first.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Graves is out.
1:10 p.m.: Norv Turner’s time in San Diego is officially over, and general manager A.J. Smith will be following him out the door, the team has announced.
Smith has been the general manager since 2003, and Turner has been the coach since 2007. Turner went 59-43 in San Diego, including three AFC West titles and a trip to the AFC Championship game.
Turner took over for Marty Schottenheimer, whose time in San Diego ended despite a strong record amidst news that Schottenheimer wasn’t working as fluently with the personnel department as the team would have liked. Turner, who enjoyed success with Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers, never got the Chargers to the next level, either, though.
Now, with the head coach gone and the longtime general manager ousted as well, the Chargers are really starting from scratch.
That’s the sixth coach fired today, by the way.
12:45 p.m.: Mark Sanchez is awfully optimistic for being — well, Mark Sanchez.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan is sticking around. That bodes well for Sanchez, who has always had Ryan’s backing — for better or much, much worse.
Sanchez told reporters today that he and Ryan talked, and confidence appears to be high in New York.
“I had a good talk with Rex, and I know we’re destined for great stuff here,” Sanchez said, according to Pro Football Talk. “I know we can be successful here. So that’s what I’m focused on. I’m excited to come back here and do my very best.”
Sanchez admitted he wasn’t great this year and said he was going to come back stronger next season. But, while some people can understand Ryan staying at the helm after general manager Mike Tannenbaum was fired, not many people would support Sanchez ever taking a snap for the Jets again. It’s pretty much the consensus right now that Sanchez should not be in the Jets’ future, no matter how much money is guaranteed in his contract.
So, on a day when the Jets looked to be taking one big step forward, they may also be ready to just take another one back.
12:40 p.m.: Start the Norv Turner watch. The NFL Network reports that the team CEO is meeting with him right now.
12:35 p.m.: If you want a rundown of the coaches who have already been fired, check out our photo gallery.
No, it doesn’t have photos of them right after they were fired (although that would have been more fun).
12:10 p.m.: At least one coach is getting some good news today.
Contrast that to the Bills, where Chan Gailey told reporters that the entire coaching staff has been fired, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of all the ups and downs going on in the NFL.
11:45 a.m.: Well, this is a little strange.
While most teams go general manager shopping first and then have the new GM pick other hires, such as the head coach, the Browns are apparently going to get a head coach first. Considering that a decent number of today’s firings have been because head coaches weren’t getting it done under general managers who hadn’t hired them (think Lovie Smith), this seems a bit backwards.
Nonetheless, that is the news out of Cleveland, from an organization that hasn’t seen any of its great ideas turn out well in a decade or so.
Jimmy Haslam: "We are going to look for a new head coach first, and then a GM - player personnel type second."—
Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 31, 2012
11:25 a.m.: Among the many coordinators who will be getting attention as the head coach vacancies open up is Mike McCoy in Denver. Jay Glazer reports that the Broncos’ offensive coordinator is on the radar for the Bears already.
Glazer also said he talked to Smith and confirmed that the longtime Bears coach had been fired.
11 a.m.: In a move that was not too unexpected, the Bills have fired head coach Chan Gailey, according to several reports.
Gailey went 16-32 with the Bills over three seasons, including this season’s 6-10 mark. While Buffalo appeared to be on the upswing at points behind quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a stash of defensive playmakers, Gailey could never get the pieces working together for sustained success in the AFC East.
In other news, the Chiefs have made an official announcement that they fired Romeo Crennel.
10:55 a.m.: Josh McDaniels is going to get a lot of attention for another head coaching job after returning to New England this year and picking up where he left off as the offensive coordinator.
But teams have good reason to be wary about McDaniels’ last time at the helm. A promising start in Denver, where he was given a lot of control over personnel decisions, devolved into a poor record and lack of control over his team. When he was fired from the Broncos, many wondered whether he could ever be a head coach again after the carnage.
McDaniels’ name has been mentioned in connection with the Browns vacancy due to his roots in the Cleveland area, but plenty of other teams could be looking at him as well, considering the need for coaches across the NFL. These openings, however, depend on the premise that McDaniels would want to return to head coaching. After a year in which he’s jumped right back into New England’s offense, a group that led the NFL in several categories this season, McDaniels may not be eager to leave the Pats and coach Bill Belichick behind.
McDaniels seemed to say as much to The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young.
Josh McDaniels asked about HC opps, said he's "thrilled to be back" in NE, he's happy here, his family is happy here (more)—
shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) December 31, 2012
McDaniels: and to him talking about other opps at this point is irrelevant bc he's focused on doing best job he can in his current position—
shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) December 31, 2012
A lot could change after New England’s season ends, of course. The Patriots are looking ahead to the playoffs now, but once the dust settles from that and other head coaching jobs have been filled, McDaniels could get another look.
In an offseason where many coordinators will likely be hired to fill out the head coaching ranks, McDaniels would be among the best on the offensive side — even if the question of whether he’s a suitable head coach remains.
10:46 a.m.: There it is. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the Bears have fired coach Lovie Smith.
Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 31, 2012
10:45 a.m.: The focus has swung in Lovie Smith’s direction, and it’s not looking good. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says Bears coaches are “freaking out” inside the team building, and Adam Schefter of ESPN says the Bears have sent out consent forms to start interviewing head coaching candidates. This could be it.
10:20 a.m.: The Bears have been good for several seasons but not quite good enough. And now that Chicago has missed the playoffs after a 7-1 start, head coach Lovie Smith has likely run out of favors with the organization.
Smith, who has been the head coach in Chicago since 2004, has never been able to get his team over the hump despite a stellar defense. Even the addition of quarterback Jay Cutler, who has been the best passer the city has had in years, hasn’t lifted the Bears from their often-middling record to true NFC contention on a consistent basis. Smith has gone 81-63 in Chicago, his only head coaching stint, including three division titles, two appearances in the NFC Championship game and a Super Bowl loss to the Colts. But he also has three losing seasons and missed the playoffs this year despite a 10-6 record.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that Smith’s fate doesn’t look good.
Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 31, 2012
10:10 a.m.: Mike Mularkey appears to be safe in Jacksonville, according to Jay Glazer, although the same can’t be said for general manager Gene Smith, who was already sacked this morning. Mularkey’s fate may rest with the new general manager.
10:05 a.m.: The Eagles have officially parted ways with Andy Reid. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie will hold a press conference at noon to talk about the organization’s new direction.
This is what Lurie said in a statement on the team’s website:
“Andy Reid won the most games of any head coach in Eagles history, and he is someone I respect greatly and will remain friends with for many years to come. But it is time for the Eagles to move in a new direction. Coach Reid leaves us with a winning tradition that we can build upon. And we are very excited about the future.”
Reid, the Eagles’ coach since 1999, led the Eagles to the playoffs nine times, including five trips to the NFC Championship game and one Super Bowl appearance. He had a franchise-record 140 victories, good for 22nd on the all-time NFL list.
The Eagles were 4-12 this season, one year after going 8-8 despite several big signings.
10 a.m.: While Black Monday is certainly going to be a lot of fun, the competition for head coaches and general managers should be pretty spirited, too. As noted before, if a bunch of NFL coaches are fired, many teams may be stuck with their second or third choices — or something much worse — when the dust settles.
The Eagles and Browns, who made their moves early, are expected to tussle over many of the same candidates, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports.
With Browns and Eagles having similar coaching targets, many intrigued to see ex-Eagles pres Joe Banner, now in CLE, jostle vs. old team—
Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 31, 2012
The Browns and Eagles will both pursue Chip Kelly aggressively. Eagles also high on Jay Gruden. Both like Bill O'Brien as well ...—
Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 31, 2012
9:45 a.m.: The Browns have made it official. Let the hirings begin.
9:30 a.m.: This is the statement that Jets owner Woody Johnson issued Monday morning, courtesy of Pro Football Talk:
“This morning, I informed Mike Tannenbaum that he will not return for the 2013 season. Mike devoted 15 years of service to the Jets, and I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication. Although he helped guide us to two consecutive AFC Championship games, we are not where we want to be, and a new general manager will be critical to getting this team back on the right track.”
While Tannenbaum provided many of the pieces that helped fuel the Jets’ early success under head coach Rex Ryan, his inability to sustain team strength across the board, as well as his doing a poor job managing cap space by giving large contracts to a few players, has hamstrung the team over the past couple of seasons.
9:25 a.m.: The Browns have also fired general manager Tom Heckert, according to Jay Glazer.
The organization is expected to move quickly to fill its vacancies, and it’s certainly had a head start. Early names mentioned for a new head coach were Alabama’s Nick Saban or Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, both linked to Michael Lombardi as the new general manager.
But the Browns already have a narrow list of candidates they are interested in bringing in, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Since they want to move quickly, Saban (who coaches the college football national championship game on Jan. 7) and McDaniels (whose Patriots are headed to the playoffs) may be out of the question since they wouldn’t be available to interview too soon.
9:20 a.m.: The Jets have made their move.
After heavy speculation that both general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan would be fired, the Jets have fired Tannenbaum and decided to keep Rex Ryan, according to various reports.
The Jets reportedly considered keeping Tannenbaum in some capacity due to his personnel ability in working with Ryan, but the Jets announced Monday that he will not return to the organization.
Owner Woody Johnson and the Jets also announced that Ryan will be back.
The question now is what happens with the Jets’ many other problematic pieces, such as quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. The team is already getting rid of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, according to reports.
9:05 a.m.: While some teams are already making hay in turning over their coaching staffs, a few are only going so far as to say they’re “talking” this morning. Talking about what?
In Arizona, Ken Whisenhunt will have to do a lot of creative talking to escape losing his job. He and general manager Rod Graves are expected to meet with the team president Monday morning, according to NFL.com. Whisenhunt is owed somewhere around $5 million for next year, but the Cards went just 5-11 this season.
Elsewhere in the West, the Raiders are reportedly starting their housecleaning with the offensive coaching staff, with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and others expected to be laid off soon, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In San Diego, where Norv Turner has escaped the pink slip several times, the coach of the 7-9 Chargers seemed to have accepted his fate after Sunday’s game.
“Obviously, we’re going to meet with the team, and I’m sure they’ll start looking for a new coach,” he said after the Chargers won Sunday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
9 a.m.: And there we go: Pat Shurmur is out in Cleveland, as predicted. The Browns are expected to get rid of just about everybody now that they have new ownership in place, and Shurmur is the first to get his walking papers, according to Jay Glazer.
8:55 a.m.: Jon Gruden is the No. 1 coaching candidate on just about everybody’s wish list, and with the regular season finally over, his courting can officially begin.
While Gruden has said he plans to remain in the booth for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, Mike Freeman of CBS Sports says Gruden and his cohorts have been drumming up interest in the former Raiders and Buccaneers coach in recent days. Gruden will reportedly interview for head coaching jobs as soon as today.
Gruden will most likely end up with a team like the Eagles, with whom he was a coordinator, or the Chargers, according to reports.
8:45 a.m. ET: While Sunday was possibly the best day of the entire NFL season, Monday brings a different kind of action. After a day full of soaring victories, playoff clinching and record pursuits, coaches around the NFL are expected to get their pink slips on what has become known as Black Monday.
No fewer than 20 coaches have been named as possibilities to lose their jobs, and as morning dawns, a few have already been fired, according to reports. Romeo Crennel is out in Kansas City (leading to a possible return to New England?), and Andy Reid has been given the news that everyone expected since early this year.
The Jaguars are also starting to clean house, with general manager Gene Smith getting the hook early this morning.
Shahid Khan today announced that the team is parting ways with general manager Gene Smith. #Jaguars—
Jacksonville Jaguars (@jaguars) December 31, 2012
Those moves were among the expected, and it’s surprising at this point that other teams, like the Browns, haven’t dismantled their leadership teams already. The Bears are also expected to part with Lovie Smith after missing the playoffs, and although Jason Garett is reportedly safe in Dallas after the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs, that loss could sting hard enough that owner Jerry Jones could get moving again.
Other coaches expected to get the hook sooner rather than later are the Bills’ Chan Gailey and the Chargers’ Norv Turner. Jim Schwartz is also reportedly feeling the heat in Detroit despite a contract extension that was supposed to keep him around until 2015.
One thing that may keep owners from cutting their coaches loose too quickly this year, though, is the huge number of coaches expected to be fired. By simple math, if too many quality coaches get fired, there won’t be enough to fill the ranks, even if a bunch of coordinators get promoted. So some teams that are sort of OK with their coaching situations may keep their top man just a bit longer.
Check back here to see how Black Monday continues to shake out. We’ll keep you updated on all the front office and coaching moves as the day goes on.