NFL Black Monday: Who’s In, Who’s Out, Who’s Next
UPDATE: According to reports on Tuesday afternoon, New York Giants head coach Joe Judge was fired after GM Dave Gettleman retired. Judge was 10-23 in his two seasons with the Giants, and the organization decided to make the change after reports on Monday said his job was safe for another season. They'll be looking to fill both positions in the offseason.
The first Monday after the end of the regular season in the NFL has earned the name "Black Monday," because it's typically the day where organizations that are looking for changes in either the coaching or general manager ranks make those moves.
This year's black Monday has already seen multiple coaches and GMs fired with a few big surprises, but let's start with who is keeping their job.
The Carolina Panthers have already announced that head coach Matt Rhule will be around for another year. Rhule is 10-23 in his first two seasons in the league, but he will be given another year in Carolina. The Panthers crumbled in the 2021-22 season, finishing 5-12 after starting the year 3-0. However, Rhule has a head-coaching pattern at each of the college programs he helmed. In each of his first two seasons at Baylor and Temple, he struggled before finding massive success in his third year. The 2022 season will be his third year as head coach of the Panthers.
So far, there have been three NFL teams making moves on black Monday. In by far the most surprising move of the day, the Miami Dolphins decided to part ways with head coach Brian Flores on Monday morning.
After serving as a New England Patriots assistant from 2008-2018, Flores was hired as the head coach of the Dolphins for the 2019 season. They went 5-11 in his first year but saw an instant turnaround with a 10-6 record in 2020. The Dolphins were in contention to make the playoffs until the last week of the season. With high expectations in the 2021 season, Miami started out slow with a 1-7 record, but became the first team in NFL history to have a seven-game losing streak and seven-game winning streak in the same season. They finished with a 9-8 record and narrowly missed the playoffs.
However, despite finishing with two straight winning seasons and going on a massive winning streak to avoid finishing the 2021 season without a winning record, Flores was fired by the Dolphins. This move makes absolutely no sense, and it stunned NFL fans around the country. Even with a disappointing start, it's clear that the Dolphins team was not going to quit under Flores, and their 2021 turnaround was legitimately historic, even if they missed out on the postseason again. Flores is a good coach, and the Dolphins are simply making a mistake here. Unsurprisingly, it was reported that Flores will be highly coveted by teams looking for a head coach.
The Minnesota Vikings fired both head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman after two consecutive losing seasons. Zimmer's job security seemed to be in question throughout most of the second half of the season as the Vikings struggled. Minnesota finished with an 8-9 record after going 7-9 in 2020. He spent eight years as the Vikings head coach and was mostly successful, only having three losing seasons. However, Minnesota is making a change.
The most expected move of black Monday was when the Bears announced that they would be moving on from both head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace. Nagy was brought on in 2018, and the team went 12-4 in their first season, winning the NFC North and booking their ticket to the playoffs as the three seed in the NFC. However, they lost 16-15 on wild card weekend to the Philadelphia Eagles in the famous "double doink" game where kicker Cody Parkey missed a game-winning field goal that hit both the upright and the crossbar.
After that, the Bears dropped to 8-8 in 2019, missing the playoffs. In 2020, the team went 8-8 again, making the playoffs for the second time in Nagy's three years, but they ultimately lost to the New Orleans Saints in the wild card round. Finally, this year the Bears struggled and finished with a 6-11 record. In his time in Chicago, he went 34-31 with an 0-2 record in two postseason appearances.
Those were the three coaches that have been fired so far on black Monday. It's expected that there may be more moves coming. As for the who's next, Giants coach Joe Judge's name may be called today. Similarly to Rhule, Judge has been with his team for two years, going 10-23 in that time. However, Judge went 6-10 in 2020 before falling to 4-13 in 2021. Their 2021 season included a slew of six consecutive embarrassing double-digit losses to end the season. It's been reported that even players want him fired after finishing at the bottom of the NFC East.
The question is if Giants ownership will move on from Judge. If they don't, they'd be making the same three-year commitment to a head coach that hasn't proved much in his first lead job in the NFL just like the Panthers are doing with Rhule. I think that could be a mistake, especially if not only fans but also players are calling for New York to move on from him, but we will see what the Giants decide to do.