The day following the NFL regular season is known as “Black Monday” around the league, and, from what I’m hearing, there could be as many as 10 head coaches shown the door this week. Here are the 10 who could be out of work, and the guys who could potentially fill their shoes.
1. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
2012 record: 7-9
A strong second half of the season might not be enough to save Rivera’s job. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson fired longtime general manager Marty Hurney in October but opted to let Rivera finish out his second season. Quarterback Cam Newton has shown flashes of brilliance this year, and the defense has, indeed, improved, but the Panthers likely will look to rebuild — from top to bottom — this offseason. Ernie Accorsi’s working with Richardson as a consultant in their GM search. I doubt Rivera’s in that man’s plans.
Potential replacement: Darrell Bevell, Seattle offensive coordinator
Bevell’s offense in Seattle has evolved from week to week this season and now features QB Russell Wilson in the spread option and in position to harm teams both through the air and on the ground. Newton’s a dream specimen for a creative offensive mind like Bevell, who in 2012 showed his flexibility and ability to build an offense around its quarterback’s strengths. If Chip Kelly is asking for GM duties and the whole kit and caboodle, Bevell’s a nice alternative. The Panthers just might have to wait a few weeks to hire him.
2. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
2012 record: 4-12
Before the 2012 season, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said he expected an improvement from Philadelphia’s 8-8 record in 2011. That didn’t happen, and Reid isn’t going to get a 15th season. But with five conference championship game appearances and more than a decade of being relevant, he’ll go down as the most decorated Eagles coach of all-time. And that includes Dick Vermeil.
Potential replacement: Chip Kelly, University of Oregon head coach
Though Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban didn’t work out quite as well, the past three coaches to jump from the college ranks to the pros — Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano — have all had at least moderate success making the transition. Kelly could be the most-sought-after college coach yet. Though he reportedly turned down the Tampa Bay job last season, Philadelphia could be a very good fit. If the Eagles opt to re-sign Michael Vick, the combination of speed at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver match his scheme quite well. A healthy offensive line in 2013 — something Reid did not have in 2012 — won’t hurt, either. It could be a mad dash to hiring Kelly. This one might be finalized by lunchtime on Monday.
3. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
2012 record: 7-9
The San Diego Chargers might have been the best 7-9 team in NFL history this year. What do I mean? With their win Sunday over the Raiders, the Chargers have put up 350 points this season. It doesn’t matter. 7-9 is 7-9. The fan base has had enough of Turner. A nice guy and a proven play-caller, sure. But a change is needed in San Diego. He’ll be employed — if he wants to be — as a coordinator or quarterbacks coach somewhere next season.
Potential replacement: Andy Reid, Philadelphia head coach
For those thinking Reid is going to ride off into the sunset and take some time on the beach or do TV work in some capacity, it’s time to re-examine. Reid loves coaching, and perhaps a change of scenery is all that’s needed. An offensive line and quarterbacks coach his entire career before Philadelphia, he would be the perfect choice to revitalize Philip Rivers’ career. Chargers fans might roll their eyes at the thought of Reid, but this could be the perfect fit. Reid — a California native — can bring San Diego back to prominence.
4. Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
2012 record: 5-11
Shurmur’s odds of being the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2013 got significantly worse with the way the Browns closed their season the past few weeks. A new owner, a new GM, a new front office — that spells a new head coach. And from what I’m hearing, it might also mean a new quarterback. Brandon Weeden, despite some moments, did not do anything to prove he’s an NFL franchise quarterback of the future.
Potential replacement: Josh McDaniels, New England offensive coordinator
This one might cause you to roll your eyes, but McDaniels is once again considered a hot head coaching candidate. He has matured and eaten quite a slice of humble pie since his disastrous final season in Denver and is once again on the top of many teams’ lists. If “Inside the NFL” insider Mike Lombardi is, indeed, hired as the GM, this makes perfect sense. McDaniels is an Ohio native, and both he and Lombardi have strong ties to Bill Belichick. If McDaniels is the guy, Weeden almost certainly won’t be the quarterback. McDaniels will want his own clay to mold.
5. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
2012 record: 5-10
Whisenhunt’s back-to-back postseason appearances in 2008 and '09 (including Arizona’s only Super Bowl in franchise history) likely gives him a little more breathing room than other coaches who suffered through a nine-game losing streak. But his job isn’t necessarily safe. After a 4-0 start to the season, the Arizona offense plummeted to new, unprecedented depths this season, wasting what was one of the best defensive units of 2012. Whisenhunt is an offensive coach.
Potential replacement: Ray Horton, Arizona defensive coordinator
If the Cardinals want to keep the continuity on the defensive side of the ball, promoting their defensive coordinator before another smart team hires him away is not a terrible idea. Horton’s players love playing for him, he’s a hot coaching candidate and he’ll have no problem letting an offensive coordinator install his own scheme on offense. The Cardinals' defense is too good right now to start over from scratch for the second time in four years.
6. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
2012 record: 6-10
Oh, Rex. The latest out of the New York tabloids last week was that Ryan said he would ask to be fired if the owner didn’t plan on bringing in some new offensive talent next year. That’s a questionable report and I don’t even know if it makes sense, but it’s out there. And in New York, questionable reports just being “out there” seem to matter. This was a disastrous year for Gang Green. If Rex gets the ax, changes across the entire organization — from players to coaches to front office brass — could quickly follow.
Potential replacement: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame head coach
There’s no way Jets owner Woody Johnson isn’t making a splash with his next hiring if Rex is sent packing. If Ryan’s gone, everyone’s gone. And Kelly, though not mentioned for head coaching jobs in the NFL, would be the type of big splash Johnson would enjoy. Kelly has succeeded everywhere he has been and he’s a hero in the Northeast for what he’s done with Notre Dame this season. This is nothing more than me playing matchmaker, but quite a match this would make.
7. Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
2012 record: 2-14
Crennel is beloved by players and has been through an incredibly difficult 2012, but he likely won’t be back in 2013. The talent is there on this roster, though. Consider this: Despite winning only two games, Kansas City still had five Pro Bowl selections. The Chiefs are a quarterback and a few offensive linemen away from being a relevant team again very soon.
Potential replacement: Bruce Arians, Indianapolis offensive coordinator
Arians has had quite an amazing 2012. A season after being let go in Pittsburgh, he stepped in for head coach Chuck Pagano and led the Colts to the playoffs. It’s worth noting that he never moved his belongings into Pagano’s office and he never dressed where the head coach is designated to dress. He built an offense for QB Andrew Luck that helped the rookie adjust to the pros, and he won the respect of his young team. After what the Chiefs went through in 2012, Arians could be the right guy for 2013.
8. Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans
2012 record: 6-10
It went from bad to worse for the Titans in 2012, and owner Bud Adams was quite vocal toward the end of the season that everyone’s job is on watch. After two years, Jake Locker still hasn’t proven he’s a bona fide NFL quarterback, and the defense was atrocious. I wouldn’t be shocked if Munchak is shown the door.
Potential replacement: Greg Roman, San Francisco offensive coordinator
Roman has had great success working with another young and mobile quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, this season in San Francisco. Where Munchak and Chris Palmer and the rest of the Titans coaching staff failed was in the development of Locker, who failed to look the part of NFL starter in 2012. Roman, who no doubt benefited from working under Jim Harbaugh both at Stanford and with the 49ers, could install a fresh offense built around Locker, running back Chris Johnson and receivers Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright.
9. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
2012 record: 6-10
Another year, another season where the Bills will be watching postseason football from their couches. Gailey has been the coach for three seasons, Buffalo hasn’t reached the playoffs in that time and the fans have spoken. (Check out www.firechangailey.com.) They say change can be good. In this case, I believe it.
Potential replacement: Mike Zimmer, Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator
Zimmer has been coaching up defenses in the NFL for decades but has never been given a shot at head coach. All the talent is there on the Buffalo D; the Bills just need the right man to steer the ship. Zimmer’s one of the most respected and well-liked coaches in football. The way Buffalo finished the 2012 season, he makes sense in Western New York. Look at what he did this year with the Cincinnati defensive backfield. Terence Newman, Adam Jones, and Reggie Nelson have all had career revivals under Zimmer.
10. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
2012 record: 10-6
The Bears started the year 7-1 and missed the playoffs. They started last year 7-3 and did the same. Chicago has a new GM in Phil Emery. He doesn’t have the same longtime history with Smith as former GM Jerry Angelo did. The Bears didn’t come prepared to play in Minnesota a few weeks back and shouldn’t have lost to Seattle. Those games cost them the playoff berth, not the ones to Green Bay.
Potential replacement: Pete Carmichael, New Orleans offensive coordinator
Jay Cutler’s the quarterback of the future, but Mike Tice certainly isn’t the offensive coordinator of the future. Carmichael could install the offense the Saints run in New Orleans and, hopefully, get some more out of the wretched Bears offensive line. Carmichael’s a protégé of both Marty Schottenheimer and Sean Payton. He has been coaching in the NFL since 2000. The talent is there on offense. Carmichael would make sense if Lovie’s shown the door.