Not a single coach was let go on Black Monday. That’s usually the day when coaches are sent to the chopping block, but this year teams got their firings out of the way early. Jeff Fisher, Gus Bradley, Rex Ryan, Mike McCoy and Chip Kelly were all canned, leaving vacancies in Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Buffalo, San Diego and San Francisco (Jack Del Rio is the only head coach in California who still has his job). Another job opened up in Denver on Sunday when Gary Kubiak stepped down due to health issues.
The only coach who’s still wondering about his fate is Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis. The Colts finished 8-8 for the second straight year, failing to make the playoffs despite playing in the league’s worst division. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Colts owner Jim Irsay was “very unhappy” with the team’s recent performance, leading coaches to “fear change coming.” The Colts squeaked out a win over Jacksonville in Sunday’s finale but only time will tell if it was enough for Pagano to keep his job.
Plenty of names have popped up in the rumor mill over the last 24 hours but nobody has generated more interest than Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan. And why not? Shanahan was the brains behind a Falcons’ offense that scored the eighth-most points in league history this season. Shanahan is only 37 but already has nine years of experience as a coordinator and finally looks ready to be an NFL head coach. So far he’s lined up interviews with the 49ers, Broncos, Jaguars and Rams. Obviously the Shanahan name carries weight in Denver as Kyle’s father Mike led the Broncos to two Super Bowls in the 90s.
Patriots OC Josh McDaniels will also be making the rounds this week. He’s scheduled to interview with the 49ers, Jaguars and Rams on Saturday. It’s taken McDaniels a few years to rebuild his reputation following a failed stint in Denver (you’ll notice the Broncos aren’t one of the teams he’s interviewing with), but now he’s back among the hottest names in coaching.
Another member of the Patriots’ staff, DC Matt Patricia, is also being considered as a head coach. So far he’s landed interviews with the Chargers and Rams. New England’s prolific offense gets most of the accolades but this year the Pats’ defense under Patricia was just as dominant. The Patriots yielded an average of 15.6 points per game, which easily led the league. Patricia interviewed for the Browns’ coaching vacancy last offseason but obviously didn’t end up getting the job.
Instead of going the retread route, it looks like teams are willing to roll the dice on established coordinators with no head coaching experience. Harold Goodwin is one candidate who fits that description. The Cardinals’ OC is already being considered for openings in Buffalo, Jacksonville and Los Angeles. The Buccaneers brought Goodwin in for an interview last offseason but eventually went with Dirk Koetter, who had previously served as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator.
Buffalo’s pursuit of Goodwin is an interesting plot twist. Most reports have pegged Anthony Lynn as the overwhelming favorite for that position. In fact, having Lynn as a potential in-house replacement may have been what made Rex Ryan expendable in the first place. Lynn’s responsibilities in Buffalo increased dramatically throughout this past season as he ascended from RBs coach to OC all the way to his current position as the team’s interim head coach. Despite his preference to remain in Buffalo, Lynn has reportedly accepted interviews with both the 49ers and Rams. Having other options gives Lynn leverage in his negotiations with Buffalo. If Lynn does land his first head-coaching job this offseason, he’s likely to bring on ex-Jaguars coach Gus Bradley as his defensive coordinator.
The Rams seem to be casting an extremely wide net in their coaching search. In addition to Goodwin, Lynn, McDaniels, Patricia and Shanahan, the Rams have also reached out to Jaguars interim coach Doug Marrone. Just like Lynn in Buffalo, Marrone has a good chance of being retained by his current team. Marrone enjoyed a semi-successful stint in Buffalo in his first head coaching venture, but made an enormous blunder by opting out of his contract after only two years. Marrone was hoping to land a higher profile job, but got a cold shoulder from the rest of the league before finally resurfacing as an assistant coach in Jacksonville.
Redskins OC Sean McVay is also interviewing with the Rams. Though play-calling duties remain with Jay Gruden, McVay has played a big role in Kirk Cousins’ development the past few seasons while emerging as one of the league’s best young coordinators. If the 30-year-old McVay lands the job in Los Angeles, he’ll become the youngest head coach in NFL history.
There will be plenty of uncertainty in the coming days, but at least there’s one coaching myth we can finally put to bed. Sean Payton’s name has been linked to the Rams’ job since the day Jeff Fisher was fired, but it doesn’t look like he’s eager to leave New Orleans. Payton confirmed Monday that he has no interest in coaching elsewhere and plans to honor the four years left on his contract. Nobody would have blamed Payton for wanting a fresh start after going 7-9 for the third year in a row. But with Drew Brees playing as well as ever, staying in New Orleans is still more appealing than going to Los Angeles and undoing the damage left by Fisher. 2017 will mark Payton’s 12th year in New Orleans.
Quick Hits: David Johnson suffered what looked to be a gruesome knee injury in Week 17 but escaped with only a sprained MCL. He faces a 6-8 week recovery. Johnson totaled 100 yards from scrimmage in every game but one this season … Cardinals coach Bruce Arians confirmed the team will apply the franchise tag to OLB Chandler Jones if a deal isn’t reached by March 1. Jones finished second on the team with 11 sacks this season while earning PFF’s fifth-highest grade among 3-4 outside linebackers … Cardinals RG Evan Mathis announced his retirement on Monday. The three-time Pro Bowler played for six teams during his 12-year career, winning his only Super Bowl with Denver in 2015 … Darrelle Revis said he’s open to playing safety next year if it helps “the team win games.” His only interception of the 2016 campaign came in Sunday’s blowout win over Buffalo … Brandon Marshall said he’d be willing to take a pay-cut to stay with the Jets. Marshall endured one of his worst seasons in 2016 but is due a reasonable $7.5 million in the final year of his contract … Matt Forte had surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Friday. Forte scored eight touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving) while averaging 76.9 yards from scrimmage in his first year as a Jet … Blake Bortles acknowledged that he played through multiple injuries this year including two shoulder separations and wrist tendinitis. He finished 2016 with the league’s fifth-lowest quarterback rating (78.8) out of 30 qualifiers … Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said he expects Roberto Aguayo to face competition at kicker next season. The second-round pick had a dismal rookie year, converting just 22-of-31 field goal attempts including 4-of-11 kicks from 40-plus yards … Sammy Watkins is set to undergo another surgery on his left foot. Watkins had surgery on the same foot last offseason and missed eight games due to recurring issues throughout the season … Terrelle Pryor will have surgery to repair a torn ligament in his finger on Wednesday. The former quarterback led the Browns with 1,007 receiving yards in 2016 … DeMarco Murray played with a torn plantar plate in his foot this year but doesn’t believe surgery will be necessary. Murray finished third in the league with 1,287 rushing yards … The Texans have yet to announce their starting quarterback for Saturday’s Wild Card game against the Raiders (that decision should be coming on Tuesday) but John McClain of the Houston Chronicle suspects it will be Brock Osweiler. Tom Savage is still recovering from a concussion he suffered in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee … Lamar Miller is expected to return Saturday against Oakland. He sat out the Texans’ final two regular season games with an ankle injury … The Packers are hoping to have Randall Cobb back for Sunday’s Wild Card game against the Giants. He’s missed Green Bay’s last two games with an ankle injury … Lorenzo Alexander has opened contract talks with the Bills. The impending free agent tied for third in the league in sacks this year (12.5) while earning his second Pro Bowl nod … Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said, “we’ll see how the week goes” when asked about Matt McGloin’s status for Saturday’s Wild Card game against the Texans. McGloin needed an MRI after injuring his left shoulder in Sunday’s loss to Denver. Fourth-round rookie Connor Cook would draw the start if McGloin can’t get the green light … Trading A.J. McCarron will be a point of emphasis for the Bengals this offseason. McCarron said he “wouldn’t be distraught at all” if he gets dealt … Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Roger Lewis and Sterling Shepard traveled to Miami for a night of partying with Justin Bieber and others after Sunday’s win over Washington. Giants coach Ben McAdoo said the players could do what they wanted on their day off.
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