The Monday after the NFL regular season finale is aptly termed Black Monday; the horrendous day where coaches are notified they will no longer be of service to their team. The 2017 NFL coaches fired included Jack Del Rio (Oakland Raiders), Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis Colts), Jim Caldwell (Detroit Lions), and John Fox (Chicago Bears). Furthermore, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians announced his retirement, the New York Giants hired Dave Gettleman as their general manager, and Denver Broncos president John Elway reinstalled confidence in head coach Vance Joseph after a brutal 5-11 season. Despite Monday being over, more moves and surprises may come throughout the week, putting several coaches at risk.
2017 NFL Head Coaches Fired on Black Monday
The first coach to be relieved of his duties was Chuck Pagano of the Colts. He was with the Colts for six seasons, closing his tenure with a 53-45 record. Despite having highly touted Andrew Luck as his quarterback, the Colts have missed the playoffs for three years; a drought which has led to heavy scrutiny of the roster construction. Luck missed the entirety of 2017 with a shoulder injury, but should be healthy for whomever the new coach is.
The Lions went next, firing head coach Jim Caldwell a year after a playoff berth. Caldwell signed a contract extension only last season, and shortly after the Lions signed quarterback Matthew Stafford to the richest contract in NFL history. However, the Lions went 9-7 and missed the playoffs in 2017. Caldwell finished his tenure 36-28, with his only losing season coming in 2015 at 7-9.
The Chicago Bears ended John Fox’s short tenure after a 5-11 season. Fox was 14-34 after three seasons in Chicago, finishing fourth in the NFC North each year. However, the Bears may have found their franchise quarterback in rookie Mitch Trubisky, hence they signed general manager Ryan Pace to a contract extension through the 2021 season.
Jack Del Rio may have been the most resounding firing of the day. Del Rio spent three seasons with the Raiders, going 7-9 in 2015, then 12-4 in 2016. However, the Raiders lost quarterback Derek Carr in the season finale and lost in the wild card game. They were unable to rebound in 2017, falling to a 6-10 record. According to rumours, the main reason behind firing Del Rio is the Raiders are already in extensive negations with former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.
Bruce Arians held the most poignant moment of the day, announcing a tearful retirement a day after beating the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. Arians had coached the Cardinals since 2013, tying for the most wins in franchise history (49). However, his health, and the Cardinal’s team health, had gotten the better. After losing all-pros quarterback Carson Palmer and running back David Johnson early in the year, the Cardinals limped to an 8-8 record in 2017. Arians finished his tenure with two playoff trips, including making it to the NFC Championship game in 2015.
Several teams made positive moves on the day. The New York Giants hired Dave Gettleman as their general manager after firing Jerry Reese early in the year. Across town, the New York Jets announced an extension of head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan through the 2020 season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos both had disappointing seasons, but announced their confidence in head coach Dirk Koetter and Vance Joseph respectively.
Finally, the Green Bay Packers fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers, and announced general manager Ted Thompson will be moving to a new role inside of the organization. Hence, the Packers will be looking for both a new general manager and defensive coordinator a year after finishing 7-9 with the NFL’s 26th ranked defense.