NFL Black Monday Tracker 2013
Black Monday is here. Which coaches and GMs will get their walking papers with the 2013 season in the books?
Find all the latest updates on firings below.
• Tale of the Tape: 7-9 in 2013; 29-51 overall in five seasons with the Lions; 0-1 in the playoffs.
• What Went Wrong: How much time do you have?
Injuries to Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler giftwrapped the NFC North and left it sitting on Detroit’s doorstep. The Lions rejected the offer with ferocity, losing three of their last four at home and six of their last seven overall to drop all the way to third place. The offense never really took off as most envisioned it would, with Matthew Stafford’s development leveling off — and then dipping. Likewise, the defense failed to ever find consistent footing in Schwartz’s tenure, a disappointing development given Schwartz’s background on that side of the football.
All that said, lingering discipline and effort issues may have been Schwartz’s ultimate undoing. The Lions had myriad off-field troubles under Schwartz’s watch and some high-profile miscues on the field, like Ndamukong Suh’s infamous stomp. Even down to their final few games in 2013, they were plagued by preventable penalties likes offsides and delays of game.
There’s almost no question that Schwartz would have returned in 2014 had the Lions found some way to win two more games and take the division title — their first since 1993. But despite holding fourth-quarter leads in each of their last nine games, the Lions could not get that done. So they’re starting over again.
• Roster Outlook: Money is going to be a huge issue this offseason, as the Lions already have upwards of $124 million on the books for 2014 with the cap projected to settle around $126 million. Even worse, there are not many obvious spots for them to create room. Releasing safety Louis Delmas and WR Nate Burleson would save about $11.5 million, but that’s about it in terms of substantial savings.
The Lions have danced around the cap in recent years by renegotiating contracts with guys like Ndamukong Suh and Matthew Stafford. The result: Suh’s cap hit for 2014 is set to top $22 million; Stafford is up over $15 million (and carries a whopping $43 million dead-money hit, in case you’re pondering a trade or something equally far-fetched).
Fortunately for the next coach, the cupboard’s not exactly bare here. The offense starts with Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush, plus an offensive line that is much better than most people realize. Defensively, Suh and Nick Fairley will be back to anchor the D-line, flanked by 2013 first-round pick Ziggy Ansah.
The linebacking corps and secondary remain problem spots, as does the No. 2 receiver position. Losing TE Brandon Pettigrew to free agency would leave Detroit down a key starter there, too.
• Possible replacements: Bill O’Brien, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt, Jon Gruden
– Chris Burke
• Tale of the tape: Schiano was 11-21 in two seasons as head coach; Tampa Bay was 28-52 in Dominik’s five seasons as GM.
• What Went Wrong: Schiano set the bar relatively high over his first 10 games with the Buccaneers, pushing his team to a 6-4 start and playoff contention in 2012. But Tampa Bay lost five of its final six games last season plus the first eight in 2013 — a 1-13 stretch that really cranked up the heat.
The real tipping point may have come at quarterback. The Buccaneers attempted again this season to turn Josh Freeman into a franchise player at that position, only to watch as he lethargically forced his way out of town. Rookie Mike Glennon provided a boost, briefly, but struggled down the stretch.
Tampa Bay also dealt with multiple MRSA outbreaks in the locker room, including one that led to kicker Lawrence Tynes fighting the franchise over the origin of his illness. Such a situation cannot be held against either Schiano or Dominik, but it merely added another trying element onto a situation that was spinning out of control.
An early injury to star running back Doug Martin certainly did not help matters, though the Bucs were 0-6 with him in the lineup. Tampa Bay finished with the 30th-ranked offense in the league, while the defense regressed as the season went along — up to and including a 42-17 Week 17 meltdown, in which the Saints passed for 370 yards.
• Roster Outlook: Financially, the Buccaneers are well set up for 2014, with an estimated $10 million in cap space plus some carryover from 2013 savings. They have a long list of potential free agents, but none of them really appear to be of critical importance.
And the remaining roster could give the next coach/GM combo a chance at a quick, Chiefs-like turnaround. Martin should be healthy again for 2014, with WR Vincent Jackson also back off a 78-catch season. The line is steady and some unexpected players — Glennon and RB Bobby Rainey, for starters — emerged as contributors.
There’s also that Darrelle Revis guy on defense, paired with 2013 second-rounder Johnthan Banks at corner. In front of them, LB Lavonte David has developed quickly into one of the NFL’s best at his position, joining elite DT Gerald McCoy.
The cupboard is far from bare.
• Possible Replacement(s): Adam Gase, Mike Zimmer, Darrell Bevell, Kevin Sumlin, Bill O’Brien
– Chris Burke
• Tale of the tape: 3-13 in 2013; 24-40 in the regular season overall; 0-1 in the postseason
• What Went Wrong: As Bill Cosby once said of another matter, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Shanahan was Dan Snyder’s perhaps most credible coaching hire outside of Joe Gibbs, and after two bumpy years partially mandated by the franchise’s previous personnel bunglings, Shanahan was able to put it all together in 2012. Washington’s move to give multiple first-round picks to the St. Louis Rams for the right to move up and take Robert Griffin III was repaid spectacularly in the short term when Griffin played at an MVP level in his rookie season.
But knee injuries, which had been an issue for Griffin even at Baylor, came back up to bite the Redskins in the regular season and the postseason. Griffin missed the entire 2013 preseason from a training perspective, leaving him unable to develop as Shanahan and son Kyle, the team’s offensive coordinator, would have preferred. Shanahan’s decision to bench Griffin for the last three games of the 2013 season seemed as much a shot at Snyder as an actual football decision.
In addition, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was unable to marry personnel to scheme, and personnel was a pretty big issue overall.
• Roster Outlook: Griffin can still be great if he’s healthy and able to get with offseason programs, and running back Alfred Morris is an underrated gem. But whoever replaces the Shanahans will have some work to do. Outside of left tackle Trent Williams, the Redskins’ offensive line needs an overhaul, and while the receivers are pretty good overall — Pierre Garcon in particular this last season — a true impact guy could really help.
On defense, a replacement for the retiring London Fletcher is needed. There’s probably more talent in the defensive front than people think, and the secondary needs a lot of help. The Redskins aren’t too far away from having a competitive team again — one could say that the firing was more about a bad situation between coaching staff and front office than a true reflection of the team’s talent level.
• Possible Replacement(s): Bill O’Brien, Lovie Smith, Darrell Bevell, Russ Grimm, Art Briles, Jay Gruden. Really, Snyder could go in all sorts of directions. He likes big names, and he may be attracted to a college coach because that’s the acceptable trend.
– Doug Farrar
• Tale of the Tape: 5-10-1 in 2013; 21-32-1 in the regular season over four years and three full seasons; 0-1 in the postseason.
• What Went Wrong: The Vikings were never able to find their franchise quarterback during Frazier’s tenure, and that was the biggest part of Frazier’s downfall. They tried with Florida State’s Christian Ponder in the first round of the 2011 draft, but Ponder was simply too limited. Veteran Matt Cassel was decent enough, but hardly an overwhelming talent. The Vikings picked Josh Freeman up off the scrap heap and inexplicably gave him $3 million to start one game, play terribly and sit on the bench the rest of the season after Freeman was released from Tampa Bay.
In addition, Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman were unable to re-frame Minnesota’s formerly impressive defense. The secondary has been singularly unimpressive, young pass-rushers have been hard to find outside of Brian Robison, and Frazier’s adherence to Cover-2 and Tampa-2 principles at the expense of the flexibility demanded by today’s NFL probably sealed his fate. Basically, without Adrian Peterson rushing for over 2,000 yards in 2012, Frazier’s coaching tenure would be almost completely unremarkable. It was time for a change.
• Roster Outlook: The Vikings clearly need that franchise quarterback, and they’ll have a high pick to find one. Peterson seems to have superhuman regenerative powers, the offensive line is pretty solid and Cordarrelle Patterson showed enough as a rookie receiver to get people really excited.
The defense is the problem. Jared Allen may be gone, the linebackers are not world-class in a general sense (Chad Greenway makes a lot of plays on both sides of the good/bad ledger) and the cornerbacks are among the worst in the league, rookie Xavier Rhodes excepted. The team needs new schematic ideas on both sides of the ball, and the kind of players able to make a real difference around a few freakishly talented cogs.
• Possible Replacement(s): Darrell Bevell, James Franklin, Kevin Sumlin. The Vikings are said to prefer a college coach, perhaps to assist in future drafts.
– Doug Farrar
• Tale of the tape: 4-12 record in 2013; 4-12 record with team overall.
• What Went Wrong: Well, for starters, it seems as if the Browns had second thoughts from the get-go about hiring Chudzinski, a first-time head coach. That speaks as much to the dysfunction in Cleveland’s front office as it does to Chudzinski’s abilities.
The season actually started surprisingly well for a Browns team not expected to go very far in 2013. They ran off three straight wins in late September/early October, with Brian Hoyer at quarterback, to get above .500 and still sat at 4-5 headed into their bye.
From there, disaster. The Browns lost their last seven games, giving up 27 points or more in five of them as Ray Horton’s defense crumpled behind a struggling offense. Even though the Trent Richardson trade looked brilliant in bringing back a Round 1 pick, the Browns never found a true No. 1 RB. And with issues at quarterback continuing to linger, that was too much to overcome.
• Roster Outlook: The Browns do have some talented pieces in place — WR Josh Gordon is a burgeoning star, Joe Thomas a standout left tackle and Joe Haden a very solid No. 1 cornerback.
Aside from finding the aforementioned starting quarterback, running back (and help at wide receiver), the biggest decision might surround what to do with center Alex Mack. He’s arguably the best at this position in the league, meaning he’ll have a chance to cash in as a free agent, though he’s reportedly said he will allow Cleveland the chance to match any offer. Would the Browns consider using a franchise tag instead?
Much of what happens from here with the roster will be determined by the schemes of the next staff. (The Browns will reportedly retain the coaching staff for now and begin their search for a new head coach with them in place.) The Chudzinski era was built around a vertical passing attack and 3-4 defense. Cleveland may have to go back to the drawing board.
• Possible Replacement(s): Josh McDaniels, Bill O’Brien, Lovie Smith, Kevin Sumlin, Ray Horton
– Chris Burke