More Sports:

January 03, 2015

NFL's Black Monday fairly quiet, but coaching carousel certainly isn't

After the 2014 NFL season ended, coaching vacancies came in all different ways

There are currently six head coaching vacancies in the NFL, but this wasn’t a typical Black Monday by any means. Only three coaches were given pink slips following the end of a lackluster 2014 season. There were five such firings last year, and seven the year before.

Regardless, the NFL isn’t hurting for news as 20 of its teams head into the offseason. Let’s take a quick look at the current situation for each team currently without a coach:

Atlanta Falcons

What Happened: Head coach Mike Smith was fired after compiling a 66-46 record in seven seasons.

What’s Next For The Coach: Besides resembling the actor that played Betty Draper’s father on “Mad Men,” Smith isn’t a huge personality. He did a lot of winning in Atlanta, though. "It's a fact Smitty was the most successful coach in the history of the Falcons franchise," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said on Black Monday. Prior to Atlanta, Smith was a successful defensive coordinator in Jacksonville. The guess here is a similar position is his next stop.

What’s Next For The Organization
: “Hard Knocks” strikes again! General manager Thomas Dimitroff’s job is safe… for now. It wasn’t only Smith’s fault that the Falcons defense finished 29th and 32nd in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings the past two years. Fortunately for Atlanta, they still play in a division where both hosting a Week 17 play-in game and securing the eighth overall pick in the upcoming draft is possible at the same time.

Chicago Bears

What Happened: Head coach Marc Trestman was fired after going 13-19 in two seasons. General manager Phil Emery was let go after three seasons in that role.

What’s Next For The Coach
: The most intriguing option is Trestman joining his Bears predecessor, Lovie Smith, as offensive coordinator in Tampa. Bucs quarterback Josh McCown experienced the most success of his career under Trestman in 2013, and The Tampa Tribune is reporting McCown has talked up his old coach. Unfortunately for McCown, Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston will likely be the Bucs starter next year.

What’s Next For The Organization: $36 million guaranteed to Jay Cutler. That is what’s next.

New York Jets

What Happened: Head coach Rex Ryan was let go after six years and a 50-52 record. General manager John Idzik received his walking papers after two seasons.

What’s Next For The Coach: The biggest name on the market, Ryan will have a plethora of options. With two conference championship appearances on his résumé, he’ll be in demand for multiple head coaching openings. If none of those materialize, he’ll head to television and be a huge success. Many local fans are dreaming of another Ryan running the Eagles defense, but a dream is exactly what that seems to be.

What’s Next For The Organization: Unlike two years ago, Jets owner Woody Johnson won’t hire a GM with a coach already in place. Johnson appears to have some interest in Doug Marrone, who we’ll touch on later.

San Francisco 49ers

What Happened: After four seasons, a 49-22-1 record, three conference championship game appearances, and a Super Bowl trip, the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh mutually decided to go their separate ways.

What’s Next For The Coach
: The Utah Utes on September 3. Harbaugh signed a seven-year contract with the University of Michigan that is in the neighborhood of $40 million dollars, which could buy quite a few pairs of khakis. Entrenched at his alma mater, Harbaugh is the Big Ten’s problem now.

What’s Next For The Organization: Now that the organization can move past football’s worst-kept secret, 49ers CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke need to find a new coach. Coming off a disappointing 8-8 season marred by legal issues and injuries, San Francisco is still the most attractive job on the market. Many outside candidates will be interviewed, but well-liked defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is an in-house option if the 49ers want to opt for continuity.

Buffalo Bills

What Happened: On Wednesday, after two years and a 15-17 record, head coach Doug Marrone exercised an opt-out clause that was only made available to him by the Bills’ October ownership change.

What’s Next For The Coach: Marrone can already cash his 2015 salary of $4 million from the Bills, for which his agent should be commended. The Bronx native and former Jets offensive line coach is considered one of the frontrunners to replace Rex Ryan. Such a move would at least theoretically make next year’s Bills-Jets games interesting. Well, as interesting as games possibly prominently involving Geno Smith and EJ Manuel can be.

What’s Next For The Team
: New owner Terry Pegula has to pay two coaches for the upcoming season, which can’t be too pleasant. Many reports indicate San Diego offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who led the Bills during “The Comeback” two decades ago, is reportedly high on Buffalo’s wish list.

Oakland Raiders

What Happened: The Raiders ended the season 3-13 and 3-9 with interim head coach Tony Sparano at the helm.

What’s Next: Maybe burying footballs sort of works? The Raiders were pretty competitive toward the end of the season under Sparano, and there is a chance that the coach’s interim tag could simply be removed. In a bit of a local tie-in, Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will also be interviewed for the position.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.