NFL Black Monday Preview
This holiday season may be merry and bright, but the mood is about to change in the NFL. Black Monday is nearly upon us – the Monday after the end of the regular season, which happens to land on New Year’s Eve this time around.
This is the day that underperforming teams traditionally cut loose their head coaches. Who will be the first coach to get the axe this year?
We already know the answer. According to reports from last Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals are going to give Steve Wilks the boot after they play the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17. These reports make it difficult to enjoy the usual Black Monday tradition of picking which coach is next on the chopping block. But we can still speculate, using the NFL odds posted at Bovada earlier this month.
Todd Bowles, New York Jets (+150)
Nobody said life was fair. Bowles was hired by the Jets in 2015 after he was named AP Assistant Coach of the Year for his work as Arizona’s defensive coordinator. In his first season with the Jets, they went 10-6 with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback – but missed the playoffs. FitzMagic stopped working for them in 2016, and the 4-11 Jets are the worst team in the AFC East for the third year in a row. Bowles will land on his feet somewhere.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals (+400)
It’s not Lewis’ fault that the 6-9 Bengals have been devastated by injuries, most notably to QB Andy Dalton (thumb). But this will be Cincinnati’s third straight year missing the postseason. People are clamoring for change, and Lewis is an easy target having been around since 2003 with zero playoff wins to show for it. Here’s the tricky part: The Bengals don’t have to fire Lewis. They have a team option for 2019 that they can simply choose not to exercise.
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+500)
The revolving door continues in Tampa. This sad-sack franchise is on its fourth head coach since letting Jon Gruden go 10 years ago. Koetter has one of the NFL’s most volatile commodities in QB Jameis Winston, who vacillates between Pro Bowl pivot and medical/organizational nightmare. Fitzpatrick outplayed Winston by a considerable margin this year, but if anyone’s going to get canned by the 5-10 Bucs, it won’t be their first-overall pick from 2015 – it’ll be the man under the headset.
Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins (+700)
The Dolphins might have the most dysfunctional front office in football – yes, even more so than Tampa Bay. Again, Gase isn’t the real problem here; he did very well to get Miami to 7-8 with Brock Osweiler starting five games in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill. As one of the more respected offensive minds in football, Gase will probably survive Black Monday, but you never know with these guys.
Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos (+1000)
Joseph was ranked No. 30 out of the league’s 32 head coaches by the NFL’s own website back in June. He’s an odd fit on the Broncos, who will miss the playoffs after going 6-8 in their first 14 games, but Joseph may have earned new life by coaxing a three-game winning streak out of this offensively-challenged team, including back-to-back wins over the L.A. Chargers (–7.5 at Bovada) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (–3 away).
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers (+1200)
Getting your team to a Super Bowl doesn’t guarantee you anything these days. The Panthers almost always have a strong defense with Rivera at the controls, but this is not one of those years – and their offense is on the fritz, too, with QB Cam Newton (shoulder) and TE Greg Olsen (foot) among the walking wounded. Expect Rivera to still have his job in 2019, at least at the start of the new season. Everything is on the table after that.