Black Monday is here for a lot of NFL teams. At the end of every NFL season, there is a surge of firings that happen. Some have been expected for weeks and some will be a complete surprise. It definitely makes you happy to be a Ravens' fan and know that jobs are safe as the Ravens see yet another playoff game.
We'll look a little into each firing and what it means for the team going forward. Keep refreshing as pink slips are still finding their homes.
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh - Mutually agreement to part ways
Three NFC Championship games. 1 Super Bowl appearance. A 49-22-1 record
The brother of the Ravens' own John Harbaugh was reportedly out a few weeks ago regardless of the outcome of this season. A move that is baffling given the quick record he was able to achieve in his time with San Francisco. However, it looks as though his fiery personality clashed with veteran players, GM Trent Baalke and even the owner Jed York. Harbaugh had always thought that he deserved to have full control over the roster and it is more apparent that he should have as he leaves a roster less talented than when he began his tenure.
The 49ers have a solid defense when healthy, but that was not the case this season as they lost both inside linebackers to injury. The defensive line had it's own issues with consistency that was partially due to old age and to off-field issues for Aldon Smith. A very good secondary that only allowed 220.7 yards per game through the air while grabbing a league high 23 interceptions should see this defense return to prominince next season for whoever decides they want the job.
Offensively, the 49ers are tied to quarterback Colin Kaepernick for the short term. 2014 showed that Kaepernick's game might have been figured out by opposing defenses as he had a pretty pedestrian year overall, with some downright awful games. They will likely be without running back Frank Gore, who is a free agent and is towards the end of his playing career. The receiving corps is full of big names, but outside of Anquan Boldin, no other player has really panned out as expected. With a passing game in much need of repair, the 49ers will need to rely on the rushing attack in order to keep Kaepernick healthy and see if they actually have a franchise quarterback.
Head Coach Rex Ryan, GM John Idzik - Fired
Rex Ryan, the defensive guru and loud mouth fit in perfectly with the Jets to start his tenure. Riding a roster that had hidden talent in it and players that would have died for him, Ryan was able to see back-to-back AFC Championship games despite not having a quarterback worthy of that level of play. Over the years, his schtick wore thin on players and fans alike, while a roster slowly depleting itself due to overspending and mismanagement certainly didn't help Ryan get the most backup to help him out. Finally, two failed quarterbacks selected in the first round was his undoing as any head coach needs to be able to field either an elite defense capable of winning a championship or groom a franchise quarterback capable of winning a championship.
The Jets have a roster that needs some major overhauling at this point due to overspending from GM John Idzik and then criminally underspending last season. With two quarterbacks that are either incapable of leading the team or are just too beat up to do it, the roster is not too bright on that front. Offensively, the Jets do have Percy Harvin and Eric Decker, as well as a running attack that isn't awful; which should help any quarterback that the new regime wants to stick behind center.
Defensively, the Jets have a pretty bright looking defensive line that should be there for a few more years with Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. They need help in the linebacking and corner department, but with good pick in the NFL Draft, they should be able to find a starter for any of the numerous holes they have on both sides of the ball. Taking a BPA approach will work well for this team for the next few years as they find starters and can groom a capable roster up. This is not a one year fix however and any coach and GM coming in should be aware of the work that they will have to put in.
Head Coach Mike Smith - Fired
A 66-46 record couldn't save Mike Smith from a failing season that was expected to be a Super Bowl contending year. Ultimately, his inability to do well in-game or to coach a stacked roster to anything better than a 1-4 postseason record is why Smith is on the outside looking in.
The Falcons definitely have one of the better rosters if you are a head coaching candidate. With a franchise quarterback and plenty of weapons including Julio Jones and Roddy White, this offense is poised to be a top five offense every year and will only get better with a good draft pick either at running back or along the offensive line where the Falcons have had some trouble over the years.
Defensively, the unit has been a victim of money going to the offensive side of the ball. However, they did surprisingly mediocre against the run in 2014. They will need help in the secondary as they were last in the league in pass yards per game allowed, but the right scheme and 1 player in the secondary can really make a major difference for this team.
Head Coach Marc Trestman, GM Phil Emery - Fired
Two short seasons see Trestman looking for a new job, while Emery got three years to prove his worth. The defense this year was absolutely abysmal when it really shouldn't have been and Cutler regressed even further to the point where you wonder if they will be keeping him next season or if they want to completely cut ties and try to regroup with a new player behind center. Trestman was brought in to help bring Cutler to the next level, something that was said repeatedly in both offseasons for the Bears. When that didn't happen and the Bears just refused to give anything close to 100% effort at any point in the season, Trestman was on the way out. Then focus turned to the GM that gave Cutler $120 million that the Bears are tied to right now.
Again, another team that put a lot of it's eggs on the offensive basket and would be a good choice for a head coaching candidate to get the best chance of early success. With Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett receiving options and Matt Forte behind center, a game manager quarterback could do decently with the offense in the first year. If Jay Cutler comes back and is willing to actually try, it could be quite a potent offense.
Defensively is where things get far muddier. The 31st ranked defense in points allowed per game, the Bears need an immediate overhaul in a few different spots. It is likely that Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs are either going to retire or won't be resigned in the offseason. They do have some bright spots though, including rookie corner Kyle Fuller and defensive end Willie Young.
They need to keep building up the offensive line, add some defensive starters through the draft and free agency and they could immediately compete for a playoff spot.