Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Black Monday and the Hope of a Better Tomorrow

One of the less than uplifting days of the year falls on the Monday following the end of the NFL regular season. Dubbed “Black Monday,” this is the day every year when many struggling head coaches are sent packing. This year, seven head coaches and several general managers were fired, leaving the door wide open for new guys to be hired across the league. Andy Reid, now former coach of the Eagles, acted extremely quickly and got the job with the Kansas City Chiefs, the team he felt gave him the most control over personnel.

Black Monday can also give college coaches or lesser known coordinators the opportunity to make the big bucks as an NFL head coach. Soon after Reid was hired, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone bolted for the Buffalo Bills after they offered him the position. For college coaches like Marrone, NFL jobs not only offer more prestige and responsibility, but a much bigger paycheck as well. Marrone, who earned around $1 million salary at Syracuse, is sure to see a significant pay increase in Buffalo. This is no small factor in the decision making process for college coaches getting offers at the NFL level. No matter how much loyalty/importance a coach has to a program (Bill O’Brien, Chip Kelly, countless others in recent years), the allure and financial rewards of NFL jobs may be too much to pass up.

Even after Reid and Marrone were hired, there are still five head coaching jobs open in the NFL: Philadelphia, Chicago, San Diego, Arizona, and Cleveland. Chicago seems to be the most sought after position, considering they already have a stable quarterback and a good defense. The other teams don’t have those same luxuries, with all four having quarterback situations that are relatively up in the air. Philadelphia is expected to let Michael Vick go, San Diego’s Phillip Rivers has had a miserable last two seasons, and Arizona and Cleveland have to decide whether their current QB’s can really get the job done in the long term. Any coach who takes those jobs needs to be prepared to make tough decisions right off the bat. Luckily all of those teams have the opportunity to build from the draft and their high first round picks. Recent history shows that immediate success in the NFL can be accomplished. Just this season, both the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings rebounded from 2 and 3 win seasons to make the playoffs. However, those teams both had the return/emergence of franchise players Adrian Peterson and Andrew Luck. Any head coach who gets the job in Philadelphia, San Diego, Arizona, or Cleveland needs to be ready for struggles early on in the season, but if he’s smart and has enough control to implement his system, these teams could rebound sooner rather than later. 

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