Winds of Change: The Return of NFL’s Black Monday

By Ron Johnson

As the NFL begins to shift into Postseason Mode, several organizations are already starting to make moves towards a future without the current regime. Yesterday and all the way into this morning, we saw several teams issue pink slips to members of their front office and coaching staff. 

Here’s the latest in the Happy Trails Saga.


Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons: Following three straight seasons of misery and no postseason berths, the Falcons decided that it was time to cut ties with head coach Arthur Smith. Just hours after the team’s 48-17 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, Smith met with Falcons owner Arthur Blank and CEO Rich McKay to inform him of their decision to let him go.

Smith’s final record with the team will remain at 21-30 with zero playoff appearances.

Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders: After four seasons with the Commanders, Ron Rivera’s time has come to an end. Following the purchase of the franchise in July of last year, Rivera knew that the upcoming season would be put up or shut up time for him. Despite not posting a winning season in his first three seasons with the team, Rivera was given a reprieve. Even after the team lost 45-10 to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and Jack Del Rio was given the long overdue boot, Rivera was still kept as head coach. 


But it only took 12 hours after the Commanders fell 38-10 to Dallas on Sunday for the new ownership to decide that it is indeed time for a change. With the termination of Rivera, Washington has not completely said who they are eyeing as his replacement. Many have speculated that Bill Belichick may be in their crosshairs, but there are others in their crosshairs just in case Belichick does not pan out. 

Among the names are Ravens Assistant Anthony Weaver, Lions DC Aaron Glenn, Lions OC Ben Johnson and Rams DC Raheem Morris, however, they do have someone who could be a great fit for the job, and he’s already on their payroll. Many may not think this is a good option, but Eric Bienemy is the same guy that led the Chiefs offense to two Super Bowl wins in the past few years.

Either way, the team did announce that they have hired former Warriors GM Bob Myers and former Vikings GM Rick Spielman to run the search for Washington’s new head coach. 

Daboll Cleans House: After a dismal performance this season, New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll along with GM Joe Schoen announced a sort of mass exodus of coaching changes that will have the Giants looking different next season. Daboll fired Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey and O-Line Coach Bobby Johnson while announcing that RB coach Jeff Nixon was hired by Syracuse to be their new OC and Strength and Conditioning Coach Craig Fitzgerald was hired by Florida.

Panthers Exterminate the Source: When Frank Reich was fired in November, many expected the Panthers to show some form of tenacity on the field. When that tenacity did not result in some wins, they took out the other guy responsible for the dismal performance of the Panthers this season. On what has been dubbed Black Monday, GM Scott Fitterer was informed that after three years with the organization that he would no longer be a part of it moving forward. 


Belichick Departing, while McVay Staying?: The biggest news out of the sports world is the future of Bill Belichick. The Patriots have suffered their worst losing season in decades, and Belichick has been rather mum about his future with the organization. And while Robert Kraft has not stated one way or the other Bill’s future, other organizations are already making moves to try to lure him away from Foxboro. A few of those teams appear to be the Chargers, Panthers, Falcons and Commanders. With all four teams in need of a new head coach, who do you think will gather the most attention of the Hoodie One?


In other news, Rams head coach Sean McVay has decided to return next season regardless of how this weekend’s Wild Card Showdown turns out. When asked about whether he would be returning next season, McVay responded to J.B. Long with the best answer for Rams fan: “That I can promise you.” McVay also got himself a victory off the field as he and his wife Veronika welcomed their first child, a son, back in October. Will McVay’s return be enough to keep stars like Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald in the mix for one more match? I would say let’s just wait to see how the team holds up against former Rams QB Jared Goff and Detroit in Matthew Stafford’s homecoming back to the Motor City.