The NFL regular season has ended. The playoffs have begun, and we’ve already had some great games. However, the regular season’s end also means it’s time to fill NFL head coaching vacancies following Black Monday and mid-season fireings.
So-called based on the mass head coach exodus that happens every year, the first Monday (and ensuing days) after the regular season ends is a time that strikes fear into coaches who have had less-than-stellar seasons. Coaches will always strive to put up wins, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always come to pass. Sometimes, the loss column fills up quicker than the wins, and the coaches are shown the door.
This season isn’t any different, so let’s take a look at eight coaches who have already fallen under the axe or taken a step down.
NFL Head Coaching Vacancies Review (2024)
Frank Reich (Carolina Panthers) | 11 Games (Fired Mid-Season)
The Carolina Panthers had the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They wanted to hit a home run and brought in Frank Reich to help guide them. With their first pick, they took quarterback Bryce Young, who was considered a smart, hard-working young man with a great skill set, just a little short in stature.
However, even this addition to the team wasn’t enough to help Reich keep his job. Eleven games into the season, Panthers owner David Tepper fired Reich. Sometimes, when the axe falls, it falls quickly, and you don’t have time to prepare.
Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders) | 1 Season, 8 Games (Fired Mid-Season)
Josh McDaniels comes from the New England Patriots coaching tree. After 13 seasons working with Bill Belichick and serving as the offensive coordinator for three Super Bowl wins, everyone thought McDaniels was ready for his own team. But only eight games into his second season, he was let go. The Raiders struggled to find consistent quarterback play throughout the season, and the offense just couldn’t get off the ground. This was his second time as a head coach (he led the Broncos from 2009-2010, where he was fired mid-second season). Will he get a third opportunity?
Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers) | 2 Seasons, 14 Games (fired mid-season)
The Los Angeles Chargers have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Justin Herbert. However, having one of the top quarterbacks isn’t enough to put victories into the win column. Staley came to the Chargers after serving as the Rams’ defensive coordinator for one season. Staley is known for going for it on fourth down, but as we’ve seen, that’s not always the best strategy. Maybe trying something different would have kept him off the chopping block for one more season.
Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons) | 3 Seasons
There are some coaches that fans don’t really like, and then there are coaches that you just absolutely cannot stand. Arthur Smith is one that fantasy football players universally can’t stand. The Falcons selected Bijan Robinson in the 2023 NFL Draft. He was hailed as one of the best running backs to be drafted in years, and his fantasy football expectations were sky-high. The only problem was that Smith didn’t get the same memo. After a third season with the same mediocre 7-10 record, the axe fell, and every fantasy football manager cheered on Black Monday.
Ron Rivera (Washington Commanders) | 4 Seasons
“Riverboat” Ron Rivera just didn’t have the right cards for a winning hand this season. After going .500 last season, the Commanders stayed with Rivera for another deal. Rivera hired Eric Bieniemy as his offensive coordinator and named Sam Howell the starting quarterback. Unfortunately, the best they could manage was four wins, which was not enough to save Rivera from being let go by new Washington owner Josh Harris.
Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans) | 6 Seasons
One of the biggest surprises of the NFL’s Black Monday was the Titans cutting ties with Mike Vrabel. The Ohio native seemed to be building a positive culture in Tennessee, but after finishing the last two seasons under .500, ownership thought it was time to go in a new direction. I don’t see Vrabel waiting long for a new job, though. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Vrabel takes a new team to the playoffs before Tennessee returns to a winning season.
Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks) | 14 Seasons
Another major surprise was Pete Carroll stepping down or being forced out (however you want to spin it) as the head coach of the Seahawks after finishing 9-8 for the second season in a row. But even at age 72, Carroll seems to have more energy and desire to keep coaching football. Carroll led the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl in 2013. The big question is: Does he still have enough gas in the tank to try it again?
Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) | 24 Seasons
The headline reads a mutual parting of the way. And after 24 seasons, not seeing Belichick on the sideline in his classic hoodie will be different. However, I don’t think we will be waiting long to see him back on the sidelines. He should be the first call for teams looking for a coach; Belichick is a six-time Super Bowl-winning coach and in the G.O.A.T. conversation. He understands how to build a culture and get players to play to their highest potential. Don’t close the book on him just yet.
I am not sure who fills these NFL head coaching vacancies or where all these coaches will end up, but I am sure many will wind up with head coaching jobs elsewhere. At one time, many of these coaches were considered to be among the best at their position, and there will be new positions still to open up this offseason. Black Monday has stretched to include the days that follow, and more coaches will could still fall to the axe. Only time will tell who and what opportunities will open up for someone else. We’ll be watching.
Thanks for checking out my review on the NFL head coaching vacancies. Looking for more fantasy football advice? Follow me on Twitter @sdcochran99.
You never hit a home run by bunting!
*Photo Credit: David Butler II – USA TODAY Sports*