On the final day of the NFL’s regular season, the job security of no fewer than a third of the league’s 32 coaches has been the subject of rabid speculation.
Cleveland ended some of that speculation before the late-afternoon games were even finished, firing head coach Mike Pettine, this after parting ways with general manager Ray Farmer earlier on Sunday in a clean sweep. Pettine completed a 3-13 season, his second with the team, by losing to Pittsburgh, lowering his overall record to 10-22. Farmer started the season serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s electronic device policy by texting the sideline during games.
The 5-11 San Francisco 49ers also decided they couldn’t wait until all the NFL games were over Sunday. During the Vikings-Packers night game, the team announced that “Jim Tomsula has been relieved of his head coaching duties.” Tomsula went one-and-done in that position, after having had to replace Jim Harbaugh with a crumbling roster that included a rapidly regressing quarterback in Colin Kaepernick.
The most likely coaching change yet to come may occur in New York, where Tom Coughlin’s Giants have had a disappointing season that often concerned decisions made by the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach. Coughlin, 69, is expected to meet with Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, two of the more patient owners in the league, on Monday and it would surprise few if Coughlin chose to retire.
There could be a change at general manager, too, with GM Jerry Reese on the hot seat. Shaun O’Hara, the former Giants player, ripped the team’s roster on the NFL Network.
In Dallas, where the Cowboys completed a disappointing four-win season with a loss to the Washington Redskins, Jason Garrett’s job security has been the subject of speculation, particularly if Sean Payton were to become available. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Garrett will return. There will be no upheaval in the front office, where the team may be the weakest, with owner Jerry Jones calling the personnel shots.
Perhaps the least surprising firing could come in Indianapolis, where Coach Chuck Pagano and the Colts have had a disastrous season of injuries to Andrew Luck and discord with General Manager Ryan Grigson. Pagano has been philosophical about his future and would seem to have coaching opportunities elsewhere. Grigson’s future may hinge on whomever the team hires as coach. If owner Jim Irsay wants a big name, working for Grigson, who has failed to put together a roster to protect Luck, could be a deal breaker.
In Detroit, there will be a new front office and it is unclear whether owner Martha Firestone Ford’s housecleaning will extend to Coach Jim Caldwell. Most Sunday morning reports, though, indicated that Caldwell would return in 2016 unless the new general manager wants a change.
The Miami Dolphins made a bold move early in the season by firing Joe Philbin and giving the interim head coach job to Dan Campbell, but the team’s 4-7 results under Campbell were termed “disappointing” by owner Stephen Ross and a change is likely in order, especially if Ross wants to pursue a big name like Payton or Chip Kelly.
Payton will meet with New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis this week to discuss his future. He’s under contract, but ESPN reports that Loomis may allow him to talk to other teams about prospective employment (with compensation to the Saints). Those possibilities could include Philadelphia, where the Eagles fired Kelly last week, or the New York Giants or perhaps Miami.
At times during the season, Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams, Mike McCoy of the San Diego Chargers and Mike Mularkey of the Tennessee Titans have been on the hot seat, but, as of Sunday, multiple reports indicated that they were likely to return in ’16.
As for who steps up, the list of hot replacements around the league includes: Adam Gase, Josh McDaniels, Mike Shula, Sean McDermott, Teryl Austin, Hue Jackson and Doug Marrone.
Oh, and that Chip Kelly guy is available, too. Remember, his team did twice go 10-6.