This year’s Black Monday could be particularly ugly. Two coaches who have been to the Super Bowl — Carolina’s Ron Rivera and Atlanta’s Dan Quinn — could lose their jobs. And the only seat hotter than Jason Garrett’s after the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving loss to Buffalo was the turkey’s in the oven.
But owners who go shopping for a new coach in early January could find themselves with few attractive options. Most within the league said it’s going to be tough to find seven to eight qualified replacements. Since 2010, there have been 66 coaching hires, dwindling the pool of accomplished assistants, and early success has been hard to come by in recent years. If you count the Washington Redskins, who fired Jay Gruden after five games this year and replaced him with Bill Callahan, nine of the 10 teams with the worst records in the NFL have coaches who were hired this year or last.
Let’s take a look at the coaches at risk of losing their jobs at season’s end, ranked from most in danger to most likely to survive. (This list doesn’t include Callahan, who is unlikely to be retained by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.)
1. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars: Two years ago, the Jaguars went 10-6 and went to the AFC championship game, taking advantage of the league’s easiest schedule. Last year, their roster consisted of eight defensive players who have made a Pro Bowl, but the team went 5-11. This year, they are a disaster at 4-8, and they were blown away at home, 28-11, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Tom Coughlin paid $22 million per year to quarterback Nick Foles in the hopes he would get the Jaguars back to the playoffs. Instead, he’s 0-4 and got benched Sunday at halftime. Marrone figures to go, but it’s not out of the question that Coughlin could also be replaced as the team’s personnel decision-maker.
2. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys: Owner Jerry Jones had already called out the coaching staff, even before an 11-point loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys’ best playoff hope is to win the NFC East, but that won’t be enough to save Garrett’s job; he’ll need to win a postseason game or two to get a contract extension.
The Cowboys have a league-high 15 players who have been to the Pro Bowl. This team is too talented to be 6-6 overall and 0-5 against teams with winning records.
3. Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons: Owner Arthur Blank stood by Quinn a couple of weeks ago, and Atlanta came out of its bye with two nice wins. But the Thanksgiving loss to the Saints eliminated the Falcons (3-9) from playoff contention. Despite investing heavily in their offensive line via the draft and free agency in the offseason, the Falcons gave up nine sacks to the Saints and were dominated at the line of scrimmage.
Since the Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, the Falcons are 20-24 in the regular season. Changes are coming.
4. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers: Owner David Tepper said two weeks ago that he won’t accept long-term mediocrity. He said he has trouble sleeping after losses and ends up being in a bad mood the next day.
Imagine his mood after Sunday’s 29-21 loss to the Redskins. At 5-7, the Panthers are all but eliminated from the playoff chase. Since Tepper bought the team for $2.2 billion, the Panthers are 13-16 and face a critical decision of whether to keep oft-injured Cam Newton. Rivera will have a hard time keeping his job.
5. Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions: The Thanksgiving loss to the Chicago Bears continued the Lions’ trend under Patricia of losing close games. They have seven one-possession losses this season.
Maybe it’s unfair to fire a coach after two seasons when he has been without Matthew Stafford at quarterback half of this year. But Patricia is 9-18-1 since getting the job.
6. Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns: Sunday’s showdown with Pittsburgh was essentially an elimination game for the final AFC wild-card spot. Even though the Steelers were down to their third-string quarterback (Devlin Hodges) and didn’t have halfback James Conner or wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Browns lost, 20-13.
Cleveland got out to a 10-0 lead, but the mistakes and penalties that have haunted the team all year resumed. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, who survived a potential thumb injury, had two turnovers and was sacked five times. Kitchens has struggled mightily in his first season.
7. Pat Shurmur, New York Giants: Shurmur understands the situation. The Giants have lost eight straight after dropping a 31-10 dud to the Green Bay Packers, and he’s 7-21 after 28 games. Ben McAdoo was fired after 28 games, and his record was 13-15, including a playoff berth.
“I’m a realist when it comes to that and I get it,” Shurmur said. “And you know what, when you don’t win, I expect what is written and … I expect fans to be upset because we are, too. But we go about trying to fix it.”
8. Adam Gase, New York Jets: Yes, ownership said Gase will be back next year, but things can change, and Sunday’s 22-6 loss to the previously winless Cincinnati Bengals doesn’t look good on Gase’s already-flawed Jets résumé. They are the first team in NFL history to lose to two teams who started the season 0-7, having already lost to the Miami Dolphins.
The recent three-game winning streak probably is going to save Gase’s job, but losses such as Sunday’s make life uneasy.
Around the NFL
— The Ravens’ 20-17 win over the 49ers revealed a key trait for both teams. When a defense gets pressure on San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, it can force him into mistakes, but that doesn’t happen with Lamar Jackson. Sure, Baltimore’s MVP candidate had a fumble stripped out of his hands on a long run, but he is getting so good in the pocket with his accuracy to combine with his running ability that it’s driving defensive coordinators crazy.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have rushed for 2,494 yards in 12 games, the third-best this late in the season since 1970.
— The AFC continues to make a remarkable comeback in interconference play. Baltimore’s win over San Francisco, and Miami’s over Philadelphia have evened the score at 26-26.
— Placekicking continues to get worse each week. The Cowboys worked out kickers Sunday after a bad Thanksgiving from Brett Maher. Aldrick Rosas went to the Pro Bowl last year but the Giants put him on alert after being eight for 12 on field goals in his first 11 games. Adam Vinatieri had another rough outing in the Colts’ loss to the Titans.
Entering Week 12, kickers were making 80 percent of their field goals, the worst rate since 2001.