Surprise Firing Headlines NFL Coaching Dismissals

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

The annual bloodletting after the NFL’s regular season actually saw a somewhat lower amount of ‘bloodshed’ than in the past, with only five head-coach firings. It’s less about volume, however, and more about who one of those bounced coaches that made this Black Monday/Tuesday stranger than previous editions. 


Verdict’s In and Judge Out 

A 24-hour reprieve wasn’t nearly sufficient for Joe Judge. The Giants waited until Tuesday afternoon to fire him after two wholly inept seasons and a 10-23 record. 

When the co-owner (John Mara) says, “I kept thinking during the season we had hit rock bottom and then each week it got a little worse,” that’s not exactly a vote of confidence,

Having finished 2021 at 4-13, with six consecutive losses–none closer than 11 points–and all of one winning season since 2012, the Giants find themselves in need of both a general manager (Dave Gettleman having ‘retired’) and a coach.

New York ranked next-to-last (31st) offensively, averaging 15.2 points per game. That paltry number, along with Judge’s bizarre post-game rants, obviously didn’t do much for his cause.

Many questions surround the organization, not the least of which is at quarterback, where Daniel Jones saw his season cut short by a neck injury. A former sixth overall selection, the inconsistent Jones has shown signs of stardom, but also carries a 12-25 record as a three-season starter.

The fate of Jones, as well as explosive-but-oft-injured running back Saquon Barkley, may not exactly be twisting in the wind, but with the team currently devoid of both a GM and a coach, it’s a storyline to watch.

NFL odds on the first coach to be fired had Judge posted at +3000 in the off-season, which was bet down to +1800 before the season began. 

Brian Flores Out in Miami 

Everyone agrees that, considering the talent on the Dolphins’ roster, the job done by now-former head coach Brian Flores was a good one. Even the Miami brass agreed, but remaining a successfully-employed head coach is about more than just on-field results. That’s why Flores was “relieved of his duties,” owner Stephen Ross said in a statement.

Flores was intense, coming to Miami after coaching under Bill Belichick. That intensity had evidently eroded his relationship with his general manager, Chris Grier, and his quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. As owner Ross said in his statement, “An organization can only function if it’s collaborative and works well together.”

Flores may have struggled to build connections with the people above him in the organization, but that definitely wasn’t the case for many of the men who played for him. Cornerback Nick Needham reacted to the news by tweeting, “I’m sick.”

Fellow cornerback Byron Jones said, “Thank you, Flo.”

Stephon Gilmore, who was in New England with Flores, said, “Brian Flores is a great coach. That’s wild.”

Flores finished his three seasons in Miami at 24-25, one game under .500. However, he took over a team in 2019 without a single Pro Bowler on offense and his leading rusher that season…was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his 243 yards.

In 2020, the Dolphins won 10 games, and after a rough start to this season, won eight of their last nine.

As Miami begins a coaching search, there is one other wrinkle to the Flores firing. Texans’ in-limbo quarterback Deshaun Watson was interested in being traded to Miami specifically because of coach Flores. With his legal situation expected to be clarified this offseason, the preference for his next destination may have changed.

The surprise behind the firing was reflected in preseason NFL odds on fired coaches that placed Flores’ chances as first-coach ousted at 33-to-1. 

Vic Fangio Out After Three Years in Denver 

The first of the firings was Vic Fangio in Denver, since the Broncos were the first team to lose in Week 18. Denver dropped to 7-10 on the season with a 28-24 home loss to the Chiefs Saturday.

The former defensive coordinator continued to field great defenses in the Mile High City, but he never had a quality quarterback. That deficiency showed on the field, the Broncos ranking 23rd in points scored this season, a marginal improvement after finishing 28th in each of the previous two seasons.

In Fangio’s three years as head coach in Denver, he never beat the Chiefs (0-6), and was just 1-5 against the Raiders, losing the last four games against that AFC West rival.

The Broncos spent most of Monday reaching out to potential coaching candidates, asking the Cowboys for permission to speak to both of their coordinators, Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore (defense and offense, respectively). They’ve also made requests to speak with Patriots’ linebacker coach Jarod Mayo, Packers’ OC Nathaniel Hackett and Chiefs’ OC Eric Bieniemy.

Fangio led the NFL odds for fired coaches at +500 in the preseason — suggesting the Broncos acted even later than they should have. 

NFC North Now Without Matt Nagy and Mike Zimmer 

The least surprising of the head-coaching banishments were the two in the NFC North, as the Bears fired Matt Nagy and the Vikings excised Mike Zimmer.

Nagy was 12-4 in his first season in Chicago, but freefell to 6-11 in this, his fourth (and final) year with the Bears. Also out is general manager Ryan Pace, whose epitaph is going to read “traded up to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky”.

Zimmer leaves his eight seasons in Minnesota with a 72-56-1 record, including an NFC title game appearance in 2017. However, the team was three games under .500 over the last two seasons, failing to make the playoffs in each.

For the next head coach, the Bears offer a young, developing quarterback (Justin Fields) and a solid defense to build around. The Vikings have a top-10 offense, but a defense that needs a complete rebuild. 

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