Black Monday in the NFL lived up to its annual expectations once again.
Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings), Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Jim Schwartz (Detroit Lions) and Mike Shanahan (Washington Redskins) were fired on Monday. Cleveland Browns coach Rod Chudzinski was removed from his position on Sunday night, which means five coaches lost their jobs over a two-day period.
On Dec. 6, Houston dismissed Gary Kubiak, which leaves six coaching vacancies. Jets coach Rex Ryan and Dallas' Jason Garrett were recently endorsed by their owners, and both men are seemingly safe for one more season.
However, that does not mean every remaining NFL coaches are safe.
Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak is expected to meet with president and CEO Tommy Smith later this week. Smith declined to comment on Munchak’s status after a win against the Texans on Sunday, so Munchak can't feel too safe yet. And in Oakland, Dennis Allen said he has been "given an indication" he'll be back for another year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Vic Tafur, but won't meet with owner Mark Davis until later this week.
But as we stand, here are the winners and losers from Black Monday:
Robert Griffin III, Washington: He won the power struggle against Shanahan. The removal of his coach gives Griffin a fresh start with someone he may get along with. It also means Griffin may not have to worry about getting benched in favor of Kirk Cousins again.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator: There are six job openings for McDaniels, who might get a second chance to lead an NFL team. McDaniels is currently New England’s offensive coordinator and needs just one team to believe in him. Perhaps it will be Cleveland, which seems like a fit considering general manager Mike Lombardi's respect for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and McDaniels being from Northeast Ohio. As long as McDaniels does not mention his previous love for Tim Tebow during the interview, or nobody looks too closely at how badly he botched his first chance in Denver, he could become a head coach again. He is one of the hottest names in the rumor mill after Monday's firings.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: He was not happy to see offensive coordinator Scott Linehan released, but the Lions are looking out for their franchise player. Stafford has regressed since Detroit’s playoff season in 2011. He needs a coach to help him improve fundamentally and challenge his poor decision-making process.
Chudzinski: The fired Browns coach has become a sympathetic figure. Cleveland traded away running back Trent Richardson early in the season and Chudzinski could not keep a quarterback healthy. That didn't help him during his lone Browns season. If the rumors are true that Chudzinki was fired because he refused to release a player during the 2013 season, it is easy to understand why Cleveland seems so dysfunctional.
Bucs players: We all heard Bucs players did not like Schiano’s micromanagement of them. Schiano mishandled the departure of quarterback Josh Freeman, to say the least. Cornerback Darrelle Revis questioned how he was being used in Schiano’s defense. Hey, sometimes Christmas comes a little late, but at least it came for Tampa Bay.
A few lucky colleges: The trend of looking for a college coach to lead an NFL team could continue this offseason (hello, Bill O’Brien). That means one or two lucky colleges will bilk an NFL team out of millions in buyout money to hire their coach.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings: He may have lost the only coach who believed in his abilities. That is not saying much, considering Frazier once believed Josh Freeman was a better option than Ponder. A new coach could cost Ponder his job, especially since the Vikings have a high pick in the 2014 draft.
Fans of every team who lost a coach: What do you tell Browns fans who are dying for stability? How do you make Bucs fans feel better about another disappointing year? Can you blame Lions fans for believing their team is cursed? Fans hope their team hires the next Andy Reid, but in reality, they had that kind of optimism a few years ago ... and that guy they were excited about was just fired.
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins: Being known for losing is one thing. Shanahan is now also viewed as the guy who threw his franchise player under the bus. It is going to be hard for any owner to trust him with their franchise in the future.
Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions: He will be remembered for a heated confrontation with San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and yelling at his own fans during a loss. Schwartz’s arrogance contributed to his lack of success in Detroit. Another team may gamble on him, but Schwartz must repair his reputation first. He might need a stop as a defensive coordinator.
Minnesota’s chances of winning in 2014: Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is an unrestricted free agent after this season. It would have been hard to re-sign him, but Allen may not have familiarity with Minnesota’s new coaching staff, and that may contribute to his departure. Minnesota probably needs to acquire a new quarterback, too. This is starting to smell like a rebuilding project. Poor Adrian Peterson. He deserves better.
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