Brutal NFL 'Black Monday' creates plenty of job vacancies

The day after the regular NFL season ends, or Black Monday as it's known, was one of the most brutal the sport has ever seen.

Black Monday is the day NFL coaches find out if they will be clearing their desks and joining the unemployment queue.

This Monday there were four sackings - Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins), Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings), Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos) and Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears). An 8th of all the head coaches in the league.

Dolphins eye Jim Harbaugh?

The biggest shock was the Miami Dolphins' decision to axe Flores after three seasons in the Florida hotseat. They missed out on a place in the play-offs in the AFC East - a tough division alongside powerhouses Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots.

A ruthless decision given they finished with a positive 9-8 record, quite remarkable given how they started 1-7. But that was not enough for owner Stephen Ross - who decided to keep General Manager Chris Grier in place.

The early favourite to take the helm at the Hard Rock Stadium is Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, the brother of Baltimore's John, and someone who is close to Ross - as he is the biggest donor in the history of Michigan University.

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh is currently favourite for the role, but Ross has stated he won't take him off Michigan. However, Harbaugh is being linked with other roles, so if he decides to come back to the NFL, it could very well be with the Dolphins.

Also believed to be in contention for the role are Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell.

Clear out at the Bears

Another team closely linked with Harbaugh is the Chicago Bears who not only fired head coach Nagy but also dispensed with the services of their GM Ryan Pace in a big clear out at Soldier Field.

Nagy, who was actually voted NFL Coach of the Year 2018, has been under pressure for most of the year and his departure came after finishing 6-11 on the year.

Chicago is a huge job and the early favourite for the role is the highly respected Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. The Bears are also looking closely at college coaches, with Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald a possible option.

Flores for the Vikings?

Brian Flores

The third big departure on Monday saw a real changing of the guard at the Minnesota Vikings as another Head Coach/GM combo went with Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman.

This was no knee-jerk reaction by the Vikings hierarchy as a change had been rumoured for a good while and their 8-9 season record this season didn't help. Zimmer's departure ended an eight-year stint in charge.

Minnesota are believed to be looking for a coach with experience and current favourite is former Philadelphia Eagles coach and Super Bowl winner Doug Pederson. Even the ousted Miami coach Flores could be offered a route straight back into football, such is his standing.

Tough decision for Denver GM Paton

Denver dispatched veteran Vic Fangio after they missed out on the playoffs with their 7-10 record. The Broncos have been struggling to compete since their Super Bowl win in 2016.

GM George Paton has never been tasked with appointing a head coach and there will not be a shortage of interest in a hugely desirable role.

Amongst the bigger names linked early are Kansas City Chiefs' famed offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and Dallas Cowboys' brilliant young offensive mind Kellen Moore.

Raiders and Jaguars still searching?

Rich Bisaccia

Away from those who lost their jobs on Monday, there are already two vacancies.

Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Vegas Raiders made headlines as they sacked big names Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden. Both have been linked with some big names again, but as it stands there is a very good chance both could stick with their interim bosses.

Raiders' stand-in Rich Bisaccia has guided Vegas into the playoffs and has put himself in a very good place for consideration

At the Jaguars Darrell Bevell managed to get some excellent displays out of his side and from 2021 number one draft pick Trevor Lawrence. His stint in charge included one of the biggest upsets of the season when the Jaguars defeated the Indianapolis Colts on the final day, knocking them out of the playoff picture.

There could yet be further departures with New York Giants head coach Joe Judge and Houston Texans' David Culley on shaky ground when it comes to still being in charge when training starts for the new season in the summer.