FILE PHOTO: Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores runs off the field after winning the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
January 10, 2022
By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – For struggling NFL teams the end of the regular season triggers an annual exercise in bloodletting known around the league as Black Monday and this year has proved no exception as a number of head coaches were fired.
After failing to make the 14-team playoff tournament that will culminate with the Feb. 13 Super Bowl, the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears all showed their coaches the door on Monday in hopes a change will turn things around.
Miami’s decision to part ways with Brian Flores was the most surprising firing of the day given the Dolphins won eight of their final nine games after starting the season 1-7.
Flores, who took over a struggling Miami team in 2019, went 24-25 during his three seasons in charge but failed to lead them to the playoffs, a drought that dates back to the 2016 season.
“After evaluating where we are as an organization and what we need going forward to improve, I determined that key dynamics of our football organization weren’t functioning at a level I want it to be,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement.
“I believe we have a talented young roster in place and have the opportunity to be much better in 2022.”
Minnesota, who were one win away from a Super Bowl berth four seasons ago, have since missed the post-season in three of the past four years and that was enough to cost head coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman their jobs.
Zimmer, who was hired in 2014, had a regular-season record of 72-56-1 in eight seasons in charge of the Vikings but in the last two campaigns was unable to win crucial games due to poor defensive showings and an inconsistent offense.
“While these decisions are not easy, we believe it is time for new leadership to elevate our team so we can consistently contend for championships,” Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement.
The Bears’ decision to fire Matt Nagy, who was named the NFL’s coach of the year for the 2018 season, along with General Manager Ryan Pace came after the storied franchise finished the season 6-11.
Nagy took over the head coaching job in 2018 and his first year was promising as he lead the team to the NFC North division title with a 12-4 record but he ultimately failed to build off that success.
The Denver Broncos got the ball rolling on Sunday as they parted ways with head coach Vic Fangio after he oversaw three consecutive losing seasons during which they went a combined 19-30 and failed to make the playoffs.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)