By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The year’s final sign of the Apocalypse has taken place as part of the NFL’s annual head coaching bloodbath known as “Black Monday”. Marvin Lewis has reportedly informed the staff of the Cincinnati Bengals that he is out as head coach after 16 seasons. The Athletic’s Zac Jackson beat the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter by one minute to report the news.
For years it felt like Lewis, whom the Bengals hired in 2003, was made of Teflon as head coach. He finished his tenure with a 131-122-3 record in the regular season. It only got worse for him in the playoffs, failing to win in seven tries. The man survived through seven Patriots Super Bowl appearances. Just think about that.
The NFL’s darkest day of the season has claimed three others, while four additional vacancies opened over the course of the season. One of them is the Jets, who fired Todd Bowles on Sunday after his team lost 38-3 to the Patriots. It had already been reported that Bowles would be out after the end of the Jets’ season. He’s basically a Black Monday victim. As is the Bucs’ Dirk Koetter, whose eventual firing was reported by Adam Schefter reported on Sunday.
There’s a second firing in the AFC East, as the Miami Dolphins have reportedly parted ways with Adam Gase after three seasons. Miami barely evened the season series with the Patriots in 2018, grabbing a win on the now-infamous (in New England, anyway) Miami Miracle™ play. They went 4-9 after starting the season 3-0.
The other head coaches to get the axe on Monday include Vance Joseph with the Denver Broncos (per Schefter) and Steve Wilks from the Arizona Cardinals, who reportedly axed him after just one season.
The Green Bay Packers are actively searching for a new head coach after firing Mike McCarthy following a Week 13 loss to the Cardinals. So are the Cleveland Browns, who canned Hue Jackson after losing to the Steelers in Week 8.
In total, there are eight head coach openings this offseason and the Patriots have two candidates on their staff. It appears that Josh McDaniels’ shenanigans last year didn’t hurt his candidacy, while Brian Flores has impressed despite his relative lack of experience.
Incredibly, Lewis remains by far the biggest surprise of all the head coach firings on Black Monday. Because there have been other, better opportunities to show him the door, like his two 4-12 seasons. Ultimately, Cincinnati is left wondering what took owner Mike Brown so long.
Meanwhile, the Patriots will be left having to replace their coordinator positions. Receivers coach Chad O’Shea would be a strong candidate to be promoted to offensive coordinator from within, while the defensive coordinator likely wouldn’t be named right away since Flores himself doesn’t have the official title. Cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer would be the most tenured coach on the defensive side of the ball with seven years on the Patriots staff. Former Arkansas and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is also on the staff as a consultant to the head coach.
Speaking of Bill Belichick, his own future is something that will be speculated about on a year-to-year basis moving forward. But assuming he’s back for 2019, the Pats could still have some work to do underneath him.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.