“Most people work just hard enough to not get fired and get paid just enough to not quit”- George Carlin
Black Monday. An annual right of passage in the NFL calendar when teams can throw off the shackles of coaches who should have been fired long ago but continued to muddle through work forced to show up for their paycheck. A breakup can be a jarring life transition for a coach, uprooting families to move down the road and restart. Of course, million-dollar severance packages help smooth feelings, but fans are left with a much different relationship.
Moves between a coach and organization leave fans with feelings more resembling a breakup. Sure, in most cases fans get to play the role of dumper and receive a level of closure. But sports teams are woven through life, and the coach is one of the most visible figureheads. So far, five fanbases have been set free from their unrequited love.
So what type of breakup did they experience, and who do they need to look to for a rebound?
Miami Dolphins Breakup with Coach Brian Flores
Type of Breakup: The Blind Side
Dolphins fans and the rest of the NFL were left reeling following the shocking news of Brian Flores’s departure on Monday morning. Flores had pushed the Dolphins through a complete rebuild to the edge of the playoffs in back-to-back years. But Flores had eyes for another in Deshaun Watson, and GM Chris Grier felt it was time to move on. So now Dolphins fans get two Christmases.
The only way to mend a blindside like this is by rekindling an old flame. Doug Pederson - Super Bowl-winning former Eagles coach - was a pivotal figure in Dolphins history, delivering Don Shula’s NFL record-breaking 325th victory in relief of Scott Mitchell. His time with Dan Marino and Brett Favre as a backup helped teach him how to groom a young quarterback, making him a perfect match for Tua Tagovailoa. This has “passive-aggressive Facebook pictures of a quick engagement” all over it.
If you have Tua in dynasty leagues, be happy he could be coming to remedy a situation which wasn’t looking good going into 2022.
Chicago Bears Just Aren't Feeling Matt Nagy
Type of Breakup: The Loss Of Attraction
This fire burnt hot with a 2019 coach of the year. Then, like many of our waistlines, 2020 hit. With familiarity comes a little too much comfort; instead of politely leaving the room to pass gas, Nagy just cut it loose.
The job clearly wore on Nagy, his beard graying as the seasons progressed. Who was once thought to be an offensive guru produced an unimaginative offense, struggling to move the ball. Nagy’s inability to create any effective play out of franchise cornerstone Justin Fields was the final straw. The franchise and fanbase recognized it was time to move on.
Time is a flat circle and the only way to recover from a loss of attraction is a quick hot romance, the type that khakis and a glass of milk can only deliver. Jim Harbaugh left the University of Michigan in 1987 to become the anointed savior of the Bears. Virginia Halas McCaskey was just 64 years old that year and what better way to rebuild the Bears than by duplicating that progression and reliving the glory days.
Don’t forget what he was able to do with former mobile quarterback Collin Kaepernick.
Minnesota Vikings and Mike Zimmer's Flame Estinguished
Type of Breakup: The Mutual
Sometimes you just need to call a spade a spade and recognize it is not working for either of you. Mike Zimmer saw the Vikings to some major heights, coming a disappointing NFC title game away from a home-field Super Bowl appearance in 2018. But the franchise has grown stagnant as a team that will flirt with a .500 record but poses no major threat of playoff advancement. But do not fret, Mike Zimmer is going to be ok and Vikings fans will be too.
Will someone please just hire Eric Bieniemy? The Vikings have a storied history of RBs and part of that was Bieniemy, who they gave his first opportunity as a running backs coach. Both the Vikings and Bieniemy know the feeling of “forever the bridesmaid, never the bride”. Experiencing a mutual breakup between coach and organization requires a level of maturity that tells you to stop chasing the storybook ending and just find someone who will make you happy.
Denver Broncos Breakup with Coach Vic Fangio After Speaking His Mind
Type of Breakup: The Something Someone Said
Sometimes something gets said that there’s simply no coming back from, the view of the person is forever changed. Almost every Broncos fan has memories of great quarterback play, be it Peyton Manning or John Elway. Vic Fangio was reminiscing as he mentioned the three other teams in his division having a top-shelf quarterback following the loss to the Chiefs. Obviously, it rubbed the front office the wrong way as he was fired shortly after. If Fangio considers the Raiders Derek Carr to be top-shelf, the fanbase simply can not continue.
Vic Fangio’s answer to my question about what separates the other teams in the AFC West from the Broncos.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) January 9, 2022
He opened by saying, “Those other three teams have top-shelf quarterbacks, which is obvious to everybody."pic.twitter.com/MXPq2Mknfo
This franchise knows the sweet feeling of rebounding with someone’s former flame. A year’s worth of rumors linking the team to Aaron Rodgers lets them set the ground by hiring Nathaniel Hackett, Rodgers’s current offensive coordinator. After all, if someone shocks your system but it creates an opening for your dream date, then pull out all the stops.
Thank goodness Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Noah Fant might actually get a quarterback in 2022.
Jacksonville Jaguars Were Happy to Kick Urban Myer to the Curb
Type of Breakup: The Miracle
Sometimes you are stuck in a relationship; you know it is bad, but how do you end it? Then, like magic, the other party does you the favor. You do not ask what happened, you are just happy to move on. Since Urban Meyer’s arrival, the situation was untenable, but with a massive contract worth over $50 million, the franchise was going to be on the hook for years. If only they had a termination for cause to provide their freedom.
Then he kicked a kicker and the rest is history.
The Jaguars need a culture shock and what better way to deliver it than hiring the guy who was ostensively fired for having too much culture. Brian Flores has proven himself as a rebuild artist and would instantly inject a drumbeat to push the Jaguars out of the basement and into perpetual mediocrity. When you experience a miracle, what better way to continue the good fortune than to steal the guy your neighbor was heartbroken over?
Flores will finally have weapons on offense. Let’s see who he will come in to direct Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne in 2022.
New York Giants Breakup with Coach Joe Judge Before He Even Started
Type of Breakup: The Ultimatum
The Giants made Joe Judge interview for the job he already had. They told him “knock our socks off on why you should continue to work here.” Obviously, he failed and like any ultimatum, the straw broke the camel’s back. Joe could not help himself from rolling around. Now Giants fans no longer need to check an internet browser history and are free to focus on their future.
The type who would offer an ultimatum seeks improvement in a partner. They have an ideal scenario and like a project. And the Giants can go back to the well with a former Bill Belichick assistant Brian Daboll. Daboll has a track record of quarterback development and his task would be to improve Daniel Jones. The good news for Giants fans, Josh Allen was once thought to be too much of a project.
I hope you can find the closure necessary to move on. We may love our teams, but always remember when that love is not returned, it is them, not you. After all, the perfect rebound is always around the corner.
Last but not least, make sure you are following Jeff to get advice from a pro!