The NFL’s Black Monday, when underachieving teams traditionally fire their head coaches at the end of the regular season, saw the New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars make moves at the top.
For once the Jets led the rest of the league, actually firing Gase on Sunday night. The move was unsurprising after Gase compiled a 9-23 record with the Jets during his two seasons in charge. This season, the Jets started 0-13 before winning two of their final three games to move themselves out of the running to select Trevor Lawrence, considered the most talented young quarterback in a generation, as the No 1 overall pick in April’s draft. The Jets hailed Gase as an offensive guru when he was hired, after an underwhelming spell with the Dolphins, but he failed to ignite the offense or develop their starting quarterback, Sam Darnold.
The Chargers won their final four games to finish 7-9, but it wasn’t enough to save Lynn’s job.
“I’m not sure there is another person in this league more respected as a human being than Anthony,” Chargers owner Dean Spanos said in a statement. “This is a results-driven business, and simply put, the results of the past two years have fallen short of expectations.”
Hired by the Chargers in January 2017, Lynn was the first black head coach in franchise history. He went 34-32 with Los Angeles, but just 12-20 over the last two seasons. He had one year remaining on his contract.
Los Angeles started 0-4 during Lynn’s first season in 2017, but finished 9-7 after winning six of the last seven games. That served as a springboard to 2018 as the Chargers went 12-4, which tied for the best record in the AFC. They defeated Baltimore in the wild card round before losing to New England in the divisional playoffs. Trying to repeat that success has been elusive. They are 7-16 since the start of last season in games decided by eight points or fewer.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars fired coach Doug Marrone a little more than 12 hours after ending the season with a 15th consecutive loss.
It was a move many thought owner Shad Khan should have made at the end of the 2019 season. But Khan gave Marrone another chance to make Jacksonville a playoff contender for the second time in four years.
Marrone came up well short of the owner’s expectations, making Khan’s decision easy and expected. It was the first time Marrone has been fired in three decades of coaching.
“I’ll always appreciate Doug’s passion, grit and class, and I’m confident he will enjoy success in the next chapter of his career,” said Khan in a statement. “As the search for our new general manager continues, now the quest begins to find a head coach who shares my ambition for the Jacksonville Jaguars and our fans, whose loyalty and faith are overdue to be rewarded.”
Despite Jacksonville’s recent struggles, the coaching vacancy is an attractive one. The Jaguars have five of the first 65 picks in the 2021 draft, including the overall No 1 selection, and nearly $100m in salary cap space to help rebuild. Clemson star Lawrence is considered a slam dunk to land in Jacksonville and serve as the centerpiece of the team’s latest rebuild.