It’s “Black Monday,” y’all. The day immediately following the conclusion of the regular season where NFL franchises fire head coaches. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears), Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings), and Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins) lost their jobs this morning, Jan. 10. Flores’ firing in particular drew ire from all across media. ESPN’s Damien Woody said he was “pissed.” But why are we surprised? This is what NFL owners do.
I’m pissed about the Flores firing
— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) January 10, 2022
Flores was hired in 2019, won 10 games last season and rallied the Dolphins from a 1-7 start this season to get them into playoff contention. They finished 9-8.
But the Dolphins are lacking in talent, mainly along the offensive line. Keep in mind, roster construction is not the head coach’s job. The Dolphins have the 30th-ranked offensive line in the league according to Football Outsiders. The two teams below them, both 4-13, are the New York Giants and Houston Texans.
The great Bill Belichick was 21-28 in his first three seasons as a head coach. In fact his first five seasons in Cleveland were underwhelming. His combined record was 36-44. Despite a sub .500 record he was given the opportunity to last five seasons as the head coach.
Black head coaches don’t seem to get the same opportunity.
There’ll never be a Black Bill Belichick. Why? Cuz no Black coach will ever be allowed to have a losing record in 5 of his first 6 season & get another shot. Mike Tomlin just ain’t getting that kinda leeway. Or Brian Flores. Or Jim Caldwell. Or Lovie Smith. https://t.co/PYYJ5u89kr
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) January 10, 2022
A good parallel to early Bill Belichick is Todd Bowles, a great defensive coordinator who once went 10-6 w/Ryan Fitzpatrick as his QB (who never won > 6 games in his 16 other years!)
No great coach can win w/crappy QBs, but a great (AND not racist) GM hire him & give him a QB.
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) January 10, 2022
Former Washington head coach Jay Gruden has a 35-49 record. It’s already being reported that he’s a candidate to become the next offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. The offensive coordinator position is the gateway to NFL head coach.
New York Giants head coach Joe Judge is 10-23 through two seasons but was given a vote of confidence from owner John Mara despite losing the locker room, according to reports.
.@danorlovsky7 absolutely rips into Joe Judge for the Giants' performance this season 😳
"You've lost your locker room, you've lost your fanbase, and you've lost any chance of getting a free agent wanting to come play for you!" pic.twitter.com/iDnShNCgdz
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) January 10, 2022
We have no idea what Flores could be as a head coach with a competent team, good offensive and defensive lines, and a good quarterback. Black head coaches aren’t often given the same amount of time to grow and develop as their white counterparts.
The Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bears, Vikings and Dolphins are all looking for head coaches. Bill O’Brien, Kellen Moore, Josh McDaniels, Joe Lombardi, and Greg Roman are the popular names being floated.
Yes, they are all white.
To be fair, Eric Bieniemy, Byron Leftwich and Patrick Graham have also been mentioned as potential candidates. With six open positions and only three candidates of color being mentioned prominently, the best we could see is half the jobs filled by candidates of color.
But that’s not likely to happen. NFL owners that overwhelmingly support the policies of former President Donald Trump, donate to Republican super PACs, and colluded to blackball Colin Kaepernick, can’t be trusted to give Black and other minority candidates a fair shot.
But every potential Black or candidate of color will receive a token interview so the Rooney Rule box can be checked.
Former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has a 62-50 record and made the playoffs four times in seven seasons and can’t sniff a head coaching job. But white retreads and unproven coordinators are given opportunities time and again.
The NFL is commonly referred to as “Not For Long,” and that’s true of players and coaches alike regardless of race. But it seems like for Black coaches it’s either not for long or not at all.
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