The week after the final round of regular season games is always infamous for a multitude of staff changes across the NFL and this year has been no different as “Black Monday” and beyond has seen general managers and owners make big decisions for their franchises.
Perhaps the biggest news to come this week was the Washington Redskins’ confirmation of the appointment of Ron Rivera as their head coach. Rivera, 57, started the season 5-7 with the Carolina Panthers before being sacked to end his nine-year tenure as head coach of the franchise.
The California-born Rivera replaces interim Redskins coach Bill Callahan and will try and change the culture of the franchise in a bid to turn their fortunes around. Owner Dan Snyder confirmed the appointment in his recent press conference, stating:
“After several meetings with Coach Rivera, it was clear he is the right person to bring winning football back to Washington D.C.”
“He is widely respected around the league as a man of great integrity and has proven to be one of the finest coaches in the country.”
Rivera will presumably have last year’s 15th overall pick Dwayne Haskins as his quarterback as well as this year’s second pick and has expressed his excitement at the prospect of working with Washington’s young talent.
“While I love the storied history of the franchise, I am focused on the future and excited for the opportunity to win football games with this talented young team,” said Rivera following his arrival.
“After meeting Dan Snyder, it was clear we are aligned in our passion for the game and he supports my vision to turn the team around. I look forward to surrounding myself with great people and getting to work.”
Rivera also confirmed he will focus on his team’s discipline:
“I come from a military family where discipline, it isn’t taught; it’s lived. It’s expected from Day One. I have a philosophy that every player, every coach, everyone who works for this organization, they’ll know it from Day One. You’re not going to play for this team, you’re not going to work for this team if you don’t have the discipline and commitment to give us everything you have. No exceptions, no excuses.”
Meanwhile there were major departures as Freddie Kitchens and Pat Shurmur were relieved of their duties as head coach by the Browns and the Giants, respectively.
Kitchens was hired a year ago as a head coach with no prior experience of the job and it was clearly a failed experiment as the Browns slumped to a disappointing 6-10 season. With a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball and young QB star Baker Mayfield at the helm, expectations were high for the Browns to avoid a 17th straight season with no January football.
Instead, fans of the franchise were met with constant controversy both on and off the field, ill discipline from players and coaches alike and a misfiring offense. Star signing Odell Beckham Jr. was unable to build a rapport with Baker Mayfield and only had two games with 100 receiving yards as head coach Kitchens also called the plays.
It was an equally frustrating season for Pat Shurmur and the New York Giants in which they saw a changing of the guard at the Quarterback position and only mustered four wins overall.
Perhaps it is no surprise that we saw the end of Eli Manning’s tenure as starting QB this season as the 39-year-old has seen a decline in his play over the last few seasons, but the play of his replacement Daniel Jones may have disappointed Shurmur.
Rookie Jones impressed in training camps before the start of the campaign and was brought in as starter after the Giants lost their first two games by a margin of 18 and 14 points. Jones was able to lead his side to consecutive wins in his first two starts but then went on a nine-game losing streak before getting injured. To be fair to Jones and Shurmur, however, the Giants were plagued with injury troubles throughout the season.
The Browns and Giants are seemingly now in a battle to hire their preferred head coach and both have been linked with former Packers frontman Mike McCarthy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Ravens OC Greg Roman and Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots.
Elsewhere there was relief for Jacksonville Jaguars staff as owner Shad Khan put a stop to any speculation following his franchise’s poor second half of the season in which they had only won two games. Khan sacked team president Tom Coughlin last month and many thought more upheaval was to come but the owner expressed his support for head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell following positive meetings.
“While our discussions will remain confidential, the decision I am making to keep our staff intact for 2020 has nothing to do with our victory on Sunday and everything to do with my positive meetings with Dave, Doug, the coordinators and our players, as well as my belief that this is not the time to consider an overhaul of our organization.”
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