Black Monday lived up to its billing this year as five N.F.L. coaches and one general manager were fired in a dramatic, if unsurprising, mass catharsis that left owners across the league ready to reset the clock and shop for replacements.
The teams showed little in the way of patience — the Cleveland Browns even did their part to beat the rush by dismissing Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night. They were followed by the Minnesota Vikings, who ousted Leslie Frazier on Monday morning, and then the Washington Redskins, who dismissed Mike Shanahan before lunch.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waited until early afternoon, but they fired Greg Schiano and the general manager, Mark Dominik. The Detroit Lions followed, making Jim Schwartz the fifth coach of the day to find himself jobless. His team skidded out of the playoff picture by losing six of the last seven games.
Like Black Friday, the modern shopping holiday, Black Monday is, at its root, a day about new acquisitions. The troubled teams all hope to move past their difficult seasons and begin a new era — presumably with the coming announcement of a new coach, in the hope that happiness can be found in the next big purchase.
None of Monday’s moves qualified as a surprise, although the Browns’ decision did seem a bit abrupt, given that Chudzinski was given only a year to turn around a franchise mired in irrelevance. His team went 4-12, but the Browns have had only one winning season in the past decade.
The wholesale dumping of coaches has become a tradition on the day after the end of the N.F.L. regular season. This year did not quite reach the level of last year when seven coaches and five general managers were ushered into unemployment. But there was at least one asterisk — the Houston Texans jumped the gun by firing Gary Kubiak on Dec. 6.
If the dismissals are the first step in the Black Monday dance, the owner’s statements are the next. On a day of dizzying personnel changes, echoing sentiments about “new directions” and “new focus” rang out across the land.
The Browns’ owner, Jimmy Haslam, declared, “Nobody cares more about winning than the people you’re looking at right now, especially the owner.”
Bryan Glazer, a co-chairman of the Buccaneers, said, “The results over the past two years have not lived up to our standards, and we believe the time has come to find a new direction.”
Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Redskins, said, “We will focus on what it takes to build a winning team, and my pledge to this organization and to this community is to continue to commit the resources and talent necessary to put this team back in the playoffs.”
Shanahan’s dismissal by Snyder was perhaps the most widely expected move of the day, coming after a drawn-out and widely publicized rift between owner and coach that played out during Shanahan’s weekly news conferences, which doubled as opportunities for Shanahan to needle Snyder and cast aspersions on his quarterback.
If there was a surprise in Washington, it was that Snyder did not fire Shanahan the instant the team finished sputtering through its 13th loss Sunday, this one to the Giants.
Shanahan’s stormy 24-40 tenure in Washington included three seasons with double-digit losses and the questionable handling of the talented quarterback Robert Griffin III. Shanahan was widely criticized after last season for leaving Griffin in a playoff game — and eventual loss — against the Seattle Seahawks when he was hobbling on an injured knee. The injury helped sink this season, as Griffin never recovered his rookie form.
In Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers were so disappointed by their 4-12 season — which included a particularly gruesome 0-8 start — that Schiano and Dominik are now looking for work. Dominik presided for five seasons and exactly one playoff appearance. Schiano, who took over after a successful run at Rutgers, was hired to restore discipline after Raheem Morris was fired two years ago, but his disciplinarian ways apparently grew old quickly.
In Detroit, Schwartz’s fate was sealed sometime during the Lions’ season-ending tailspin, a collapse marked by penalties, turnovers and blown fourth-quarter leads. This followed a 6-3 start that offered relief after a miserable 4-12 season last year. Schwartz had one trip to the playoffs, in 2011, and a memorable postgame confrontation that season with San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh, but, otherwise, Schwartz’s tenure could be summed up in his 29-51 record.
“He’s done a lot of good things for this team and this organization, so it’s tough,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford told reporters after the announcement. “I’ve only played for one head coach in the N.F.L., Coach Schwartz, and I felt like we had a great locker room. It’s not always what everyone hears on the outside. It was a joy to play for him. It was fun.”