Overreactions in Week 18 of the NFL
Sports Seriously's Mackenzie Salmon breaks down the latest regular season games in Week 18.
It didn't take long for “Black Monday” in the NFL to officially begin.
Just after midnight ET, the Atlanta Falcons fired head coach Arthur Smith, firing him just hours after a devastating loss to the New Orleans Saints that capped his three-year run with the franchise.
And that was just the beginning of the work. Early Monday morning, the Washington Leaders moved on from coach Ron Rivera.
This day marks an annual reckoning for coaching staffs and front offices across the league. More moves are sure to come — though some may not be completed until later in the week — so stick with USA TODAY Sports for all the moves related to the firings and resignations.
Robert Saleh knew he was safe for next season after getting the nod from Jets owner Woody Johnson. Now, the coach provides the same security to the rest of his staff.
Saleh said Monday that he expects the three coordinators to return for 2024.
The coach also confirmed that he does not expect to make any major changes to the technical staff for next season.
The New England Patriots' future with Bill Belichick remains up in the air, but the coach finally addressed his situation with the team on Monday.
Asked about the possibility of giving up control of personnel to stay with the team, Belichick didn't hypothetically close the door.
“Look, I support whatever we decide collectively as an organization is the best thing to help our football team,” Belichick said. “I have multiple roles in this, and I rely on a lot of people to help me with those responsibilities. Someone has to have the final say. I have that. And I rely on a lot of other people to help. Whatever that process is, I'm just part of it.”
Belichick did not give a specific answer on whether he would want to coach another team if he did not stay with the Patriots.
Shane Steichen appears to be standing up as he enters year two with the Indianapolis Colts.
Asked Monday about any potential changes to his staff, Steichen said: “I believe in continuity.”
Steichen reiterated that point when asked about defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who led a unit that ranked 24th in yards allowed with 349.8.
The one move everyone expected on Monday is now official.
The team announced that the Leaders have decided to move on from Rivera after four seasons.
Rivera's fate seemed to have been sealed for some time, but Washington finished the season with a league-worst eight-game winning streak to finish 4-13.
New owner Josh Harris will now begin his first coaching search with the franchise, hiring former Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers and former Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman to help in the process, according to ESPN.
Whoever takes over should have ample opportunity to turn the roster around. The Commanders own the No. 2 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and currently trail only the Tennessee Titans in effective cap space for next season.
The Carolina Panthers finished late with their house cleaning Monday morning, firing general manager Scott Fitterer six weeks after relieving head coach Frank Reich of his duties.
“As we move forward with the new direction of our franchise, I have made the decision that Scott Fitterer will no longer serve as our general manager,” owner David Tepper said in a statement. “I appreciate Scott's efforts and wish the best for him and his family.”
Despite taking the No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 draft and selecting Alabama QB Bryce Young, the Panthers finished with a league-worst 2-15 record. However, they will not be selected first in this year's draft because Fitterer traded that pick, along with WR DJ Moore and other draft capital, to the Chicago Bears in the deal to acquire Young.
Carolina went 14-37 in three seasons with Fitterer making moves, and quite a few of them didn't pan out — including trades for players like QBs Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and CB CJ Henderson. Including Young, Fitterer's high-end picks — including CB Jaycee Horn, WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LT Ickey Ekwonu, and WR Jonathan Mingo — have yet to mature into starters.
The New York Giants are making changes to their coaching staff, but not at the top.
The team fired special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, according to multiple reports.
McGaughey was with the team for six seasons.
Giants coach Brian Daboll said earlier Monday morning that he expects to retain offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.
The Falcons didn't wait long to part ways with Arthur Smith after the season-ending debacle against the New Orleans Saints.
Smith was fired just after midnight, as team owner Arthur Blank made clear his intent to turn the page after three straight 7-10 seasons.
Blank did not issue any specific mandate for Smith entering Year 3, but made clear he expects to see progress in the win column. Instead, the Falcons fell short of their first winning season since 2017.
“Beer enthusiast. Subtly charming alcohol junkie. Wannabe internet buff. Typical pop culture lover.”