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NFL Black Monday: Cardinals, Bengals, Dolphins, Broncos, Jets, Buccaneers fire their head coaches

The Arizona Cardinals have fired Steve Wilks after just one season as head coach.

Wilks’ firing Monday followed a 3-13 season, the franchise’s worst record in 18 years and the worst in the NFL this season.

Wilks, 49, was hired after Bruce Arians retired following five seasons in Arizona.

With Wilks’ status confirmed, there is still one major uncertainty: Will Larry Fitzgerald be back for a 16th season?

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Bengals fire Lewis

The Bengals have fired coach Marvin Lewis, ending a 16-year stay in Cincinnati that included a record five straight playoff appearances without so much as one win.

The move Monday ends the second-longest head coaching tenure in the league. New England’s Bill Belichick is wrapping up his 19th season with another postseason berth. He’s won five Super Bowls and made eight appearances in the title game.

Lewis leaves Cincinnati with an 0-7 mark in the postseason, the worst mark by an NFL coach. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, tied with Washington for the fifth-longest futility in league history.

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A third straight losing season punctuated by plummeting attendance prompted change-resistant owner Mike Brown to finally cut ties with Lewis.

“I didn’t deliver what the No. 1 goal is, and that’s to be world champions, and we did not get that done,” Lewis said at a news conference. “A lot of positives, but that’s the one goal as a coach you look forward to doing. Mike and I both decided it’s time. I think it’s a tough moment for both of us, but we both realized.”

Brown didn’t appear with Lewis on Monday. He said in a statement that he’s “very fond of Marvin.”

“But it is time to turn the page and look toward the next chapter for our organization, and we are excited about what the future holds for the team and our fans,” Brown said.

Dolphins fire Gase

Adam Gase has been fired after three seasons as the Miami Dolphins coach, including a 7-9 finish this year.

Gase confirmed his dismissal in a text message Monday to the Associated Press.

Owner Stephen Ross made the move after Gase went 23-26 with the Dolphins. A 42-17 loss Sunday at Buffalo sealed his fate.

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Last week, Gase said his biggest regret about 2018 was a slew of injuries. The Dolphins lost 13 key players to season-ending injuries, including two top offensive linemen, their best run stopper, top cornerback Xavien Howard and dynamic receivers Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill missed five games.

The Dolphins will miss the playoffs for the 15th time in the last 17 seasons.

Broncos fire Joseph

Vance Joseph has been fired as coach of the Denver Broncos after back-to-back double-digit losing seasons.

Joseph met with general manager John Elway on Monday after completing a 6-10 season and was dismissed with two years and about $6 million left on his contract.

After the Broncos’ 23-9 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday in which there were more than 12,000 no-shows at Mile High Stadium, Joseph acknowledged that an 11-21 record wasn’t good enough by Broncos standards.

Still, he said, “I think we’ve put a lot of work in. There’s a foundation that’s been laid here that should pay off in the future.” Joseph said he wanted to “come back and make this thing right.”

Several players, including star Von Miller, said they wanted Joseph to return for a third season. Instead, Elway decided to embark on a search for his fourth head coach in six seasons.

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Jets fire Bowles

Todd Bowles’ tenure with the New York Jets began four years ago with plenty of promise. It ended with too many losses and no playoff appearances.

The team announced Sunday night that it had moved on from Bowles, a long-expected decision that came a few hours after the Jets wrapped up their season with a 38-3 loss at New England.

“I would like to thank coach Bowles for his dedication to the New York Jets for the last four years,” Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. “After carefully evaluating the situation, I have concluded that this is the right direction for the organization to take. I would like to wish Todd, Taneka and their family only the best.”

Bowles, 54, was hired in January 2015 after New York fired Rex Ryan. The Jets got off to a solid start under Bowles, who guided them to a 10-6 record. But they fell a win shy of the playoffs in his first season after losing a win-and-in game against Ryan’s Bills. Still, many expected the Jets to take the next step under Bowles.

It never happened.

There was some uncertainty surrounding general manager Mike Maccagnan’s job status, but it appears he will remain in his role and help lead the Jets’ search for a new coach.

New York went 4-12 this year after going 5-11 in each of the last two seasons, and Bowles’ in-game management became a focus of heavy criticism. The stoic coach also never endeared himself to frustrated fans who often mistook Bowles’ lack of public emotion for an absence of passion.

Bowles was in the hot seat last season, but the team stuck together and he and Maccagnan were given two-year extensions last December by Johnson.

The Jets entered this season with their focus on developing rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick in April, and Johnson did not set a playoff mandate for Bowles or Maccagnan. But the former USC star threw a league-leading 14 interceptions before straining his right foot against Miami on Nov. 4 and sitting out three games.

There were glimmers of promise when Darnold returned from the foot injury, with the rookie throwing for 931 yards and six touchdowns with just one interception — and looking very much a quarterback who can lead the team into the future.

It appeared Bowles’ fate was sealed when the Jets were blown out by AFC East-rival Buffalo 41-10 on Nov. 11. But Johnson chose to have Bowles finish the season, something New York has traditionally done with its head coaches. The Jets haven’t had an in-season coaching change since 1976, when Lou Holtz resigned with one game remaining and was replaced by Mike Holovak.

Buccaneers fire Koetter

Dirk Koetter was fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday night a little more than three hours after the Bucs concluded a disappointing season with a 34-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Koetter was promoted from offensive coordinator to his first NFL head coaching position when Tampa Bay fired Lovie Smith in January 2016. He led the Bucs to a 9-7 record that year but followed up with consecutive 5-11 finishes.

His successor will be the fifth coach the team has had since firing Jon Gruden after the 2008 season. The Bucs have missed the playoffs 11 straight seasons and haven’t won a playoff game since their Super bowl run under Gruden in 2002.

“I’d love to finish out my contract, of course I would,” Koetter said during his postgame news conference.

He added: ”If this is the last one for me, I appreciate the opportunity they gave me. It’s awesome to be a head football coach in the NFL. Coaching in the NFL period is awesome. It’s the best of the best.”

The Bucs started 2-0 this year, and then lost 11 of 14 down the stretch, including four straight games to finish the season.

Koetter, who had a 19-29 record, was dismissed after meeting with team ownership after the news conference.

“We sincerely appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by Dirk over the past several years,” Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement.

Falcons fire top three assistant coaches

The Atlanta Falcons have fired offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian, defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong one day after the end of the team’s first losing season since 2014.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said recently he still has confidence in coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, but changes were expected after a 7-9 finish. There was no delay, with the firings confirmed by the team on Monday.

The Falcons closed with three straight wins, including Sunday’s 34-32 win at Tampa Bay, but it wasn’t enough to save the jobs of the coordinators.

Only two years after their 2016 Super Bowl season, the Falcons were hurt by injuries and inconsistent play this season, Quinn’s fourth as head coach.


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