Black Monday: NFL's Dolphins, Vikings, Bears dismiss head coaches

After failing to make the 14-team playoff tournament that will culminate with the Feb. 13 Super Bowl, the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears all showed their head coaches the door on Monday in hopes a change will turn things around.

Broncos turfed bench boss Vic Fangio on Sunday after 3 consecutive losing seasons

On Monday, the Vikings fired head coach Mike Zimmer, left, and GM Rick Spielman, right, after missing the playoffs three times in the past four years. (David Berding/Getty Images)

For struggling NFL teams, the end of the regular season triggers an annual exercise in bloodletting known around the league as Black Monday and this year has proved no exception as a number of head coaches were fired.

After failing to make the 14-team playoff tournament that will culminate with the Feb. 13 Super Bowl, the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears all showed their coaches the door on Monday in hopes a change will turn things around.

Miami's decision to part ways with Brian Flores was the most surprising firing of the day given the Dolphins won eight of their final nine games after starting the season 1-7.

Flores, who took over a struggling Miami team in 2019, went 24-25 during his three seasons in charge but failed to lead it to the playoffs, a drought that dates back to the 2016 season.

"After evaluating where we are as an organization and what we need going forward to improve, I determined that key dynamics of our football organization weren't functioning at a level I want it to be," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement.

"I believe we have a talented young roster in place and have the opportunity to be much better in 2022."

Minnesota, which was one win away from a Super Bowl berth four seasons ago, has since missed the post-season in three of the past four years and that was enough to cost head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman their jobs.

Zimmer, who was hired in 2014, had a regular-season record of 72-56-1 in eight seasons in charge of the Vikings but in the last two campaigns was unable to win crucial games due to poor defensive showings and an inconsistent offence.

"While these decisions are not easy, we believe it is time for new leadership to elevate our team so we can consistently contend for championships," Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement.

"We are determined to have sustained success and bring Vikings fans the Super Bowl championships they expect and deserve."

Zimmer was 7-8-1 against the Packers, which isn't bad considering how Green Bay has performed in recent years. It was simply not close to good enough in that division.

The Bears' decision to fire Matt Nagy, who was named the NFL's coach of the year for the 2018 season, along with GM Ryan Pace came after the storied franchise finished the season 6-11.

Nagy took over the head coaching job in 2018 and his first year was promising as he lead the team to the NFC North division title with a 12-4 record but he ultimately failed to build off that success.

The Denver Broncos got the ball rolling on Sunday as they parted ways with head coach Vic Fangio after he oversaw three consecutive losing seasons during which they went a combined 19-30 and failed to make the playoffs.

New York Giants (4-13) general manager Dave Gettleman retired Monday, though he likely would have been fired otherwise.

Gettleman, 70, saw the Giants go 19-46 during his tenure and were rarely in playoff contention in that period. New York's offense was virtually invisible in 2021 even though the team spent in free agency for No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end Kyle Rudolph, then spent a first-round draft choice on wideout Kadarius Toney.

"It was a privilege to serve as the general manager of the New York Giants the last four years and to have spent so many years of my career with this franchise," Gettleman said. "We obviously have not had the on-the-field success I expected, and that is disappointing."

Other coaches with tenuous job situations are the Giants' Joe Judge, Houston's David Culley and Carolina's Matt Rhule, while the Las Vegas and Jacksonville positions became open during the season. The Raiders' Jon Gruden resigned in the midst of release of embarrassing emails, and Urban Meyer was fired by the Jaguars following a series of missteps on and off the field.

With files from The Associated Press

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