Around the NFL: Black Monday, Sunday Night Walk-Off, 49ers Comeback, Big Ben Stays Alive, More

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Around the NFL: Black Monday, Sunday Night Walk-Off, 49ers Comeback, Big Ben Stays Alive, More

Chicago Bears

What a Week 18 it was, but now we have Black Monday around the NFL, the day in which organizations decide to start anew on the sidelines and in the front office. Some of the moves were expected, others not so much.

And plenty of it, if you’re a Bears fan, was disappointing.

Let’s recap the movement from this morning and some of the action from Sunday.

Dolphins Fire Brian Flores

In the most surprising move of the morning, the Miami Dolphins have parted ways with head coach Brian Flores after just three seasons in South Beach.

This year, Flores and the Dolphins narrowly missed the postseason with a 9-8 record in Flores’ third season. The Dolphins made a late-season surge that fell just short of a playoff appearance, and Flores posted a 24-25 record during his time with Miami. With pieces in place for the future and a near playoff run this year in Miami feeling like Flores had the Fins trending up, his firing seems like an odd decision by Miami owner Stephen Ross.

Flores is sure to be a hot candidate on the head coaching market, and I’m confident that he’ll end up with one of the head coaching vacancies in the NFL. The Dolphins will keep long-time GM Chris Grier, and it’s reported that Flores’ demise in Miami is the result of power struggles with the long-running GM. This seems like a massive blunder by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and the Miami fan base is not happy about the move if you check Twitter.

Vikings Clean House

The Chicago Bears weren’t the only team in the NFC North to clean house on Monday morning as the Minnesota Vikings fired general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer.

The 2021 season was Spielman’s 10th as the general manager of the Vikings and his 16th season with the organization. Zimmer has been the head coach in Minnesota since the 2014 season. Zimmer posted a record of 72-56-1 with three different playoff appearances in his eight seasons in Minnesota. Can you imagine if the Bears had the luxury of firing a head coach with that type of resume? Oh, never mind, they did when they fired Lovie Smith (81-63) after a 10-6 season, three playoff appearances, and a trip to the Super Bowl.

As for Zimmer, the 65-year-old coach was previously a defensive coordinator with Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Dallas before taking the head coaching gig in Minnesota, making Zimmer a potential candidate for a DC role somewhere in the NFL, but I highly doubt that Zimmer will be an in-demand head coaching candidate like fellow free-agent coach Brian Flores will be.

Vic Fangio Fired

According to Adam Schefter, Vic Fangio is out after three seasons in Denver. Fangio went 19-30 during his time with the Broncos.

The former Bears defensive coordinator is looking for work after three lackluster seasons in Denver, and he made sure to make it known that he wasn’t a fan of the quarterback room in Denver on his way out the door.

If we’re being honest here, Fangio very likely takes the Broncos to the playoffs twice in Denver if he has a legit quarterback. Fangio is a head coaching candidate that you can hire, knowing that you’ll not have to worry about your defense during his entire tenure. If you could provide him with a competent quarterback and offensive coordinator, Fangio would be a successful head coach.

Joe Judge is Safe, Gettleman Retires

After another disappointing season in New York, Joe Judge somehow keeps his job. The Giants are not moving on from Judge despite the recent belief that would be the case.

I really can’t understand how a guy like Brian Flores nearly makes the playoffs in Miami and is building a thriving culture with a historically bad Dolphins team gets fired. In contrast, Joe Judge gets another season in New York after doing absolutely nothing that even remotely resembles building a winning culture with the Giants in his time there.

While Judge will be staying in New York, GM Dave Gettleman calls it a career. While Gettleman didn’t find any success in his four years as the Giants’ general manager, the long-time football executive has experienced plenty of success during his lengthy NFL career. Before taking the Giants job, Gettleman Carolina oversaw the Carolina Panthers for four seasons. During his time there, Carolina was 40-23-1 and won three consecutive NFC South titles. In 2015, Carolina finished an NFL-best 15-1 and advanced to Super Bowl 50.

The Extra Point(s)

•   What 👏 a 👏 Finish! 👏

•   Daniel Carlson’s field goal as time expired in overtime on Sunday night punched Las Vegas’ ticket to the playoffs in a win-and-in game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders became the first team since 1961 to make the playoffs after a mid-season coaching change. Rich Bisaccia did a great job with a messy situation in Las Vegas this year.

•   Week 18 lived up to the hype and was packed with wild action to the end. Check out some of the best plays from the action.

•   Big Ben will play on for at least one more week after the Steelers punched their ticket to the postseason with a 16-13 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger and the Steelers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs next weekend in their Wild Card matchup.

•   A 27-10 win over the New York Jets helped the Buffalo Bills clinch their second consecutive AFC East title.

•   Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers are heading back to the postseason after they erased a 17-point deficit to upset the Rams in Los Angeles in overtime on Sunday.

•   Despite the Los Angeles loss to the 49ers on Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Seattle Seahawks, ensuring that the Rams clinched the NFC West over Arizona.

•   Rashaad Penny ran wild on Arizona in the victory, rushing for 190 yards in the season finale. What a finish to the season for Penny, who has racked up 671 yards and six touchdowns since December 12.

•   Make sure you give Luis’ recap of the big Bears news this morning a read.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.