Black Monday – the ominous name given to the day after the NFL regular season ends – lived up to its billing yesterday, as several head coaches and front office personnel were given pink slips. St. Louis fired its head coach and GM, the Tampa Bay Bucs let go of their head coach, and the Indianapolis Colts showed executive Bill Polian and his son, Chris, the door.
More could be coming, of course, with rumors of San Diego considering a change at coach and GM, and reports of Chicago and other teams considering or already having made significant personnel changes. Meanwhile, buzz continues to build for Patriots offensive coordinator/QB coach Bill O'Brien, who is said to be a candidate for both college and pro jobs.
The annual coaching carousel could wind up benefiting the Patriots, ultimately. New England clearly is in need of help defensively, and without a named defensive coordinator the past few seasons, coaching is an area where the team might look to upgrade.
If so, the erstwhile Rams head coach, Steve Spagnuolo, should be considered. For one, he was the defensive coordinator who helped engineer the New York Giant's improbable victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
His style of defense might not be exactly what Bill Belchick has preferred to run over the years. He's also not an in-house promotion, a tactic which BB has favored. But that may be precisely why Spagnuolo might be perfect for the Patriots. A breath of fresh air might be what this Patriots defense needs – from scheme to players to new blood in the coaching ranks.
Spagnuolo won't be out of work for long. He's already being touted as a hot prospect for coordinator jobs around the league. However, he's a Massachusetts native, which could be an enticing benefit in New England's favor.
On the other side of the ball, if O'Brien ends up leaving, options for promotion exist – receivers coach Chad O'Shea (unproven), tight ends coach Brian Ferentz (not experienced enough), maybe even longtime running backs coach Ivan Fears (long shot) – but with old Belichick buddy Pat Hill now out of work after being let go from Fresno State, I could see a reunion of the two here in Foxborough.
Obviously, the Patriots won't be making any moves until their season ends, which could be as late as the beginning of February. In the interim, though, we can begin to anticipate what changes might be in store and speculate on how the musical chairs will affect New England.