With 24 days to go until Black Monday, speculation has reached a fever pitch regarding coaches and General Managers who may be fired between now and then. As a result, it become important for teams that won’t be making major changes to say so.
Last year, former Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford did just that, announcing on December 17 that coach Matt Patricia and G.M. Bob Quinn would return for 2020. This year, ownership of the Bears, Eagles, and Jets have said nothing about embattled coaching staffs and front offices.
There’s no requirement that anything be said, obviously. However, speculation will only intensify about potential changes absent a declaration that changes won’t be made.
In Chicago, questions have swirled for weeks about the potential replacement of G.M. Ryan Pace, coach Matt Nagy, and more recently team president Ted Phillips, who has held the job for 21 years. Ownership has said nothing regarding the question of whether any, some, or all of them will return.
In Philadelphia, where the Eagles won the Super Bowl to cap the 2017 season and returned to the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, fans and media have clamored for change. As ridiculous as change may be after recent accomplishments, unless and until owner Jeffrey Lurie says big changes won’t be made, they remain possible. The report that he boycotted the team’s pre-Thanksgiving loss to the Browns due to dissatisfaction with the team invites even more questions about whether he’ll send people packing.
The Jets likewise have said nothing about the future of the football operations, creating a sense of uncertainty as to whether coach Adam Gase actually could save his job for 2021, and whether G.M. Joe Douglas faces ultimate scrutiny after fewer than two years in the position.
Although four teams have fired their General Managers and three have parted ways with their head coaches during the 2020 season, no owners of teams with key employees facing real scrutiny have declared those employees to be safe. As January 4 approaches, the silence eventually becomes deafening.