Pat Shurmur of the Giants and Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns were the first coaches fired as the N.F.L. entered Black Monday, the date when the leaders of disappointing teams are traditionally sent packing.
Shurmur’s firing was announced on Monday by the team. He took over the Giants for the 2018 season and led them to a 5-11 record, which was actually a two-game improvement. This season, he handled the difficult task of benching the team’s veteran quarterback, Eli Manning, for Daniel Jones. The move seemed to pay off, as the Giants won their first two games under Jones to improve to 2-2 and get fans talking about a successful season and a bright future.
But the team then reeled off nine consecutive losses and wound up 4-12.
“Pat has been a successful and highly respected N.F.L. coach for 21 years and he is not solely responsible for our record,” team president John Mara said Monday. “But we came to the conclusion it is best to have a fresh start with the coaching staff.”
The Giants said General Manager Dave Gettleman would remain in his position. “Although our record didn’t reflect it this season, we believe Dave has assembled a strong nucleus of young players that will help us compete for championships in the future,” said chairman Steve Tisch.
Kitchens took over the Browns this season in a rare mood of optimism for the perennial punching bag team. The team had been 7-8-1 last season, its best in 11 years, and hopes were high that acquisitions like Odell Beckham Jr. and the maturing of the exciting young quarterback Baker Mayfield could put Cleveland in the playoff hunt.
But Mayfield struggled, and the team quickly reverted to its old ways, starting off 2-6 and limping to a 6-10 record. A final-game loss to the Bengals, a team that had seemed to be even worse than the Browns, was a fitting ending.
“We are disappointed in our results and feel a change is necessary,” the Browns’ general manager, John Dorsey, said in a statement.
Jay Gruden of the Redskins and Ron Rivera of the Panthers were dismissed midseason, Gruden after losing the first five games of the season and Rivera after a 5-7 start.
Bill Pennington contributed reporting.