NFL teams turn to the familiar at this time of year.
Green Bay, New England, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and others prepare for the playoffs.
Teams such as Detroit, Washington and Tampa Bay fire their coaches.
Cleveland cycles through coaches with such gusto, in fact, that "Black Monday" should really be called "Browns Monday."
By way of comparison, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had three coaches since 1969. The Browns will have had three coaches since 2012.
So it wasn't surprising that the Browns were the first to dump their coach, Rob Chudzinski, after the regular season ended, even though he had been in the job for less than a year. They fired him Sunday night, apparently unwilling to spend another night sleeping on the decision.
That was the first in a wave of dismissals that Monday expanded to include Washington's Mike Shanahan, Detroit's Jim Schwartz, Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano and Minnesota's Leslie Frazier. Houston's Gary Kubiak lost his job during the season.
The status of coaches such as Dallas' Jason Garrett, Tennessee's Mike Munchak and Oakland's Dennis Allen remains up for debate, although each grows safer as the hours pass.
Both New York coaches, the Giants' Tom Coughlin and the Jets' Rex Ryan, are staying put despite deeply disappointing seasons. But there are some high-profile assistants who could be on the chopping block, including Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Among the names being tossed around as potential coaching candidates in various cities are Adam Gase, first-year offensive coordinator of the Broncos, and Cincinnati coordinators Mike Zimmer (defense) and Jay Gruden (offense).
Cleveland got the ball rolling and now is looking for its eighth coach since relaunching as an expansion franchise in 1999.
"We understand the importance of continuity," Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said. "But I think it's really important to hear this: We also understand the importance of getting it right."
As important as those qualities are — continuity and getting it right — the Browns have exhibited neither.
Chudzinski, whose team finished 4-12, said in a statement that he's "a Cleveland Brown to the core" and "I was shocked and disappointed to hear the news that I was fired."
Shanahan could not have felt the same. He was disappointed he couldn't build any winning consistency with the Redskins, of course, but he could not have been shocked he was fired. He reportedly was on one side of an ever-widening chasm behind the scenes, with Redskins owner Dan Snyder and star quarterback Robert Griffin III on the other side.
The Shanahan firing had been expected for weeks, with the only uncertainty being how vigorously the Redskins would fight paying him the $7 million he's owed for the final year of his contract.
Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls as Denver's coach more than a decade ago, was 24-40 in his four seasons in Washington, with the Redskins finishing 3-13 this season, the worst record of his career. His staff, which includes his son, was also fired.
Snyder is searching for his eighth coach since buying the team 15 years ago.
After he was fired, Shanahan spoke at the podium to reporters for about five minutes but didn't field any questions. He said he left the club in a better situation than it was when he was hired.
"We did make some good decisions relative to getting back to a base, relative to the salary cap," he said, "because we had made some mistakes in the past."
In Tampa, not only Schiano was fired, but also General Manager Mark Dominik, who was hired as a low-level personnel assistant in 1995 and worked his way up to the top job.
Schiano, who went to the Buccaneers from Rutgers, was 11-21 in two seasons and had teams that at times were nearly mutinous over his heavy-handed approach. Tampa Bay lost its first eight games this season, then was 4-4 in the second half of the season. It wasn't enough to save Schiano's job.
Schwartz had been coach of the Lions since 2009, and took over a team that was 0-16 the previous season. He was 29-51 in five seasons, and this fall endured a maddening collapse. Detroit was 6-3 after nine games with a two-game lead in the NFC North. Despite being loaded with talent, and being the only team in the division that kept its No. 1 quarterback throughout, the Lions were 1-6 down the stretch, blowing fourth-quarter leads in each of those defeats.
Although the Vikings made the playoffs last season, they fired Frazier after finishing 5-10-1 this season. He had widespread support among his players, who were somber about the news.
"It's a harsh business," safety Harrison Smith told reporters. "As a player, we all love Coach Frazier, as a coach, as a man. You can't meet a better guy. And also as a player, we didn't make enough plays on the field. So you just feel like you let him down a little bit."
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