There is about one month left in the NFL Season. This means that rumors will start to emerge about head coaches who may be on the hot seat and could be fired by the end of the season. There has already been three head coaches that have been fired thirteen weeks into the 2020 season. Barring a team having a terrible stretch to end the season it is hard to imagine more vacancies emerging before the conclusion of Week 17. There is a case for 10 other teams to look into bringing in a new head coach.
Here are the teams that could be looking to hire a new head coach during the offseason ranked in order of most likely to fire their current head coach to least likely.
Already Fired their Head Coach
The first team to fire their head coach this season was the Houston Texans. Despite starting the year against three of the leagues elite teams in Kansas City, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, Texans management did not give Bill O’Brien the benefit of the doubt and fired him after losing the first four games. Despite being recognized as one of the leagues better offensive coaches.
O’Briens firing had to do more with his control over the personnel and how the teams roster had looked after the massive trades the team had made in recent years. O’Brien had traded franchise players Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins in deals that felt like the Texans did not receive enough compensation for the players. He also traded multiple future assets in a deal that landed Houston Pro Bowl tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills (cut by the team earlier this season).
The Texans wanted to cut their losses and remove O’Brien from both head coach and general manager positions to start looking at candidates to help rebuild this team around Tunsil and Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson.
One week after Bill O’Brien was fired the Atlanta Falcons fired head coach Dan Quinn after six seasons with the team. Quinn was the teams head coach during Atlanta’s run to Super Bowl LI. He is famous for being on the other side of the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. After losing Super Bowl LI, Quinn and the rest of the Atlanta Falcons seemingly never recovered. After almost getting fired in the middle of last season, the Falcons rallied and went 6-2 to finish the year and won their last four. However the Falcons blew two fourth quarter leads against the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears earlier this season and it seemed appropriate for the Falcons to let go of Quinn.
After being embarrassed on Thanksgiving by the Houston Texans, the Detroit Lions let go of head coach Matt Patricia. Early in his time in Detroit rumors speculated that the players did not like Patricia’s coaching style. He demanded a lot from his players, much like his former head coach Bill Belichick. However what differed Belichick from Patricia is that Belichick is considered one of if not the greatest head coach in NFL History with his six Super Bowl victories. Patricia is a three time Super Bowl champion as a coordinator in New England. Those credentials didn’t not result in the respect that Patricia demanded from his players. It was also reported that Patricia did not treat his players well.
His relationship with All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay resulted in the Lions having to trade Slay for only a third round pick. It seemed overdue for the Lions to fire Patricia, especially since the coach he replaced Jim Caldwell had accomplished more during his three seasons with the team than Patricia did during his first three seasons.
Most likely to fire their Head Coach at the end of the season
1. New York Jets
You don’t have to watch all twelve of the New York Jets games to figure out that Adam Gase should be fired at the end of the season. Gase has built quite the list of reasons why he should not return next season. Sam Darnold‘s regression and how he utilized Le’Veon Bell are two of the biggest reasons why he should be let go. But it should also be pointed out that none of his players will go out of their way to defend Gase’s criticism. After their Week 13 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, there is speculation that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams blew the game on purpose to retain the Jets 0-13 record.
Also Gase’s press conferences have not been a great look. At times he appears to have no idea what he is talking about and will get into arguments with reporters. His most recent press conference blunder was about who is in charge of the offensive play calling (Start video at 1:53).
The cherry on top is the numerous examples of players who have been coaching by Gase during his time with the Dolphins or Jets that have played much better once they joined a team not ran by him. Those players include Ryan Tannehill, Robby Anderson, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Damien Williams, Kenyan Drake, and Mike Gesicki.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Doug Marrone isn’t a terrible coach. That being said, having him on the sidelines isn’t going to be a difference maker in a game. Last season when Jacksonville decided to unload their star players they decided that they are going to begin a rebuild. Coming into the season no one expected Jacksonville to be very good, but they even won their first game of the season against the Indianapolis Colts. After that win many thought that Gardner Minshew could carry Jacksonville to a few victories, but they haven’t won since. Last week the Jaguars fired general manager David Caldwell. It seems hard to believe that the next Jaguars general manager is going to retain Marrone. The Jaguars may look to grab a package deal of a head coach and general manager who have worked together in the past from another organization.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
It has gotten to the point in Los Angeles where Anthony Lynn has to be held accountable. His teams have been notorious for losing one possession games. This season alone seven of the Chargers nine losses are by eight points or less. Despite how well the offense has looked under Justin Herbert this season, the team cannot close out close games. In Week 12 the Chargers only lost to the Bills by 10 points,. But if Lynn had managed the game better it could have very well been a Chargers victory. The timing of his timeouts along with how he handled the final drive really put the spotlight on Lynn as a coach on the hot seat. Things did not get better in Week 13 when they got dominated by Chargers 45-0. The Chargers appeared lost on every side of the ball. If the Chargers do not rack up a few wins to end the season, Lynns time in Los Angeles could very well be over.
These last four weeks are crucial for these Head Coaches future
4. Chicago Bears
More than half way through October Matt Nagy looked like a coach of the year candidate after a 5-1 start that had the Chicago Bears slotted as the one seed in NFC. Six weeks later the Bears are under .600 team after losing all six of those games. Despite flipping back from Nick Foles to Mitch Trubisky the Bears can’t seem to find the spark they had earlier in the season. The defense appears to playing with lack of effort and are playing worse than they really are. This Bears defense should be the strength of the team and one of the best units in football every week. Offensively the Bears playmakers have been inconsistent. Besides Allen Robinson and David Montgomery, the Bears do not have any consistent offensive weapons that can be relied upon. Jimmy Graham, Darnell Mooney, and Anthony Miller are talented players but extremely inconsistent.
This team appears to have given up on this season and that falls on the people running the team. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Chicago clear out firing Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace. They could look to upgrade both positions and shift their gears to finding a franchise quarterback and finding a consistent coach who can keep this defense playing at an elite level.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
No other team has received national attention for how dysfunctional they look on a week to week basis than the Philadelphia Eagles. The media has put more effort into exposing the Eagles than struggling teams like the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys who have been at the bottom of the league all season.
Quarterback Carson Wentz has show major regression he leads the league in turnovers and times sacked. Despite playing as bad as he is Wentz or the Eagles have not made much progress to make major changes. in the beginning of the season it appeared that Wentz didn’t take accountability for how terrible he has played. It is only recently now that there has been speculation about him being benched and his coaching being fired that he is starting to appear disappointed with his play.
The responsible parties were on their way to get a pass on the season because the Eagles were well on their way to win the NFC East and get into the playoffs, despite the teams lackluster play. But now that the New York Giants and Washington Football team have caught up and passed the Eagles in the standings both head coach Doug Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman are joining Wentz under the spot light.
The Eagles are on a four game losing streak and have only won two of their last eight games. There are so many problems on the offensive side of the ball which has caused the Eagles to fall in so many games.
A major reason why the Eagles have looked so bad in recent weeks is because they have abandoned their strength of running the football and have made fixing Wentz mechanics and confidence the primary focus of the offense. Despite all of the injuries up front the Eagles have one of the best run blocking offensive lines in the league and are not getting star running back Miles Sanders enough carries on offense.
This past week the Eagles turned to Jalen Hurts and benched Wentz to finish up the game. Hurts looked solid in his debut. He looked like a rookie, completing five of twelve passes for 109 yards with an interception and a fumble with also five rushing attempts for 29 yards. That is pretty good for a rookie quarterback getting thrown into the game during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers.
How the offense has lost sight of what is important and is focusing in on the messy quarterback situation resulting in losing games in a fashion that makes the Eagles not look competitive on a weekly basis is enough reason for the Eagles to clear house of Pederson and possibly Roseman. Owner Jeffery Lurie may feel it could be better to bring in new management to fix this mess.
6. Denver Broncos
If the Denver Broncos were to let go of Vic Fangio after the season there is little doubt that he will be a teams defensive coordinator as soon as next season. However his tenure in Denver has not payed dividends and the team has not shown much improvement since he has taken over. To his credit the defense has played well and at times better than expected this season. The Broncos have also dealt with their fair share of season ending injuries and Covid-19 concerns.
Fangio may get a pass because of the injuries and Covid-19 issues. But there is also a chance that he doesn’t. Team President John Elway has shown in the past he is not patient about giving opportunities to members of the Denver Broncos organization. Since Elway has taken over in 2011, the team has had four different head coaches. The two before Fangio, Gary Kubiak and Vance Joseph only held the position for two seasons.
This also may apply for Drew Lock the teams starting quarterback. Since Peyton Manning retired in 2015, the Broncos have started ten different starting quarterbacks (including Kendall Hinton). The Broncos may be willing to move off Lock this season if the right quarterback prospect falls into his lap in the first round of the draft. It won’t matter to Elway that he took Lock in the second round for him to give Lock another chance. In 2016 the Broncos took Paxton Lynch in the first round and only gave him four starts before they wrote him off.
It is entirely possible that Elway views Lock and Fangio as a package deal and could very well move on from both after the season if the Broncos don’t win a couple more games down the stretch.
7. Cincinnati Bengals
Overall the Cincinnati Bengals have made great strides forwards as a franchise from last season despite their 2-9-1 record. It feels like ages ago that the Bengals were relevant because their season basically ended three weeks ago when first overall pick Joe Burrow tore is ACL against the Washington Football Team. But even when Burrow was healthy and playing well the Bengals were not playing extremely well as a team.
Despite major free agent additions on the defensive side of the ball, the team still ranked at the bottom of the league in most defensive categories. While on offense the Bengals have struggled to see great consistent production out of running back Joe Mixon, who they just gave a 4 year $48 Million deal too. Mixon’s lack of production may be due to the offensive line play, but a talent like his should not be bottled up the way is has for the past two seasons.
The idea of the Bengals letting go of Zac Taylor has not been discussed by major media outlets for a few reasons. First the Bengals have not been relevant in recent years for Taylors job to be a topic of interest outside of Ohio. Second the head coach in Cincinnati before Taylor, Marvin Lewis held the job for 16 years despite not winning a single playoff game. So it is fair to say that Bengals management is not trigger happy regarding letting go of head coaches. The third reason is that Taylor hasn’t done anything that terrible to warrant the conversation.
His biggest blemish and the reason why he could be let go at the end of the season is because throughout his first two seasons as head coach he has a record of 4-23-1. Head coaches on the market could be an upgrade over Taylor and could be attracted to the idea of coaching Joe Burrow and this bright Bengals team which appears to have a bright future ahead. At this point Taylor doesn’t appear to move the needle as a coach, but the prospect of coaching Burrow could attractive a big name offensive coach that could get this Bengals team to the next level.
Head Coaching jobs that aren’t expected to be available, but wouldn’t shock if they did
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It may be hard to believe that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could part ways with head coach Bruce Arians at the end of the season. Arians is a two time coach of the year and since he became the teams head coach has coached this team to play at an elite level on offense. On top of that, Arians defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has turned this defense from a glaring weakness to a strength. The Buccaneers have one of the best coaching staffs in the league.
But after Tampa Bay’s recent skid of the past few games, losing three of its last four, there are questions to be asked about the marriage of Arians and Tom Brady. Since signing Antonio Brown it has become obvious that Arians has put more focus on down the field plays and utilizing their outstanding trio of wide receivers of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Brown. Shifting the focus of the offense to plays that go for more than 15 yards down the field is not great for this team for a couple of reasons.
The biggest reason deep field passing plays should not be the focal point of this offense is that Tom Brady is 43. Brady has had an amazing career and there was a point where Brady was ranked as one of the best deep ball throwers in the league. But it is unfair to expect Brady to run an efficient offense that relies on downfield throws at age 43. It is unfair to expect that out of any quarterback once he reaches the age of 40, even the greatest of all time.
Another reason why Brady has looked so uncomfortable in this style of offense is because he has never ran an offense that relied so heavily on big plays down the field. A Tom Brady offense utilizes short passes over the middle and to running backs and play actions passes to create big plays down field that are fueled by a strong running game. That has been what he has run for years in New England. Brady is on pace to have a career high in interceptions because of the offensive style and because every franchise quarterback who has played under Arians set a career high in interceptions his first season.
The most underrated reason why this style of offense is not great for Tampa Bay is because it is hurting the defense. An offense that is fast paced and relies on successful deep plays regularly to win is terrible on a defense. That is the reason why Chip Kelly didn’t work at the NFL level and Mike McCarthy hasn’t looked great his final years in Green Bay and in the beginning of his tenure in Dallas. After starting the season as one of the leagues most dominant defenses, Tampa Bays defense has looked mediocre as of late. This is because the offense is off the field so quickly whether it be from scoring fast or going three and out early in a series that causes the defense to stay on the field for long periods of time with limited rest.
This all is not a reason for fire the former two time coach of the year, especially if the Buccaneers make the playoffs. However it doesn’t seem out of the question that if the Buccaneers finished the season 9-7 and had an early exit from the playoffs for Tom Brady to go to ownership and discuss his concerns with Arians style of coaching. It would hard to imagine Buccaneers ownership not listening to Brady and doing anything they can to keep him happy. There is a case that Brady at this point is already the greatest quarterback in Buccaneers history.
If Tampa Bay feels there could be another coach that fits better with Brady that could keep him happy. Arians and Tampa Bay can part ways. Meaning that Arians wouldn’t be fired, but instead could be interested in pursuing a head coaching position elsewhere or could contemplate retirement. That is the reason why he left his former job in Arizona.
9. Dallas Cowboys
This season has been a train wreck for the Dallas Cowboys. The amount of injuries that Dallas has dealt with to star players would be enough to completely derail a teams season. However the major injuries might not be the only reason why they have played so poorly. Last season Jerry Jones let go of long time coach Jason Garrett and brought in a former Super Bowl winning head coach in Mike McCarthy to be the boost the team needed to take the next step and become a Super Bowl contender. The season prior Dallas had the best offense in the league but was in need of more creative playcalling and better leadership.
The Cowboys got downgrades in both categories when they hired McCarthy. The offense is more predictable than ever and seems less efficient. Ezekiel Elliot has went from a top-3 running back and one of the leagues most impactful skill position players to an inefficient running back who looks overpaid. Early in the year when Dak Prescott was healthy Elliot was a non-factor in the offense. McCarthy made Prescott and the passing game the focal point of the offense despite the strength of the team over the last six seasons being running the ball. The offense put Prescott at a record setting pace for passing yards and touchdowns before his injury. His stats were unbelievable, but it wasn’t winning Dallas games.
Defensively Dallas has regressed into one of the worst in the league. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolans schemes are extremely outdated and ineffective. The defense has gotten to the point that doubt has been created about some of the defenses star players on whether they should be a part of the teams future or not because of how bad they have played. Coming into the season linebacker Jaylon Smith was no doubt a top-10 linebacker in the league. Since Smith has struggled under Nolans scheme, Dallas is now considering moving on from Smith one year into his new deal.
The team lacks leadership more than last year with Garrett. Especially with Prescott out for the season, there is no true leader of that locker room. McCarthy has been anything but a leader in Dallas. Players have spoke to the media about how bad the coaching has been this years. It appears he has already lost the trust of the locker room.
Dallas has already stated that McCarthy will return for the 2021 season. This means that Dallas may try to run it back again with the same roster from this season and hope they see more results from a healthy team or could potentially blow up the roster that Dallas has done a great job assembling to make it fit what McCarthy and his staff’s style of play.
These major issues are the exact reasons why McCarthy was fired from Green Bay a couple seasons ago. If Jerry Jones wants to win as soon as possible he should consider cutting his losses and firing McCarthy and his staff and bring in up to date and better coaching that could play to the strengths of this roster. If not McCarthy could have the hottest seat of all the head coaches coming into next season.
10. Baltimore Ravens
It is extremely unlikely that the Baltimore Ravens fire John Harbaugh. He won coach of the year last season and led his team to a 14-2 regular season record. Harbaugh is also a Super Bowl Champion and the Ravens franchise win leader by over 40 games. He’s one of the leagues best head coaches. But this season the Ravens as a team has regressed. It is almost near impossible to follow a 14-2 season with the same level of sucess, some regression was expected. But at this point of the season the Ravens do not have a playoff spot and could very well miss the playoffs.
The Ravens defense is playing at an elite level like last year. However the offense is playing a lot worse than last season. Lamar Jackson does not look anything like he did last season. Through ten games Jackson only has fifteen passing touchdowns and he’s already tied his interception total from the season before with six. Jackson also has 575 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns which leads the team. Adding J.K. Dobbins in the second round was a breath of fresh air to an older backfield but neither Dobbins, Mark Ingram, or Gus Edwards are running effectively enough to get in a rhythm. There seems to be too many backs in the backfield. Finally former first round pick Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and the rest of the Ravens wide receivers have been extremely disappointing. Brown leads the team in receiving with 516 yards.
If Baltimore was to miss the playoffs there are multiple parties that deserve blame. It would be an overreaction for them to consider replacing Jackson, Harbaugh, or Eric DeCosta. But if it was to happen Harbaugh would lose his invincibility and will have to be accountable for the Ravens actions from here on out especially if they continue regressing. If anyone was to be the scapegoat and was to lose their job at the end of the season in Baltimore it is likely offensive coordinator Greg Roman.