Kliff Kingsbury Roasting on an Open Fire: Coaching Hot Seats
NFL Week 16 - Earlier this week, the NFL sent out a memo to owners around the league. They pointed out that teams have spent a combined $800 million on fired coaches and executives over the past five years. They even made spreadsheets for each team, itemizing all the employees they have fired and the costs they have incurred.
The Giants are paying three coaches at the moment, with Brian Daboll, Joe Judge, and Pat Shurmur all still working out their deals, not to mention the plethora of assistant coaches they had working for them. Only 12 active coaches have completed three seasons in the NFL, and only four—Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh and Pete Carroll—have been in place for a decade or more. The league cautioned teams to guard against squandering money like this in the future.
Best of luck with that. With no sort of salary cap in place, coaching staffs are one of the easiest places for management to make changes, whether changes need to be made or not! $800 million over the last five years? A single team recoups that in a couple seasons, much less the league as a whole. With the possible exception of Mark Davis, who is allegedly too cash poor to fire Josh McDaniels, this is not a message that's going to resonate very well, despite the natural resonance of the giant vaults of money that NFL owners routinely swim around in.
And so, despite the NFL's best efforts, the hot seats around the league continue to boil and bubble, and at a faster rate than normal. I can't remember the last time so many first-year coaches had their jobs in so much jeopardy, as the somewhat traditional three-year window seems to be a thing of the past.
An average of seven coaches get turfed by the end of each NFL season, and seeing as how we have already had two coaching changes, it doesn't seem like that number is going to drop this season. It's still technically before Christmas as this goes up, so we'll play Scrooge for one more week, trying to figure out which coaches should be boiled with their own pudding and which will continue to be merry as a schoolboy into 2023.
Ghosts of Hot Seats Past
Matt Rhule/Steve Wilks, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers kicked off this year's coaching carousel by firing Matt Rhule about nine months too late; in Football Outsiders Almanac 2022, we questioned just why a coach with a 10-23 career record and nothing in the way of evidence of progress would stick around and, well, put one point in our column there. Of course, firing your coach after five weeks is the sign of a doomed season, with the Panthers shortly thereafter dumping their best player in Christian McCaffrey and beginning to the long slog towards irrelevance where…
… wait a second, one game out of first place in their division? How bad was Matt Rhule?
To be fair, the Panthers are only in contention because the NFC South is where logic and sense go to die. There's still an outside chance that we'll get a four-way tie at 6-11—in which case, say hello to your fourth-seed Carolina Panthers. Steve Wilks has gone 4-5 since taking over, meaning he has more wins as an interim coach in Carolina than he did in his one year in Arizona, which is a pretty fun combination of impressive and depressing. Should he be given the reins full-time? Ehhh. It's impressive that he's kept Carolina competitive for more than a game or two; Carolina's DVOA has jumped from -28.2% to -12.5% since Wilks took over. Still bad, mind you, but going from terrible to bad is forward progress. Wilks probably deserved more than one year to clean up in Arizona after the Bruce Arians era ended, and he has won the Panthers locker room over, which is probably a welcome change from the Rhule era—Rhule admitted in November that he didn't really form any relationships with any of his players, which, yeesh.
However, I have yet to see something from Wilks that makes me think that Carolina has a secret, hidden gem here. He has been a steady hand, and has galvanized the team around him, but those sort of interim coach effects tend not to be able to survive an offseason. It seems like Wilks' Panthers are better prepared than Rhule's edition, but other coaches could also bring a level of professionalism greater than Rhule brought to the team. As long as the next coach doesn't come in talking seven-year plans and comparing themselves to Jay-Z, they'll probably do fine. I do think Wilks has done enough to get a spot in the interview room, at least, but I wouldn't commit to him full-time before at least kicking the tires on the market.
That being said, good luck to whoever gets the full-time gig, because the Panthers might be the worst of all the possible coaching vacancies this offseason. The only quarterback on the roster next season is Matt Corral, the third-round rookie who didn't get much work in training camp because Rhule insisted on a quarterback competition between Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. Corral's on injured reserve, basically making his rookie season a waste. Want to bring in another option? The Panthers are effectively $14.3 million over the cap next season and have the second-worst situation in terms of restructures to veterans; they may be able to pry free $25 million or so, but not much more than that, and that's dwarfed by the $28.6 million in dead money they have from Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson. And this late-season push is just pushing that first-round draft pick lower and lower; they currently hold the eighth pick, and that will fall out of the top 18 if they catch the Buccaneers for the division title. It's not a draft overly loaded with passers, either, and the Panthers have enough holes—wide receiver and interior defense both raise flashing warning lights—that trading up isn't a great option, even with all the extra picks from the McCaffrey trade.
In short, the Panthers are probably spending next year dead for cap reasons, much like the Falcons did this year. There are some young pieces already in place in Brian Burns and Jeremy Chinn, but what looks like an unsolvable problem at the quarterback position makes this arguably the least enticing job opening available.
Frank Reich/Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis Colts
Credit where credit is due: Saturday has not been laughably incompetent since taking over. This was in play when the Colts hired someone who had never been a head coach above the high school level to come in and suddenly take over midseason, but the Colts have shown up to every game. Literally, I mean they haven't missed a plane or gotten lost in the hotel or something. Figuratively, they didn't show up for the fourth quarter against Dallas or the second half against Minnesota. It has been bad enough that you have people calling for Saturday to be fired and an interim interim coach installed. Suffice it to say, Saturday's chances of keeping this position in the long term has gone from slim to … well, apparently still slim, as Jim Irsay says that Saturday will still be part of a "broadened" pool of candidates. "There's some unknown coaches that may be capable," Irsay says. Well, at least we can cross one of them off the list—Frank Reich deserves a coaching spot more than Saturday does in 2023, even if neither should be a head coach next season.
Whoever takes over needs a new quarterback, and to get Indianapolis off this endless train of veteran retreads they have been on since Andrew Luck's surprise retirement. Cutting Matt Ryan isn't ideal, adding an extra $18 million in dead money onto the cap next season, but at this point that has to be considered a sunk cost. The Colts desperately need a quarterback prospect, along with multiple new linemen, a wide receiver, and an offensive mind to help take the mess left behind and patch it up with bells and whistles until talent arrives. The defense is fine, if overmatched, but the Colts' inability to do a single dang thing on offense leaves the defense out to dry and forces them to play perfectly to avoid losing. Whether the next coach is found under a rock somewhere or coaching at the University of Michigan, the Colts need to bring in someone who has a plan to develop and build an offense rather than plug and play whichever big name draws the most attention this offseason. And if there was ever an owner synonymous with calm, level-headed, long-term thinking, it's Jim Irsay, so I'm sure the Colts will be fine, right? Right?
He's going to hire Kirk Herbstreit or something, isn't he? Oh boy. Well, at least we can move on to the people who still have jobs. For now. Because there's a second tier that is likely to be employed for, oh, three more weeks, and then be part of the bloodletting on Black Monday. These are the coaches who are more likely than not to get fired at the end of the year, making them the…
Ghosts of Hot Seats Present
Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos
As a proud alum of the University of California at Davis, let me assure you that Hackett does not represent the level of quality you can expect from the Aggies. You like your defense, right, Denver fans? Ejiro Evero is a Davisite as well! We can produce solid football minds, I swear.
Hackett has been toast since September. Honestly, Hackett may have been toast since he failed to lure Aaron Rodgers to come with him. Hackett has been trying to fit square pegs into round holes ever since; there has been seemingly no effort to alter his offense to fit the skills of their expensive new quarterback. Russell Wilson hasn't exactly covered himself with glory this season, but Hackett has been determined to run a Rodgers-style offense with Wilson rather than letting the quarterback roll out and do the kinds of things that made him a success in Seattle. Add in the fact that Hackett has gradually shed all of his gameday responsibilities over the course of the year, hiring game management advisors and passing off offensive play-calling responsibilities, and it seems more and more like the only reason Hackett hasn't been handed his walking papers already is the fact that the new owners seem to want to wait until their first full offseason before making major changes. Maybe they can find Hackett a job as a greeter in one of their stores. It might have been a good idea to see if Evero had anything as an interim head coach, a monthlong audition for the role, but make no mistake: Hackett's gone, his contract just hasn't been torn up just yet.
The big question for the next coach is what to do about Wilson and the $245-million contract of doom. With terrible draft capital due to the trade, and a deal that doesn't become remotely movable until 2025 at the earliest, Job 1, 2, and 3 of the new head coach will be getting Wilson back to something approaching respectability. Considering Wilson hasn't been in the top 10 in passing DVOA since 2019, it's probable the Broncos overpaid for someone entering the down half of his career, but he's a better player than what we have seen from him this season; hiring a coach who will work to his strengths rather than against them is crucial. And then maybe it's time go on a spending spree. Wilson's contract aside, the Broncos actually have quite a bit of cap flexibility, which they'll need as the Seahawks have all their draft picks. Denver can be a player in the offensive line and receiver markets, adding more protection and more weapons. Cutting Graham Glasgow, waiving or trading Ronald Darby, and moving on from Mike Purcell would free up nearly $25 million to go with the $12 million in effective space the Broncos already have. There's a path back to contention as soon as next year from here, but if and only if Wilson can be kicked back into gear. I wouldn't call the Broncos' long-term future bright, because so much hinges on this year being more Hackett's fault than Wilson, but there's a path for optimism.
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals
It feels like the NFL's reminder to maybe not collect so much dead money was aimed directly at Arizona. They just signed Kingsbury to an extension this offseason, paying him through 2027, part of a re-signing scheme that was going to keep the triumvirate of Kingsbury, Kyler Murray, and general manager Steve Keim together for the long-term future—a bold move for a trio that had one (1) winning season together in their first three years. This felt like a situation where the bottom could fall out and things could be a disaster.
And yes, the bottom fell out, and things became a disaster, even before Murray suffered an ACL injury which puts his 2023 season into jeopardy. It's quite possible the Cardinals will have none of their Big Three next season, with Murray rehabbing, Keim apparently on his way out, and Kingsbury dangling in the wind. I am shocked, shocked, that a team which spent the offseason bickering about studying clauses in their star quarterback's contract would be stumbling through a season. Almost as shocked as I am that a coach with a career 35-40 record in college wasn't able to come to the NFL and suddenly become a regular contender. The quarterback guru hasn't had an offensive DVOA above 3.2% since he arrived despite having his hand-picked quarterback prospect in Murray. And it's not like this is a spur-of-the-moment move; three years is more than long enough for a coach to establish a pattern of success. No, Kingsbury has been all style and little substance since arriving in Arizona, and some defense-led success last season should not save his job despite his shiny new extension.
I'm not sure I agree with Carson Palmer that the Cardinals' job isn't that attractive, however. It all comes down to the health of Murray's knee and his rehab from the ACL tear. The worry is not so much that it'll crush Arizona's 2023 season, but that it will permanently limit the mobility that has been Murray's bread and butter. If Murray can return to his healthy form, that's an enticing piece to work with. He was in the top 10 in passing DVOA and DYAR a year ago, which is a lot better asset then most new coaches get to inherit. If you trust Murray to be healthy, you can trade that fourth overall pick you're sitting on and fill your holes at tackle, at edge rusher, at cornerback. The roster needs a serious revamp as the past few years have left the cupboard bare, but a top-five pick and an above-average quarterback is a good start … so long as the ACL isn't a career-altering injury. Tough call there.
Lovie Smith, Houston Texans
Let's be honest: there were talks about who Smith's replacement would be about 30 seconds after he was hired, as the scuttlebutt was that Smith was a last-second swing away from Josh McCown in the aftermath of the Brian Flores lawsuit. Perhaps that was overblown however; I mean, it'd be pretty crazy for someone to hire an ex-player with no head coaching experience to run your franchise, right?
But Smith came in at the last minute after the Texans had been reportedly interested in McCown and Flores and Hines Ward. And he wasn't a change from David Culley's tenure, with the major coaching roles filled by people already on staff. It's a move that screamed holding pattern. And while I'd argue that Smith's tenure has been better than Culley's, despite the worse record—hey, moral victories count for something, right?—the Texans are in a holding pattern, and need a fresh start perhaps more than any team in the league. What this team needs is a complete and total reboot. Someone get James Gunn on the phone.
And hey, if you want a fresh slate to build a team with, the Texans are your team of choice! We currently give them an 88.4% chance of getting the first overall pick in the draft, and frankly I think that's a little low. These past two weeks have been perfect for Houston's long-term prospects—strong, exciting performances that end up coming just short and preserving draft position. Signing up to coach the Texans means signing up to coach Bryce Young, or C.J. Stroud, or Will Levis, or whomever the heck you end up deciding is the best quarterback out of the pipeline. And then you have Cleveland's first-round pick to grab your wide receiver, or your edge rusher, or whatever else you want, because—and this cannot be stressed enough—the cupboards are bare. This is arguably the least talented roster in the league, but with extra first-round draft picks both this year and next, a new coach can remake this team in his own image very quickly. This is the job of choice for the grand designer. It may be Derek Stingley and 52 new players the next time they're relevant, but this is a team without prior commitments to hold a new regime down. You don't want to be dealing with debris like…
Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This one is perhaps a little more controversial—the Buccaneers just promoted Bowles at the beginning of the year on the personal recommendation of Bruce Arians. Cutting him after one year would be a surprise. But this is not what Tom Brady signed up for when he came back out of retirement; Tampa Bay was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender, but instead now has to win out to avoid a losing record. The Bucs are massively underperforming and overleveraged; this is not a team that can afford to have an off year, because they are about to face a massive salary cap crunch and crumble. They're not quite as all-in as the Rams were, but they were very, very close, and that house of cards can't last forever. This is likely a wasted season. Bowles may have a ceiling as a defensive coordinator, as the defense seems to miss Bowles' direct hands-on overseeing. Just like with his stint with the Jets, Bowles' team has a frightening capacity to implode, and to keep doing the same things over and over despite poor results, with Tampa Bay's love of the run game being Exhibit A. Better coaches would have changed course at some point before now.
And remember, this wasn't anyone's plan. Arians retired way late in the process, after the owners' meetings. This was well after all the hot coaching prospects had been hired and Bowles was elevated basically at Arians' will, because there wasn't really time to do a lengthy search for his successor. Given a full offseason to consider, it's entirely possible the Bucs will want to look in another direction. And if Tampa Bay collapses all the way and loses the division, I think we'll see the end of Bowles after just one season.
And good luck to whoever gets the job! You're not inheriting Tom Brady, who is a free agent at the end of the season. You're getting Kyle Trask, who after two years has yet to take a single snap in a regular-season game. And you're also inheriting the single worst salary cap situation in the league. Sure, the Saints are a little further in the red—$65 million over 2023's projected cap, as opposed to Tampa Bay's $56 million. But the Saints at least have a little wriggle room, a few more contacts they can mess with if they decide to push everything into the future yet again. The Buccaneers used void years and other accounting tricks to fit everyone under the roster, and they have a Super Bowl win to show for it. Well, now the bill is coming due—they will have $53 million in cap charges alone on Brady, Julio Jones, Will Gholston, Akiem Hicks, Lavonte David, and Jaleon Darden. None of those players are under contract for 2023. They could sign Brady or David to a new, extended contract, and dump that money into the future, but that just pushes the problem down the line. They're going to have to restructure half a dozen players just to be able to sign their draft class, and cut the likes of Donovan Smith, Leonard Fournette, and Cameron Brate just to have enough space to do anything. Flags fly forever, and I don't think anyone in Tampa Bay is regretting the strategy that won them their second Lombardi, but I hope they enjoyed watching the Rams' season this year, as they're about to enter that territory themselves. Maybe they should keep Bowles on the roster for another year just to clear out the dead wood.
Maybe you don't agree that Bowles is about to go—maybe he deserves another year. After all, he was the chosen successor of someone still with the team, and the Buccaneers may still win the division. If he survives this season, then he'll start next year with his job in question—a proud member of the…
Ghost of Hot Seats Yet to Come
Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
There has been a lot of smoke about Stefanski's prospects this year, an understandable reaction from Browns fans that have watched their team get a little worse each season since Stefanski's arrival and their playoff year. That 2020 season was a bit lucky—Cleveland had a -5.7% DVOA and was closer to an 8-8 team than an 11-5 one—and the luster has worn off, with the Browns mostly flopping against any sort of stiff competition this year.
I don't know. I think Stefanski sticks around. Like the Broncos, the Browns are a very one-sided team, but unlike Hackett, Stefanski is responsible for the good half—Cleveland has an offensive DVOA of 9.2% and a defensive DVOA of just 6.5%. If you want to make changes after a disappointing season, that's the recipe for Joe Woods to be a scapegoat, not Stefanski. The Browns have had positive DVOA for two straight seasons, which they hadn't done since 1989. It wouldn't be a shocking move for a team to fire a coach who has missed the playoffs in back-to-back years with a losing record each time, but I don't feel like Stefanski is really the one to blame. In addition, the elephant-in-the-room move was designed to be a success starting in 2023. Cleveland knew Deshaun Watson wasn't going to play for most of 2022 when they traded for him; the Browns have been in a long-term planning mode for the last year, so firing Stefanski just before the plan can come into effect would be poor judgement, and I'd never dare accuse the Haslams of having poor judgment.
If Stefanski does go, this is, on paper, an exciting opportunity for a coach. The offense is successful, with a former top-five quarterback working his way back into shape. The defense has been adequate against the pass, it just needs to be substantially upgraded in the interior, which is a workable problem. The Browns are a little tight against the cap, but they have plenty of money they can shove into the future thanks to the structure of Watson's deal—all the money may be guaranteed, but you can convert that into bonuses and pay later. Yes, on paper and on the field, this looks like a heck of an opportunity for someone if Stefanski leaves. There may be just be one or two tiny little issues that would make someone think twice.
Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
Oh, if you're a head coaching candidate, you're praying for this one. This is the job opening to end all other job openings, the clear and obvious favorite for anyone wanting to get into the game. It is, by far, the most talented roster of all the potential openings, with remarkable players all over the roster. And (don't worry, we have Mike Tanier tied up in the back) they have Justin Herbert. Maybe Herbert isn't in that top tier of passers, maybe he isn't as consistent as Patrick Mahomes or as dynamic as Josh Allen, but teams with quarterbacks like this don't have job openings. If the Chargers head coaching job opens up, you'll have offensive minds lining up around the block for the chance to work with Herbert.
We have fallen out of love with Brandon Staley, for sure. Part of that is the fourth-down aggression we lauded so heavily last year has vanished. Part of it is that the defensive side of the ball, which is supposed to be his specialty, is floundering around midpack, just 17th in defensive DVOA. Had this article run two weeks ago, after the loss to the lowly Raiders, Staley might have been up a rung.
Since then, however, the Chargers have picked up major wins over the Dolphins and Titans and look to be on pace to make the playoffs. No way Staley gets let go if they're playing extra football in January. Joe Lombardi might be a sacrificial lamb, as the offensive design has been abysmal this year, but it looks like Staley is safe. For now. So long as the good results continue.
Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints
If you're going to be fired in Year 1, there need to be some bizarre circumstances and instant regret with the hiring process to begin with. Nathaniel Hackett and Lovie Smith were hired by executives who are no longer with their teams. Todd Bowles was a last-second move. Not so with Allen, who was kept on to provide continuity with Sean Payton retiring. This was a planned move, continuing what had made the Saints moderately successful over the past few years. It would be against the Saints' basic philosophy to blow everything up and start over; not when they can leave that problem for future New Orleans! No, this year has not gone well for the Saints at all, with the much-ballyhooed offense failing to take a step forward and the defense stuck firmly in the midpack; all of our preseason optimism quickly flew out the window. But Allen's fate is likely in lockstep with Mickey Loomis, and Loomis isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So another year of pushing problems down the road it is!
We have already mentioned how the Panthers and Buccaneers are going to be in cap hell. The Saints welcome them there as the team furthest above the cap in 2023. And they're missing their first-round pick, as they traded up to draft, uh, an offensive tackle. They keep trading future assets—picks and space—to perpetuate what has slowly fallen from a Super Bowl contending team to a wild-card contender and now to a near-bottom feeder. They're running out of tricks and are going to have to start paying for some of these short-sighted moves. With the rest of the NFC South likely stuck clearing out debris for the next few years, are we ready for the rise of the Atlanta Falcons? They got their season spent dead for cap reasons out of the way this year and are ready to reign over the ruined remains of the division. So, that will be fun. But Allen will likely be there to watch, at the very least.
Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders
McDaniels is not getting fired. The Raiders can't afford to pay him even if they wanted to—Mark Davis is one of the most cash-poor owners in the league, and the one most likely to take the league's memo to heart. Plus, McDaniels is another first-year head coach, and while the Raiders' season has been disappointing to say the least, Davis really wanted him there, and announced that he would be staying even before they rattled off four wins in five games. Unimpressive wins, for the most part, but wins notwithstanding. Five wins is disappointing when the preseason over/under was 10.5, but it's likely not fireable.
If the Raiders job did spring open, it would probably be the most tempting one outside of the Chargers—lots of cap space and draft capital to play with, and a more than serviceable quarterback. Yes, years of bad drafting from the Jon Gruden era has left the team dangerously devoid of young talent, but this isn't a team that has bottomed out just yet. That is, as long as you make sure Davis' checks clear.
21 comments, Last at 23 Dec 2022, 7:28pm
#1 by Travis // Dec 22, 2022 - 1:31pm
Just like with his stint with the Jets, Bowles' team has a frightening capacity to implode, and to keep doing the same things over and over despite poor results, with Tampa Bay's love of the run game being Exhibit A.
The Buccaneers have run the ball fewer times (both on a raw and percentage basis) than any other team in the league. (Todd Bowles is still a terrible head coach.)
#6 by Raiderfan // Dec 22, 2022 - 3:09pm
Not a fan of the Buccaneers, but the narratives I have seen have been less about how much they run, as opposed to when they run. They are cited for loving to run on first down, which the opposing defense expects and is prepared for, which—because it is a bad line that blocks poorly—results in second/third and long, which—because it is a bad line—results in fast pressure. I have also seen the OC being quoted as saying that they do not do as much play action as critics say they should because they cannot run the ball well.
Then there are the narratives that say that Brady is washed and afraid, and the Buccaneers failure is his fault.
#13 by Vincent Verhei // Dec 22, 2022 - 6:10pm
Ah, but they are just outside the top 10 in first-down run rate in the first quarter (59%.) Then they are last by far on first down runs the rest of the game (37%; nobody else is under 40%.) So they can be predictably run-heavy to start the game, even if they abandon it after that.
#2 by reddwarf // Dec 22, 2022 - 1:39pm
Funny how all the talk from the offseason about how much influence Wilson had on the offensive playbook in Denver has gone away the last couple months. Sure, it's all Hackett's fault, and not at all about Wilson being upset about not getting the respect he deserved for his play in Seattle and desire to cook what he wants.
The primary job of the next coach will be to hold Wilson accountable and get him to accept what he does well. I just hope we don't lose the defensive staff this offseason.
#3 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 22, 2022 - 2:29pm
Almost as shocked as I am that a coach with a career 35-40 record in college wasn't able to come to the NFL and suddenly become a regular contender.
Crazy as it sounds, Bruce Arians was 27-39 in college (best season at 6-5), but was 80-48-1, with a SB win, in the NFL.
Jim Caldwell was 29-63 in college (best season 7-5), but 62-50 in the NFL with a SB appearance and took the Lions to the playoffs twice.
Winning at Temple and Wake Forest is hard, yo.
\Bobby Ross was also a better pro coach than a college coach, and he won a national title!
\\But he also took the Chargers to a SB and the Lions to the playoffs 2x
#4 by Joey-Harringto… // Dec 22, 2022 - 2:39pm
"Winning at Temple and Wake Forest is hard, yo."
As you insinuated, so is winning with the Lions. Bobby Ross got so sick of it he retired in the mid-season with his team at 5-4 in the thick of the wildcard race.
#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 22, 2022 - 2:46pm
It's worth pointing out that winning in college is mostly about recruiting, whereas in the pros it's much more about strategy and scheme and management.
There are great college coaches who are terrible in the pros, and good pro coaches who are useless in college. They require different skills.
#11 by johonny12 // Dec 22, 2022 - 5:28pm
If Miami misses the play offs, it would not shock me if their owner didn't talk to Sean Peyton behind his current head coaches back yet again. They've already lost a draft pick for tampering and Ross isn't getting younger, wiser, or more patient . . .
#14 by KnotMe // Dec 22, 2022 - 6:32pm
Maybe. Miami's chances of missing are fairly low. They end with Packers(Gimmie) Patriots(if they can't beat a team wo an offense they don't deserve to be in the post seasons, another Gimmie) and Jets(Depends who is at QB)
#18 by FanZed // Dec 23, 2022 - 1:29pm
There's another category to add here: "not on the hot seat, but even so..." This would be for ostensibly successful teams who have underperformed expectations or seem to be on the downhill slide. Sean Payton 'retired' last year rather than continue with the fading Saints. John Fox got the boot in Denver after a first round playoff exit by the 2014 Broncos.
This year's candidates for the category include Baltimore's John Harbaugh. The Ravens are at a crossroads, with QB Lamar Jackson not under contract and suffering injuries at higher rate than in his first few years. Their offense has not progressed, and it's conceivable that owner Steve Bisciotti might decide to radically reshape the franchise before it suffers the fate of the Saints or Broncos.
Bill Bellichick looks to be floundering in New England to the point where owner Robert Kraft has to wonder whether he's either lost the team or his heart just isn't in it anymore, or both.
If Dan Snyder still had day-to-day control of the Commanders, this might be the off season where he decides Ron Rivera hasn't done enough for the Commanders, especially after watching rivals in Philadelphia and New York enjoy some rapid results.
I might put Pete Carroll in this group, but I'm having a hard time imagining a halfway plausible rationale for his firing after this season. A change there would really seem to come from out of nowhere.