Seven Coaches on the Hot Seat After 4 Weeks

The NFL coaching carousel commands more attention than all other professional sports combined. With most owners asking, “What have you done for me lately,” few head coaches have desirable job security. However, wins and losses are hardly the only factors when teams decide to make a coaching change. What were reasonable expectations heading into the season? What is the chemistry like in the locker room? Are players buying into what the coach is selling? And the most often overlooked factor that teams ignore when making such a move – is there a better head coach candidate for the job?

The 2022 calendar has switched to October. The NFL Season is slightly less than a quarter of the way through (thanks to the switch to a 17-game season). There is a significant amount of football yet to be played. Some of these coaches likely won’t be on this list in November. Some of the 25 men not listed below will emerge before New Year’s Eve. But these seven coaches on the hot seat have every reason to worry about their job security, whether it’s their fault or not.

After September, Who Are the Coaches on the Hot Seat?

  • Nathaniel Hackett, Denver BroncosHackett is the only first-year coach that appears on this list. Under most circumstances, a first-year head coach gets a second season, regardless of how bad that season turns out. And a 2-2 start in what was projected to be a competitive AFC West is hardly disastrous. But Hackett was hired in late January of 2022. Russell Wilson was acquired to change the direction of the franchise in March. And the Broncos sold for a record $4.65 billion in August to Wal-Mart heir Rob Walton. The expectations for Hackett may be dramatically higher now than they were in January. And there’s a new person at the top making the decisions.

Jerry Jones Has Wanted Sean Payton For Years

  • Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are 3-1 right now, tied for the second-best record in all of football. They’re 3-0 with quarterback Cooper Rush after losing starter Dak Prescott in a season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All of that may be irrelevant because Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has regretted losing Sean Payton to the New Orleans Saints since the minute he accepted the job in 2006. Payton, as is well known, left the Saints in February to take a year off and enjoy the television studio. It may take an NFC Championship Game appearance for McCarthy to keep his job.
  • Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona CardinalsKingsbury’s 2019 hiring caught many off-guard, considering he was just dismissed as the Texas A&M head coach. There’s usually not a market in the NFL for coaches who couldn’t keep a college job. But after a 5-11 debut season, Kinsbury had Kyler Murray looking like a future All-Pro. The Cards went into their 2020 bye week with an 11-2 record. But they’ve looked stalled ever since, going 5-9 through the remainder of ’21 and the start of 22. Things aren’t trending in the right direction for a fifth season in the desert.
  • Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers: Staley may be a very good coach who falls victim to very lofty expectations. He boasts an 11-10 record since being hired before the 2021 season. The Chargers, like the Broncos, are 2-2 in a competitive division. But the overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in last season’s finale – and Staley’s bizarre time-out that handed the Raiders the chance to win – might be too much for the second-year coach to overcome if there’s no playoff berth for the Bolts this season.

Frank Reich Never Has No Luck

  • Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts: Poor Frank Reich. A hot commodity after leading the Philadelphia Eagles offense to the team’s first Super Bowl ever, he signed on to be the top dog in Indianapolis, thinking he could build around franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. We know how that turned out. After starting out the 2019 campaign with Luck, he’s started the subsequent seasons with Jacoby Brissett (2019), Phillip Rivers (2020), Carson Wentz (2021), and Matt Ryan (2022). Since his first season in Indy, Reich’s appeared in a single playoff game. The Colts are off to a disappointing 0-2-1 start in a division many expected them to win. Colts owner Jim Irsay may decide this relationship has run its course.
  • Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders: Of all the coaches on the hot seat, none are as universally respected as Ron Rivera. He’s been a steady voice of reason and understanding during his tumultuous tenure as the head coach in Washington. Working for Daniel Snyder hasn’t been easy for any of his coaches. Working for Snyder over the last three seasons has had to be close to impossible. He won seven games in each of his first two seasons (remember, 2020 was 16 games), and he’s off to a 1-3 start and already 3 games behind the Eagles and two behind the Cowboys and New York Giants). Wentz – like just about every Washington QB dating back to Doug Williams – is not the long-term answer. Rivera is an admirable man, a survivor, and a good football coach. But this isn’t the job for him at this point.

Saturdays Will Once Again Rhule

  • Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers: If only one coach is going to lose his job this season, it will most likely be Rhule. The speculation was rampant at the close of 2021 and it’s only louder now. These things are bound to happen when you sign a record-breaking contract for a first-time NFL Head Coach  (seven years, $60 million). Rhule has not had a steady answer at quarterback, shuffling through the likes of Cam Newton, Sam Darnold, and now Baker Mayfield. But that’s not going to be enough to spare him from owner Dave Tepper, who’s reportedly “embarrassed” already by the deal he freely and openly gave to Ruhle to keep him from visiting the Giants in the winter of 2020.

Expect the soon-to-be-former Panthers coach back on campus for 2023. And he’ll likely find similar success with whatever program hires him to replicate the turnaround jobs he did at Temple and Baylor – places where he was never one of the NCAA coaches on the hot seat.

He’ll just have a little more change in his pocket this time.