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NFL head coaches on the hot seat: Nathaniel Hackett likely gone

Heading into Week 16, the list of NFL head coaches who have been fired is now two. That included Carolina Panthers head man Matt Rhule getting his walking papers after Week 5 with former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich fired following an ugly Week 9 loss.

With that said, there’s other coaches who find themselves firmly on the hot seat now that we’re heading down the stretch of the regular season. Below, we look at several NFL head coaches who are on the hot seat and where they stand right now.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL power rankings

NFL head coaches with hot seats blazing

Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals

nfl head coaches on the hot seat: kliff kingsbury
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

An argument can be made that Kliff Kingsbury is one of the worst NFL head coaches today. Here’s a guy who has posted a 28-34-1 record since joining the Cardinals. Arizona has also lost 14 of its past 19 games dating back nearly a calendar year. He’s currently mired in a rift with quarterback Kyler Murray, who the Cards inked to a long-term deal this past offseason and is sidelined with a ton ACL.

Sure Kingsbury signed an extension himself. But it’s becoming readily apparent that he’s in over his head in the NFL. That has the embattled head coach firmly on the hot seat and it could lead to him getting those walking papers come “Black Monday.” That’s magnified now that Arizona is in the process of replacing general manage Steve Keim.

Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos

nfl head coaches on the hot seat: nathaniel hackett
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Teams don’t fire head coaches less than one full season into their tenures unless it is an unmitigated disaster. See, Urban Meyer last season. At this point, Hackett could be headed in that direction with the Broncos through just 14 games. The team currently sits at 4-10 on the campaign.

Denver ranks dead last in the NFl in scoring at 15.6 points per game. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson is putting up, by far, the worst performance of his career. From an in-game coaching perspective, we’ve seen Hackett make mistake after mistake.

At this point, Denver’s new ownership group likely won’t move off Hackett before the 2022 season comes to a conclusion. But it’s hard to imagine him lasting into Year 2. They have no built-in relationship with him. This season has been a disaster. There’s new blood in charge in Mile High, and Hackett could be the first casualty.

Lovie Smith, Houston Texans

nfl head coaches on the hot seat; lovie smith
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

David Culley went one-and-done with the Texans a season ago. Is it possible that Smith could now follow suit? We wouldn’t put it past joke of a franchise. After all, the decision to hire Smith in the first place last winter didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Houston heads into Week 15 with a league-worst 1-12-1 record. It ranks 30th in the league in scoring and is being outscored by more than a touchdown per game. Quarterback Davis Mills has proven he’s not the long-term solution. Flush with two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, it might actually make sense for the Texans to move off Smith for a younger, offensive-minded head coach.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions

Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders

nfl head coaches on the hot seat: josh mcdaniels
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

McDaniels’ seat seemed to cool off a bit after a three-game winning streak for the Raiders heading into a Week 14 matchup with the injury-plagued Los Angeles Rams. A win in Southern California would have kept Vegas in playoff contention.

Instead, the Raiders blew a late-game lead to Baker Mayfield mere days after he landed on the roster via waivers from the Carolina Panthers. Vegas was up 16-3 with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, only to allow two touchdown drives to conclude the game. This represents the fourth time McDaniels and Co. have blown a two-score lead on the season.

Sure the Raiders are coming off a shocking late-game win over the New England Patriots and remain alive in the playoff race. But it’s still been a disastrous first season for McDaniels in Vegas. Despite owner Mark Davis publicly backing him, that’s more of a financial thing. If the Raiders struggle through the final three games of the season, McDaniels could get his walking papers. He just has not been a successful head coach in either of his NFL stops.

NFL head coaches on the hot seat: Temperature turning up

Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints

nfl head coaches hot seat: dennis allen
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans’ late-game meltdown against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 13 could act as a precursor to Allen going one-and-done. The Saints were up 16-3 with three minutes left, and ended up losing by the score of 17-16.

This is the latest reason to believe that Allen just doesn’t have what it takes. New Orleans is now 5-9 on the season. Dating back to his days as the then-Oakland Raiders head coach, Allen boasts a career 13-37 record. With the Saints likely set to tear it down this coming offseason, Allen is on the hot seat. In fact, he could be one of the first NFL head coaches fired once the calendar flips to January.

Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons

nfl head coaches hot seat: arthur smith
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta heads into Week 16 at 5-9 on the campaign. Typically, this would be a lost season. But in the NFC Sourth, it is just one game behind the first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In no way does this mean the Falcons have proven themselves to be playoff-caliber under Smith.

In particular, the offense has been a major issue. Atlanta just benched Marcus Mariota in favor of rookie Desmond Ridder. It heads into the latter part of the season ranked 31st in the NFL in passing. As someone who earned his reputation as a genius on offense, this is less than ideal. And while we know owner Arthur Blank has proven to be loyal, a rebuild in Atlanta might end up being led by another guy.

NFL head coaches fired during 2022 season

Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts

nfl head coaches on the hot seat: frank reich
Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indianapolis’ latest loss to the New England Patriots by the score of 26-3 was simply humiliating. With Sam Ehlinger under center, the Colts put up 121 total yards of offense. This seemed to be the final straw for owner Jim Irsay.

Indianapolis had done everything to stay loyal to Reich. It simply had no other choice than to fire him following a disastrous 3-5-1 start to the season in which the Colts rank dead least in the NFL in scoring at under 15 points per game.

While Reich ends his Colts tenure with a winning 40-33-1 record, they’re a mere 12-13-1 since the start of the 2021 campaign. That’s the definition of average, something Irsay is not OK with. Whether Jeff Saturday (of all people) changes the dynamics as the interim coach remains to be seen.

Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rhule was viewed as a lame-duck before the summer even began and he was among the favorites to be one of the first NFL coaches fired in 2022. Entering Week 5 with his job at stake, the Carolina Panthers lost 37-15 on Sunday and owner David Tepper fired him less than 24 hours later.

It’s not a surprise. Rhule went 1-27 when opponents scored at least 17 points, including 25 consecutive losses. One of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL never established his footing, going through multiple offensive coordinators and even more starting quarterbacks. While his time in the NFL is over, Rhule immediately becomes the most coveted coach in college football and should be among the leading coaching candidates for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Wisconsin Badgers.

Bookmark this page for continued updates on NFL head coaches on the hot seat throughout the remainder of the season.