Now that the regular season is over, the list of NFL head coaches who have been fired will grow heading into Black Monday. There’s numerous coaches on the hot seat with the likes of Lovie Smith and Kliff Kingsbury having already been leg go.
Who will follow those two as well as Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts), Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers) and Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos) to get their walking papers? Below, we look at several NFL head coaches who are on the hot seat while focusing on those who have already been fired on Black Monday.
Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL power rankings
NFL head coaches with hot seats blazing
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Completely unacceptable. Following a Week 17 loss to the Cleveland Browns, Rivera had no clue that Washington could be eliminated before playing its final game. This is something a head coach should know. It’s part of a larger-scale problem for the Commanders after yet another down season under Rivera.
As for Rivera’s complete body of work on D.C., Washington is 22-27-1 since he was hired ahead of the 2020 season. With a talented young defense and some good skill-position players, this is not what we’d call a success. It wouldn’t be a surprise if embattled owner Daniel Snyder goes in another direction in his final move in that role before selling.
Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions
Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders
Josh McDaniels’ first season in Las Vegas was an unmitigated disaster. The team boasted a 6-11 record with nine of those losses coming by one score. The Raiders blew four double-digit leads throughout the season.
If that weren’t enough, drama seemed to plague this organization behind the scenes. Star wide receiver Davante Adams was critical of the coaching staff. McDaniels and Co. opted to bench longtime quarterback Derek Carr when the team was still somewhat in playoff contention. He left the squad and is not going to be back in 2023.
The only thing potentially saving McDaniels’ job is the fact that he still has four years remaining on his current contract. Owner Marck Davis is among the poorest at his position in the league and might not want to eat said contract. Even then, McDaniels has proven he’s not a capable head coach in this league.
NFL head coaches on the hot seat: Temperature turning up
Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
McVay is not necessarily one of the NFL head coaches on the hot seat. Rather, rumors continue to heat up that the still-young 36-year-old Super Bowl winner might simply step away from the sidelines for a while — focusing on a broadcast career.
We’ve heard these rumors on a near never-ending loop over the past calendar year, and they are heating up big time. Most recently, a report from Fox Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer noted that people within the Rams’ organization would “be more surprised if he came back than if he left.”
McVay and his Rams just finished up shop on an injury-plagued 5-12 season. His resignation would likely come less than a calendar year after leading Los Angeles to the Lombardi Trophy. It would be among the most-surprising decisions in modern NFL history.
Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
Despite Cleveland’s win over the Washington Commanders in Week 17, there’s no guarantee that Stefanski will rerturn for a fourth season as its head coach. The team finished 7-10 and was pretty much out of the playoff race by November.
It’s been completely downhill for Stefanski since he led the Browns to a surprising 11-5 record and playoff spot back in 2020. Since then, the Browns have gone 15-19 to return to irrelevance. This has Stefanski squarely on the hot seat.
Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys
McCarthy led Dallas to a 12-5 record this past regular season and 24-10 mark since the start of the 2021 campaign. How in the world can he be among the NFL head coaches on the hot seat? Well, it’s rather obvious. For owner Jerry Jones, it’s going to be all about playoff success following Dallas’ meltdown against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs last season.
Dallas has won all of three playoff games since the end of the 1996 season. It has not been to the conference championship since 1995. The pressure is squarely on McCarthy to change this narrative. Given how Dallas performed in its Week 18 loss to the Washington Commanders, things are not looking great on this front.
Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Falcons owner Arthur Blank is among the most-loyal in the NFL. It’s in this that most believe he’ll give Smith more than two years to turn this thing around in Atlanta. But the head coach’s body of work over this two-year span leaves a lot to be desired.
Having earned his keep as an innovative offensive mind during his time with the Tennessee Titans, that has not transitioned to Atlanta. The Falcons finished 28th in scoring in 2011 and ranked in the bottom 10 this past regular season.
One now has to wonder whether Blank will come to the conclusion that Smith is not the man to lead this rebuild. There’s too many holes on both sides of the ball for short-term contention. Starting anew with a younger, up-and-coming head coach could make sense.
NFL head coaches fired in 2022 and 2023
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals
At this point, it’s in no way that Kingsbury got his walking papers from Arizona on Monday.
An argument can be made that Kingsbury was one of the worst head coaches during his tenure with the Cardinals. Here’s a guy who posted a 28-37-1 record since joining the Cardinals. Arizona also lost 17 of its past 22 games dating back more than a calendar year. He was mired in a rift with Kyler Murray before the quarterback went down due to a torn ACL.
Now that Steve Keim is also out of a job, the Cardinals will be searching for both a new head coach and general manager this winter. How fun is that?
Lovie Smith, Houston Texans
David Culley went one-and-done with the Texans a season ago. Lovie Smith has now followed him on that unfortunate list.
Recent reports suggested that Houston planned on making Smith the second consecutive one-and-done head coach in franchise history. The team finished this past regular season with a 3-13-1 record. Within hours of defeating the Indianapolis Colts to close up shop on the 2022 campaign, Smith was informed of his firing. It’s not too surprising given how much of a dumspter fire the Texans’ organization is. Smith had very little to work with. It’s that simple.
Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos
Denver’s decision to fire Hackett after just 15 games can’t be considered too much of a surprise. The Broncos dropped their 11th game of the season Christmas night, losing to the injury-plagued Los Angeles Rams by the score of 51-14.
As humiliating as the final score might have been, what we saw from Broncos players tells us another story. Backup quarterback Brett Rypien was seen going after the team’s offensive line after it struggled protecting Russell Wilson. Meanwhile, Randy Gregory was suspended a game for fighting after the clock struck zero in the fourth quarter.
From an on-field perspective, Denver ranks dead last in the NFl in scoring at 15.5 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 saw Hackett make mistake after mistake.
Denver’s new ownership group will now likely take a leading role in finding a new head coach to replace Hackett. Simply put, the status quo was not sustainable.
Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
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
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.