The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and that is never more obvious than during the end of each and every season. No matter what happened in the past, if the team isn’t winning, you know coaches are going to get fired. So far in 2023, the Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers have already parted ways with their coaches. However, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this could just be the beginning.
We know for a fact that a few coaches will be fired following the 2023 regular season. Using last year as an example, the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals fired their coaches following Week 18, while the Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Indianapolis Colts cut ties with their coaches during the 2022 season. However, this year could put 2022 to shame. ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently appeared on the Pat McAfee Show, and the conversation turned towards potential firings. During the segment, the NFL insider suggested that seven to 10 coaches will be fired at the conclusion of the season.
“I believe we’re gonna have anywhere between seven and ten Head Coaching changes this year..
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) November 27, 2023
ESPN’s Adam Schefter Predicts 7-10 Fired Coaches
Which Coaches Will Be Fired?
Obviously, this is a big prediction, but looking across the league, it’s not too surprising. Several teams have disappointed this year, and there are a handful of coaches who will need a borderline miracle to keep their jobs. Ron Rivera, for instance, is in his fourth year with the Washington Commanders and has yet to produce a winning record. With new ownership in town, Riverboat Ron is probably in his last season with the team. In a similar vein, Matt Eberflus has had two years to turn this ship around, and the Bears have yet to show any signs of life under his leadership. Justin Fields may or not be the long-term answer, but he deserves a shot with a better head coach.
Rivera and Eberflus were unable to lift mediocre talent, but Brandon Staley and Dennis Allen have failed to make the most of talented rosters. Justin Herbert is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, and the Chargers have one of the most expensive defenses in football. Despite all this, Staley’s unit is simply incapable of winning football games, and the defense is consistently one of the worst in the game. The Saints, meanwhile, spent a boatload of money to remain competitive in a weak NFC South, but despite the heavy investment, this team is currently trailing a relatively poor Atlanta Falcons team for the division lead. Sean Payton is not coming through that door, but Dennis Allen will be walking out of it shortly.
So, this gives us six fired coaches, including the two who already lost their jobs. However, those are just the obvious choices, and there are quite a few coaches who might have run out of goodwill. For instance, Todd Bowles inherited an aging roster, but he still has consecutive losing records. Bill Belichick, meanwhile, is a legendary coach, but he is starting to look like Tom Landry in the late 1980’s. Other coaches on the hot seat include Robert Saleh, Sean McDermott, Arthur Smith, Mike Vrabel, and Brian Daboll.
Finding the Next Coach
It is no secret that you need a great head coach if you want to consistently compete for a Super Bowl title. The NFL is a passing league, and guys like Kyle Shanahan, Andy Reid, and Mike McDaniel are capable of generating offense out of thin air. Everyone wants to find the next Shanahan, but the problem is that there simply aren’t enough good coaches to go around. Even when “only” five coaches lose their jobs, it’s still hard for teams to find the right man for the job. Now, there will likely be more job openings than qualified candidates, which will inevitably lead to some bad hires.
From the outside looking in, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson appears to be one of the most sought-after coaches on the market. He’ll likely have his pick of the litter, which means that a team like the Carolina Panthers are not going to get him. Carolina has a serious ownership problem, a giant question mark at quarterback, and no first-round pick in 2024. Quite frankly, it’s not an appealing opening, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a coach who wants to tie their future to this franchise.
At the end of the day, there are only 32 NFL head coaching jobs in the world, and every team will find somebody willing to replace the fired coaches. However, for teams like the Panthers, there might be slim pickings, which will only make the inevitable rebuild even harder.
Main Photo: Marc Lebryk – USA Today Sports
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