The National Football League is about results. General managers, head coaches and players must all deliver or they’ll be replaced quickly. As we look ahead to the 2023 season, the NFL coaching hot seat proves there are a lot of head coaches under pressure this year.
We saw five NFL coaches fired last season, including two coaches in their first seasons with the team. In a business that is fast approaching $20 billion in annual revenue, failing to deliver sufficient results means less profit for teams and that results in owners making changes.
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Failing to deliver winning seasons is the fastest way to get fired. However, several NFL coaches on the hot seat this year have Super Bowl rings and a track record of success. In a time when owners care about what a coach has done for them lately, though, repeated failures could force dramatic changes that alter the NFL as we know it.
Let’s take a look at the NFL coaching hot seat entering the 2023 season.
NFL coaching hot seat 2023
Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have a roster good enough to win the Super Bowl. If they fall short, the blame will fall on head coach Mike McCarthy. If Dallas can’t even reach the NFC Championship Game, 27 years without even an appearance, McCarthy needs to be shown the door.
Winning in the regular season only means so much. While the Cowboys are coming off consecutive 12-win seasons, they are 1-2 in the playoffs with McCarthy. If you go further back in his coaching career, he is 6-8 in the playoffs since 2011. Through all of this time, he’s coached a Hall of Fame quarterback and now one of the best NFL rosters with a great coaching staff to help him.
He should also know this is his final opportunity. It’s why McCarthy parted ways with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, making himself the play-caller. If Dallas still can’t win more than a single playoff game and McCarthy’s archaic offense and flaws as a coach remain, he’s gone.
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Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t necessarily make the wrong decision to keep Brandon Staley. He’s still one of the youngest NFL coaches and there’s a long learning curve with the position. Furthermore, the Chargers’ biggest issue was at offensive coordinator and Joe Lombardi was replaced by a superior option (Kellen Moore) and that should make a huge difference.
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With that acknowledged, Staley is right on top of the 2023 NFL coaching hot seat. Los Angeles ranked 15th in the NFL in fourth-down conversion rate (51.72%), allowed the ninth-most points per second half (11.8) and blew a 27-point lead in the playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars with a plus-five turnover differential.
If Staley can’t win a playoff game in 2023, he’s gone. The Spanos family will feel a lot more comfortable eating the lone remaining year on his contract and firing him. Plus, this is an NFL team in Southern California with Justin Herbert at quarterback and the club will soon have a brand-new facility. If Staley gets fired, this will be one of the best jobs available.
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Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
The best head coach in NFL history is on the hot seat. While Robert Kraft might not exactly fire head coach and general manager Bill Belichick, it’s not unreasonable to think there could be a “mutual” parting of ways. Besides, the Patriots are clearly preparing a successor.
It’s not irrational to think a change is on the horizon. Over the last four seasons, New England has made the playoffs twice and doesn’t have a single postseason victory. Following Brady’s departure, the Patriots haven’t won the AFC East. If that’s not enough, there’s Belichick causing a rift with players and testing Kraft’s patience with the inexcusable decision to make Matt Patricia offensive coordinator then blaming the offense’s problems on the young quarterback.
Sometimes it’s simply appropriate to make a change, even if that means parting ways with an all-time great who is synonymous with your team’s success. If the Patriots don’t make the playoffs this year, don’t be surprised if Jerod Mayo is head coach in 2024.
Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Todd Bowles was hand-picked to become the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach after Bruce Arians abruptly retired, chosen over Byron Leftwich. A year later, it appears as if Tampa Bay was choosing between two underwhelming options.
- Todd Bowles coaching record: 34-50
After going 24-40 across four seasons as the New York Jets coach (2015-’18), Bowles took over a loaded Buccaneers’ roster last year. Tom Brady came out of retirement to make another run at the Super Bowl and Tampa Bay had one of the deepest offenses and defenses in the league. However, the Buccaneers finished with a losing record and then suffered a 17-point loss in the first round of the NFL playoffs.
Bowles survived the eight-win season, but Leftwich was fired. While it buys him another season to prove himself, Tampa Bay is starting either Kyle Trask or Baker Mayfield this season and its roster is much worse than before. Bowles is easily one of the NFL coaches on the hot seat in 2023 and it truly feels like this is a lame-duck season for him.
Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
Kevin Stefanski was the NFL Coach of the Year in 2020, leading the Cleveland Browns to an 11-5 record and their first playoff win in decades. In the two years since, Cleveland has a losing record. With a strike already against him, Stefanski put more pressure on himself for the upcoming season by making a change at defensive coordinator.
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Coaches with consecutive losing seasons typically get one chance to save their job. Firing Joe Woods and replacing him with Jim Schwartz was Stefanski’s final play. He won’t have any excuses at quarterback this year either with Deshaun Watson available for all 17 games and expected to return to form.
Making the playoffs is the only way for Stefanski to save his job. Cleveland has some of the league’s highest-paid players on its roster and that’s demonstrated by the franchise boasting the highest active player payroll ($266 million) in the NFL this season. If the Browns fail to meet expectations, Stefanski’s place on the NFL coaching hot seat will quickly turn into him being dismissed next offseason.
Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders wasted little time hiring Josh McDaniels in 2022. Naturally, owner Mark Davis determined he wanted to try and recreate the “Patriot Way” in Las Vegas. In McDaniels’ first season at the helm, Derek Carr regressed, the Raiders won four fewer games than the year before and they became the first team ever to lose five games in a season after holding a double-digit lead.
Based on the NFLPA’s report card, McDaniels is making the same mistakes in Las Vegas as he did with the Denver Broncos. Players don’t feel like they are being listed to and believe McDaniels’ insistence in them staying for additional hours doesn’t match what winning NFL teams do.
The Raiders likely aren’t going to be a serious threat in the AFC next season, which means making the playoffs is likely off the table. While finishing with a losing record might not guarantee McDaniels is fired, he’s listed among the NFL coaches on the hot seat for other reasons. If he can’t engineer a top-12 offense and there are more complaints from players in the next NFLPA report card, Las Vegas might have to move on to avoid even worse results in 2024.
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Ron Rivera is one of the most well-respected coaches in the NFL. The Washington Commanders hired him to stabilize the culture, bringing in someone who could instill discipline and help create a more stable environment. Rivera has delivered on that front but the incoming ownership group is going to be a lot more focused on the results.
Rivera’s record is why he’s on the NFL coaching hot seat. over the last five years, including the end of his stint with the Carolina Panthers, Rivera doesn’t have a winning record. Following Cam Newton’s MVP season in 2015, Rivera hasn’t won a playoff game and holds a 51-58-1 record. If Washington can’t make the playoffs when the NFC is relatively weak, new ownership will have no reason to stick with Rivera in 2024.
Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus knew he was walking into a mess of a situation. Becoming the coach of a team with limited cap space, even fewer draft picks and one of the worst rosters in the NFL all but guarantees losing seasons. It’s why a 3-14 record last season is perfectly excusable.
It’s the defense that lands Eberflus on the NFL coaching hot seat. Chicago ranked last in Defensive DVOA last season, allowing the fourth-most yards per game (375.9), the most points per game (27.2) and surrendered the second-highest yards per play (average (6.1).
So, Chicago took advantage of its cap space this offseason by adding a lot more talent to the front seven. The Bears’ front office provided Eberflus with the players he wanted to elevate the defense. If this unit fails to deliver, though, the Bears will have a defensive-minded head coach in a pass-heavy league without a track record to merit keeping him around.
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Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints
After Sean Payton stepped down, the New Orleans Saints conducted a fairly quick coaching search before promoting defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to the top job. For the most part, the Saints’ defense played well, but an inconsistent offense resulted in a 7-10 record.
So, the Saints went out and signed Derek Carr and they have a healthy Michael Thomas returning in 2023. While they have lost more talent defensively, Allen’s track record of scheming up defenses suggests this will still be a top-12 unit this fall. If New Orleans doesn’t come out on top of a winnable NFC South, anything could happen.
Keep in mind that Allen holds a 15-38 record across four seasons as an NFL head coach and his teams have a history of not executing in critical situations. New Orleans gave him a second season and a new quarterback should help, but Allen is firmly on the NFL coaching hot seat and he won’t ever get a third chance to be an NFL head coach.
What NFL coaches are on the hot seat in 2023?
Mike McCarthy, Josh McDaniels, Brandon Staley, Ron Rivera, Kevin Stefanski, Todd Bowles and Dennis Allen are the NFL coaches on the hot seat in 2023.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.