Teams with head-coaching vacancies as of 8:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, along with teams who have told their coaches they won’t be back, can begin interviewing assistant coaches from other teams, 12 days before the conclusion of the regular season. So which other coaches could learn in the next 40 hours or so that they’re out?
Here’s a list of guys who potentially have reason to be concerned, ranging from those who should be most concerned to those who should be least concerned.
Matt Nagy, Bears: Dysfunctional teams do dysfunctional things. And the Bears seem to be sufficiently dysfunctional to fire a guy with two playoff appearances in three seasons, eight months after authorizing a trade up to get a potential franchise quarterback, whom the next coach may not want. If they’ve already decided to make a change, there’s no reason to delay the implementation of the move. Which probably means they will.
Matt Rhule, Panthers: Owner David Tepper covets having greatness at quarterback, coach, and G.M. Once he decides that a given guy won’t be great, Tepper cuts the cord. Will he do that after a pair of so-so seasons from Rhule? The buyout would be enormous, but it’s the cost of doing business. Tepper, if he’s no longer sold on Rhule, would rather pay him not to coach and to pay someone else to do the job.
Vic Fangio, Broncos: New G.M. George Paton surely wants to hire his own coach, but the Broncos remain in the fringes of the playoff chase. Also, the possibility of a looming change in ownership could prompt the current power structure to tread water so that the new owner can hire the next coach, perhaps after 2022.
Mike Zimmer, Vikings: They remain alive for a playoff berth, and there’s not an ideal interim replacement on the staff. Which means that the Vikings will sit tight and then fall behind the other teams looking for new coaches, after the Vikings inevitably fail to make the playoffs.
Pete Carroll, Seahawks: He wasn’t originally on this list, but Sunday’s loss to the Bears merits a mention. No one knows what owner Jody Allen will do when the dusts settles on the season, but she could decided to kick up plenty of dust by nudging Carroll aside now. If she has decided to do it after the season ends, there’s no reason to wait. Other than to show respect to Carroll by letting him finish the season.
David Culley, Texans: He has seemed overmatched from the get go, but it’s becoming more and more clear that he got the job so that G.M. Nick Caserio can essentially be the shadow coach, communicating with Culley during games on matters of strategy and whatnot. Caserio would lose plenty of that influence and freedom with a coach who would scoff at the idea of being micromanaged by the G.M. That will make Caserio inclined to stay the course. A late-season winning streak doesn’t hurt, despite the damage it will do to Houston’s draft priority.
Robert Saleh, Jets: It’s highly unlikely that Saleh will be one and done. The bigger potential problem would happen if the Jets fire G.M. Joe Douglas and then hire a new boss who may want a different coach. Like Douglas did after he got the job.
Joe Judge, Giants: He’s reportedly safe. Some think he shouldn’t be. But all that matters is what ownership wants. And ownership apparently wants to break its trend of firing coaches after two seasons.