May 27, 2024

The moment has arrived to assess the fate of the 18 NFL teams set to miss the playoffs in 2023, and for some struggling coaches, it might mark the conclusion of their tenure. While certain coaches like Frank Reich in Carolina, Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, and Brandon Staley in Los Angeles have already departed, the question remains about others who could potentially be on the job hunt in the upcoming spring.

In our exploration today, we examine the current status of teams and their coaches, contemplating the possibility of changes post the regular season.

Absolutely, 100 percent gone — with no chance of return

Ron RiveraWashington Commanders

Marina's Ron Rivera responds to speculation of imminent firing by Commanders

Rivera was granted a one-year opportunity to demonstrate his compatibility with the new ownership in Washington, but this season turned out to be a disaster. His early commitment to Jack Del Rio led to significant defensive challenges, and despite some glimpses of offensive improvement under Eric Bieniemy, the team crumbled in the latter part of the season, losing 9 out of their last 10 games.

Known as one of the nicest individuals in the NFL, Rivera’s commitment to loyalty to players and coaching staff has had its ups and downs. This pattern of prioritizing loyalty over success persisted from his time in Carolina to his tenure in Washington.

While there’s a possibility that Rivera could continue his career as a defensive coordinator, the Commanders are set on finding a young and dynamic coach to usher in a new era for the team.

Trending the wrong way — could be gone on Black Monday

Arthur SmithAtlanta Falcons

Until recently, Smith appeared to have the support of Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank, but the atmosphere in Atlanta has taken a negative turn. Initially, there were reports that Smith would continue unless there was a “major collapse” in the team’s last two games, and this was promptly followed by a 37-17 defeat to the Bears.

As the Falcons approach a Week 18 showdown with the Saints, it’s challenging to envision Smith maintaining control. This is assuming that the locker room is even ready to give their full effort for the coach.

Throughout his tenure in Atlanta, accountability has been a significant problem for Smith, particularly this season. His inconsistent treatment of players, showing favoritism to some while being overly critical of others, has become a defining characteristic. This resulted in rookie Bijan Robinson spending too much time on the sidelines in his debut season, while Desmond Ridder received numerous opportunities to prove himself.

The team now feels adrift and lacking purpose. With the impending need for a long-term quarterback and a coach who can effectively utilize the offensive weapons, it appears that Arthur Smith is on the verge of departure.

Mike VrabelTennessee Titans

In case you were wondering, Mike Vrabel still hates losing Titans - Music City Miracles

It’s quite astonishing to contemplate the possibility of Vrabel facing job uncertainty despite earning Coach of the Year accolades in 2021. However, a unique scenario unfolds here, as opposed to the conventional risk of termination. Rumors are gaining momentum suggesting that the New England Patriots might pursue a trade for Vrabel as the potential successor to Bill Belichick.

The rationale behind the Titans entertaining the idea of parting ways with their coach is worth considering:

1. Tennessee’s performance has exhibited a downward trend over the past two seasons.
2. This juncture presents a natural opportunity to transition to a new head coach.
3. With the Titans projected to have the second-highest cap space in the NFL for the upcoming season, possessing a promising young quarterback in Will Levis, and holding a top-10 draft pick, there’s a compelling package for exploration. If the organization isn’t entirely convinced that Vrabel is the ideal leader, trading him, acquiring draft assets, and securing a new coaching figure becomes an enticing proposition.

Trending up — could have saved their job

Matt EberflusChicago Bears

If Bears coach Matt Eberflus stays, he must get it right on Justin Fields, Luke Getsy - Chicago Sun-Times

It’s surprising to find ourselves in early January contemplating the possibility that Eberflus has made a positive impact in Chicago during this unusual season. In just a few weeks, the Bears have become more competitive on defense, Justin Fields is showing improvement, and there are compelling reasons emerging to consider retaining Eberflus.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that a significant portion of the franchise is still in disarray. The upcoming offseason presents a crucial decision – whether to stick with Fields and leverage the No. 1 overall pick from Carolina to bolster their draft capital, or to opt for a new quarterback, ushering in a new era.

The prevailing sentiment suggests that Fields might continue to helm the team for a while, supporting the notion of retaining Eberflus for the sake of continuity. Only time will reveal the correctness of these decisions.

Needs to perform in the playoffs

Sean McDermottBuffalo Bills

Bills' Sean McDermott used 9/11 terrorists to illustrate how team could come together in 2021

Not too long ago, Sean McDermott faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge as the Bills were far from playoff contention. Rumors circulated about a poorly received “motivational speech” where he oddly praised the 9/11 terrorists. Fast forward to the present, the Bills boast a 10-6 record and a promising playoff position. However, McDermott’s job security isn’t guaranteed. The team’s offensive talent demands a strong playoff performance, and there’s uncertainty about McDermott’s future if they exit the playoffs prematurely.

Mike McCarthyDallas Cowboys

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy out with appendicitis, expects to be on sideline against Eagles - The San Diego Union-Tribune

The coach leading the Cowboys appears to be accustomed to underperformance, with rumors of potential dismissal consistently circulating. This year seems crucial for McCarthy and the Cowboys, demanding tangible results. McCarthy has demonstrated his ability to win in the NFL but has fallen short in crucial moments. Jerry Jones, known for his impatience, may not tolerate another early exit, potentially marking the end of McCarthy’s time with the Cowboys.

Who the hell knows?

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

Bill Belichick will tie NFL record for most losses ever by a head coach if Jets beat Patriots in Week 18 - CBSSports.com

Conventional wisdom suggests that Belichick might be on his way out after this season, but considering it’s Bill Belichick we’re talking about, the extraordinary brilliance he has displayed as the Patriots’ coach for the past two decades makes it incredibly challenging to analyze this situation accurately.

It’s evident that changes are necessary in Foxboro. The current setup with Belichick handling both head coaching and general manager duties is no longer effective in building a successful team. Perhaps a scenario could unfold where a new general manager takes charge of shaping the roster, allowing Bill to focus solely on coaching.

The acceptance of such a role change from Belichick remains uncertain.

There are numerous unknown factors in play. Does Bob Kraft still have confidence in Belichick’s abilities? Does the head coach contemplate retirement, or could he be enticed by an opportunity elsewhere with a more immediately competitive roster? With so many variables at play, it’s challenging to predict the outcome of this situation.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll signs contract to stay with Seahawks through 2025 season | The Seattle Times

The Seahawks have experienced a challenging year following a remarkably surprising season. The key consideration is not necessarily Coach Carroll’s competence but rather whether it’s opportune to usher in a new chapter.

It’s easy to overlook the fact that Carroll is 72 years old and has already achieved significant success. The question arises: can he transform the team into a perennial contender in the coming years? If the response is negative, there’s a possibility of a dignified departure as he retires from coaching.

While it may be improbable, a coaching change wouldn’t shock me in this scenario.

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