There are two weeks of regular-season football left in the NFL and the debate about which head-coaching jobs are in jeopardy come the offseason is heating up.
With the Jacksonville Jaguars firing Urban Meyer on Dec. 16 after less than one season, we know they are going to be on the hunt for a permanent option, and they’ve already started requesting interviews with candidates. Same with the Las Vegas Raiders, who have interim coach Rich Bisaccia in place after Jon Gruden’s resignation in October. The seats are also quite hot in Minnesota and Chicago. It is not unreasonable to think those teams might also have a new coach come the 2022 season. More on that below.
NFL Nation rated the job security for every coach last week, picking the hot, warm, cool and cold seats around the league. So if you are wondering if your team might be nearing a change, go check that out.
But for now, while we wait for teams to make important decisions on their futures and the Jaguars and Raiders begin to set interviews with candidates, here’s everything you need to know about the latest NFL head-coach movement, with news on open jobs, potential open jobs and candidates.
OPEN HEAD-COACH JOBS
Former coach: Urban Meyer (fired on Dec. 16)
Interim coach: Darrell Bevell
Meyer was fired after less than one season as coach of the Jaguars — and reportedly for cause. His time with the Jaguars included incidents on and off the field. While the team did finally win a game after a 20-game losing streak, it was only 2-10 at the time of his firing. And shortly before he was fired, a former Jaguars kicker claimed Meyer kicked him while at practice. Not the year that was expected after drafting Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in the 2021 draft.
Bevell has the job of holding down the fort until a more permanent option is found. And team owner Shad Khan sure has a lot to consider when looking for the franchise’s next coach.
Interview requests: Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, former Eagles coach Doug Pederson, Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, former Lions and Colts coach Jim Caldwell, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus
Former coach: Jon Gruden (resigned Oct. 11)
Interim coach: Rich Bisaccia
We are considering this an open job given the Raiders have to decide whether to drop the “interim” for Bisaccia or find a replacement elsewhere. Bisaccia, 61, had been promoted from special teams coordinator upon the resignation of Gruden. It was the first time in a coaching career that began in 1983 that Bisaccia was a head coach at any level.
Bisaccia won his first two games after replacing Gruden but had five losses in his next six games. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Raiders just a 19.1% chance to make the playoffs. Given those struggles, it is clear that his status as head coach is up for debate.
HEAD COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT
Coach: Mike Zimmer
In eight seasons with the Vikings, Zimmer has a 71-55-1 record and has made three trips to the postseason (2015, 2017, 2019) with two playoff wins. The Vikings fell short of reaching the playoffs in 2020 with a 7-9 record and the 2021 season has the same energy. They have not missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since Zimmer took over in 2014.
The story of this year’s Vikings is defined by games that have come down to the final possession. Of Minnesota’s 15 games this season, 13 of them have been decided by one possession.
The Vikings invested north of $46 million in guaranteed money on defensive contracts this offseason to restore their once-vaunted defense. But Minnesota ranks 29th in yards per game (379), 26th in yards per play (5.81), 28th in rushing yards allowed per game (130.5), 26th in passing yards allowed per game (248.5) and 25th in points allowed (372). A change could be warranted.
Coach: Matt Nagy
Speculation has been brewing for months, and the expectation after another losing season is that the Bears will move on from Nagy in a matter of weeks. Nagy was hired in 2018 with the belief he would ignite Chicago’s offense. That hasn’t happened — the Bears have scored the eighth-fewest points in the NFL under his leadership — nor has rookie quarterback Justin Fields‘ development gone according to plan.
Nagy, just three years ago, was named NFL Coach of the Year in his first season in Chicago as the Bears surged to 12-4 and reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years. The Bears went 8-8 in 2019 and 2020, and qualified for the postseason last year as a wild-card team. Nagy was 0-2 in the playoffs. His handling of playcalling duties has been troublesome this season, and the 295 points Chicago surrendered in its 10 losses make it unlikely that ownership does anything but hit the reset button this offseason.
General manager Ryan Pace is also on the hot seat. The Bears have one winning season (2018) since he took over GM duties in 2015.
Matt Nagy details how the Bears are focused on their Week 17 matchup vs. the Giants and not his future as head coach.
Coach: Vic Fangio
If the Broncos fail to make the playoffs — the FPI gives them just a 0.3% chance — it will be the sixth consecutive season the team has missed the postseason and scored fewer than 23 points a game. George Paton is completing his first season as general manager and it is unknown which direction he will want to go as far as coaching in 2022. Paton has publicly said how much he respects Fangio and believes they work well together on personnel and the development of young players. Fangio might be the one who calls plays for a top-scoring defense in the league, but it is the offense is that very much lacking.
The 63-year-old signed a four-year contract in 2019, so the 2022 season would be the final year of his deal. Will the Broncos hold on for another year — which Fangio says he “absolutely” deserves — or will they move on? We should know in the next couple of weeks.