Every year there is at least one head coach in the NFL whose job is hanging on by a thread. It could be a coach in their second year as a head coach or someone that has been there for over ten years. The reason could range from the team not improving to not getting to the Super Bowl. So whose team needs to do enough this season for the head coach to keep his job?
Note: no first-year head coaches will be included like Jaguars Urban Meyer and Jets Robert Saleh. They could be fired at the end of the year. However, it’s not fair to say that they are on the hot seat without coaching a single game.
- Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders: Gruden’s return to the Raiders has not gone as well as his last tenure with the team. The team has improved each season, going from 4-12 in 2018 to 7-9 in 2019 to 8-8 in 2020. However, the team has not made the postseason yet, and the pressure might be bigger than ever this year. If the Raiders miss the playoffs again or get off to a bad start, it’s going to be tough to justify keeping Gruden. His job, and coaching career as a whole, might come down to what the Raiders do in 2021.
- Vic Fangio, Denver Broncos: Vance Joseph was fired after going 5-11 and 6-10 in his two years with the team. Fangio, meanwhile, has not done much better, going 7-9 and 5-11 in his two seasons. The main problem for the Broncos is that they haven’t had consistent quarterback play since Peyton Manning retired. Guys like Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Chad Kelly, and Case Keenum couldn’t hold on to the job. Drew Lock was expected to be the guy, however, he did not perform well last year. Denver bypassed a quarterback in the draft with the hope that Lock will develop. If Lock can’t perform and the Broncos have another losing record, they could be coach hunting in the offseason.
- Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals: Taylor’s time with the Bengals haven’t been what the fans and organization were hoping for. The team 2-14 in 2019 and got the first overall pick, which was Joe Burrow. While Burrow had a good rookie season, the team didn’t improve by much and finished 4-11-1. It also didn’t help that Burrow tore his ACL in week 11. The Bengals have struggled on the road with Taylor, winning only one game away from home. Close games have also been a problem for the Bengals, as Taylor has gone 2-13-1 in one-score games. There was also an article done by Sports Illustrated that was not a good look for Taylor and the franchise as a whole. Taylor and the Bengals most show improved on the field this year for him to keep his job.
- Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears: Nagy has been his own worst enemy sometimes. In his first year as Bears head coach, he took the team to the playoffs. At the time, it looked like he turned Mitchell Trubisky into a good NFL quarterback. And then 2019 happened. Trubisky regressed, and the Bears missed the playoffs. 2020 was a crazy year, as Trubisky got them off to a 2-0 start, then was benched in the third game for Nick Foles. Foles and Trubisky took turns as the starter, and the Bears barely made the playoffs as the seventh seed. They got beat by the Saints in the Wild Card round. Now Trubisky is gone, and the job falls to free-agent signing Andy Dalton and first-round pick Justin Fields. If Nagy and the Bears get good quarterback play out of Dalton and Fields, his job is safe. If not, the Bears will look for someone else to develop Fields.
- Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers: On the surface, it might seem weird to say Shanahan is on the hot seat as he went to the Super Bowl. However, that season was the only time in his four years that the 49ers had a winning record. The team has also lost ten or more games in each of those seasons. Now the 49ers did have bad luck with injuries in 2018and 2020. They also won their last five games in 2017 after Jimmy Garoppolo took over as the starting quarterback. However, after trading for him in 2017, it seems like they are to move on after drafting Trey Lance. Shanahan might not be able to afford another ten-loss season in San Francisco, or else he could be on his way out.