Several NFL head coaches venture into the second half of the season with their job in jeopardy including Kliff Kingsbury from the Arizona Cardinals, Frank Reich from the Indianapolis Colts, Nathaniel Hackett from the Denver Broncos, and Dan Campbell from the Detroit Lions.
The Carolina Panthers fired Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start. He entered this season as the betting favorite to become the first head coach fired. Since losing his job after Week 5, Rhule is the lone head coach fired through the first half of the NFL season.
Other head coaches on losing teams could lose their jobs at the end of the season including Kevin Stefanski from the Cleveland Browns, Ron Rivera from the Washington Commanders, Lovie Smith from the Houston Texans, and Todd Bowles from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals)
The Cardinals are 3-5 and sit in last place in the NFC West. They have unimpressive wins against the Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers, and New Orleans Saints. They barely beat the Raiders in overtime in Week 2, picked off the Panthers who were 1-3 at the time, and knocked off the Saints on short week on Thursday Night Football in Week 7.
Using the advanced metric of DOVA, the Cardinals are ranked #30 overall or the third-worst team in the NFL under Kingsbury.
In his fourth season with the Cardinals, Kingsbury has a losing record at 27-29-1. He steadily improved during his first three seasons with the Cardinals jumping from a 5-10-1 record in 2019 to an 8-8 record in 2020, and a 11-6 record last season. The Cardinals hoped they could compete for an NFC West division crown, but they find themselves in last place with their next three games against division foes.
The Cardinals will appear on the in-season version of HBO’s Hard Knocks. Will the team fire Kingsbury before the popular reality show debuts next week? Or will the drama unfold during the second half of the season with Kingsbury’s job on the line?
Frank Reich (Colts)
The Colts were the consensus betting favorite to win the AFC South this season, but struggled out of the gate. They’re 3-4-1 after losing two games in a row.
The Colts punted on this season when they benched starting quarterback Matt Ryan in favor of untested backup Sam Ehlinger. They also fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, even though he did not the primary signal caller because Reich handled play-calling duties.
The Colts have the third-lowest scoring offense in the NFL generating 16.1 points per game. Their anemic offense averaged 10.7 points per game in their four losses. They had two games in which they scored fewer than 10 points including a 24-0 shutout against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Eccentric team owner Jim Irsay could fire Reich during the bye week, but the Colts will have to wait until December due to a late-season bye in Week 14. Reich’s dismissal could come sooner than later, especially if the Colts lose upcoming games against the Las Vegas Raiders (2-5) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6).
Nathaniel Hackett (Broncos)
The Broncos initially hired Nathaniel Hackett, the offensive coordinator from the Green Bay Packers, to lure quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the team. The disgruntled Rodgers only used the Broncos to persuade the Packers to give him a lucrative $200 million contract extension. The Broncos were stuck with a rookie head coach and without a quarterback.
The Broncos acquired Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks, but gave up a significant amount of draft capital in the trade, then provided Wilson with a $245 million contract extension. The results have been disappointing with the Broncos starting the season 3-5 and averaging a paltry 15.1 points per game for second lowest offense in the league.
Wilson struggled with numerous injuries, and the offense spiraled out of control when they lost starting running back Javonte Williams to a season-ending knee injury.
Hackett might be a solid offensive coordinator, but he’s ill-equipped as the head coach. He probably saved his job with a much-needed comeback win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London last Sunday.
We’ll see if the Broncos can revamp their offense after their bye in Week 9, but they face several tough opponents in the second half of the season including AFC West rival the Kansas City Chiefs twice.
The Broncos might not fire Hackett during the season, but all signs point toward a one-and-done season. Rumors out of the Mile High City suggest the Broncos would love to have ex-New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton take over the team next season. Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is also on the short list. Bieniemy could return to Colorado, where he was a star running back in college with the Colorado Buffs.
Dan Campbell (Lions)
The Lions started the season 1-6 and lost five games in a row as the worst team in the NFL. They’re now 4-19-1 under head coach Dan Campbell. The Lions are on the verge of a fifth-straight losing season in a year, which is disappointing because the franchise hoped this season could be the year they turned around their losing ways.
The Lions have not been the same team since they fired Jim Caldwell, who had posted three winning seasons with the Lions between 2014-17. They made a huge mistake hiring Matt Patricia, who went 13-29-1 before he was fired midway through the 2020 season.
The Lions have the inside track to the #1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, only four of their final ten games are against teams with a winning record.
The Lions play two upcoming NFC North foes including the Green Bay Packers in Week 9, and against the Chicago Bears in Week 10. Campbell could get fired if they lose both of those divisional games.
The Lions play the New York Giants on the road in Week 11 before they host their annual Thanksgiving game in Week 12. There’s very good chance the Lions will be 1-9 by the time they square off against Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving.
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