Updated: Jun 30
The NFL is a league where winning is everything. Coaches are expected to deliver results quickly, or else they face the risk of losing their jobs. Every year, there are some coaches who enter the season with their seats hotter than others, either because they failed to meet expectations, they are in the middle of a rebuild, or they have regressed from their previous success.
Let’s take a look at five NFL head coaches who are on the hot seat entering the 2023 season, and what they need to do to keep their jobs.
5. Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints
Dennis Allen took over the Saints after Sean Payton retired following the 2021 season. He inherited a team that had been a perennial contender in the NFC, but also faced some challenges, such as an aging roster, a tight salary cap, and a quarterback uncertainty.
Allen’s first season as the head coach was not pretty, as the Saints finished with a 7-10 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The Saints struggled to find a consistent quarterback, as Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending injury in Week Six, and Andy Dalton failed to impress as his replacement. The Saints also had some key injuries on offense, such as Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry, and their defense regressed from being one of the best in the NFL to being average.
Allen’s second season will be crucial for his future in New Orleans. He will have to find a way to revitalize the offense. The team is now led by quarterback Derek Carr who was released after nine years with the Las Vegas Raiders’ organization.
The NFC South is wide open, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost Tom Brady to retirement, the Carolina Panthers are rebuilding with rookie quarterback Bryce Young, and the Atlanta Falcons are still trying to rebuild. Allen will have to lead the Saints back to contention in 2023, or else he could be looking for a new job.
4. Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Todd Bowles was hired by the Buccaneers in 2022 after Bruce Arians shifted to a senior football consultant role. Bowles had been the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers since 2019, and he was credited for turning their defense into one of the best in the league.
However, Bowles’ first season as the head coach was disappointing, as the Buccaneers finished with an 8-9 record and barely won the NFC South. The offense looked nothing like the Super Bowl winning team in 2020 with Tom Brady at quarterback. Brady has now officially retired after winning seven career Super Bowl titles including one in Tampa Bay.
Bowles will have to prove that he can win without Brady in 2023. Baker Mayfield was signed to a one-year contract in free agency, while Kyle Trask and John Wolford are also on the roster. Bowles will also have to replenish the defense with some young talent and maintain their aggressiveness and intensity. The Buccaneers still have some star players on both sides of the ball, such as wide receiver Mike Evans, WR Chris Godwin, defensive lineman Vita Vea, and linebacker Devin White. Bowles will have to make sure that they don’t waste their prime years and keep them motivated and hungry for another championship. It’ll be a wide-open NFC South, so the opportunity is there for Tampa.
3. Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders
Josh McDaniels was hired by the Raiders in 2022 the first full season after Jon Gruden resigned amid a scandal involving his past emails. McDaniels had been the offensive coordinator for the Patriots since 2012, and he was considered one of the best offensive minds in the league.
McDaniels’ first season as the head coach was extremely disappointing as the Raiders finished with a 6-11 record and missed the playoffs. Gruden’s interim replacement Rich Bisaccia guided the Raiders to a respectable 7-5 record the season before getting Las Vegas into the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
With a talented offense including quarterback Derek Carr, running back Josh Jacobs, and wide receiver Davante Adams, last year’s team was expected to compete for an AFC West title. However, poor defensive play and inconsistencies on offense caused the team to start the year just 2-7.
McDaniels will have to show some improvement in 2023. He will have to find a way to make the offense more explosive and balanced beyond its strong running game. After benching Carr at the end of last season and releasing him, the team brought in former San Francisco 49er and New England Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo.
The AFC West will be very competitive. The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off another Super Bowl win, the Los Angeles Chargers have Justin Herbert at quarterback, and the Denver Broncos have Russell Wilson at quarterback. McDaniels will need to get his team closer to playoff contention to remain an NFL head coach.
2. Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Ron Rivera was hired by Washington in 2020 after being fired by the Carolina Panthers midway through the 2019 season. Rivera had been the head coach of the Panthers since 2011, and he led them to four playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.
Rivera’s first season with Washington was considered a success as he took them to a 7-9 record following their 3-13 season from a year before. This was good enough for the best record in the weak NFC East in 2020 as Washington narrowly lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL Wild Card round.
The 2021 Commanders failed to improve as they went 7-10. The organization thought they were a quarterback away from competing with top teams in the division such as the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. In 2022, former Eagle and Indianapolis Colt Carson Wentz was brought in to lead the offense but struggled especially in close games. Rivera’s management of the quarterback situation was highly criticized as the team went 8-8-1 to miss the playoffs.
Despite dealing with his own cancer diagnosis and controversies within ownership of the organization, Rivera has kept his team competitive. 2023 marks a new era for the franchise as Dan Snyder has sold the team after owning it for nearly 25 years. The new ownership will look at the rest of the three teams in the division who made the playoffs last year, and will likely expect success pretty quickly, or they’ll start all over at head coach.
With a talented defense of young stars such as Jonathan Allen, Chase Young, Montez Sweat and incoming draft pick cornerback Emmanuel Forbes, the future is bright. Rivera will also need to figure out the offense including which quarterback could make the right decisions. Whoever that may be has a talented group of running backs and wide receivers at his disposal.
1. Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
Brandon Staley was hired by the Chargers in 2021 after a season of being the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. Staley had been a rising star in the coaching ranks, as he turned the Rams’ defense into one of the best in the league.
His first season as an NFL head coach was promising as he led the Chargers to a 9-7 start to the season with a win-and-in scenario against the Raiders in Week 18. Unfortunately, his team got off to a slow start and could not complete the comeback in an overtime loss to end the season 9-8 missing the playoffs.
This past season was better as Staley led the Chargers to a 10-7 record and a playoff appearance. However, several blunders almost cost Staley his job. In a meaningless Week 18 game with playoff seeding already set, he decided to play his starters resulting in several injuries.
Everything seemed to go Los Angeles’ way in the Wild Card playoff matchup in Jacksonville. The Chargers forced four Trevor Lawrence interceptions and had a 27-0 lead towards the end of the first half. However, the Jaguars stormed back as the Chargers were unable to generate much of anything on offense or defense. Penalties and a couple of injuries slowed down Los Angeles who was favored in the game.
It won’t get any easier for Staley in 2023 as he goes up against some of the toughest competition in the entire NFL. The Chargers play in the same division as the Kansas City Chiefs, while the Raiders and Broncos could be formidable opponents as well. With rising teams such as the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Miami Dolphins, even securing a Wild Card spot could be difficult.
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