Welcome to the first of four parts of a mini-series looking ahead at the NFL season with Week 10 officially in the books.
10 weeks of the NFL season have come and gone. As of now, 31 of the 32 head coaches who started the season still hold their same jobs. (Shoutout to Jay Gruden for being the odd-ball.) However, that could change quickly. Here’s a look at eight head coaches who could lose their jobs between now and the first few days following the end of the regular season.
Pat Shurmur, New York Giants
First mentioned as a strong possibility by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo on GMFB, firing Pat Shurmur seems like a very likely route for the Giants. While certainly not expected by anyone to be contenders, the Giants have arguably played even worse than expected. The Giants have just two wins on the season, both of which came in rookie Daniel Jones’ first two starts following the benching of Eli Manning. The G-men edged out the Buccaneers by a point in Week 3 and the Redskins by three scores in Week 4. However, since then, they’ve accumulated six straight losses (including the latest one to the Jets) and are now 2-8 on the campaign.
Adam Gase, New York Jets
Mentioned as likely since the early weeks of the season, Adam Gase’s appearance on an unemployment list is essentially inevitable by now. Perhaps it’s just a matter of when, not if. Gase went 23-25 in three seasons with the Dolphins before being fired. He quickly found his way to New York, taking over the reins for Todd Bowles. Gase is 2-7 so far this year in New York, with his victories coming against Dallas and Shurmur’s Giants. The seven losses include one to the Miami Dolphins. Teams can’t even tank correctly when they play the Jets!
Vic Fangio, Denver Broncos
Fangio took over as Denver’s head coach this season and brought with him a glimmer of optimism in the form of experience with one of the best defenses of the century: the 2018 Chicago Bears. The Broncos dealt for Joe Flacco in the offseason and shipped away Case Keenum while adding Drew Lock via the draft. Due to injuries (which couldn’t be controlled by Fangio, of course), it’s actually Brandon Allen who is the starting quarterback for the time being. The Broncos are now 3-6 with Fangio; that’s underachieving but not terrible. His job could be safe considering injuries and the idea of a bridge year were thrown at him this year, but his status will be one to monitor nonetheless.
Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns
Where to start?! Kitchens was the wrong choice from the start, and that is becoming more and more clear as the season drags on. The Browns are 3-6 with a notable loss to the Broncos and Brandon Allen in his first start but a win over the surging Buffalo Bills (whose record doesn’t take into account their easy schedule). Kitchens may be an improvement over Hue Jackson, but he should not have been hired over then-Browns defensive coordinator and interim head coach Gregg Williams, who departed for Gase’s staff in New York and would be a front-runner for Gase’s job when it opens up. Kitchens will likely be fired before the end of the season, and he will need to settle for returning to an offensive coordinator role if he wants to work his way back up to the head coaching level.
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals
Somewhat similar to the Fangio situation in Denver, the Zac Taylor era in Cincinnati is confusing and has gotten off to a slow start. Taylor was poached from the Los Angeles Rams and Sean McVay’s impressive staff, and there were immediate debates about whether or not he was hired to a head coaching role too soon. While it’s too early to tell if that is or isn’t the case, it’s clear Taylor is struggling. What was supposed to be a bridge year for the Bengals in which they would win three or four games is now shaping up to be the third 0-16 season in NFL history. Taylor probably won’t lose his job because of this, but his situation and decision-making skills must be monitored going forward.
Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
There’s not a lot to say about Nagy. His decision-making skills went from a genius, elite level in 2018 to punishable in 2019. Firing Nagy now would be too premature with the Bears still having a small chance at playoff contention, but if things begin to go south fast, all of his play-calling duties and responsibilities need to be revoked. If things still aren’t working out by the end of the season, his head coaching job should be revoked, too.
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
Quinn is in a situation similar to that of Nagy, except Atlanta’s head coach is a bit closer to being fired than Nagy. Quinn’s job has been in jeopardy for nearly two months, and he’s already been stripped of his play-calling duties. Of course, it’s worth noting that this weekend, the Falcons handed a loss to the Saints, arguably the NFC’s best team. At the same time, though, who knows if that was thanks to Quinn, thanks to luck, or thanks to the transition of the play-calling responsibilities. Atlanta’s brass needs to wait a bit before deciding whether or not to part ways with Quinn, but the seat is scolding hot nonetheless.
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
To wrap up this list, here’s the most surprising and controversial coach I’ll mention. Despite my confessing that this is the most whimsical idea you’ll find in this article, I’ll also vouch for and defend my theory. In short, the Kansas City Chiefs should be 8-2. I understand injuries can’t be blamed on the head coach, but Patrick Mahomes should have won every game he has started. I feel confident in saying the Chiefs have the third-most overall talent out of all 32 teams (behind the Patriots and Saints), but they’re 6-4 and the playoffs are not a guarantee for them with a tricky (and heavily divisional) slate of games on the horizon. That’s not to mention Reid’s epic failures and woes in the playoffs. If the Chiefs finish their final six games at 3-3 or worse and miss the playoffs, Reid needs to be fired.