A couple of weeks ago, the New England Patriots played the Las Vegas Raiders in Vegas, and I speculated that the losing coach could be out of a job. Being in Vegas, I also listed a handful of coaches who were odds-on favorites to be fired this year, and who’d be the first.
In that game, the Raiders won, but Bill Belichick did not lose his job. Even though the Raiders won that game, after their abysmal loss to the Lions last week, HC Josh McDaniels was shown the door…and is the first casualty of the 2023-24 season.
With that said, there are still a handful of coaches on the hot seat. Belichick’s Patriots are 2-6, and by many accounts, he’s a dead man walking. Thursday night, Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee Titans lost to the surprising 5-3 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans are now 3-5, and although I don’t think Vrabel is in immediate jeopardy, spiraling too far down will put him at risk.
The Bears are awful and their HC Matt Eberflus is seemingly always on the hot seat with his job at risk. The team entered the year with some wind at their backs and chatter for a successful season. They are again in last place in the NFC North with a 2-6 record, some infighting and questionable words from their QB Justin Fields, and looking at another lost season.
The Giants HC Brian Daboll could be at risk as well, due to their 2-6 start. They have a very winnable game this week in Vegas against the Raiders and desperately need to claw out of last place. NFL owners aren’t known for their patience, and a coach can go from darling to dolt in a year…such may be the case for Daboll.
This season will surely be another session of musical chairs for NFL coaches. This past Thursday’s game pitting Vrabel against Pittsburgh and Mike Tomlin put it in focus for me. This Pittsburgh team has no right, rhyme, or reason to be over .500, yet here they are again, sitting at 5-3. Tomlin has NEVER coached a team to a losing record. Every Steeler team on Tomlin’s watch has been .500 or better.
Conversely, the coach who is considered by many to be the G.O.A.T., Belichick, is woefully under .500 without QB Tom Brady on the roster. There is no doubt his time in New England is coming to an end and owner Robert Kraft is trying to come up with the best way to show a legend the door without getting too much backlash. Obviously the worse the team does, the less that backlash will be. But, Belichick has done a lot for the franchise and Kraft is mindful of that.
Washington Commanders HC Ron Rivera is also at risk of losing his job. Even though they are 3-5 and have played the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles tough twice, it is clear the team has given up on the season after the trade deadline. They play the Patriots this week in New England and there is a ton of chatter that Rivera may be replaced by Belichick. But since a head coach needs to approve where he’s dealt to, I don’t think Belichick wants to go to our nation’s capital.
There has been a report that Kraft signed Belichick to an extension in the offseason, meaning he’s under contract at least through next year, but possibly through the 2025-26 season. It is not unprecedented for a coach to be traded…in fact, Belichick was traded to the Patriots from the Jets. But the coach has to agree to the trade.
There are two teams on this list that Belichick would probably agree to go to, and they are the Giants and the Bears. He is a student of the game and loves its history. He made his bones in New York with the Giants and still has wonderful memories there, and speaks fondly of those days whenever given the chance. Both the Patriots and Giants are underperforming and both head coaches may need a change of scenery. Daboll has already had two stints with the Patriots, and the third could be the charm.
Belichick also loves George Halas, and although he loves the Giants, he reveres teams like the Bears. Nothing would please Belichick more than to turn a team like the Bears around. Eberflus is on fumes, and a move to snag Belichick would be huge for the city of Chicago and Bears fans everywhere. Belichick embodies old-school football, and the Bears are an old-school franchise. If he could at least get the team to nine wins they’d build a statue for him. In this scenario, the Patriots wouldn’t want Eberflus back in return, but they should be able to get back a second-round pick.
Wherever these coaches land, one thing is getting clearer and clearer as each week goes by…most of them will be elsewhere next year.