NFL Head Coach Hot Seat Hierarchy

Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

NFL Head Coach Hot Seat Hierarchy


NFL Head Coach Hot Seat Hierarchy


Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Being an NFL head coach doesn’t seem to be a steady experience. One minute you could be loved, the next, you could be engulfed by the sound of boos. Whether it’s losses, scheme, penalties, or other factors, there are a variety of reasons that could help a coach find his way onto the hot seat. While it’s still early in the season there are a handful of coaches that have put themselves in awkward situations. It’s uncertain how they’ll respond to the pressure, but it’ll be nearly impossible to ignore the heat. As the hot seats have officially warmed up, let’s take a look at what coaches may be sweating. 


On the Hot Seat: 

Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos 

Underwhelming seems like too nice of a word to describe the Broncos’ offensive play to begin the season. However, Denver has still managed to limp their way to two victories on the year. For perspective, the Broncos scored 76 points through their first three games of 2021 compared to 44 points in the same span this season. The idea that a Teddy Bridgewater-led offense looks better on paper than Russell Wilson and Hackett’s regime is alarming at best. While the Broncos mostly avoided clock management miscues against the San Francisco 49ers, the errors of the first two weeks still loom over Hackett’s head. Overall, one would assume that an offensive head coach would improve the offense. However, it’s been Denver’s defense keeping them above water. Without a drastic offensive improvement, it’s hard to imagine Hackett returning for a second season with the team. 

Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers 

Similar to Hackett, Matt Rhule has been under pressure, but left last week with a victory. Unlike Hackett, Rhule has had plenty of time to get things on track in Carolina. The Panthers have yet to surpass five wins in a season under Rhule, thus falling short of expectations. While on the topic of expectations, Baker Mayfield hasn’t set the bar very high through three games. It would have been encouraging to see Rhule aid Mayfield in revitalizing his career, but that now seems more optimistic than realistic. The NFC South is more open now than it’s been in years, if Rhule can’t find a way to at least be competitive for its title deep into the season, it’s hard to argue why he should deserve a fourth year in the role. 


Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals 

Ever since Arizona’s demoralizing loss to the Los Angeles Rams in last year’s playoffs, football in the desert has felt out of sync. Whether or not Kingsbury is truly at fault, somebody will have to take the blame. Without the miraculous comeback victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in Arizona’s second game, this would be a much more ugly situation for Kingsbury and his staff. However, with at least one victory under their belt and the knowledge that star receiver DeAndre Hopkins will eventually return from suspension, it’s not as gloomy as other situations. Surely, some wins could cool Kingsbury’s hot seat, but they’ll have to be consistent. Whether he can solve what seems to be a late-season curse that’s plagued his coaching record may be the most vital factor regarding his time with the Cardinals. Regardless, a loss or victory over Carolina could swing momentum in either direction. Anytime a coach’s standing has potential to change on a game-by-game basis, it’s likely to find them on the hot seat. 


Warming Up: 

  • Josh McDaniels 
  • Frank Reich 
  • Robert Saleh 
  • Mike McCarthy 
  • Ron Rivera 


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