As we enter the offseason, what coaches have the most to prove in the upcoming NFL season?
Following the 2021 NFL season, nine different teams were searching for new head coaches. Seven head coaches had been fired by their respective organizations. The leash for coaches in the NFL is getting shorter and shorter every season. Let’s break down some possible names that could pop up at some point throughout the next year.
Doug Pederson – Jacksonville Jaguars
Doug Pederson isn’t heading into an ideal situation in Jacksonville, as they’re now on their fourth head coach in two seasons. However, there is reason to be optimistic with a young quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. As a former Chiefs assistant, I hope that Pederson goes down to northeast Florida with a chip on his shoulder.
Pederson has an opportunity to revamp his coaching career in the league. He has a young roster that has talent across the board, but finding spots for all of his assets doesn’t seem to be an easy task. Jacksonville has shown that they don’t have much patience with their head coaches. Pederson could be different but I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets canned if he isn’t successful in his first year as head man.
Mike McCarthy – Dallas Cowboys
McCarthy was a popular name to possibly be looking for a new home this past offseason. This followed a disappointing end to the Cowboys’ 2021 campaign where they were knocked off by the San Francisco 49ers. Ultimately McCarthy was retained and he will return both his offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
With Tom Brady calling it a career and Aaron Rodgers seemingly on his way out of Green Bay, the NFC is as wide open as it’s ever been. The Cowboys will have a lot to prove in this upcoming season following a strong 2021 showing. Dallas should once again be the favorite to win the NFC East although that might be with no thanks to McCarthy.
If Dallas comes out and struggles early, McCarthy could be one of the first coaches to go in 2022. If the Cowboys do decide to make a head coaching change, they’re lucky enough to have two in-house candidates ready to go should they be called upon.
Frank Reich – Indianapolis Colts
After being in the driver’s seat to clinch a playoff spot following two big wins over New England and Arizona, the Colts dropped their final two games to the Raiders and Jaguars. They came into the season with many question marks surrounding the offense and who would be the signal-caller. Carson Wentz came out and was serviceable, but thanks to the breakout season from Jonathan Taylor, he wasn’t asked to do a ton.
A change at quarterback seems likely to happen this offseason and Wentz will once again be looking for a new home. The Colts struggled mightily in close games, posting a 2-5 record in one-score games. With former defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus leaving to become the new head coach of the Chicago Bears less than a month ago and former offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni leaving this past offseason to become the head man with the Philadelphia Eagles, changes are inevitable.
Reich is constantly having to replenish his head coordinator positions which could end up leaving him with the short stick if the Colts struggle this upcoming season. Although, if the Colts make the correct moves this offseason and they come out and prove themselves, he could be on the opposite type of list.
Sean McDermott – Buffalo Bills
You might think this is a typo, but they’re way too early predictions for a reason. As good as the Buffalo Bills have been the past couple of seasons, one thing sticks out like a sore thumb. Last season the Bills were 0-6 in games decided by seven points or less. The season before two of their three losses was by less than a touchdown. Now in the grand scheme of things, they’re still finding a way to win games and make it to the playoffs but those shortcomings are certainly going to haunt them.
A perfect example of this was the playoff thriller this past postseason in Kansas City. Allowing a team to get into field goal range with 0:13 left on the clock is inexcusable. The Bills have an exciting young core and you can’t fire a coach following one playoff loss. However, depending on what happens this upcoming season, McDermott could be facing some heat.
If the Bills come out and once again struggle in close games you could see a situation happen similar to Anthony Lynn and the Chargers. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the 2020 Chargers team is near the level as the current Bills. Lynn was in a situation similar to McDermott though. He struggled to win close games throughout his tenure with the Chargers and after the 2020 season, he was fired. Even though McDermott has just one losing season in his five seasons at the helm, there’s blood in the water in the AFC East. Buffalo General Manager Brandon Beane could opt to head in a different direction if the Bills struggle in 2022.