NFL Black Monday 2022: Coaches on Hot Seat Rumors and Firing News

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2022

NFL Black Monday 2022: Coaches on Hot Seat Rumors and Firing News

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    While some coaches are making preparations for the NFL playoffs, others are getting in touch with a good realtor. The end of the regular season means the coaching carousel is ready to start spinning. 

    The Jacksonville Jaguars were the first team to fire their coach this season. Urban Meyer's tenure was short-lived. The Las Vegas Raiders had an absence before that with Jon Gruden resigning in October. 

    The full picture of NFL openings will begin emerging over the next 24 hours, with franchises making tough decisions about their future.

    With the rumor mill churning out the latest on coaches in the hot seat and the men who may potentially replace them, here's a look at the latest for franchises that could be making a move this offseason. 

Carolina Panthers: Matt Rhule Safe for Now, Faces Critical OC Hire

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    Early reports before Week 18 had Matt Rhule moving into 2022 as the Carolina Panthers head coach, but that might not be a done deal yet. 

    Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Panthers owner David Tepper would not be moving on from the former Baylor coach after two seasons. 

    However, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports provided a caveat to that decision on Sunday morning. According to Glazer, Rhule's job security is still tied to hiring a "rock star" offensive coordinator. 

    That's a bit ironic, considering the Panthers boss fired Joe Brady earlier this season. Brady was the architect of one of the best offenses in college football history at LSU in 2019. The rising coach had at least three interviews for head coaching positions last season and was a finalist for the Falcons before they hired Arthur Smith. 

    If Rhule's new hire is enough to buy another year, the pressure to perform will be immense next season. The offense has been ineffective under Rhule, but the team has also had a combination of Cam Newton, Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. 

    It's likely they will be adding a new name to that list and it appears as though Rhule will be on a short leash. 

Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy Out, Looking for a 'Leader of Men'

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    After four seasons of declining results, Matt Nagy's time with the Chicago Bears is expected to come to an end. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the Bears have "long decided" to part ways with the coach, which should become official early in the week. 

    Nagy followed a 12-4 debut season with back-to-back 8-8 campaigns. A 6-11 finish to this season sealed his fate this time around. 

    While the Bears hired Nagy for his offensive wizardry while an offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago will be valuing leadership in this search. That's according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, who shed some light on the upcoming search. 

    "I've heard they won't be focused solely on quarterback-developers like they were when they landed Nagy in 2018, with their focus likely on leader-of-men types," Breer wrote. 

    Breer also noted that Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus could fit the profile the Bears are looking for. 

    It does come as a bit of a surprise that those are all defensive types. With Justin Fields entering his second season, the offensive coordinator hire would be crucial for any of those candidates. 

Denver Broncos: Vic Fangio Fired, Dan Quinn Emerging as Top Candidate

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    The Denver Broncos got Black Monday started a little early. They went ahead and fired head coach Vic Fangio on Sunday morning after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night. 

    Fangio held the position for three years in which the Broncos had a 19-29 record. There is sure to be a lot of staff shake-up as the Broncos coaching search gets underway, with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and special teams coordinator Tom McMahon reportedly among those also let go. 

    None of that should be surprising. The Broncos finished 20th in offensive efficiency, which is their highest finish in the Fangio era. 

    Fangio has long been one of the league's top defensive coordinators, but his reign as a head coach was marked by three straight losing seasons. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports has reported that Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn "will quickly emerge as a top candidate." 

    That would be an interesting choice given Fangio's background as a defensive coordinator. However, Quinn does have experience as a head coach in Atlanta, where he posted a 46-45 record with two playoff appearances. 

Houston Texans: David Culley Expected to Be Back, High on Josh McDaniels

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    First-year head coach David Culley was never expected to win many games with the Houston Texans in 2021. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Culley is expected to be back in 2022 after the team went 4-13 this season. 

    Ownership has planned to meet this week to finalize their decision regarding the coach. If they were to decide to move on it would be because they, "must be really confident in their ability to hire their preferred coaching target," per Jeff Howe of The Athletic. 

    Howe also shed some light on who that "preferred coaching target" could be. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has obvious ties to executives Jack Easterby and Nick Caserio, and Howe noted that McDaniels and Caserio were teammates at John Carroll University. 

    McDaniels coming up as a head coaching candidate is starting to feel like an annual tradition. The Patriots assistant and former Broncos head coach agreed to take the then-vacant Colts position in 2018 but went back on his word to return to New England. 

    He interviewed for the Cleveland Browns job last year before the team ultimately went with Kevin Stefanski. 

Las Vegas Raiders: Jim Harbaugh Linked to Silver and Black

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    The Las Vegas Raiders technically don't have an opening yet. With Jon Gruden resigning from his post in October, the Raiders will still have to make the decision on whether to retain current interim coach Rich Bisaccia, who has done a good job of keeping the season from becoming a lost cause. 

    But the Raiders have never shied away from making a splashy move, and the rumor mill has them connected to a very splashy name. 

    Ian Rapoport of NFL Network has reported there could be "mutual interest" between Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Raiders.

    "There's enough interest on both sides to make us think this is at least somewhat real. Though as one source who is very well-informed of this told me last night, Harbaugh loves to be courted," Rapoport said.

    Bringing in Harbaugh would not be the typical college-to-NFL hire. Most college coaches that get a shot in the NFL have not coached in the pro ranks. Harbaugh has a four-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers in which they went 44-19-1 with a Super Bowl appearance under his watch.  

    With Harbaugh finally breaking through against Ohio State and earning a berth in the College Football Playoff, he could see it as an opportune time to leave Ann Arbor on a successful note. 

Minnesota Vikings: Mike Zimmer Expected to Be Gone

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    Mike Zimmer will go down as one of the winningest coaches in the history of the Minnesota Vikings franchise, but the likelihood he hangs onto his job looks bleak. 

    Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of reported on Sunday that the team is expected to part ways with the coach. 

    Zimmer has gone 72-56-1 in eight years at the helm. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Vikings ownership made it clear the expectation was for the Vikings to be a serious contender in 2021. 

    Despite a talented roster, that didn't come to fruition this season. The Vikings finished with a losing record for the second-consecutive year despite having an offense that featured Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. 

    The Vikings tied a record for most one-score games in a row with 12 this season. They went 6-6 in that stretch and 6-8 in such games on the season. 

    While Zimmer's time with the franchise may be done, this should be an attractive job. The ingredients are there for a bounce-back season in 2022 under the right leadership. 

Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll's Future 'Uncertain'

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    Pete Carroll's tenure with the Seattle Seahawks has included 12 seasons, two Super Bowl appearances, a championship and a streak of nine winning seasons that came to an end this year. 

    As it turns out, that is at least enough to put Carroll on shaky ground. 

    Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported his future with the franchise is "uncertain." While Carroll has been incredibly successful in Seattle, the report makes sense considering Adam Schefter of ESPN reported there is a "leaguewide feeling, according to sources, that Carroll and Wilson will not be together again next season." 

    Wilson is coming off one of his most unproductive seasons with the Seahawks. It would make sense if the Seahawks are put into a situation when they have to choose between their star quarterback and the coach who have led to so many wins for them. 

    It also wouldn't be too shocking if they opt for the quarterback.