The 2022 NFL season is a season of “parity.” Translation: most NFL teams stink this season. There are only six out of 16 AFC teams over .500 heading into Week 7 and just four out of 16 in the NFC. With all these lackluster records a third of the way through the season, it’s time to take a look at the NFL coach hot seat. With the trade deadline looming on November 1, several NFL coaches need to be worried about their jobs. Here are the five head coaches on the hottest NFL hot seat as that crucial deadline nears.
5. Ron Rivera
Ron Rivera has coached the Washington Commanders since 2020 and has a lackluster 16-23 record in that time. This season, after (supposedly) having quarterback Carson Wentz thrust upon him by owner Daniel Snyder, the team is 2-4, and only that good because of an unwatchable win over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night of Week 6.
Ron Rivera didn't hold back 🗣
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 14, 2022
The Commanders are a sinking ship, but with some good pieces, especially on defense. That is Rivera’s specialty, and the unit ranks 20th in the league right now. Under normal circumstances, that would be enough for an owner to fire Rivera, bottom out, and start fresh with a high pick in 2023.
What’s saving Rivera is his track record, more than his win-loss record. He played for the vaunted ’85 Chicago Bears, has coached in the league with dignity and authority for over 20 years, and his Hispanic heritage makes him one of the seven current minority NFL head coaches. Basically, he’s incredibly well-respected, making him the opposite of Snyder.
With as much hot water as Snyder is in now, his coach isn’t on as hot an NFL hot seat as he would otherwise be. That said, the owner is still the worst in sports right now and is blackmailing the entire league, so who knows what he does next.
4. Lovie Smith
When the Houston Texans hired Lovie Smith this offseason, it always felt like a temporary measure. The club was reportedly high on the inexperienced former NFL quarterback Josh McCown but turned to Smith after Brian Flores sued the NFL (h/t NBC Sports).
The Texans are 1-3-1 after failing to build on an optimistic tie vs. the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1. And, owner Cal McNair just fired Executive Vice President of Football operations Jack Easterby.
Cal McNair, the son of the team’s original owner, Bob McNair, is now taking a more active role in the organization, as the organization’s Chairman and CEO in Easterby’s absence. That puts Smith on the NFL coach hot seat because Cal might be in the process of putting his own stamp on the franchise, and Lovie Smith isn’t part of that picture.
3. Nathaniel Hackett
The Denver Broncos have to be the most surprisingly disappointing team in the NFL in 2022. The league’s national TV schedule confirms this. With new QB Russell Wilson and talent all around the field, the league, and its TV partners put the Broncos on in primetime in four of the first six weeks of the season.
As any NFL fan who watches games knows all too well, Nathaniel Hackett and the Broncos have gone 1-3 in those games, scoring just 52 points in those televised contests. The offense with Wilson is a complete mess, and Hackett, the former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator, seems to have no answers as to how they can fix it.
Nathaniel Hackett on Russell Wilson citing the “going through hell” quote atttibuted to Winston Churchill: pic.twitter.com/FRVz9plYM5
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 11, 2022
Add on to that Hackett’s head-scratching 4th-down decision-making and poor time management, and it doesn’t seem too early to call the Nathaniel Hackett Era in Denver a disaster.
Owners almost always give first-year NFL coaches a full season to see what happens, but this is a unique situation. The Broncos’ new owner, Rob Walton (and family), just paid a record $4.65 billion for the franchise and didn’t hire Hackett himself. That’s a recipe for an NFL coach hot seat.
2. Kliff Kingsbury
The best thing you can say about Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals 2022 season is that at least they’re not following the same old pattern. In the past two seasons, the team has gotten off to fast starts before collapsing down the stretch.
This season, Kyler Murray and company definitely haven’t started fast.
The Cardinals have fallen behind in every game they’ve played this season and have scored just three first-quarter points in six games. Murray has led his team on some astonishing comebacks, but obviously, something isn’t working out in the desert.
Kingsbury signed an extension this summer that keeps his contract going through 2027, and that might keep him off the NFL coach hot seat. However, with Murray and general manager Steve Keim also both signing extensions this offseason, firing Kingsbury is likely the easiest move to make in order to try and turn things around this season.
1. Kevin Stefanski
The goal for the Cleveland Browns this year was simply to keep the team’s playoff chances alive until Week 13 when Deshaun Watson comes back from his suspension to face his old team, the Houston Texans.
At 2-4 after six weeks, those playoff chances are likely gone. With the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming up, chances are the team will be 4-7 at best when Watson returns, and the playoff hopes will be over.
Stefanski went 11-5 in his first season with the Browns but has been 10-13 since. With the Watson trade and contract, owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam have gone all-in on building a winner, no matter the (financial or moral) cost.
The team’s first-time NFL head coach simply isn’t getting it done. And that makes Kevin Stefanski a candidate for the NFL hot seat, and likely the most realistic candidate to lose his job by the trade deadline.