With the end of the NFL season upon us, that means the league’s annual coaching purge is about to kick into high gear. When the season kicked off in September, there were 32 head coaches roaming the sidelines around the NFL, but not every one of those guys will be returning in 2021.
As a matter of fact, we already know three coaches who definitely won’t be returning and that’s Bill O’Brien, Dan Quinn and Matt Patricia, who all got axed during the season. Three in-season firings was the highest number the NFL has seen since 2010 when four coaches got let go.
Heading into the 2021 offseason, there could be as many as six teams looking for a new coach and that number could jump even higher if we see any surprise moves. We’ll be tracking all the latest news as teams start their search for the right coach. To keep you up to date on the latest firings, rumors and hirings, make sure to keep tabs on the coaching tracker below.
Fired: Bill O’Brien
O’Brien was the first coach to be fired this season and that move came all the way back in October when the Texans decided to give him a pink slip after an 0-4 start that included losses to the Chiefs, Steelers and Ravens. Since then, the Texans have hired a search firm to help them find their new coach. According to ESPN.com, the search firm has recommended Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer as someone Houston should consider hiring. It’s also believed that Houston will have its eye on Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Although the Texans haven’t formally interviewed either of those candidates, they have conducted at least two interviews and those came with former NFL head coaches Marvin Lewis and Jim Caldwell. The Texans also have an open GM job and the belief is that they’ll fill that role before hiring a new coach.
Fired: Dan Quinn
Since firing Dan Quinn in October following an 0-5 start, the Falcons have been playing things close to the vest about who they might hire next. In the time since Quinn was let go, the team has only formally interviewed one candidate and that’s interim coach Raheem Morris. According to NFL.com, the Falcons also seem to have their eye on defensive coordinators Todd Bowles (Buccaneers) and Brandon Staley (Rams) along with Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Although the Falcons have yet to set up an interview with any of those three, they have set up two interviews for Monday. One of those interviews will be with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh while the other one will be with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. The Falcons will also be in the market for a GM after firing Thomas Dimitroff.
Fired: Matt Patricia
The Lions gave the NFL a Thanksgiving surprise when the team decided to fire Patricia just two days after their 41-25 blowout loss to the Texans on Turkey Day. Since the firing, the Lions have conducted just one interview and that came at the end of December with former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. According to Fox Sports, the Lions will be interested in talking to multiple candidates, including interim coach Darrell Bevell, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. The Lions are also expected to take a look at Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.
Fired: Adam Gase
Gase tried to save his job with two big wins over the Rams and Browns at the end of the season, but that wasn’t enough to convince the Jets to keep him. Gase was fired on Sunday after just two seasons with the team where he went just 9-23. With Gase out, don’t be surprised if the Jets look to the college ranks. When the job came open two years ago, they interviewed multiple college coaches before hiring Gase and it won’t be surprising if they interview several more candidates from the college ranks this time around. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has reported that the team could potentially end up showing interest in both Northwestern’s Pat Fiztgerald and Florida’s Dan Mullen. The Jets could also go after Marvin Lewis due to his ties with current New York general manager Joe Douglas. Douglas also likes Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and it won’t be surprising if he reached out to him. Two other names to watch out for are offensive coordinators Brian Daboll (Bills) and Arthur Smith (Titans)
Fired: Doug Marrone
When the Jaguars fired general manager Dave Caldwell back in November, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before they fired Marrone and that’s exactly what happened on Monday. Marrone has been axed in Jacksonville after a season where the Jaguars finished 1-15 to earn the top overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora previously reported that if Marrone were to get fired that the Jags would give some serious thought to hiring former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. According to NFL.com, Meyer and current OSU coach Ryan Day will both get considered for the open Jaguars job. One thing to remember about this job is that it’s one of the most attractive in the NFL. Not only is Jacksonville sitting on the first overall pick in the 2021 draft, but the Jags also have plenty of cap space to work with for next season, which means a new coach — and a new GM — could get things turned around pretty quickly.
Fired: Anthony Lynn
The Chargers won their final four games of the season, but that wasn’t enough to save Lynn’s job. Although Lynn led this team to the playoffs in 2018, the past two seasons weren’t kind to the Chargers head coach. Not only was he 11-21 over the past two years, but the Chargers have also had the most one-score losses over that span and a lot those have come because of questionable end-of-game coaching. With Justin Herbert on the roster, this is going to be a coveted job and one name to watch is Brian Daboll. The Bills offensive coordinator went to high school with Chargers general manager Tom Telesco and it won’t be surprising if Telesco reaches out in the near future.
Coaches expected to return
Zac Taylor: Although the Bengals are expected to make multiple changes to their coaching staff this offseason, Taylor won’t be one of them. Not only does if he a close relationship with Joe Burrow, but he also has a win over the Steelers under his belt, which means a lot in Cincinnati. Basically, Taylor is definitely going to have at least one more year to figure things out.
Doug Pederson: Despite an ugly season, Pederson is expected to keep his job. According to ESPN.com, Pederson is will meet with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie on Tuesday and during that meeting, they’ll talk about their vision for 2021. One of the main topics will likely be Carson Wentz, who apparently doesn’t want to be in Philadelphia anymore. ESPN has reported that Wentz has demanded a trade and a big reason for that is due to his fracture d relationship with Pederson.