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. 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.
Expected to be fired: Adam Gase
Gase tried to save his job with two big wins at the end of the season, but apparently, that wasn’t enough. La Canfora has reported that the Jets plan to fired Gase shortly after the team’s Week 17 game against the Patriots. When the Jets job came open two years ago, they interviewed multiple college coaches and it won’t be surprising if they interview several more candidates from the college ranks this time around. 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)
On the hot seat: Doug Marrone
When the Jaguars fired general manager Dave Caldwell back in November, they decided to hold on to Marrone and so far, the team hasn’t offered many hints about whether they plan to keep him around for 2021. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has reported that if the team does move on from Marrone, they’re going to give some serious thought to hiring former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. According to NFL.com, the Jags are «likely» going to dump Marrone, but they won’t make a decision until after the season is over. If Marrone gets axed, 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.
On the hot seat: Anthony Lynn
Although Lynn led this team to the playoffs in 2018, the past two seasons haven’t been kind to the Chargers head coach. Not only is he 11-20 since the start of the 2019 season, 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. Right now, no decision has been made about Lynn’s future, but he does seem to have two things working in his favor. According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Lynn’s job could be saved by the fact that he has a good relationship with Justin Herbert along with the fact that the team has finished the season on a high-note. Lynn has also been forced to coach a team that’s been ravaged by injuries as players who were listed as projected starters on opening day have missed a total of 109 combined games.
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.