As Jerry Glanville infamously said, the NFL stands for Not For Long. Here are five coaches who need better seasons to stay employed.
5. Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears
Record: 3-14, second season
The expectations for the Chicago Bears are low. However, Chicago was a league-worst 3-14, ending the season on a 10-game losing streak. The Bears haven’t won a game since beating the New England Patriots 33-14 on Oct. 24. They dropped their final three games by a combined score of 105-36.
Matt Eberflus, the former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, oversaw a Bears defense that gave up an NFL-worst 27.2 points per game. Still, Eberflus might survive if Justin Fields improves. Fields was dynamic as a runner (1,143 yards and eight touchdowns) but must get better as a thrower; he ranked No.25 in passer rating (85.2).
Aaron Rodgers is out of the division, and the Minnesota Vikings are due to regress. The Bears need to show progress.
4. Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys
Record: 30-20, fourth season
Mike McCarthy says this is the best #Cowboys team he’s coached in the four years he’s been here in Dallas.— Ernie (@es3_09) July 28, 2023
A year removed from losing Amari Cooper and now rolling with Tony Pollard at RB1, that says a lot about how good this team is and how much Dak Prescott has progressed… pic.twitter.com/lRWm9FYNuH
Mike McCarthy will remain on this list until he at least reaches the NFC Championship Game. McCarthy added even more pressure on himself by not bringing back offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and assuming the playcalling duties. It’s a job that McCarthy hasn’t done since 2018 when he was the coach of the Green Bay Packers. We’ll see how much he has learned since then.
The Cowboys have been good in the regular season, with back-to-back 12-5 records. The problem is they have run up against the San Francisco 49ers. This year could be different. The Cowboys are loaded, especially with the acquisitions of wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. This is the most talented team McCarthy has had in Dallas. It’s up to him not to screw it up.
3. Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Record: 22-27-1, fourth season
The Commanders big question mark going into training camp will be at the quarterback position.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) July 25, 2023
All eyes are on Sam Howell.
What does Ron Rivera have to see from Howell to feel comfortable going forward with him?
The Washington Commanders have a new owner, and new owners like to put their own people in charge. There’s a distinct possibility of a thorough housecleaning once the season is over.
Ron Rivera is going to have to completely wow Josh Harris. The Commanders were the only team from the NFC East not to make the playoffs and there’s a significant gulf between them and the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.
Rivera made a splashy hire by bringing in former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who will try to jumpstart a team that was No. 24 in scoring (18.9). However, Washington has an unsettled quarterback situation (second-year man Sam Howell vs. veteran Jacoby Brissett). Rivera is competent, but that might not be good enough.
2. Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
Record: 19-15, third season
After blowing a 27-point lead in the playoffs to Jacksonville, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley spent time this offseason talking with the likes of Steve Kerr on how a great team bounces back from playoff disaster like the 2016 Warriors experienced pic.twitter.com/9E7kqpYD8A— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) July 27, 2023
The good news for Brandon Staley is that he made the playoffs last season. The bad news is that the Los Angeles Chargers blew a 27-0 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars – the third-biggest postseason collapse in NFL history. The meltdown was so epic that many wondered if Staley might get fired the next day.
The Chargers cannot continue to waste the most gifted young passer in the league. Justin Herbert should benefit from the additions of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and first-round draft choice TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston. Herbert also played through a rib injury.
But it all comes down to Staley’s questionable game-day decisions. In a division where you are competing against Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, Staley has little room for error.
1. Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
Record: 26-24, fourth season
Ever since winning NFL Coach of the Year after the breakthrough 2020 season, Kevin Stefanski’s record with the Cleveland Browns has gotten worse. It was alarming last year when journeyman Jacoby Brissett outperformed $230 million man Deshaun Watson.
Owner Jimmy Haslam has declined to say that it’s ‘now-or-never’ season for Stefanski. But if Watson doesn’t significantly improve and Cleveland isn’t a factor in the highly competitive AFC North, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Stefanski sticks around. Haslam gave the problematic Watson a fully guaranteed deal. If Stefanski can’t fix Watson, Haslam will find someone who will.
The Browns will have Watson for a full season, Pro Football Focus’s second-best offensive line, and skill-position talent (Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, and David Njoku). There are no excuses.