As the playoff picture starts to become clearer and teams come to the realization that they’re not going to be playing postseason football, owners are beginning to look towards the 2021 season, which means that NFL head coach rumors are in full swing and news is beginning to swirl. The Houston Texans were the first team to make a move when they fired Bill O’Brien, but since that point, the Atlanta Falcons have fired Dan Quinn, and, most recently, the Detroit Lions relieved Matt Patricia of his duties.
Romeo Crennel, Raheem Morris, and Darrell Bevell, the interim head coaches, are all expected to be considered for permanent roles, but Pro Football Network Insiders Tony Pauline and Benjamin Allbright have the latest on other candidates in the running.
Note: You can view Allbright talking about the latest on what he’s hearing in the video above. Additionally, you can hear Pauline’s take on the news and rumors here. Don’t forget to visit and subscribe to the PFN YouTube Channel for more videos like this.
What NFL coaches are on the hot seat?
Through 12 weeks of the 2020 NFL season, we have seen Bill O’Brien, Dan Quinn, and Matt Patricia get fired. We know that New York Jets head coach Adam Gase is also very likely on the way out either before or after the season. Who are other names that are on the hot seat and what is their status heading into Week 13?
Doug Marrone – Jacksonville Jaguars
Doug Marrone remaining in his job despite the firing of general manager Dave Caldwell has led to speculation that Marrone could be the Jaguars’ head coach in 2021. According to Pauline, the Jaguars fired Caldwell in order to get a jump start on their search for a new general manager. And while the team has played hard for Marrone, its unlikely any new general manager keeps him around.
Doug Pederson – Philadelphia Eagles
Despite winning the Super Bowl in 2017, Pauline has been reporting since Week 2 that Pederson’s position might not be as secure as expected. He states that the Eagles are yet to make a decision on whether he will be the team’s head coach in 2021, while Allbright confirms that he’s on the hot seat.
The Eagles are 3-7-1 but somehow still in playoff contention in the NFC East. However, Pederson made his name as an offensive coach and Carson Wentz is playing the worst football of his career. If the Eagles continue to struggle the way that they have been, then he could be fired.
Vic Fangio – Denver Broncos
Note (December 7): The original text of the article misquoted Allbright. That quote was: “He expects changes to be made on special teams and the team to draft another quarterback to compete with Drew Lock, who has regressed in his second season as the starter.” The correction is below.
Despite the Broncos struggling to a 4-7 start to the season, Allbright was quick to dismiss the possibility of Fangio losing his job. He expects changes to be made on special teams, and if Drew Lock’s struggles continue down the stretch for the Broncos, the team could potentially look at bringing in a QB to compete with Lock in 2021.
Pauline pointed to the QB position, both in terms of Lock’s injuries and the extraordinary circumstances that led to Kendall Hinton starting, as factors that will work in Fangio’s favor. He’s heard the same as Allbright – Fangio is safe.
NFL Head Coach Rumors | Who are the top candidates?
Robert Saleh – San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator has earned himself admirers around the league for the way that he’s turned around their defense. They ranked dead last in both yards allowed and points allowed when he arrived and have become one of the better units in the league, despite having to contend with an avalanche of injuries.
Saleh interviewed with the Cleveland Browns a year ago before turning down the opportunity to interview for the head coaching position at Michigan State. The Jacksonville Jaguars were interested in the offseason before deciding to give Doug Marrone another chance and will likely be interested again.
Both Allbright and Pauline are reporting that the Detroit Lions are also interested in hiring Saleh. As Pauline said on Wednesday night, league insiders feel Saleh is a natural fit for the Lions; he’s from the state of Michigan, played college football at Northern Michigan and worked his way up the ranks previously coaching at both Central Michigan and Michigan State.
Eric Bieniemy – Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator could be the latest name from the Andy Reid coaching tree to earn a head coaching opportunity, following in the footsteps of Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy before him, who left the same position for roles with the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears respectively.
Bieniemy interviewed for vacant positions with the New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, and Cleveland Browns in the offseason, although Pauline reports that he interviewed poorly, leading teams to look in another direction. He has previously turned down interviews for the Arizona Cardinals job and at his alma mater, the University of Colorado.
Bieniemy has experience working with John Dorsey in Kansas City, who Allbright has heard is high on the Lions’ wish list, and there are expectations that the two could package themselves together. The Lions are taking a different approach, though. The team is looking to hire a head coach and find a general manager who can work with him, rather than hiring a GM and asking them to lead the head coaching search.
Pauline has speculated that Bieniemy’s best fit could be with the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson, although he also likes the possibility of the Atlanta Falcons. Bieniemy’s past legal issues will be among the most controversial pieces of NFL head coach news and could cause owners to hesitate, but he’s been a part of one of the best offenses in football, and the possibility of replicating the Chiefs’ success will be appealing, even if Andy Reid is the primary play-caller for the Chiefs.
NFL Head Coach Rumors | Which other candidates could be considered?
Brian Daboll was brought in as the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator in the same offseason that the team drafted Josh Allen to be their franchise QB and has earned plaudits around the league for the way that he’s sculpted his offense. He’s built around Allen’s strong arm while also unlocking his potential as a runner, putting him in favorable positions to use his size and athleticism, and the Bills have thrived because of it.
Daboll has rebuilt his reputation after some underwhelming seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, and Kansas City Chiefs as a young coordinator and Allbright expects him to have head coaching interviews this offseason.
Health issues sidelined Caldwell temporarily, but both Allbright and Pauline expect him to interview this offseason. Caldwell spent three seasons as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, making the playoffs in his first two (including a Super Bowl loss to the New Orleans Saints) before an injury to Peyton Manning ripped the heart out of the team.
Despite an embarrassing 2-14 record in his final season, he finished with a 26-22 regular-season record. The following year, he ascended to offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens, helping to turn around the Joe Flacco-led offense en route to a Super Bowl win.
His most recent head coaching job was with the Detroit Lions, where he led the team to three winning seasons and two playoff appearances in four attempts. His 36-28 brought stability to a franchise that has been treading water for much of its existence but his inability to win games in the postseason saw the team look in another direction.
Joe Brady – Carolina Panthers
Joe Brady is one of the hottest names among the league’s coordinators. He was instrumental in Joe Burrow and LSU’s record-breaking offensive performance in 2019 and, in his first season as OC, has helped the Carolina Panthers exceed expectations despite Christian McCaffrey’s absence for much of the season. Allbright is hearing, though, that there’s hesitance due to just how quickly he’s risen through the ranks, and he could benefit from more experience, possibly in the form of another offensive coordinator role elsewhere.
Mike McDaniel – San Francisco 49ers
As run game coordinator, McDaniel is one of the top assistants to Kyle Shanahan. Allbright believes that it’s too soon for teams to be considering him for a head coaching job and that the most likely scenario is that he’ll follow Robert Saleh and become his offensive coordinator if Saleh becomes a head coach.
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