We’re rapidly approaching the point of the NFL season where head coaches start getting fired. Bill O’Brien got the axe from the Houston Texans after an 0-4 start in 2020. Washington canned Jay Gruden five games into the 2019 campaign. Hue Jackson lasted a few more weeks in 2018 before getting his walking papers. Which NFL head coaches could be next in 2021?
Five NFL head coaches on the hot seat in Week 6
If you’re a head coach off to a bad start and aren’t coming off a playoff season in 2020, chances are the seat is getting warm. And if you’re a coach who got exposed via leaked emails, it’s red hot. Our list of the five coaches most likely to get fired this year begins with Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.
Jon Gruden resigns as head coach of Las Vegas Raiders
(Update at 9:03 PM ET, Monday, October 11, 2021) Amid a report from the New York Times that detailed very disturbing emails from Gruden, the longtime NFL head coach announced his resignation on Monday. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction,” Gruden said. “Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
This shocking development comes after the Times published a story that detailed vulgar and disgusting words used by Gruden in emails during his time while at ESPN as their color analyst for Monday Night Football.
The obtained emails included this excerpt: Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “f—–t” and a “clueless anti football p—y” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “qu—s,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.
It made the fact that he used racist language to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith look obviously even worse. As Gruden awaited word from the league about potential punishment for that, the Times published their bombshell story, leading to Gruden’s resignation.
Despite his lofty job security — thanks to a 10-year contract that had over $50 million on the book — Gruden is officially out in Vegas.
Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars
The team’s performance — 0-5 and outscored by 59 points — alone would be alarming for Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
But his head coach’s behavior has been even worse. Urban Meyer has been an embarrassment since coming out of retirement.
He’s been fined by the league, criticized by the union, mismanaged his rookie quarterback’s development, and been filmed boozing it up with coeds at a Columbus bar — deciding to stay in Ohio after the Jaguars’ Week 4 loss instead of flying home with his team.
Khan put Meyer on notice with a blistering statement after Meyer’s indiscretion. The message might as well have been written in neon colors:
“His conduct last weekend was inexcusable. I appreciate Urban’s remorse, which I believe is sincere. Now, he must regain our trust and respect. That will require a personal commitment from Urban to everyone who supports, represents, or plays for our team. I am confident he will deliver.”
Joe Judge, New York Giants
Joe Judge’s college (or perhaps more accurately, high school) antics have always been viewed with a skeptical eye by industry insiders. He doesn’t seem to grasp the dynamic that comes with coaching grown men. And his act can grow tiresome if a team doesn’t win.
Judge hasn’t done a whole lot of winning. After getting romped by the Cowboys in Week 5, the Giants have now lost seven of their last nine games, and their offense barely has enough healthy bodies to play a game. Play-calling and defensive lapses have both held this talent-bereft team back.
The most damning aspect of the Giants’ 2021 performance? They’re still losing even though Daniel Jones has played well. His QBR ranks inside the top 10. But Jones is now concussed, and New York’s next five games are against the Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, Raiders, and Buccaneers.
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
The only reason Mike Zimmer isn’t No. 1 is because Greg Joseph bailed him out on Sunday.
The Vikings were staring at a fourth loss in five games after the Lions went up a point with 37 seconds left. But Kirk Cousins moved the ball 46 yards on three plays with no timeouts, setting up a 54-yard field goal at the gun by Joseph.
And then the post-game celebration got a little fiery. Zimmer was caught on video shoving quarterback Kirk Cousins with a bit of heft.
— Syd Casper (@CasperSyd) October 10, 2021
It might be nothing, or it could be something. We hear that players have grown tired of Zimmer’s edgy coaching style, and the sense is he could be in danger of being tuned out if the season gets away from Minnesota.
Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins
How quickly fortunes change. Brian Flores got some Coach of The Year chatter in 2020. Now, his quarterback is hurt, his rebuild is in shambles, and he has to fly across the ocean for a potentially career-defining game in Week 6. Lose to the winless Jaguars, and the rationale for keeping Flores gets really thin.
A series of tweets from an account operated by Tua Tagovailoa’s trainer, Nick Hicks, brought to light issues about Flores’ coaching style that — for now — have only been discussed in private.
Ross is pissed. Team is bad. But if Tua wins next week against the Jags it’s for sure “the defense and Flores coaching”. 😂😭The kid deserves better. He got the Shit end of the Stick and ABOVE ALL has succeeded (maybe not your idiotic opinion but the numbers don’t lie)
— PER4ORM (@PER4ORM) October 10, 2021
The operator of the account later said, “This coach [Flores] is hard to even talk to. How much harder do you think he is to play for?”