We are creeping closer to the time that every NFL head coach on the hot seat dreads: Black Monday. Sure, there are still eight more weeks of the NFL season. But for many coaches around the league, the clock is ticking. This week was actually a good one for a number of those coaches, with their teams either winning, fighting hard, or on a bye and out of the spotlight. However, one NFL head coach’s seat warmed back up considerably as the glow of the previous week wore off.
NFL Hot Seat | A tough loss brings Vic Fangio squarely back into the frame
The NFL is a tough place with its “What have you done for me lately?” attitude. Just a week ago, we were heralding the job the Denver Broncos had done in defeating the Dallas Cowboys. Vic Fangio and his defense were the toast of the town after shutting down the impressive Dallas offense.
Nonetheless, for that win to mean more, the Broncos could not afford a letdown game at home against the Eagles. Unfortunately, that is exactly what they got. The Eagles rushed for 214 yards at over 5 yards per carry as their offense scored 23 points against what is supposed to be Fangio’s crown jewel of the team — defense.
It is hard to pin all the blame at the feet of Vic Fangio and the defense
The score was just 20-13, with the Broncos facing a 4th-and-1 at the Eagles’ 23-yard line in the dying seconds of the third quarter. Fangio made the bold (and for many, right) decision to go for it. Unfortunately, the play ended with a Melvin Gordon fumble that Darius Slay returned 83 yards for a touchdown to open a 14-point lead.
Denver’s defense would hold the Eagles to just a field goal in the fourth quarter. However, that came on a soul-sucking 10-play, 60-yard drive that took 5:57 off the clock and extended the lead to three scores. Fangio may not be totally to blame, but the Broncos are now at a major tipping point at 5-5. Denver has won just 19 of its 42 games with him in charge. A strong finish could buy Fangio another season, but anything less than a winning record would likely mean the end of his tenure with the Broncos.
Other NFL coaches on the hot seat got important wins in Week 10
The good week for under-pressure coaches began Thursday. Brian Flores called a defensive masterclass to stifle the Baltimore Ravens’ offense as his Dolphins team came out on top. While questions remain around Flores’ handling of Miami’s QB situation, he underlined his credentials as a defensive-minded head coach. He also made a handful of bold calls that worked out well for him in this game.
For Urban Meyer, it was a mixed week. Sure, the Jaguars lost, but they showed a lot of fight against the Colts. The offense is still a major issue, and Trevor Lawrence is struggling. However, the Jaguars were in this game right up until the end, and that is a significant improvement on some of the things we were seeing earlier in the year.
Week 11 will be a big week for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings
With question marks arising over Mike Zimmer’s position, the Vikings did exactly what they needed to do this week. They went on the road and beat an AFC playoff contender. They kept themselves three losses behind the Green Bay Packers, with two matchups between the division rivals still to come.
The first of those tests comes in Week 11 as the Vikings host the Packers. If Minnesota wins, there would be a lot of optimism for the second half of the season. The NFC North would still be in play, and a playoff spot would be in reach. However, a loss would basically close out the division and leave the Vikings likely needing to win five of their last seven games to have any chance of making the playoffs. A loss in Week 11 of the 2021 NFL season could leave Zimmer’s seat extremely hot indeed.