The last five NFL seasons have seen an average of 2.2 head coaches fired per year. With that in mind, what are the odds for the first head coach fired in the 2021 NFL season, and which candidates offer potential value?
First NFL head coach fired odds 2021
Mike McCarthy +750
Vic Fangio +750
Matt Nagy +850
Jon Gruden +1000
Mike Zimmer +1100
Kliff Kingsbury +1200
Zac Taylor +1200
David Culley +1600
Matt Rhule +1600
Mike Vrabel +1600
Matt LaFleur +2000
Brian Flores +2500
Frank Reich +2500
John Harbaugh +2500
Kyle Shanahan +2500
Pete Carroll +2500
Sean McVay +2500
Sean Payton +2500
Ron Rivera +2800
Dan Campbell +5000
Joe Judge +5000
Arthur Smith +5000
Brandon Staley +5000
Mike Tomlin +5000
Nick Sirianni +5000
Robert Saleh +5000
Urban Meyer +5000
Kevin Stefanski +10000
Sean McDermott +10000
Bill Belichick +25000
Bruce Arians +25000
Andy Reid +50000
Who are the main candidates to be the first NFL head coach fired in 2021?
Let’s look at some of the candidates to be the first head coach fired during the 2021 NFL regular season and assess whether their odds offer value.
Vic Fangio, Denver Broncos | +750
Entering his third season as the Denver Broncos head coach, it is crunch time for Vic Fangio. Through his first two seasons, the Broncos have finished a combined 12-20. After a somewhat promising 7-9 outing in 2019, the team regressed to 5-11 last season. The most concerning trend for Fangio is that his defense ranked 25th in points allowed and 21st in yards allowed.
As a defensive-minded head coach, Fangio needs his defense to step up in 2021 to avoid meeting the expectations of being tied atop the odds for the first NFL head coach fired. If the defense plays well, but the offense struggles under Drew Lock, Fangio may remain as head coach. However, Fangio has already changed offensive coordinators once, and a second change could be viewed as poor decision-making on his part.
Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys | +750
Could Mike McCarthy be on his way out of Dallas in his second season? Given the struggles of the team in his first season — absolutely.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys’ offense should be significantly improved with Dak Prescott returning this season, which is where McCarthy’s calling card is. With Prescott under center, the Cowboys’ offense averaged over 500 total yards and 31.5 points per game.
The issue for the Cowboys could be their defense. But a change of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to Dan Quinn and some offseason additions to the defense will hopefully see the group improve. As the favorite to lose his job, McCarthy does not appear a good value given the loyalty we saw the Cowboys show to their previous head coach in Jason Garrett.
Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears | +850
Matt Nagy not being fired after the 2020 season was a huge surprise. Since taking over as head coach, Nagy’s offenses have ranked outside the top 20 in yards all three years. They have also ranked outside the top 20 in points scored in each of the last two seasons.
The key for Nagy is Justin Fields. If Fields struggles, or if Nagy refuses to turn to him with the team struggling, we could see the Bears make a change at head coach.
Although these odds appear to prevent value for Nagy as the first NFL head coach fired, a rookie quarterback can often be the saving grace for a coach on the hot seat.
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings | +1100
Skipping over Jon Gruden due to the sheer expense the Raiders would incur by firing him, and we land with Mike Zimmer. The general feeling is that Zimmer commands a lot of respect. Therefore, at 64 years old, Zimmer might be allowed to finish out the year on the condition he retires.
The only caveat to that is if the Green Bay Packers allow Aaron Rodgers to leave. If that happens, and the Vikings do not take advantage early in the season, Zimmer could be on his way out the door.
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals | +1200
Quite frankly, it was a surprise to see Kliff Kingsbury not at the top of the odds to be the first head coach fired in the 2021 NFL season. Kingsbury’s team and offense improved in 2020, but their season finished with a disappointing whimper. Now, they head into 2021 with a strength of schedule that is among the toughest in the league.
With Kyler Murray entering his all-important third season after being selected No. 1 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cardinals will be under the microscope. If Kingsbury cannot get the best out of Murray and this offense and turn it into victories, he may be in trouble. An opening spell of five games that sees them face the Titans, Vikings, Jaguars, Rams, and 49ers will certainly make life more difficult in Arizona.
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals | +1200
It has been an ugly start to Zac Taylor’s head coaching tenure with the Bengals. In fact, Cincinnati has won just six games in Taylor’s first two seasons.
Most concerningly for the offensive-minded coach is that his offenses have ranked in the bottom 10 in both seasons. If that does not improve in 2021, and the Bengals get off to a slow start, Taylor might be looking for a new job early this season.
The first five games of the Bengals 2021 schedule will not help. Squaring up against the Vikings, Bears, Steelers, Jaguars, and Packers is not an easy task. If the Bengals begin 1-4 or 0-5, then these odds could be a good value for Taylor to be the first head coach fired in 2021.
Joe Judge, New York Giants | +5000
There is no denying that Joe Judge made an immediate impact. While it seems as though his personality has initially worked in the Giants organization, that script could quickly flip. The Giants have invested in a big way this offseason, and that brings pressure. If the Giants struggle early in the 2021 NFL season, Judge could find himself on the hot seat.
Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills | +10000
When it comes to the odds for the first NFL head coach fired, the ultimate outsider is Sean McDermott. After the success the Bills enjoyed in 2020, it seems unlikely anything will happen to McDermott. Yet, 2021 is a key year for Josh Allen as the Bills decide whether to fully commit their future to the young quarterback.
What was lost in the Bills’ success last year was that the defense regressed significantly. If the Bills falter out of the gate, McDermott could quickly find himself in a negative light.
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