If we’re being honest, all but a handful of NFL coaches are on the hot seat.
There’s an SEC-level infatuation among NFL fanbases to fire the coach at the first sign of trouble. That has trickled down to decision makers. You’re lucky if you get three years. Among the 32 NFL coaches, 17 of them have three or fewer seasons on their current job.
Still, some seats are hotter than others. Here’s a look at the five coaches who have the hottest seats as the season starts:
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals
After the Cardinals collapsed for a second straight season, there were questions about Kingsbury’s future. Perhaps to quiet that noise, the Cardinals gave Kingsbury and GM Steve Keim extensions in March. Maybe that means Kingsbury is safe. However, Cards owner Michael Bidwill didn’t exactly deny a report that there was a tense meeting between him, Kingsbury and Keim at the end of last season. If the Cardinals get off to a bad start, which is more likely as star receiver DeAndre Hopkins serves a six-game PED suspension, would Arizona be willing to eat the extension for its head coach? What if the team starts slow and has another second-half swoon on top of it? The extension certainly is a message the team is behind Kingsbury, but we’ll see.
Mike McCarthyDallas Cowboys
It’s unfair to have McCarthy here after Dallas went 12-5 and won the NFC East last season. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is perhaps too patient with his coaches and has shot down every question about McCarthy’s job security. But everyone knows former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is a favorite of Jones and also a free agent after stepping down from his Saints job. The Cowboys are already dealing with injuries and personnel losses over the offseason, and all anyone seems to remember about the 2021 Cowboys is how they lost in the wild-card playoff round. Maybe all the speculation about McCarthy is irresponsible dot-connecting. Still, McCarthy might want to have a good season just in case.
Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers
There was a question if Rhule would return for 2022 after a 10-22 start to his shocking Panthers contract. That seven-year, $62 million deal might be the only reason he is back. Rhule has had some odd moments this offseason, including staging a quarterback competition between Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold when everyone knew Mayfield would be the starter. That just cost Mayfield valuable reps in a new offense. Panthers owner David Tepper doesn’t seem like the patient type, and Rhule probably can’t get off to a bad start.
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Rivera is a good coach, and Washington probably can’t do any better. But Rivera is 14-19 as coach with two losing seasons (though one did have a fortunate NFC East title with it). Daniel Snyder isn’t exactly known for making wise or logical decisions, and he might not be happy with a third straight losing season, even if it’s not Rivera’s fault.
Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons
It’s not easy to put together a hot-seat list for this season because there aren’t that many obvious candidates. Pete Carroll has built up too much goodwill to be in trouble with the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe Frank Reich could be in trouble if the Indianapolis Colts falter, but that seems unlikely. Smith makes the list because the Falcons could be bad this season. Presumably Smith would get a pass because the Falcons decided they would tear things down and were “taking it on the chin this year,” in the words of GM Terry Fontenot. But not many franchises have patience. Who knows what might happen if things get really bad for the Falcons this year?