It was another wild and crazy week in the NFL, and not simply because of the craziness that took place on the field. For while the games themselves were a carnival ride of fun, the laughs stopped in Las Vegas, where Jon Gruden has now resigned as head coach in light of an email scandal that sent shockwaves through the organization and league alike. And while Rich Bisaccia, the team’s special teams coordinator turned interim head coach, works to weather a storm never before witnessed by the club, it bears mentioning that Gruden might not be alone in looking for another job in 2021 — albeit for different reasons.
Enter Urban Meyer, who owned headlines for his controversial decision to not fly home with the Jacksonville Jaguars following their Week 4 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, instead remaining in Ohio to attend an event that saw him getting too friendly with a woman who isn’t his wife; and that’s not where his problems begin or likely end.
Some coaches who entered the 2021 season on the hot seat have found a way to remove themselves from it, e.g., Mike McCarthy, but at least one has found his way back to it after escaping it two weeks ago.
Let’s take a look at the latest NFL coaching hot seat rankings.
Keep an eye on: Matt Nagy, Bears
The fact remains that Nagy is not a bad coach, at least not in general. But it often takes more than love to keep a marriage going, and things are getting a bit thin in the Windy City air, largely due to Nagy’s stubbornness in the face of obvious answers at the quarterback position. To be fair, Nagy did not draft Mitchell Trubisky, nor did he make a trade for Nick Foles, so don’t put those in his lap. He is responsible, however, for sticking with Trubisky as the starter for longer than he should’ve, and he would’ve done the same thing in 2021 with Andy Dalton — if not for Dalton suffering an injury early in the season.
The injury effectively forced Nagy into starting rookie first-round pick Justin Fields, but Nagy was still drooling to get Dalton back into the starting position before eventually caving to the obvious and naming Fields the starter for the remainder of the season. There is still much to sharpen for and with Fields, but the move at QB might save Nagy in 2022 — the irony being it took an injury to potentially save him from himself. Stay tuned on this one because the development of Fields this year is still key for Nagy.
Next Five: Packers, Buccaneers, 49ers, Steelers, Ravens
3. Joe Judge, Giants
It’s tough to argue that many are on a hotter seat than Judge right now, depending on how you view the mood of owner John Mara, although he left little room for interpretation going into the season. Mara noted this offseason that “everyone is on the hot seat” in New York — from Judge to general manager Dave Gettleman to himself. Including himself was cute and all from a PR standpoint, but we all know owners don’t fire themselves; they fire everyone else. And considering the wild and whacky training camp the Giants had, one that included a rash of swift and unexpected retirements and at least one practice brawl, Judge isn’t exactly off to a magnificent start in his second year as an NFL head coach.
Add in the rash of preseason retirements, a 1-4 start and the recent antics of rookie first-round pick Kadarius Toney in the Cowboys’ throttling of the Giants in Week 5 and, well, you have to wonder if Judge is losing a handle on things in New York. Things aren’t going to get any easier for him going forward, with Daniel Jones entering concussion protocol and both Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay suffering injuries in the loss to the Cowboys. And with their next five games including the Rams, Chiefs and Buccaneers, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the “impatient” Mara begin stirring in his owner’s chair as the season rolls along.
Next Five: Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, Raiders, Buccaneers
2. David Culley, Texans
Culley was able to find the fire escape on this list after an impressive win to open the regular season, but the Texans are once again back to their abysmal ways. It’s not entirely his fault, seeing as he has been without quarterback Tyrod Taylor since the Week 2 loss against the Cleveland Browns due to injury. But with Taylor sitting on injured reserve, it’s Culley’s job to coach up the next man to win games, and that’s where it does become his fault. The Texans have now lost four in a row, and while credit is due for being competitive against the New England Patriots in Week 5, when push came to absolute shove, Culley’s group couldn’t get the job done to land a much-needed upset over Bill Belichick and Mac Jones.
That came on the heels of the Buffalo Bills obliterating them, and yes the Bills are admittedly in a different class of team right now, but to muster no points whatsoever in four quarters of football will never be OK. It’s Culley’s first season ever as an NFL head coach, and he knew what he was walking into when he accepted the position — from the scandal surrounding Deshaun Watson to the fracture between the locker room and the front office — which means, fair or not, he needs to start showing signs fairly quickly of some semblance of a turnaround in Houston. However, his next three games could force him into 1-7 before that happens.
Next Five: Colts, Cardinals, Rams, Dolphins, Titans
1. Urban Meyer, Jaguars
If there’s a blueprint for how to do everything right when taking the reins as a first-time NFL head coach, you’d have to presume there’s an antithesis that lists steps for virtually guaranteeing you’ll be fired before you get a shot at Year 2. If the latter didn’t exist before, it does now, and Meyer is the author. Anything Meyer could do wrong after joining the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason, he’s either done it, is doing it or will probably get it done in the next several weeks. The aforementioned party controversy is simply another feather in his manure-dipped cap, but the dysfunction began with the hiring, defense of, and immediate firing of Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle — a man with a history of racist accusations against him.
Things have continued to spiral out of control from that point to now, as the Jaguars sit at 0-5 on the year with rookie first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence showing more composure during the winless stretch than his own coach. Meyer is making things worse for himself with postgame quotes that note he “doesn’t micromanage who’s on the field” and that leadership of the team “falls on the players” as opposed to the head coach hired to lead them. He has also come under the probing of the NFLPA after a media gaffe wherein he admitted he factors COVID-19 vaccination into roster decisions.
All of this would be unacceptable behavior for a good coach, let alone one with no wins and whose offense and defense both rank toward the bottom of the league. Meyer has already been put on notice by owner Shad Khan, and his next mistake will likely be his last in Jacksonville.
Next Five: Dolphins, Seahawks, Bills, Colts, 49ers
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