Yes, there is still one game left in Week 11 of the 2023 NFL season. But given that neither Andy Reid nor Nick Sirianni factor into this particular discussion, we thought it was time to revisit the list of head coaches currently on the hot seat.
In the previous version of this list, we introduced the SB Nation “coaching spectrum of toastiness,” which placed coaches in these four categories:
- Potentially flammable
- Buns getting toasty
- Pants smoldering
- Pants on fire
However, seeing that it is Thanksgiving Week here in the United States, we thought it made sense to lean into the holiday a bit. Over-cooked turkeys, deep-frying disasters, and a reminder to never experiment on Thanksgiving will guide us today.
So, here are the NFL coaches on the not seat, as told through Thanksgiving.
Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans
Following Sunday’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, which dropped the Tennessee Titans to 3-7 on the season and four games behind the Jaguars in the win column, Mike Vrabel was asked about his job security.
“I don’t try to concern myself with that,” Vrabel said, via Paul Kuharsky. “I really am focused on these players. I hurt for them. I played 14 years, won some games, won some championships — I am frustrated for the players, I’m disappointed for the players. I want them to have success. I know how hard they work and how hard they put into it, so that’s what my focus is. … I’ll let [the media] fire me each week or not fire me. I apologize; I appreciate the question — I do. I will always understand it. We have to improve and we have to win.”
In some ways, it seems unfair to put Vrabel on the hot seat. The Titans were a confusing team entering the season. Were they rebuilding? Retooling? Attempting a “competitive rebuild” of their own?
But it is not working right now. Sure, Vrabel is dealing with an injured starting quarterback and the team has now turned to a rookie, but the seat seems to at least be warming up.
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Pressure continues to mount in New England, with the Patriots sitting at 2-8 and on the cusp of their second-straight losing season. New England has not endured back-to-back losing seasons since Bill Clinton’s first term, when the Patriots finished 2-14 in 1992 and then 5-11 in 1993, the first year of Bill Parcells’ tenure in Foxborough.
Recent weeks have also seen reports surface about a potential landing spot for Belichick, with many pointing to the Washington Commanders as a destination for the legendary head coach should things end in New England.
Part of the reason for that pressure? The regressing from quarterback Mac Jones. After a strong start to his NFL career Jones took a big step back last season, under the coaching of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, a rather curious experiment from Belichick. The organization announced a search for an offensive coordinator shortly after last season ended, and that led to Bill O’Brien returning to town to help fix Jones.
But the fix has not taken hold, and now the team is likely facing starting over at the position.
Don’t experiment on Thanksgiving, or with young QBs.
Robert Saleh, New York Jets
Robert Saleh likely gets a pass, given how Aaron Rodgers went down with an Achilles’ injury just four plays into the 2023 season.
However, his decision to stick with Zach Wilson as long as he has might put him under increasing pressure in New York City. This is a very talented team, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but woeful quarterback play has just ruined any chances of this team making a playoff push in Rodgers’ absence.
Sure, the Jets scored a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but that snapped a 41-drive streak for their offense without a TD. That unit went nearly 200 game minutes without a touchdown.
That makes two seasons in a row a talented team with playoff aspirations was undone by the quarterback position.
It might not cost Saleh his job … yet. But temperatures are rising.
Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
It turns out taking all your staff from the Carolina Panthers isn’t a sure-fire model for success. McDermott’s consistent lack of success has led him to throwing other people on his staff under the bus with Ken Dorsey being the first victim.
Just because the Bills beat the Jets in Week 11 doesn’t mean that McDermott’s spot is any safer, as the team continues to keep having the same issues on a regular basis. At some point it’s just not the right recipe for success, and ownership is going to realize that.
If Buffalo limps to the end of this season only to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs, or if they’re on the outside of the bubble all together it’s wholly reasonable to assume a change will occur.
Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
The only reason Brandon Staley still has a job right now is because Justin Herbert is able to make him look good. The so-called “defensive guru” behind the Chargers has been a nightmare at actually playing defense, and the team is in such a deep hole we’re out here scapegoating rookie receivers because Jordan Love looks like a Pro Bowl quarterback against them.
Los Angeles is last in the NFL against the pass. They allow 23.4 percent of rushing attempts result in a first down. The team is in the bottom-half of the league in turnovers.
Despite being the Chargers being a Cinderella pick to come out of the AFC this year they’re now in last-place in the AFC West and nothing is getting better. Every issue here is self-inflicted by Brand Staley, who keeps making things worse.
Frank Reich, Carolina Panthers
Not only is Frank Reich bad, but Frank Reich doesn’t understand the problem with Frank Reich. Clearly in job-saving mode at this point, the Panthers head coach is deciding to go down with the ship in the worst possible way.
Three weeks ago the team wanted to change up its floundering offense, so Reich mercifully turned over play calling duties to his offensive coordinator Thomas Brown. Two weeks later he took them back, and went on to call the worst offensive game of the Panthers season.
Every one of Reich’s gambits has failed in 2023. Bryce Young’s progression has halted without any weapons or new thinking. To cap this off you’ve got an owner in David Tepper with the attention span of a chipmunk when it comes to failure.
Carolina has any number of potential cooks who could take over the kitchen. Bad news though, because the restaurant is burning down.
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
You lost at home to Tommy DeVito, who threw for three touchdowns and dropped an incredible celebration on you head.
Then, the showers did not work after the game.
If this is not a “burn the house down while deep-frying the turkey” situation, we do not know what is.
Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears
We might be cheating a bit, as this scene is from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and is not Thanksgiving specific.
But it fits.
Because this disaster of a turkey pretty much sums up the situation in Chicago, after a brutal loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday. In his return, Justin Fields played well, up until a late-game fumble that ended any chance of a Bears’ comeback. But the die is cast in Chicago.
Similar to when the dinner is completely ruined and you start considering your takeout options, it is time for a Plan B in the Windy City.