After the conclusion of Week 13 in the NFL, the playoff picture became much more apparent. While teams like the Saints and Steelers have firmly cemented their place in the postseason, some divisions, like the NFC East, remain totally up for grabs. However, some teams have already eliminated themselves from contention or are on the brink of elimination. The disappointment can be immense, and the fault often falls on the shoulders of the coaches. Here are three coaches whose jobs are at stake in the last few weeks of this NFL season.
Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears went from contenders to pretenders in a matter of weeks, which landed Nagy on the hot seat watchlist.
The Bears started the season hot, going 5-1 through their first six games. They then proceeded to lose the next six games consecutively—a sensationally bad streak caused by some notably bad decisions by Nagy along the way.
First, it must be noted that the 5-1 record was not as much as Nagy succeeding as it was the Bears opponents putting up little fight. The combined record of all 5 of the Bears wins thus far this season is 33-39. Only two of those teams currently have winning records, and two of them are presently last in their respective divisions.
The Bears offense as a whole has struggled mightily under Nagy. They ranked 6th-last in the NFL in total points. They also start notoriously slow out of both halves. The Bears rank 4th last in points scored in the 1st quarter and last in points scored in the 3rd quarter. Chicago’s rushing attack ranks last in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
The Struggles Continue
The passing offense doesn’t fare much better. The Bears rank 2nd-last in yards per attempt and last in yards per completion. The experiment of Nick Foles has not had the desired results. After coming over in a trade from Jacksonville, Foles has a 2-5 record as the Bears’ starting quarterback and has a 10 to 8 touchdown to interception ratio. Not only did the Bear surrender a 3rd round pick for Foles, but they also took on his expensive contract.
Don’t let the Bears record deceive you. On top of the porous opponents, the only other saving grace has been the stellar defense. Headlined by star edge rusher Khalil Mack, the Bears defense has been a force to be reckoned with this season. Bears opponents rank 7th-lowest in red-zone conversion percentage at 55.1%. Rookie Jaylon Johnson is also emerging as one of the best cornerbacks in the game.
If not for the defense, the Bears may be rivaling the New York Jets for the worst record in the NFL. The Bears have talented players, but the lack of creativity in offensive play-calling by Nagy will prevent the team from reaching its full potential.
Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers have severely underwhelmed this season, given the position they were in many tight games this season. A lot of the failure to close out close games has to be directed towards head coach Anthony Lynn.
The Chargers sit in last place in the AFC West with a 3-9 record. 6 of the nine losses were decided by 7 points or less. Some things have gone unfavorably for the Chargers this season. In Week 2, rookie quarterback Justin Herbert infamously replaced former starter Tyrod Taylor after Taylor suffered a punctured lung in the pre-game. That would be considered unfavorable, except that Herbert has played extraordinarily well in each of his starts.
The lapses in focus and blown leads are inexplicable and come back to Lynn’s coaching. When the Chargers lost 31-30 to the Broncos in Week 8, it was the third time that the Chargers had lost a game that they led by at least 17 points. The Chargers are also the first team in NFL history to blow a lead of at least 16 points in four straight games.
In that game versus the Broncos in Week 8, the Chargers had the game won. It was 4th & 4 on the Chargers 18 yard line with 4 seconds remaining. Broncos quarterback Drew Lock attempted a pass to tight end Noah Fant in the endzone, which was incomplete. However, the Chargers committed pass interference on the play. Since the penalty occurred in the end zone, the referees placed the ball at the one-yard line. The Broncos scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play.
While Lynn is not directly responsible for the penalty against the Broncos, the lack of discipline is very concerning. On top of that, just one day later, the Chargers traded away All-Pro cornerback Desmond King to the Tennessee Titans. Again, while Lynn did not directly make this move, he should have made a plea to the front office not to trade away an All-Pro corner the day after an abysmal showing by the secondary.
Lynn has ample talent on both sides of the ball to work with. While NFL Networks Ian Rapoport reported that “no head coaching change is imminent in Los Angeles”, Lynn’s performance must improve. As if the 3-9 record wasn’t disappointing enough, the fact that most of the games were within reach and were still lost should be a reflection of Lynn’s head coaching job thus far.
Adam Gase, New York Jets
The hottest seat of the three goes to Jets head coach Adam Gase without a doubt.
At this point, it’s more a matter of what did go right this season for the Jets. Defensively, they have been atrocious. They rank 4th in total offense yards allowed and 3rd in total points allowed. They have also given up the 2nd most passing yards in the league behind only the Seattle Seahawks, who have been equally as bad against the pass.
Offensively, they have been horrible as well, as you might have guessed. The Jets rank last in points scored, last in total yards on offense, and second-last in total passing yards. The Jets rank in the bottom half of every metric calculated by the NFL on both defense and offense. Their performance is not too surprising given the 0-12 record.
Jets have, without a doubt, embraced the tank. The latest and most blatant example was the Week 13 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Up by 4 with 12 seconds remaining, the Raiders were in Hail Mary territory and had one final shot. Instead of putting everyone in the endzone to bat down the pass, former Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams sent a blitz, leaving just four defenders back to cover the receivers with no safety help. It was potentially the most mind-boggling call in all of NFL history.
The bashing of the play call on social media was relentless. So, naturally, after giving in to the pressure of the fans and media, the Jets made the completely wrong move and fired Gregg Williams. While Williams hasn’t covered himself in glory this season, his performance is more a symptom of the virus. Gase has been a catastrophic head coach, and he fully deserves to be relieved of his duties at the end of the season, if not sooner.