NFL Head Coach Hot Seat: Examining Matt Eberflus, Bill Belichick and more

2T6Y3TB Frankfurt A.M., Germany. 12th Nov, 2023. NFL International Series /Game : Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots on 12. Nov. 2023, in the Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt a.M., Germany, New England Patriots - Head Coach Bill Belichick Credit: Frank Baumert/Alamy Live News

• The Patriots' post-Brady woes have come to a head: New England sits at 2-8 through Week 10, and that leaves an uncertain future for eventual Hall of Fame head coach Bill Belichick.

• The Chargers continue to fall short of expectations: Their 0.058 EPA per play allowed figure is the second worst in football, and that’s particularly concerning since Brandon Staley came to the team as a highly regarded defensive coordinator.

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Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Eight weeks remain in the 2023 NFL regular season, and yet, one head coach has already been fired, with Josh McDaniels leaving his post atop the Las Vegas Raiders two weeks ago.

With that, speculation is now mounting over who will be the next head coach to go, with offering hypothetical odds for the five most likely coaches to be fired next.

Here, we’ll examine what has gone wrong for those five coaches and look for any path to righting the ship.

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are 2-8 and are currently set to pick third overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. Currently, only the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants have shorter odds to finish the season with the worst record in football.

Defensively, New England has allowed positive expected points added on just 40.8% of their snaps, the sixth-best mark in the NFL. Yet, just one Patriots defender, linebacker Jahlani Tavai, boasts a PFF run-defense grade above 75.0, and interior defender Christian Barmore is the lone man with a 75.0-plus PFF pass-rushing grade. Only two players in the secondary, the injured Christian Gonzalez and safety Jabrill Peppers, have PFF coverage grades above 75.0.

On offense, the Patriots are averaging -0.182 EPA per play, the third-worst mark in the league. That is largely driven by quarterback Mac Jones’ struggles, with the New England signal-caller's 58.7 PFF passing grade ranking 27th among the 37 quarterbacks to record 100 dropbacks.

PFF’s Sam Monson made an interesting point on Monday’s PFF NFL Show Week 10 review, though, suggesting the Patriots would be better off waiting until the offseason to see if a team will trade for Belichick, given his previous success and credentials as a future Hall of Fame coach.

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Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears

The Bears currently own the fifth overall selection, and after acquiring Carolina's first-round pick this past offseason, they are slated to have two high draft choices to kick a rebuild into high gear. A coaching change could be another step in that turnover plan.

Offensively, the key for the Bears is developing Justin Fields. Before suffering an injury in Week 6, Fields was on track for career highs in both PFF overall grade (73.6) and PFF passing grade (66.5). He put together a stretch of three straight 70.0-plus overall marks, one each against the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Washington Commanders. Fields returning to the lineup and showing more promise to end the year would be the perfect way for the Bears' coaching staff to show that it is capable of leading the franchise through the rest of the rebuild.

Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers

Expectations were sky-high for the Chargers heading into 2023, with an MVP candidate at quarterback in Justin Herbert and enough talented players on defense to make an impact.

Herbert's 2023 campaign is in line with the rest of his high career. His 4.6% big-time throw rate and 3.3% turnover-worthy play rate are both slightly above his career average. He’s coming off his best game of the year in a loss to the Detroit Lions, where he set a season-high with four touchdowns.

The Chargers' 0.058 EPA per play allowed figure is the second worst in football, and that’s particularly concerning since Staley came to the team as a highly regarded defensive coordinator. Edge defender Khalil Mack is Los Angeles' only defensive player to play more than 100 snaps and earn an 80.0-plus PFF grade.

Amid a loaded AFC, Staley’s future might simply come down to whether the Chargers can turn things around and make the playoffs.

Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders

New ownership clouds things in Washington, but Rivera’s decision to roll with Sam Howell at quarterback could be key to his future as the Commanders' head coach.

The Commanders' defense has allowed 0.033 EPA per play despite fielding a talented line up until the trade deadline, when the team traded away both Montez Sweat and Chase Young.

At quarterback, Howell ranks 25th in PFF passing grade (65.4), but his 5.8% big-time throw rate is the seventh-best mark in football. He ranks in the middle of the pack in turnover-worthy play rate and, given that it’s his first year as a starter, gives the Commanders a lot of cap flexibility. He has cap hits of just $1.1 million and $1.2 million in 2024 and 2025, respectively, per Over the Cap.

How close Washington can get to a wild-card spot in the NFC and Howell’s development over the final eight weeks of the season will likely determine Rivera's fate.

Brian Daboll, New York Giants

Things haven’t gone well for the Giants in 2023 after they overachieved in 2022, but it’s hard to see them moving on from Daboll.

Daniel Jones was not playing well before an injury sidelined for the rest of the season, ranking 31st in PFF passing grade (54.4). Since his injury and that of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Giants have turned to third-string rookie Tommy DeVito, and the former Illinois quarterback has struggled to a 50.4 PFF passing grade on 78 dropbacks.

Long term, these struggles might not be the worst thing for the Giants, with the team currently projected to pick second overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. That would put them in a position to reset at quarterback and draft either USC's Caleb Williams or North Carolina's Drake Maye. And there may not be many better options than Daboll to help bring a rookie quarterback along, given his success with Josh Allen in his time as the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator.

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