Black Monday in the NFL is swiftly approaching. The 2022 NFL regular season will conclude on Sunday and that means one thing: Various coaches will be coaching their final game for their current teams this weekend. The Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, and Carolina Panthers are the three franchises that already fired their coaches in-season.
Several organizations will swiftly make similar decisions. Black Monday is an annual, merciless occurrence. Its arrival is inevitable. Here are three coaches who could appear on Monday’s chopping block.
KLIFF KINGSBURY, ARIZONA CARDINALS
Kliff Kingsbury entered the 2022 campaign on the hot seat. Kingsbury’s Cardinals have historically faltered down the stretch and it was put-up-or-shut-up time for Kingsbury in year four. The Cardinals have responded by crawling to a pathetic 4-12 record.
The 2021 Cardinals lost four of their final five regular-season contests and were masterfully outplayed and outcoached in an embarrassing 34-11 wild-card loss to their NFC West rival and eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Now, the Cardinals have taken multiple steps backward this season.
Firing Kingsbury may result in a full-blown overhaul of the offense. The Cardinals have acquired offensive personnel to fit Kingsbury’s scheme, one that was designed to maximize quarterback Kyler Murray. A steep rebuild may be on the horizon as a result, but the Cardinals can’t keep giving Kingsbury chances.
RON RIVERA, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS
The 7-8-1 Commanders have already been eliminated from NFL playoff contention. If the Commanders fail to defeat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, all three of Ron Rivera’s completed campaigns in Washington resulted in seven-win seasons. That’s simply not good enough.
There’s no denying the Commanders have failed to get the quarterback position right throughout Rivera’s tenure. After rookie quarterback Sam Howell earns the start on Sunday, a total of eight different quarterbacks will have attempted a pass in Rivera’s three seasons as head coach. And while some of those were injury-related occurrences, it’s typically a telltale sign of a team that lacks a franchise quarterback.
Some may feel Rivera is a victim of Washington’s failure to address the quarterback position once and for all. They entered all three of Rivera’s seasons in charge with a different starting signal-caller (Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Carson Wentz). Somehow, Taylor Heinicke attempted more passes than any of them. Still, Rivera’s failures to appropriately navigate through these challenges could cost him his job on Monday.
LOVIE SMITH, HOUSTON TEXANS
The Texans own an NFL-worst record of 2-13-1. A loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday would clinch the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Draft Network’s latest NFL mock draft has the Texans selecting Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is also a viable option.
Lovie Smith was always a peculiar hire for the Texans. Smith was an in-house promotion from a 2021 Texans team that finished 4-13. Smith is far removed from the success he once experienced with the Chicago Bears. Smith went 8-24 across an abysmal two-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith then returned to college, where he went 17-39 in five seasons with Illinois.
Smith isn’t totally at fault for Houston’s record. They possess the NFL’s worst 53-man roster by a sizable margin. But if Smith is fired on Monday, general manager Nick Caserio may also be sacrificed. GMs rarely receive opportunities to hire a third head coach, especially when the first two went one-and-done.