A game doesn’t define a season, but a couple of them might, and five weeks into the 2022 NFL campaign, some head coaches are struggling to elevate their respective teams. Like quarterbacks, coaches often get too much credit when they win and too much criticism when they don’t. at the end of the day, however, a staff is built (or torn down) based on the results.
With that in mind, here’s our ranking of coaches currently on the bench:
happy paths: already discarded
matt rhule, panthers (1-4): it was inevitable in carolina, where the former temple and baylor coach swung and missed every quarterback bet he took, resulting in a 11-37 record despite relatively promising defense.
hot seat ratings
11. mike tomlin (steelers)
season: 16th | register: 1-4 | Total record: 155-89-2 (8-9 playoffs)
His remarkably stable track record ensures he’ll survive this first season after ben roethlisberger, but never before has he had to navigate a roster so riddled with youngsters and injuries. With each passing week, Pittsburgh looks more and more like a team leaving until 2023, when new QB Kenny Pickett is expected to have a reliable supporting cast.
10. brandon staley (chargers)
season: 2nd | log: 3-2 | total registration: 12-10
As long as justin herbert is under center, the angels will be too competitive to justify letting go of their 39-year-old prodigy. but now it has been the biggest question about a potential contender for some time. The numbers may back up her relentless aggressiveness as a play-caller, but common sense doesn’t always agree.
9. zac taylor (flares)
Season: 4th | log: 2-3 | Total record: 18-35-1 (3-1 playoffs)
As the herdsman of your magic super bowl 2021 offering, you automatically have a long leash. But Taylor’s predictable play has increasingly hurt Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ elite weapons more than it has helped. Let’s not forget this guy had a combined record of 6-25-1 before the emergence of joe cool’s mvp caliber last year.
8. dennis allen (saints)
season: 1st | log: 2-3 | total record: 2-3
new orleans operated this offseason as if it were still a playoff-caliber team, making allen’s assessment difficult: how was he expected to meet injury- and turnover-prone jameis winston returning to qb? From the start, it felt like something of a stopgap hire: respected enough internally to get a full year on the job, but easily expendable if a big-name Sean Payton successor turns up.
7. nathaniel hackett (broncos)
season: 1st | log: 2-3 | total record: 2-3
He may be the butt of all the jokes related to in-game decision-making and/or his inability thus far to call a competent offense with russell wilson at center. And if Russ continues a Tim Tebow-esque trend of energetic but erratic production, perhaps the new ownership group will make a quick change. but after such an investment in this qb-coach pairing, he’s probably good for at least a full season at the helm.
6. kliff kingsbury (cardinals)
Season: 4th | log: 2-3 | Total record: 28-30-1 (0-1 playoffs)
is it kyler murray or is it kliff? the fact that the question is still being asked, four years after their pairing, is proof of the problem. Both men just picked up lucrative extensions in Arizona, but Kingsbury’s name is all over the team, which is on pace to miss the postseason for the third time in four years, with a scattered offense no less.
5. dan campbell (lions)
season: 2nd | register: 1-4 | total registration: 4-17-1
How much goodwill can locker room energy buy you? Campbell feels invincible as Detroit’s spokesman thanks to his constant player investment, and the offense has certainly improved this year. but at some point, you just need to win. At best, he follows a lead from Zac Taylor in which the losses pile up until a real caller from the franchise shows up to help.
4. frank reich (colts)
Season: 5th | log: 2-2-1 | Total record: 39-30-1 (1-2 playoffs)
His level-headed leadership has perhaps been the only constant during the colts’ chaotic last half-decade. General manager Chris Ballard probably deserves more blame for building Indy’s lineup, which he saddled with an aging and declining QB with a declining offensive line and a virtually sterile receiving corps. But owner Jim Irsay saw Reich respond, and failed to revive, Carson Goz before the Matt Ryan experiment, and he’s still struggling to stay ahead of a wide-open AFC South.
3. lovie smith (jeans)
season: 1st | registration: 1-3-1 | total log: 1-3-1
Reich may be more likely to be fired during the season due to the colts’ downward trend, but Smith, like David Culley before him, feels like a virtual lock to be ready. Houston has struggled in every game this year, but team bosses would surely prefer a rising offensive mind, not an aging defense, in the long run. let’s put it this way: if/when it’s time to reboot into qb, they’ll think to switch elsewhere.
2. josh mcdaniels (raiders)
season: 1st | register: 1-3 | total record: 1-3
It’s not his fault he was saddled with a shoddy offensive line, but owner Mark Davis was looking for even bigger names before signing McDaniels for his second run as leader. Wins are hard to come by in the AFC West, and the expats’ assistant hasn’t been able to oversee even an efficient unit on his preferred side of the ball.
1. ron rivera (commanders)
season: 3rd | register: 1-4 | Total record: 15-23 (0-1 in playoffs)
washington feels indebted to rivera for his role in changing the overall team culture, but results on the field have been consistently lackluster. The once-heralded defensive mind last led a winning record in 2017 with the Panthers, and the units he has entrusted to Jack Del Rio over the past two years have been porous. more than that, he has failed, as a rule, to identify an adequate short-term or long-term response in qb. He may be loved as a man, but Rivera’s days as a coach seem numbered.