Tracking NFL head-coach firings: Five jobs open heading into offseason
Jan 9, 2023
As the 2022 NFL season winds down, there are four open head-coach jobs with the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals each looking for the next person to lead their franchises.
The coaching changes started early this season, with the Panthers firing Matt Rhule on Oct. 10. The Colts followed, firing Frank Reich on Nov. 7, replacing him with former ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday. The third change was Denver firing first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett on Dec. 26. After getting a Week 18 win, the Texans fired Lovie Smith just hours later. The Cardinals followed by firing Kliff Kingsbury the next day on Jan. 9.
Here’s everything you need to know about the latest NFL head-coach movement, with news on open jobs, potential open jobs and candidates. Try our head-coach matchmaker here.
Former coach: Kliff Kingsbury
Record with Cardinals: 28-37-1 over four seasons
Date fired: Jan. 9
The Cardinals fired Kingsbury on Monday, a day after losing to complete a 4-13 season. The move came after Kingsbury’s fourth season in Arizona and just 10 months after Kingsbury signed an extension that was supposed to keep him under contract through the 2027 season.
Former coach: Lovie Smith
Record with Texans: 3-13-1 over one season
Date fired: Jan. 8
Houston fired Smith hours after the Texans won their final game and finished 3-13-1 in Smith’s first season as head coach. The Texans have now fired back-to-back coaches one year after ousting David Culley last January. Smith was the defensive coordinator and associate head coach on Culley’s staff in 2021 and was elevated to head coach on Feb. 7.
Former coach: Nathaniel Hackett
Record with Broncos: 4-11 over one season
Date fired: Dec. 26
Hackett’s dismissal put an abrupt end to the shortest tenure of any noninterim head coach in franchise history. The Broncos’ new ownership — the Walton-Penner Group, led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, daughter Carrie Walton Penner and son-in-law Greg Penner — quickly ran out of patience with a team that had one of the league’s best defenses but an offense that simply could not score.
At one point this season, the Broncos featured the No. 1 scoring defense and the No. 32 scoring offense. The Broncos also missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year, the longest playoff drought since the franchise’s earliest years, when it missed the playoffs between 1960 and 1976.
Legwold: Where do the Broncos go from here?
Former coach: Frank Reich
Record with Colts: 41-35-1 over five seasons
Date fired: Nov. 7
Reich’s tenure was defined by incessant turnover at quarterback; the Colts had different opening-day starters in each of his five seasons as the franchise has struggled to find a quarterback to fill the shoes of Andrew Luck, who retired before the 2019 season. The Colts have been unraveling since the end of the 2021 season, when they lost their final two games despite needing just one victory to clinch a postseason berth, including a 26-11 defeat to the 3-14 Jacksonville Jaguars in the finale.
The Colts named Jeff Saturday their interim coach. Saturday, 47, was a six-time Pro-Bowl center who played 13 seasons for the Colts and was formerly an ESPN analyst. He has a 1-6 record as the interim coach, losing six games in a row after winning his first game.
Former coach: Matt Rhule
Record with Panthers: 11-27 over three seasons
Date fired: Oct. 10
The Panthers fired Rhule less than three seasons into a seven-year, $62 million contract after a 1-4 start to 2022. His downfall was hastened by the team’s inability to bring in a franchise quarterback, as he began each of his three seasons with a different starter. Rhule was hired in 2020 to turn around a Carolina organization five years removed from reaching the Super Bowl in 2015 the way he did in college at Baylor and Temple. That never happened.
Steve Wilks was named the Panthers’ interim coach and made them competitive, as they are 5-6 under him and stayed in the race for the NFC South until Week 17. Wilks is under consideration for the permanent job.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.