Each year, the end of the NFL season sees a number of coaching vacancies open as teams look to change the course of their franchise with some new leadership. Whether coaches have been let go due to team performance, or if they were fired due to off-the-field issues, there are already a number of head coach openings in the NFL following the culmination of the 2021 regular season.
Las Vegas Raiders: Jon Gruden
Technically, Gruden wasn’t fired, he “resigned”. Although, this very much feels like an “I quit” before “you’re fired” situation. The Raiders were 3-2 and coming off a Week 5 loss to the Chicago Bears. Gruden had had some comments of his resurface where he had made racist remarks about the NFLPA’s executive director. Before that situation could really get resolved, The New York Times released detailed emails of Gruden’s in which he made misogynistic and racist comments. Hours later, Gruden resigned. Rich Bisaccia was named as the Raiders interim head coach and he had been serving as the team's assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. Bisaccia has led them to a 9-7 record with the team needing a win to get into the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Urban Meyer
Unlike Gruden, Meyer certainly was fired. In his first year as the head coach of the team, it quickly became “what is this guy gonna do next?” From not flying back with the team after an away game to a video of him with his hand on the hip of a younger woman at a bar, it seemed like a matter of time before Meyer was canned. It was reported that wide receiver Marvin Jones had to be persuaded to come back to the team facility due to Meyer’s very public criticism of his team and receivers. The final straw was when former kicker Josh Lambo alleged that Meyer had physically kicked him in the league during warmups of a preseason game. Meyer ended up going 2-11 with the team. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has served as the interim coach to finish out the year.
Denver Broncos: Vic Fangio
The Broncos' 2021 season is officially over as they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, January 8th. This brought their season record to 7-10 and they finish in last place of the AFC West and head coach Vic Fangio has been fired. Fangio was hired after the 2018 season and in his three years as the team’s head coach, he had a 19-30 record. The Broncos have finished last in their division in the last two seasons. Prior to his tenure with the Broncos, Fangio had served as the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014 and the Chicago Bears from 2015-2018.
Minnesota Vikings: Mike Zimmer
The Mike Zimmer era officially came to an end on Monday morning as he, along with GM Rick Spielman were fired by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings underachieved this season with a record of 8-9, despite finishing in second place in the NFC North. Zimmer spent eight seasons as the head coach in Minnesota and had a 72-56 record. Out of those eight years, the Vikings only had three playoff appearances, with the last one coming in 2019, where they lost the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round. Before joining Minnesota in 2014, Zimmer spent six seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals (2008-2013), the Atlanta Falcons for one year (2007), and the Dallas Cowboys for eight years (2000-2006).
Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy
Matt Nagy’s tenure with the Chicago Bears officially came to an end on Monday after four years as the team’s head coach. This season was one of the worst for the Bears as they finished with a record of 6-11 and third place in the NFC North. The 43-year-old Nagy only has two playoff appearances on his resume, with the latest one happening in 2020, where the Bears finished 8-8 and snuck in as a wild card team. However, looking back at what took place this season, Nagy never looked like he had a direction on offense and eventually had all three starting quarterbacks on the roster play in a game. Before being named the head coach of the Bears, Nagy spent five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (2013-17) as a QB coach and one year as the offensive coordinator.
Miami Dolphins: Brian Flores
Flores was shockingly let go by the Miami Dolphins after only being with the organization for three seasons. This season started off rough for the Dolphins as they had a record of 1-7 through the first eight weeks. However, Flores rallied the team and they won eight out of their last nine games, giving them a slight chance of getting into the playoffs. In his three seasons in South Beach, Flores had a record of 24-25. Before joining the Dolphins, the 40-year-old Flores spent 15 years with the New England Patriots (2004-18) in a variety of roles, primarily on defense.
New York Giants: Joe Judge
The Giants waited until after Black Monday to make a decision on Judge. New York will move on from the head coach after just two seasons. GM Dave Gettleman announced his retirement from the organization after the regular season ended. So the Giants will be looking for a new coach and GM. Judge came over as a Belichick disciple, a group of coaches who haven’t had much success after leaving the Patriots. Chances are Judge will be able to find work as an assistant pretty quickly. As for the Giants, they need to figure out who to bring in with a crucial draft coming up and a rebuild in progress.
Houston Texans: David Culley
The Texans surprisingly fired Culley on Thursday afternoon after a few days of speculation about his future with the organization. With Culley and Brian Flores being fired, there is currently only one Black head coach in the NFL (Mike Tomlin). Culley, who was just hired last year by Houston was dealt a bad hand and had to deal with the off the field issues surrounding QB Deshaun Watson.
However, the former Baltimore Ravens assistant head coach somehow got this team to four wins and had them competitive every week. Not to mention, he did this with a veteran QB in Tyrod Taylor and rookie QB in Davis Mills. The Texans will now turn the page and try to lure a coaching candidate to one of the least desirable jobs in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton
Payton wasn’t fired by the Saints. That would be insanity. Instead, reports are saying Payton is stepping away from the team. He had been contemplating retirement, so this could be the first step in that direction. It’s unclear if Payton decides to continue coaching if it will be in New Orleans or elsewhere. For now, the Saints are added to the list of teams who need a new head coach this offseason, a list that is pretty lengthy.