With nine weeks down and another nine to go, we’ve officially reached the halfway point of the 2023 NFL season. Some teams are cruising in the standings; the reigning Super Bowl contestants in Philadelphia and Kansas City, for example, are a combined 15-3 atop their respective conferences, while the Ravens might have a case as the best team in the NFL with a +115 point differential. Others are simply trying to get by — so much so that they could be in line for major changes in the coming months.
Head coaches are just one piece of the equation, but like quarterbacks, they tend to be held more accountable for a team’s struggles. With that in mind as we enter Week 10, these coaches appear firmly on the hot seat, if not now then very soon:
11. Mike McCarthy, Cowboys
Season record: 5-3 | Record with team: 35-23 (1-2 playoffs)
It’s not that McCarthy can’t guide a playoff contender. He’s done it in both Dallas and Green Bay. But owner Jerry Jones has a Super Bowl standard with a perennially glitzy roster, and McCarthy’s in-game management has frequently drawn criticism as America’s Team struggles to get over the hump when the lights are brightest.
10. Brian Daboll, Giants
Season record: 2-7 | Record with team: 11-14-1 (1-1)
New York will assuredly be hesitant to go two-and-done with yet another coach, especially after Daboll maximized a makeshift lineup to win a road playoff game in Year 1. But his offense has been even more rickety and situationally challenged in 2023, leading some veterans to openly question his handle on an injury-riddled franchise.
9. Dennis Allen, Saints
Season record: 5-4 | Record with team: 12-14
Endorsed by longtime HC Sean Payton and in his second stint with the team, Allen’s ties to ownership may be too strong for an exit after two years, and he’s once again shepherding a game-changing defense. But his curious game-day decision-making has often been masked by the middling competition of the NFC South division.
8. Frank Reich, Panthers
Season record: 1-7 | Record with team: 1-7
Reich had a big hand in Carolina selecting QB Bryce Young No. 1 overall, so breaking up that pairing after just one season might seem premature. But Reich himself admitted recently that owner David Tepper is “not going to sit idly by” if the Panthers keep losing. Offensive coordinator and new play-caller Thomas Brown is a potential in-house successor.
7. Jonathan Gannon, Cardinals
Season record: 1-8 | Record with team: 1-8
Arizona couldn’t have hired Gannon, 40, without expecting 2023 to be a rough go thanks to QB Kyler Murray’s injury-related absence and a stripped-down roster. But six blown leads in nine games, plus one of the NFL’s worst scoring defenses, isn’t an encouraging start. Will team brass want him handpicking the next face of the franchise in the 2024 draft?
6. Arthur Smith, Falcons
Season record: 4-5 | Record with team: 18-25
Atlanta has yet to bottom out under Smith’s watch, and he’s found success scheming up the ground game with multiple headliners. But halfway through Year 3, he’s yet to identify a single short- or long-term answer at QB, all while curiously underplaying some of his best talent, including rookie Bijan Robinson.
5. Bill Belichick, Patriots
Season record: 2-7 | Record with team: 264-115 (30-12)
There isn’t really an appropriate spot on this list for the most accomplished coach of all time, but he definitely belongs. Belichick will forever be a Patriots legend for his Super Bowl-dotted resume, but there’s no getting around the fact he’s 27-32 since QB Tom Brady’s departure in 2020, with zero playoff victories since Brady led New England over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. The last two years have been particularly disastrous, with Belichick appearing almost apathetic to the demise of a slow and dysfunctional offense. It’s almost as if he knows the divorce is inevitable, a la Andy Reid with the Eagles back in 2012.
4. Brandon Staley, Chargers
Season record: 4-4 | Record with team: 22-19 (0-1)
It’s ironic that Staley now employs Mike McCarthy’s old offensive coordinator, because like the Cowboys HC, the issue isn’t that Staley’s incapable of keeping a team in the playoff mix. But with so many elite players at premium positions, someone has to answer for consistently coming up short in the biggest moments. If his defense extends its rebound, however, perhaps the leash from up top will also lengthen.
3. Todd Bowles, Buccaneers
Season record: 3-5 | Record with team: 11-14 (0-1)
Not so dissimilar to Dennis Allen in New Orleans, Bowles can still coach a defense, but he’s benefited largely from the mediocrity of the NFC South, even while making it harder on his own club with stale offensive staffing and strategy. Even with Tom Brady under center in 2021, Bowles hasn’t led a winning record as a HC since 2015 with the Jets.
2. Ron Rivera, Commanders
Season record: 4-5 | Record with team: 26-32-1 (0-1)
Early in his tenure, Rivera was lauded for reshaping the culture of a franchise long mired by both on- and off-field hiccups. He still gets buy-in as a defensive mind. But he’s gone conservative (or, in harsher terms, seemingly aloof) in some critical times and may have waited too long to unlock young QB Sam Howell. Now under new team ownership, he’s guided exactly one winning season in his last eight years dating back to his days as the Panthers‘ head coach.
1. Matt Eberflus, Bears
Season record: 2-7 | Record with team: 5-21
Nothing has quite gone to plan for Eberflus in Chicago, where talented young QB Justin Fields has either failed to stay healthy or progress as a consistent passer, the defense has surrendered more points than most, and two different prominent staffers, including Eberflus’ handpicked defensive coordinator, have now been dismissed over alleged workplace violations.