NFL Hot Seat: Coach, GM, Quarterback Changes Possible With Cardinals, Dolphins, Commanders, Jets, Bucs, More

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Coaching changes are coming to the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and likely the Arizona Cardinals while the NFL hot seat has begun to simmer in multiple other league outposts.

It’s not just coaches. General manager jobs are on the line. Quarterback jobs are at stake.

The NFL hot seat isn’t just warming up for coaches. So welcome to the inaugural OutKick hot seat analysis with one week to go in the regular season:

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury. (Getty Images)

Kliff Kingsbury Likely Out With Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals

Kliff Kingsbury is not resigning, as ESPN reported he’s thinking about, because he’s not walking away from his guaranteed salary that runs through 2027. But Kingsbury will all but certainly be fired the day after the regular-season finale, NFL sources have told OutKick.

“It’s kind of an open secret at this point,” one source said.

Kingsbury has had disagreements with quarterback Kyler Murray at times this season. And he’s been unable to make enough of a difference to get his team over the hump in four losses of three points or less.

Kingsbury may not be alone.

General manager Steve Keim two weeks ago stepped away for an indefinite period citing health reasons. Multiple reports have suggested this will soon be made permanent although no source confirmed this to OutKick.

The Cardinals are about to undergo a reset and the only reason Murray is likely to survive the changes is because his $230.5 million contract protects him from being cut or traded.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Todd Bowles is safe now. He’s a good head coach whose biggest flaw is he exhibits his leadership in a calm, quiet way rather than the Bruce Arians big ego approach.

Yes, that’s nitpicking but that’s how things are when the team that won the division the past two seasons and even won a Super Bowl, struggled most of this season.

That struggle is not over but Bowles just took the first step in getting the Bucs right back to relevance by winning the NFC South. He’s not getting fired for winning the NFC South in a year his offensive line has been decimated.

The only question here is what Tom Brady will do after the season. He’s unsigned for 2023. And he’ll be 46 years old next season.

If there is a next season that includes Brady.

Mike McDaniel and Tua Tagovailoa. (Getty Images)

Questions About Dolphins Abound

Miami Dolphins

If they win their season finale and sneak into the playoffs, owner Stephen Ross might look the other way on those five consecutive December-January losses because it will feel more like a skid than a collapse.

But … If the Dolphins go from 8-3 to 8-9 and not in the playoffs? Everybody’s job is at risk.

General manager Chris Grier made a dozen bold moves in 2022 and taking a step backward and out of the playoffs again was nowhere near what Ross expected.

The quarterback Grier drafted is not durable. Bradley Chubb, whom Grier added in trade, has not delivered. And the many first-round picks Grier had lead to one question: Where’s the payoff?

First-year coach Mike McDaniel is great guy. But what happened to rallying the team late in the year? To stopping the bleeding? And what makes him a better choice than making another run at Sean Payton?

If McDaniel survives, there’s no guarantee for defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, according to a club source.

Aaron Rodgers said the Dolphins are a team “I’d like to play for as well.”

Finally, the Dolphins have to make a decision on Tua Tagovailoa. Are they willing to run it back with him as the starter when he’s been unable to stay healthy?

And let’s just say Aaron Rodgers really meant what he said two weeks ago about playing in Miami … If that is serious, Ross will be intrigued.

Carolina Panthers

Steve Wilks had a chance to win the job outright on Sunday because the Panthers held a 14-0 lead in a game that would have given them the AFC South title had they won. But they lost.

Wilks, who took over for Matt Rhule on Oct. 10, could have basically guaranteed himself the job next year. Because how does a man get fired for winning a division championship after being spotted an early-season deficit by the previous coach?

The problem is Wilks didn’t win the division. The Bucs rallied to beat the Panthers and Wilks is 5-6 as the head coach.

Even if the Panthers win their finale, and even though Wilks has done a very good job, he will now have to go through the interview process like everyone else. Wilks missed his chance for a slam-dunk appointment.

Lovie Smith faces tough evaluation after the season. (Getty Images)

Lovie Smith Faces Dismal Evaluation

Houston Texans

The Texans need a loss or a Chicago Bears loss in the final weekend to clinch the No. 1 overall selection in April’s draft. General manager Nick Caserio will then pick the quarterback of his choice because NFL people expect Caserio to remain as the GM.

The fate of head coach Lovie Smith is much more tenuous. Even if he survives, which is not certain following an end of season evaluation, change is coming to the Texans coaching staff.

And that Smith evaluation will include a winless record at home:

“It’s pretty simple on how I’ve done this year,” Smith said Sunday. “Haven’t done as good enough of a job to win games. So sometimes I mean it ends up like that for whatever reason. I know we showed up, we’ve been trying hard, but we didn’t get it done right now.”

One thing that may help Smith, believe it or not, is that Houston fired David Culley after one season last season. And ownership may not wish to repeat that dubious measure in consecutive seasons.

Dennis Allen
New Orleans Saints’ Dennis Allen. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Safe: Saints’ Allen, Raiders’ McDaniels, Chargers Staley

New Orleans Saints

Dennis Allen was probably safe before Sunday’s victory over the Eagles. And a win over the team with the NFL’s best record doesn’t hurt.

Allen has had to piece together a lineup week after week while many of his best players have missed a good portion of the season. So the hot seat focus here is not currently on the head coach.

The focus is on the quarterback position. Jameis Winston isn’t going to be it. And neither are Andy Dalton nor Taysom Hill.

This, by the way, is a huge problem because the Saints don’t currently have a first-round pick next season and are scheduled to have one of the NFL’s worst salary cap situations.

That lack of first-round pick, by the way, is the reason the Saints don’t mind the idea of trading away the rights to Sean Payton.

Las Vegas Raiders

Raiders owner Mark Davis isn’t going to fire Josh McDaniels after one season. He hasn’t lost confidence in him and definitely wouldn’t want to find himself paying two coaches when he replaces his current coach, plus additional checks to former coach Jon Gruden in a settlement. So this is not where stuff is likely to happen.

Where then?

Quarterback, of course. The Raiders will trade Derek Carr and either draft a replacement or add one by some other means (free agency or trade).

Los Angeles Chargers

The Sean Payton rumors have all but disappeared amid a four-game win streak that has lifted the Chargers into the playoffs for the first time under coach Brandon Staley. Even if the Chargers get bounced from the postseason relatively quickly, it’s hard to think ownership will take steps to change the club’s current course.

Zach Wilson and Robert Saleh. (Getty Images)

Jets Focus On GM Joe Douglas

New York Jets

They were 7-4 after the first week in December and seemed to be managing a rough quarterback situation while still pointed toward the playoffs. But they’re pointed in a different direction now.

The Jets have lost five consecutive games, are missing the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season, and the quarterback situation actually looks worse now.

NFL sources don’t expect coach Robert Saleh to be the fall guy here. He’s got a two-year record of 11-22 which is not good but the team has improved year over year.

But general manager Joe Douglas cannot be feeling awesome about an evaluation from ownership that is surely coming. If there is change afoot with the Jets, it would likely begin at the GM spot.

Washington Commanders

Ron Rivera had a 7-5 team a month ago and he wasn’t going to be in this story. Then there was that tie against the Giants. And then Washington suffered three consecutive losses even as the team got healthier.

Rivera then made a quarterback change.

And suffered another loss on Sunday.

Rivera’s Commanders need to win next week to keep their coach from having three consecutive losing seasons. Speaks for itself.

Denver Broncos general manager George Paton. (Getty Images)

Evaluation For George Paton

Denver Broncos

The autopsy of their season has already begun with an evaluation on general manager George Paton, who will emerge with less power if he survives.

Paton, who hired Nathaniel Hackett, traded for Russell Wilson, and paid Wilson a huge contract, isn’t going to see that kind of power again.

The next head coach will not report to him if he’s around.

Broncos’ ownership sees their team is mere steps away from being a playoff contender rather than requiring a full rebuild. Because of that, look for a play for the premier coach on the market — perhaps Payton or Jim Harbaugh.

If it is neither of those two, league sources say it will be someone with prior head coach experience.

Indianapolis Colts

Jeff Saturday is not going to be the head coach. That’s obvious now.

Club owner Jim Irsay has said general manager Chris Ballard would lead the search for the next coach. And if that is true, league sources say they expect Ballard will look long and hard at the Andy Reid coaching tree for an eventual replacement to Saturday and Frank Reich.

Oh, yes, Matt Ryan was added in trade from the Atlanta Falcons this season. He will not be with the Colts next season unless the new coach guarantees he can knock 10 years off Ryan’s game.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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