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NFL Coaches on Hot Seat Before 2024 Season Starts

Alex Kay

The start of the 2024 NFL season may still be a few months out, but there are already several head coaches surely feeling an intense pressure to succeed during the upcoming campaign.

These coaches survived Black Monday—the first day after the regular season ends when most coaches tend to get fired—but they could quickly see the heat cranked back to uncomfortable levels. Some may not even have a chance to finish out the year if they don't bring the results ownership is expecting.

Whether their team woefully underperformed last year (or for several consecutive campaigns), hasn't displayed any notable improvement since their hiring or are overseeing a make-or-break campaign following an offseason full of pricy roster improvements, here are five coaches who stand out for their potential to be axed if they fail to deliver in 2024.

Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints

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The New Orleans Saints resemble little more than a shell of the powerhouse they were during the franchise's golden era that featured Drew Brees under center and Sean Payton at the helm.

Dennis Allen, the head coach promoted to his position following Payton's retirement after the 2021 campaign, and the three different starting quarterbacks he's churned through since taking over simply haven't done an acceptable job emulating their predecessors. While Allen's regular season record isn't atrocious—he's gone 16-18 in his two years at the helm—he's struggled to compete in a wide-open NFC South and hasn't done much to inspire confidence that he can oversee a contender.

New Orleans attempted to take a shortcut to find a capable quarterback after it became clear that neither Jameis Winston nor Andy Dalton were adequate replacements for Brees. Derek Carr was brought on as a free-agent last season but couldn't elevate this squad to its first playoff berth since 2020.

The team's 9-7 record was too strong to allow it to acquire a blue-chip passer in the draft, however, and the Saints are now in grave danger of finding themselves stuck in the NFL's version of purgatory—not bad enough to bottom out and get a top pick but not good enough to even reach the playoffs.

There's also whispers that Allen doesn't have the respect of his players. FOX Sports' Shannon Sharpe provided insight into the potential mindset of New Orleans' locker room after the team elected to ignore the coach's desire to kneel and instead score a late touchdown in the season finale:

While Allen has strong links to Payton and the Saints at their peak—including serving as a secondary coach for the Super Bowl XLIV-winning squad and working as the team's defensive coordinator from 2015 until he was named head coach—he's not getting the results required to take this franchise back to prominence. If he's also lost the locker room, he shouldn't be in the Big Easy much longer.

Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears

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Matt Eberflus has been off to an awfully rocky start to his tenure as the Chicago Bears head coach. After going a league-worst 3-14 in 2022—his first season at the helm—the team jumped out to an abysmal 2-7 record midway through the following campaign. A relatively impressive 5-3 finish to the season helped Eberflus hang onto job, but it would be shocking to see him back in 2025 without the squad making significant strides.

Chicago's ownership has made it clear that last year's results were unacceptable. The franchise relieved offensive coordinator Luke Getsy of his duties and eventually hired Shane Waldron to fill the void. Waldron will now be tasked with rebuilding a unit that hasn't averaged more than 200 passing yards or put up more than 21.2 points per game since the 2020 season.

While some of the blame for these pedestrian figures can be placed on Justin Fields—the incumbent starting quarterback who failed to develop into a quality passer at the NFL level—and a suspect receiving corps, there are no more valid excuses for failure in 2024.

The team dealt Fields away, utilized the No. 1 overall pick on signal-caller Caleb Williams and augmented the Heisman-winner with a pair of premium wideouts in veteran Keenan Allen and another top-10 pick in Rome Odunze.

As long as the defense—bolstered by free-agent addition Kevin Byard III—remains as effective as it was during the back half of the 2023 campaign, Eberflus should be able to guide this team on a playoff run. Failing to deliver that, or at least getting the team right on the cusp of one, will likely result in the Windy City seeing yet another regime change.

Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys

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Mike McCarthy's four-year run with the Dallas Cowboys has seen the team dominate during the regular season and just as consistently falter when the games matter most. Despite three consecutive 12-5 records and two NFC East titles in that span, the Cowboys have just one playoff win to show for their efforts.

With the team now going on nearly three decades since it last reached an NFC Championship Game, let alone a Super Bowl, it's past time for McCarthy to deliver the deep playoff run ownership has long coveted.

Dallas appeared to have the pieces in place last year to finally get back to the big game for the first time since winning it all during the 1995 campaign. As the only team to finish the regular season ranking in the top-five in total offense, scoring offense, total defense and scoring defense, the Cowboys boasted the most well-rounded squad in the entire playoff field.

Those accomplishments made Dallas' stunning 48-32 home defeat to the Green Bay Packers—an inexperienced opponent that didn't rank inside the top-nine in any of those major categories—even more demoralizing.

It was quite surprising that McCarthy was kept on following this disheartening loss. Despite the head coach failing to meet expectations during the team's previous two postseason trips—both of which ended with losses to the San Francisco 49ers—and his latest shortcoming, owner Jerry Jones still released a statement that Dallas would be "continuing the team's progress under Mike's leadership" during the upcoming campaign.

It's hard to picture McCarthy receiving another vote of confidence without bringing the title-starved franchise to at least the conference championship game. It won't be easy after the Cowboys had a quiet offseason (which included parting ways with top running back Tony Pollard and bringing in an aging and ineffective Ezekiel Elliott to replace him) but there should still be enough existing talent across this roster to get over the hump in 2024.

Robert Saleh, New York Jets

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The Robert Saleh era hasn't gone how the New York Jets hoped it would when they lured him away from his position as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator in 2021.

Although Saleh's expertise has been a boon for Gang Green following a rough start—the team has ranked in the top-five for total defense each of the last two seasons after finishing dead-last during his first year on the job—the Jets simply haven't been able to execute on the other side of the ball.

Zach Wilson, the player New York drafted No. 2 overall during Saleh's inaugural campaign, was an unmitigated disaster for the club. After going 11-23 in his first two years at the helm with Wilson failing to develop into a serviceable NFL starter, Saleh's shot at redemption with Aaron Rodgers under center went up in flames just four plays into the 2023 season.

Rodgers' severe injury ended any chance of the Jets having a truly successful year, but the team's defensive performance and 7-10 record convinced ownership that Saleh deserves another shot to show he can right the ship with a competent quarterback under center.

Saleh is taking a more hands on approach with the offense in 2024 as he looks to prove his chops beyond running an elite defense. According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, Rodgers recently praised the head coach's involvement in New York's scheming and claimed that the team will show off some of his ideas during training camp.

Whether keeping Saleh on and having help craft the offense will be remembered as a mistake or not remains to be seen.

If Rodgers returns to form and elevates the quarterback position in a way few aside from the future Hall of Famer can, the Jets should be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The already deep offense improved notably in the trenches and the receiving corps could be amongst the league's deepest in 2024.

The Jets simply need to stay healthy and execute to become a top team. If they fail to do either, it could spell the end of Saleh's head coaching tenure.

Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles

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The Philadelphia Eagles have experienced some incredible highs and crushing lows in the two short years that head coach Nick Sirianni has been at the helm.

After a middling 9-8 campaign to open his tenure, the franchise turned red-hot during Sirianni's second season. The Eagles tied the Kansas City Chiefs for the league's best record at 14-3 and eventually met their AFC counterparts in the Super Bowl. After coming up just short of bringing a Lombardi Trophy to the City of Brotherly Love for the second time in a half-decade, the Eagles went into 2023 with hopes of sustained success.

Although Sirianni and Co. appeared to be cruising towards back-to-back Super Bowl berths following a league-best 10-1 start, things quickly went off the rails. The team would win just one more game the rest of the year—narrowly beating the lowly New York Giants starting their third-string quarterback—and were embarrassed by the underdog Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round.

This complete collapse led to speculation that Sirianni would be removed, but the team ultimately elected to forge ahead by letting go off both his top coordinators instead.

There is still hope for a rapid turnaround, not only due to the experienced coaching replacements Philadelphia brought on—including the well-regarded Vic Fangio to run the defense and the promising Kellen Moore to help Sirianni with his offense—but also the roster improvements the club made.

Although the Eagles did lose a pair of longtime stalwarts in Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox to retirement, they added running back Saquon Barkley, cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson, linebacker Devin White and defensive end Bryce Huff in free agency. The team also had a fantastic draft headlined by a pair of potential star defensive backs in Cooper DeJean and Quinyon Mitchell.

If the Eagles don't manage to get back on track after these coaching staff and roster renovations, it will be time for ownership to admit Sirianni isn't the right person for the job and find a replacement to shepherd this squad back to the Super bowl.


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