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NFL hot seat 2021: Matt Rhule, Matt Nagy headline coaches on chopping block heading into Week 17

Teams can start interviewing candidates during the season if they make a move before Tuesday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers
Head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers walks onto the field before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The NFL coaching carousel continues to spin and Tuesday is a significant day for the process. NFL teams can start interviewing candidates from other organizations, with permission, during the season instead of having to wait until the team in question has been eliminated. That leads to organizations wanting to get a head start on the process, which means several coaches are on the chopping block heading into Week 17. Here’s a look at which coaches could be out of a job soon.

Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears

The Bears got a big win against the Seahawks in Week 16 and Nagy’s decision to go for a two-point conversion played a big part in that victory. It’s been a steady decline for Chicago in Nagy’s tenure, with his 12-4 opening season followed by consecutive 8-8 finishes. The Bears are going to be under .500 this year and miss the playoffs, but the biggest reason to move on from Nagy is his inability to get the most out of his offense. He already failed to develop Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears can’t let that happen to Justin Fields.

Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers

Rhule has some time given the contract he initially signed but the quarterback play is hard to watch at this point. The Panthers have had bad injury luck and that’s not on Rhule. However, he’s in the same boat as Nagy when it comes to not getting good results from his offense. The Panthers spent a high pick on Terrace Marshall Jr. instead of bolstering the defense, which hasn’t paid off right now. And then there’s this.

NFL coaches do not get seven years to barely figure out how to field a winning team. The NFC South is fairly open outside of Tampa Bay, but the Panthers have somehow become the worst team in it. That shouldn’t happen if you have a coach who is supposed to be a Xs and Os wizard.

Vic Fangio, Denver Broncos

The Broncos are in playoff contention, so they’re not going to fire Fangio on Monday. However, he’s definitely on the block if the team doesn’t find itself in the postseason. Fangio’s defense has been solid this season, but Denver’s offense needs to be more explosive. The decision to start Teddy Bridgewater over Drew Lock has worked out alright, but everyone knows Bridgewater isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback. That’s ultimately what Fangio will need to get right to stick around in Denver.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

At one point not too long ago, the Seahawks were considered the class of the NFC West. They are now clearly the worst team in the division, and Carroll’s control over team personnel hasn’t resulted in star players coming out of nowhere. Russell Wilson’s injury has definitely given this year an odd feeling but Seattle’s overall roster problems can’t be ignored. A rough finish to the season could send Carroll out the door.

Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings

Like Fangio, Zimmer isn’t going to be fired in the middle of a playoff push. However, Minnesota’s defense has been abysmal once again and has routinely let the offense down in key situations. The Vikings have struggled to close out games because of this and with Zimmer being a defensive-minded coach, it’s hard to justify the slippage on that side of the ball. Given Minnesota’s offensive weapons, the Vikings could go with a coach who has more experience on that side of the ball in an attempt to elevate Kirk Cousins.