Which NFL coaches are in the hot seat after week 12? Hackett, Kingsbury, Lovie Smith...
The playoff picture is taking shape after Week 12, and there are teams that have fallen out of postseason contention as coaches get put on the hot seat.
There have already been a few coaches that have been relieved of their duties around the NFL, and there could be more in the coming weeks.
The Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals came into this season with post season expectations, but through the first three months of the season both teams have been desperately disappointing. The Houston Texans on the other hand knew they were in for a rough season, and it is playing out exactly as many people pictured.
We are reaching the pivotal point of the season where franchises begin to think about the future, and consider making changes before it’s too late.
When the Walton family bought the Denver Broncos this spring Nathaniel Hackett had already been named the new head coach of the franchise. The Waltons put their trust in Hackett to lead the team in their inaugural season as owners, but it has been a catastrophic season for a side that came into the campaign with mile high expectations.
The discord in Denver didn’t take long to set in. Late in their Week 1 game Denver was trailing the Seahawks by a point with under 30 seconds to go and instead of trusting the QB they signed for $242.5 million to pick up a 4th and 5, Hackett elected to kick a 64 yard field goal.
Just a few weeks later, the Broncos blew a fourth quarter lead thanks to a call that Hackett drew up. Up 9-6 with just over two minutes in a game that didn’t have a single touchdown, Denver tried to throw the ball on 3rd and 4 instead of running it and letting the clock wind down to the Two Minute Warning. Wilson threw a pick, and the Colts went down the field and sent the game to overtime, and ended up taking down the Broncos in a touchdown-less game.
That has been the Broncos biggest problem this year. The Broncos had a great defense last year, and this year they have been one of the best units in the league. The offense was Denver’s Achilles heel last year, and has been even more of a liability this year despite brining in Russell Wilson during the offseason.
The Broncos have a top three defense that gives up just 17.6 points a game but the offense has been horrendous from the very beginning. Wilson and the Broncos score just 14.3 points a game this season which is a big reason they are 1-7 in their last eight game including their loss to the Panthers on Sunday.
The patience with Kliff Kingsbury has to be running thin in the desert. He came into this season on a tight leash after a late season collapse last year, and after a terrible start to this season the former Texas Tech coach is hanging on by a thread.
The late season collapses are something that has followed Kingsbury since his days as a college coach, but this year the Cardinals started so terribly that they didn’t even give themselves a chance to collapse late in the season.
The Cardinals are dreadful at home, having won just once at State Farm Stadium since October of 2021, and are coming off of their most recent heartbreak at home against the Los Angels Chargers. After going up a touchdown, the Cardinals went three and out on their next three possessions and let the Chargers drive down the field and score a TD with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Their defense still had a chance to win it on an LA two point conversion, but they gave Herbert a wide open pass to win the game and drop the Cardinals to 4-8 on the season.
Throughout the season it seems that Kingsbury and franchise quarterback Kyler Murray have gone at it more than a few times on the sidelines. There are not many easier ways to get canned than to be up at arms with a franchises’ star player, especially if the team is losing. The clock is ticking in Arizona, and it seems less and less likely that Kingsbury will finish the season as the Cardinals coach.
Lovie Smith knew what he was getting into when he came to an agreement with the Texans this offseason. The Texans also knew the kind of team they gave to Smith coming into the campaign. They are a team with a spotty offense, and a second year quarterback who has got little protection and limited weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
Despite the struggles the Texans have competed in games. Four of their nine losses have come in one possession games, but Houston is not a team that is ready to win tight games late.
Smith probably has a few more gray hairs in that long beard of his after the first year in Houston, but the Texans would be hasty to fire a proven head coach that knows how to win in this league. In the end the Texans didn’t expect much coming into this season, but they also didn’t expect to be held to just one win.
The franchise could go in another direction, but it would be a rush to judgement firing a coach who is just starting to implement his system in a team that is desperately lacking firepower on both sides of the ball.