Sports | December 21, 2021 1:59 pm

A Wave of Head-Coach Firings Could Hit the NFL Immediately Due to New Rule

Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden are the only NFL coaching casualties thus far, but that may change very soon

Chicago Bear head coach Matt Nagy reacts during a game against the Green Bay Packers. A wave of head-coach firings could hit the NFL immediately due to a new rule.
Chicago Bear head coach Matt Nagy reacts during a game against the Green Bay Packers.
Stacy Revere/Getty

Before the Bears played on Thanksgiving and barely beat the then-winless Detroit Lions, it was reported that Chicago coach Matt Nagy would be fired after the game.

That didn’t happen and Nagy, who has never finished a season below .500 during his three previous seasons as a head coach but will this year with the Bears now 4-10 following a loss to the Minnesota Vikings last night, is still employed.

But, thanks to a new rule in the NFL governing coaching interviews, that may soon change.

Breaking from previous seasons where interviews were not permitted to be conducted during the regular season, NFL franchises will be permitted to officially commence interviewing assistant coaches from other teams while there are still games left to be played. This season, the window opens on virtual interviews on December 27.

However, there’s a very important caveat: Teams that interview assistants from other teams must have a coaching vacancy or have already informed their current coach he’ll be gone after the season ends, per ProFootballTalk.

“It raises the stakes for teams thinking about firing coaches,” according to PFT. “Waiting until the season ends puts the team at a disadvantage, since other teams will have started the process. It could potentially become a game of dominoes, with one team going first and others following in order to get a chance to interview a hot candidate before someone else falls in love with him, and vice versa.”

Teams like the Jaguars and Raiders, who have already fired Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden, respectively, are already in position to officially start interviewing starting on Monday. If clubs that are likely on the market for a new coach, like the Bears, don’t want to lose out and give themselves the best shot at a top candidate, moving on from a likely lame duck like Nagy makes a lot of sense.

Week 16 of the NFL season kicks off on Thursday and there will be games on Saturday and Sunday before the week concludes with Monday Night Football when the Saints host the Dolphins. By the time that game begins (which will be after the opening of the interview window), Nagy could be out of a job, as could some of his peers including David Culley of the Texans, Joe Judge of the Giants and Mike Zimmer of the Vikings.

“This timeline, however, creates an awkward and antsy and not-so-Merry Christmas for plenty of coaches and their families, who will now be bracing for the axe to fall earlier than usual,” per PFT. “Regardless, the window is opening. Who will be the first one to be thrown through it?”