Video ron rivera panthers

With the 2023 regular season ending on Sunday, 18 of the NFL’s 32 teams are done for the year. That means it’s time to turn our attention toward the league’s coaching carousel where there are currently five vacancies: the Carolina Panthers, the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers , and the Atlanta Falcons with the team firing Arthur Smith Sunday evening just after midnight along with the Commanders moving on from Ron Rivera on Monday.

Current openings

The Panthers made Frank Reich the first coach fired after letting him go on Nov. 27 following Carolina beginning the year 1-10 in his first season in charge. Reich’s 11-game tenure is the shortest with a team since Pete McCulley lasted nine games with the 1978 San Francisco 49ers. Carolina finished the season with the NFL’s worst record, 2-15, and the league’s worst scoring offense (13.9 points per game) in 2023 first overall pick quarterback Bryce Young’s rookie season.

The Raiders fired Josh McDaniels on Halloween after 3-5 start. He went 9-16 in two seasons as the Raiders head coach. McDaniels reportedly lost the locker room as his players ripped into for his leadership approach. Las Vegas went 5-4 under linebackers and interim head coach Antonio Pierce to finish the season 8-9 overall. Their 15.9 points per game allowed from Weeks 9-18 under Pierce ranked as the fewest in the NFL.

The Chargers fired Brandon Staley on December 15 following a 5-9 start that included being blown out 63-21 in his final game in charge. Los Angeles was without quarterback Justin Herbert, who was out with a fractured index finger on his right, throwing hand. The Chargers ranked 28th in both scoring and total defense under Staley in 2023, a far cry from when he coached the league’s best scoring and total defense as a defensive coordinator with the Rams in 2020.

The Atlanta Falcons fired Arthur Smith following the conclusion of the final day of the regular season on Jan. 7 after finishing 7-10 in each his first three seasons. That run made Smith the first Falcons head coach to ever lose 10 games in three consecutive seasons. Game management wasn’t his strong suit this season as Atlanta had four losses when leading in the final minute of a game this season. That’s the most by any team since the 2015 New York Giants.

His biggest failing as a head coach is being resistant to featuring the three offensive skill position players the team drafted in the top 10 in each of the last three drafts: tight end Kyle Pitts (fourth overall pick in 2021), wide receiver Drake London (eighth overall pick in 2022) and running back Bijan Robinson (eighth overall pick in 2023). In the past, Smith had said his job as an NFL head coach is about finding a way to win and not playing fantasy football. However, utilizing three of the team’s most talented playmakers sure could have helped an offense that averaged 19.6 points per game in 2023, the ninth-worst scoring offense in the league.

Ron Rivera’s time with the Washington Commanders is now over as he has been fired by the franchise. The team went 4-13 this season in Year 1 of the Commanders new ownership group fronted by Josh Harris. The Commanders defense, Rivera’s side of the ball, was the worst in the NFL across the board in 2023.

Potential openings

Each of the past 11 years there have been at least five new head coaches. As for which teams could join the the Panthers, Raiders, Chargers, Falcons and Commanders with openings, two teams come to mind: New England Patriots and Chicago Bears.

There is a real possibility Bill Belichick enters the offseason without his long held title, since 2000, of head coach of the New England Patriots. The Athletici’s Dianna Russini reported the Patriots have a meeting set for next week between owner Robert Kraft, team president Jonathan Kraft and Belichick to determine Belichick’s future with the team going forward. He reportedly wants to continue coaching, but Russini also wrote some who work for the team are “expecting changes” and beginning to network elsewhere. On top of the Commanders, the Raiders, who recently hired and fired his former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, are interested in meeting with him and potentially bringing the architect of the “The Patriot Way” out west.

Both the amount of losses (13) and points per game (13.9) are the Patriots’ worst since the 1992 season, when they went 2-14. The following season, New England fired head coach Dick MacPherson and hired Bill Parcells.

Earlier this season, New England became the first team to lose three consecutive games with 10 or fewer points allowed since the 1938 Chicago Cardinals did so nearly 100 years ago. The team was shut out twice this season. During the Brady era, the Patriots were shut out twice in 20 seasons, including the postseason.

Given that Belichick won an NFL-record six Super Bowls for New England, he has had some leeway in the post-Brady era, but outside of a 10-7 year in 2021, New England has had a losing record in three of the four years Brady has been gone. Between the lack of on-field success and the poor roster construction that has forced Belichick to go on multiple free agency spending sprees to paper over bad draft classes, his time may have run out in New England.

The Chicago Bears could also potentially be in the market for a new head coach if they decide to move on from head coach Matt Eberflus, who is 10-24 in two seasons in charge. Eberflus cut his teeth as the former defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts, but his Bears defense was the worst in the NFL on third down, allowing opponents to convert first downs at a rate of 43.8%.

His Chicago coaching stuff also failed to coax efficient play of out quarterback Justin Fields, the 11th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft while failing to protect him up front. Fields has the highest under pressure rate (46.2%) and the highest sack rate (12.4%) among 38 qualified quarterbacks since 2021.

Justin Fields career NFL ranks since 2021

QB Ranks since 2021*

Comp Pct



Sack Pct



Pressured Pct






* Out of 38 qualified QBs in span

Here is some quick analysis about what awaits prospective candidates for each of the current head coaching vacancies.

NFL hirings and firings


Carolina Panthers

Frank Reich

Bryce Young’s 5.5 yards per pass attempt in 2023 ranked as the fourth-worst in NFL history with a minimum of 500 pass attempts. He also ranked last in the NFL in passer rating (73.7) in his rookie year. Whoever takes this job needs a contractual guarantee from owner David Tepper about getting at least a few years. They have had six different head coaches in six seasons under Tepper. The franchise had four in their first 23 seasons.

Las Vegas Raiders

Josh McDaniels

Anyone who takes this job has building blocks on both sides of the ball with All-Pro wideout Davante Adams and Pro Bowl defensive Maxx Crosby. However, the quarterback of the future probably isn’t on the roster, and the AFC West goes through Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for the foreseeable future.

Los Angeles Chargers

Brandon Staley

The Chargers are the rare team with a coaching vacancy that has its franchise quarterback secured in Justin Herbert. The problem is much of the roster is injury-prone and/or expensive. Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa hasn’t been able to play double-digit games in each of the last two seasons. Wide receiver Mike Williams suffered a torn ACL three games into 2023. Center Corey Linsley has suffered a malady of injuries since becoming a Charger. Los Angeles is projected to be about $35 million over the salary cap in 2024, positioning them to have to turn over their roster ASAP. Like the Raiders, they have a Chiefs problem as well.

Atlanta FalconsArthur SmithThe Falcons are fairly well-stocked in terms of their offensive personnel except for their glaring hole at quarterback where Desmond Ridder clearly isn’t the answer. They could use some wide receiver depth behind Drake London, but a trio of London, Robinson and Pitts is a nice place to start. Upgrades along their aging front seven would help, but their secondary has two strong contributors in safety Jessie Bates III and cornerback A.J. Terrell. The team has money to spend ($34.1 million in cap space) and draft capital in the first five rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, starting with the eighth overall pick. Washington CommandersRon RiveraRivera keeping his job did seem like a long-shot with the new ownership group coming aboard and likely wanting to put their own stamp on things. As the season rolled along, Rivera didn’t give them much of a reason to stick around as they finished with one of the worst records in the league and arguably the worst defense in the NFL. As for the job itself, there are some intriguing pieces on the roster and the Commanders do have the No. 2 overall pick at the 2024 NFL Draft, which could mean a possible franchise quarterback like UNC’s Drake Maye. Washington is also slated to have over $78 million in cap space, which is currently the most in the NFL

About Author

Kay Adams