There could be an unprecedented culling ahead for first-year NFL coaches, a league insider suggests.
While it is rare for coaches to be canned after just one season in the league, NFL Network host Mike Garafolo tweeted that there could actually be several first-year coaches who will be shown the door after the season ends. While he didn’t say exactly which coaches would be fired, there are a number who have struggled badly in their first years with their current teams, including New York Jets coach Adam Gase and Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens.
Much attention has been placed on Kitchens, who inherited what many thought was a playoff-contending Browns team that added several weapons to the offense and had what looked to be a budding star in quarterback Baker Mayfield. But Mayfield has taken a step back in his second season and the Browns stumbled to a 2-5 record, in danger of falling out of playoff contention at just the midway point of the season.
As the Fansided blog Factory of Sadness noted, Kitchens was almost canned mid-season. ESPN’s John Clayton told Pittsburgh’s 92.3 The Fan that there were rumors the Browns were planning to fire Kitchens after the team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and that there’s almost no way he returns next year.
“The way it’s heading there’s no way you’re going to have (Kitchens) back next year,” Clayton said, via 92.3 The Fan’s program director Keith Britton on Twitter. “In fact, there were some rumors when I was in the Browns pregame, that he could’ve gotten fired after this game, b/c they’re going to be sitting 2-5”
Kitchens is not the only first-year NFL coach to hit some major adversity in the early part of this season. In New York, Gase has led the Jets to a 1-6 record despite hopes that second-year quarterback Sam Darnold could shape the Jets into more of a contender. Though Darnold missed a long stretch early in the year after coming down with mononucleosis, Gase has still come under fire for the team’s lackluster play on the field.
Vic Fangio has also gotten off to a poor start in Denver as the Broncos stumbled to a 2-6 record, and first-year coach Zac Taylor is still winless in Cincinnati as the Bengals dropped to a league-worst 0-8 last Sunday. It’s not clear yet which of the first-year coaches might actually be on the hot seat with their teams, but Garafolo suggested that a number could be shown the door after the season ends.