Two NFL teams currently have interim head coaches, and there is a strong feeling in league circles that at least two more franchises will be on the market for a new head coach by the end of the season. Both the Texans and Bears are heavily mulling launching a coach search in the coming weeks, NFL sources said, with the pull to making a change growing within those organizations.
It would be shocking if the Bears did not make a move, and while that franchise has never fired a coach in-season, the new rules of engagement for hiring coaches could change that. Teams now have the ability to interview potential head coaches from other teams in the final two weeks of the season, and with two NFL clubs already primed to take advantage of that, several ownership sources believe that other clubs will also opt to part with the current coach within the timeframe to take advantage of that head start.
Many of the assistants on Bears coach Matt Nagy's staff have already been looking for potential jobs on the college markets, and most of them are operating as if they will be seeking employment elsewhere next season, league and team sources said. The Bears are 4-9, on the verge of playoff elimination and falling short of ownership's expectations for this season, with ownership mulling changes to the organization's hierarchy and possible restructurings at the highest level of management.
The Texans are in full rebuild mode, with the hiring of lifelong assistant coach David Culley last year in one of the biggest surprises of the offseason. Houston did not anticipate being successful this season, with new GM Nick Caserio evaluating every aspect of the organization as it undertook what will be years of roster turnover to hope to contend again. It appeared to be a caretaker coaching hiring to many in the NFL at the time, and while the Texans have shown some fight and spirit at times, sources said internally the team's brass is also weighing whether it needs to get back into the coaching market in the short term.
It's possible the club opts to stand pat, given that it will not be in position to push for the playoffs in all likelihood regardless next season, and how far they are away from being among the AFC's elite. But Caserio is also doing homework on potential coaching candidates in the upcoming hiring cycles, sources said, and considering whether or not the 2-11 team needs to make significant changes to the staff for 2022.
One AFC South rival, Jacksonville, has already fired its head coach after less than a season at the helm, with Urban Meyer unable to make it through December on the job. Ultimately, there is an expectation among those who hire coaches that at least five-to-six teams will end up conducting coaching searches starting next month.