NFL Coaches Potentially On The Hot Seat

Urban Meyer is having a rough start in the NFL

By: Jacob Keppen

Urban Meyer

Every year there is almost an obsession by football fans to fire coaches at the first sign of trouble. As with rookies, there is no leeway for coaches nowadays. Rookies are expected to produce results immediately despite typically going to rebuilding teams. Most of the speculation should be disregarded as fan and media talking points… but not Urban Meyer.

A team simply starting bad usually isn’t enough to get a first-year coach fired. Hue Jackson only won one game in his first two seasons with the Browns. Losing games AND the locker room can get a coach fired.

If someone was to write a book on how to not start a tenure as an NFL coach, they’d better get an interview from Urban Meyer. Even before he came to Jacksonville, Urban carried heavy baggage with him. This is the man who left two top college programs surrounded by controversy, and it’s looking like he might do the same in Jacksonville. Meyer was fined in July for violating practice rules. He brought in former Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, a man who basically lost his job due to accusations of racism and bullying, for a day before backlash caused him to resign. This was one of Urban Meyer’s first moves in the NFL! 

After losing a tough game to the Cincinnati Bengals in early October, Urban Meyer decided not to travel back with the team (something every NFL Head Coach does unless they are basically sick) and instead went to his own bar and danced with a woman who was not his wife. It created a lot of bad attention, controversy, and he appears to be losing the locker room for Meyer. Oh by the way, the Jaguars are 1-6 after a 31-7 loss to the Geno Smith-led Seahawks. For a move that looked bad to many on arrival, Meyer’s short term as head coach might not last into next season.

Matt Nagy

Oh how the mighty have fallen. 

Just three seasons ago Matt Nagy was the hottest coach in the NFL. In 2018, the former Chiefs offensive coordinator took the league by storm, turning the 5-11 Chicago Bears into a rising 12-4 team (Khalil Mack helped too but let’s just forget about that.) 

In just his rookie season Matt Nagy was named Coach of the Year. Of course, the Bears couldn’t get anything going against the 9-7 Eagles with Nick Foles, double doinking out of the Wild Card game despite being touted as a Super Bowl contender, but who cared! They were young, had their quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, and had an elite coach in Nagy.

Fast forward to 2021 and we now know Mitch Trubisky wasn’t the guy in Chicago and the questions about whether Nagy is the guy are rising in volume by the week. 

After their 12-4 finish in 2018, the Bears followed up with two mediocre 8-8 seasons. The Bears play has been uninspiring, reaching peak levels of lethargy this year. It seems Nagy doesn’t quite know how to play call for a dynamic running threat at quarterback. For Justin Fields’ sake and for the fans’ sake, it might be time for Chicago to be searching for a new innovative mind at head coach.

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer may not be the worst coach in the league and he hasn’t been the controversial disaster that has been Urban Meyer’s tenure, nor have the Vikings been one of the worst teams in football such as the Detroit Lions or Houston Texans. Zimmer most likely will get another job in the league, but it just appears that a divorce is needed for both sides in Minnesota.

The Vikings possibly were just handed the biggest blow of the Zimmer era. In a game that they should’ve won against the Cowboys, with Dak Prescott out and backup Cooper Rush starting, the Vikings had a real chance to beat a top team in the NFL. Despite having a plethora of weapons against a defense that can still give up the big play, the Vikings were the same boring conservative team you’ve come to expect. Instead of featuring Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson, you get throws before the sticks and C.J. Ham. Dak Prescott’s out, IT DOESN’T MATTER! Cooper Rush, a man who’s only completed one pass in his NFL career, is going to torch the defense for over 300 yards! 


Despite Zimmer saying that the Vikings had “A lot of film” on Cooper Rush, players are saying that they were prepared for Dak Prescott and his offense all week. That’s just plain bad, but fitting for the man who attempted to call two timeouts in a row. The Vikings fans deserve better than what they are getting right now. This is a team with two pro bowl worthy wide receivers, and an All-Pro caliber running back. This team should not be the football version of melatonin. Something has to change in Minnesota.

When will Justin Fields start?

Will Bears rookie QB Justin Fields start in Week 1?

Daniel Racz @Danny___Dimes 

Introduction

The Chicago Bears made waves on draft day when they traded up for Ohio State signal-caller Justin Fields. The Bears traded up from the 20th pick to the 11th pick, giving up extra first, fourth, and fifth-round picks in the process. The Bears clearly plan on offering Fields the chance to become their franchise quarterback for years to come, but they are not giving him the keys yet. The Bears signed ex-Bengal and Cowboy Andy Dalton to a one-year, ten-million-dollar contract. 

With Dalton’s contract came a promise: the role of starting quarterback. During Dalton’s initial press conference with Chicago, he said, “The Bears told me I was the starter.” What Dalton did not expect was added competition in the form of a heralded prospect like Fields. Nevertheless, coach Nagy has reiterated that Andy Dalton is the Bears’ starter for the foreseeable future. Nagy is pleased with Fields’ progress, but will not rush him into NFL action. The Bears have dealt with a fiasco at their quarterback position for years, so it is possible that Nagy does not want any details to reach the public. While Nagy has said that Andy Dalton will be their week one starter, when will we see Justin Fields earn the starting job?

Nagy’s Process

Prior to the Bears giving Nagy the head coaching job, Nagy worked as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator from 2016-2017. During the 2017 NFL draft, the Chiefs traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. Though they gave up significant capital to acquire Mahomes, he sat on the bench for his rookie season. Nagy and Reid trusted Alex Smith to lead their offense in 2017, and he rewarded them with a playoff berth. The Chiefs made it clear that Mahomes would not be their day one starter, and the team was better off because of it. 

With the Chicago Bears, Nagy has had a continuous quarterback carousel. Prior to the season, Nagy never committed to either Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky as the full-time signal-caller. During the season, Nagy went back and forth multiple times between Foles and Trubisky, with no quarterback cementing themself as the full-time starter. While the Bears made the playoffs as the seven seed, the organization knew they needed change, hence the additions of Dalton and Fields. Even with two new quarterbacks on the roster, Nagy believes that naming one the starter will have a better outcome than holding an open competition. 

Need to Win-Now

Unlike the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs, the 2021 Chicago Bears do not have as great of a supporting cast. Though the Bears defense gets Eddie Goldman back from his 2020 opt-out, the Bears cut star cornerback Kyle Fuller. The offensive line stays relatively unchanged, with rookie Teven Jenkins slated to take over from released veteran Charles Leno Jr. Allen Robinson will play on the franchise tag, but the rest of the Bears’ weapons group is somewhat lacking. An Andy Dalton-led Bears team is a .500 team at best, with the assumption that Aaron Rodgers is playing for the Packers.

Chicago can not afford to waste 2021, as time is of the essence. Both head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are on the hot seat, and a lackluster season could cause both to lose their jobs. To further compound the urgency, the Bears do not have their 2022 1st round draft pick, as they traded it to the New York Giants when they moved up to select Justin Fields. The Bears are set to play at the Rams, against the Bengals, and at the Browns to open the season. Chicago is staring down a 1-2 start and may be forced to start Fields, even in the unlikely event that he is not ready.

Fields’ relentless work ethic

Justin Fields is a special prospect. I have never seen a quarterback with his blend of athleticism, arm strength, and accuracy. In high school, Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence were neck and neck for top recruit and each earned the title on different sites. While Lawrence went on to lead Clemson to a national title in his freshman year, Fields sat behind Jake Fromm. Georgia decided that keeping Fromm as their starter was optimal, so Fields transferred to Ohio State. Fields won the job immediately, putting up a record-setting season. Fields had a touchdown to interception ratio of 41-3, and he led the big ten records in yards per attempt (9.2) and adjusted passing yards per attempt (11.2). 

Fields came into college a heralded recruit and exited a top fifteen selection. Those that have been around him have constantly given rave reviews about the young man’s desire to get better every day. Fields said that he plans to get back to Chicago to train two weeks before the start of training camp. Though comments like this inspire confidence in Justin’s future, it will ultimately be how he plays during camp, preseason games, and practices that determine when Justin becomes QB1.

Conclusion

There is a reality where Justin Fields starts on Sunday night of week 1 for the Bears, and there is also a reality that has Fields sit on the bench for the entire 2021 season. The most likely outcome is somewhere in the middle. 

The Bears’ early schedule is intimidating, but not impossible. If Andy Dalton manages two wins in the first three games, he faces winnable games against the Lions and Raiders during weeks four and five respectively. Even if Justin is as good as promised during practice, the Bears will only make changes if they have to. Nagy has rested a quarterback (Mahomes) for an extended period because there was no urgency, so Chicago will stay with Dalton until they can’t anymore. The most likely outcome is Justin Fields starting between 15 and 11 games. Andy Dalton’s past few seasons have been below average, and, likely, he has not magically got better. If Dalton plays like a bottom-tier quarterback, Justin will get a shot at the job early in the year and is a potential rookie of the year dark horse.

Projected Stat-line: 14 games started, 434 attempts, 282 completions, 3,211 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns, 643 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 16 turnovers.

Ranking the Head Coaches of the NFC North

NFC North coach hierarchy headed into 2021

By: Ladarius Brown

This division has a brand-new coach in the Motor City and one who could be under immense pressure this season. Also, two coaches will have the chance to prove they can develop a quarterback. That being said, here are head coaching rankings for the NFC North.  

4. Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions 

This is Campbell’s first full-time head coaching gig after being an interim head coach for the Dolphins in 2015 after the firing of Joe Philbin. He went 5-7 in this time there. The biggest goal that he has to accomplish is not so many winning games. Campbell has to change the culture there. Since 2000, they have the 2nd fewest wins in the NFL with 119 wins. The last time they won a division was 1993, six years before Campbell’s rookie season in the NFL. 

They traded arguably the best quarterback in their franchise’s history in Matthew Stafford and replacing him with Jared Goff. I am not saying Goff is the answer for the future of the Lions but given his age (26), he could be. There is talent on this roster, including RB D’Andre Swift, TE T.J. Hockenstein, and CB Jeff Okudah. Throw in the fact their offensive line has three 1st rounders (LT Taylor Decker, C Frank Ragnow, and their 2021 1st round pick: RT Penei Sewell).  

Campbell has former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn as his offensive coordinator, a move that I love. Lynn is a great offensive mind and what happened last season in Los Angeles was not 100% on him. Seeing how he works with Goff and what he can do with the run game. If the Lions want to turn it around, it has to be on the defensive side of the ball. Veterans such as LB Jaime Collins, DE Trey Flowers, and DT Michael Brockers, who was acquired via a trade with the Rams, will be leaned upon to turn it around. They might have to bite some kneecaps and wear racing helmets but it can be done. 

3. Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears 

Before diving in, Nagy won a division with Mitchell Trubisky under center and that, on its own, was great. When it comes to Nagy, I think he has won games despite having a general manager in Ryan Pace who is still somehow gainfully employed. Outside of trading the farm for All-Pro LB Khalil Mack and hiring Matt Nagy as head coach, the Ryan Pace era is nothing to write home about. Nagy has bailed out Pace since being hired. Why do I say that? Before hiring Nagy from the Chiefs in 2018, Pace was 14-34 from 2015 to 2018 as a general manager.  

Nagy inherited Trubisky and turned lemons into a palatable tasting pitcher of lemonade. Then, Pace trades for Foles because he was supposed to be an upgrade over Trubisky. Yet, it was the equivalent of trading in a unicycle for a bicycle: you can travel slightly further. Foles was not bad but it felt as though the Bears did not have direction at the quarterback position, a feeling that has been lingering for some time. However, in this year’s draft, something happened. 

The Bears traded up after quarterback Justin Fields was still left on the board and they drafted him. This was a move made more so by Pace at the behest of Nagy. Nagy wanted to bring in his guy, a luxury he was not afforded when he was hired. Nagy could be higher on this list but I cannot because of his play calling. The Bears’ offense was and is not a juggernaut but, in some games last year, it was bad and with Andy Dalton starting the season at quarterback and Fields somewhere along the way, he has to get it right in this department.  

2. Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings 

Zimmer is one of these coaches who I feel gets overlooked for some reason. Entering year eight as the head coach of the Vikings, he is the longest-tenured coach in the NFC North. In his tenure, his teams have never finished last in the division (two 1st place finishes, two 2nd place finishes, and three 3rd place finishes). One thing that I like about Zimmer is that for a coach with a defensive background, he is well-rounded and is evidenced by how he has drafted because, since 2014, the Vikings have had nine 1st round picks and, of those nine, five were on the offensive side of the ball and four on the defensive side.  

He has the 3rd most wins amongst Vikings head coaches all-time (64) behind Bud Grant (158) and Dennis Green (97). This year, he could win the division for the 3rd time in eight years because this team looks stronger on defense and, I almost forgot, they have RB Dalvin Cook. Cook has been a reliable back for Zimmer and this Vikings offense, especially the last two years. In 2019 & 2020, Cook had a combined 2,692 rush yards, 29 rushing touchdowns, and averaged 96.1 yards/game. He was 2nd to Titans running back Derrick Henry in all of the above stats in that timeframe.  

I can make a case that this could be Zimmer’s best team since 2017 because of the emergence of WR Justin Jefferson. Entering his 2nd year, Jefferson is coming off 1,400 yards receiving in his rookie campaign. Despite the youth of his defense, he has a strong veteran presence, led by safety Harrison Smith. It is no conjecture to say Zimmer could be a Coach of the Year candidate by season’s end.  

  1. Matt LeFleur, Green Bay Packers 

When you have back-to-back 13-win seasons in your 1st two seasons as a head coach, that is pretty impressive. Also, having a future 1st ballot HOF quarterback in Aaron Rodgers helps too. This is not to say that LaFleur is not a great head coach because you can see how the Packers have improved entering year three. Under LaFleur, they are running the ball more as is evident by finishing in the top 10 in the league in average time per drive. They finished 1st in 2019.  

For further proof, RB Aaron Jones has two 1,000 rushing yard seasons (2019 & 2020). In his 1st two years in the league, he had 1,176 rushing yards combined. The defense improved from 18th in 2019 to 9th in 2020. Also, throw in that they have WR Davante Adams, an All-Pro last year with 1,374 receiving yards and 18 receiving touchdowns. There is a reason, an obvious one, as to why I mentioned these elements. 

If you were binging on Netflix or HBO Max, Aaron Rodgers stated he wants out of Green Bay or hinted at the possibility of retirement. Now, they have Jordan Love, their 1st round pick in 2020, taking the majority of snaps in OTAs. The longer Rodgers is a no-show, the greater the likelihood that Love will be the Week 1 starter at New Orleans. LaFleur will lean on his run game, his top 10 defense, and his All-Pro WR should Love be the guy. The biggest question surrounding this franchise is Can LaFleur mold Jordan Love enough to be loved by Packers fans.  

Why is Andy Dalton the outspoken starter?

Is QB Andy Dalton the starting QB in 2021?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The Chicago Bears have had quite the offseason so far, moving pieces all over the place between additions and removals.  With the drafting of Justin Fields, and the signing of Andy Dalton for a relatively decent amount, the debate for starting QB has begun.  Most would expect Fields to start right away as he was taken early in this years draft, however that may not be the case immediately.  

In this article, I will be going over three reasons as to why Andy Dalton should be the Bears starting quarterback in 2021.

Fields needs time to develop

A lot of people think throwing a QB straight into the game will work every time, or at least will work in their case.  First off, Fields is a phenomenal quarterback from what we have seen, I cannot deny that in the slightest.  However, taking a year to develop NFL tendencies and learn from the coaches in the building as well as learn the Bears’ scheme and offense would definitely benefit him in the long run.

We have seen this work out before, the primary example being with the Kansas City Chiefs letting Patrick Mahomes develop behind Alex Smith for a bit.  Or even Justin Herbert behind Tyrod Taylor, despite only being a few weeks.  Having Andy Dalton and Nick Foles around, two veteran QBs who have seen it all in a sense, to teach you the ins and outs of this next step would do wonders.

Chicago is not ready yet

This one is pretty self-explanatory, Chicago is not ready for a deep playoff push yet, potentially not a playoff push at all if they underperform.  Even if Fields were to start, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that he can take them to the playoffs in his rookie campaign.  Therefore risking the compromise of his health just to give him experience is not the brightest idea in the book.

With their coaching and GM situation also really on the brink of collapsing, the worst case scenario is Fields takes the field year one and has a coaching change after one year.  Or even worse, he does not have enough to start yet and that gets the coach and GM fired because he underperforms year one.  The best and most suitable scenario for Fields is to sit a year, let the Bears do whatever they do this year while he learns the playbook and scheme, and let the front office get cleaned out if it needs to be.  

Andy Dalton can at least break Fields in

If the Bears do not heed this advice and start Fields in the first year, at least they should let Dalton break Fields in.  What I mean by that is 50:50 split the season, starting Dalton for the first half of the year and Fields for the second half.  Following the lines of what Miami did last year with Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick, where they just got Tua playing time while not rushing him in full time.

This knowledge of how to play in an NFL game and how to handle that pressure may do Fields some good, as it will make him work even harder in the next offseason to prepare once he knows what it is like.  They cannot make the same mistake they make with Mitchell Trubisky, despite him and Fields being vastly different QBs. 

The Chicago Bears are top NFC Super Bowl Sleepers in 2021

The top Super Bowl sleeper is the Chicago Bears

A few short months ago I was writing articles about general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy’s impending firings, so I understand as well as anyone that a Chicago Bears Super Bowl run sounds a bit farfetched right now, but NFL franchises often flip the script overnight in this league and it can all start with one move.

Now I know I just finished saying that Chicago’s chances aren’t reliant on Fields’ immediate stardom, and they’re not, but his potential as a generational quarterback talent is certainly the conductor of the hype train.

Truth is, I have been against this regime for quite some time. The trade up for the unproven Mitchell Trubisky, the horrid playcalling by Nagy that seemed to stunt the growth of not only Trubisky but running back David Montgomery, the indecision at QB and the miserable ideas to bring in Nick Foles and Andy Dalton as “saviors” when every NFL fan under the sun knows that these veterans are no more than underwhelming game managers. Yes, I know Foles won a Super Bowl, but that Philadelphia Eagles roster was built like a tank and this Bears one is not.

It’s been a tough road for Bears fans ever since Vic Fangio’s defense (led by Khalil Mack) shattered expectations in 2018. Not tough like 1-15 record tough, but more “what could have been” tough. The knowledge that your putrid offense is holding back and possibly wasting a championship caliber defense is difficult to stomach (especially when you traded a ton of your future draft capital for the catalyst of that unit in Mack).

This defense has a window, and that window is closing fast. Mack is under contract till 2025, but his cap hit is exorbitant after 2021 (unless Chicago takes the potential out next offseason at a $24 million dollar hit). That 2018 group has already seen losses like Fangio (DC), Kyle Fuller (CB1), Adrian Amos (S), Prince Amukamara (CB2, age caught up fast here), Bryce Callahan (slot), Leonard Floyd (edge) and more. Mack’s departure could be the final nail in the coffin, sealing that window for good.

The emergence of a unique prospect like Fields at QB gives Chicago a shot in 2021, but there are a few other factors that have a Jets fan like me all aboard the Bears bandwagon.

1. NFC in Decline

With Drew Brees retiring, the NFC East in total dissarray, Aaron Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay, and the NFC West all beating up on eachother, there aren’t many Super Bowl favorites in the NFC outside of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In what has become a conference shift in strength, we now see a lot of the bright young quarterbacks in the AFC (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Baker Mayfield and Deshaun Watson should he return to Houston) while the NFC is left wanting.

An Aaron Rodgers trade to a franchise like the Denver Broncos could totally blow the doors off this conversation. Not only that, it would leave a gaping hole in the NFC North with the Detroit Lions rebuilding and the Minnesota Vikings as a playoff bubble team at best. The Green Bay Packers are one of the NFC’s (and Bears’) strongest competitors left, and if there’s any truth to the rumors, that Cheesehead locomotive may have already flown off the tracks.

2. Phenomenal ’21 Draft

We all know about the Justin Fields selection, but the Bears 2021 draft went much further than that. Pace was drafting like his job was on the line and he answered the bell with some really solid picks.

Just after trading up to get the franchise QB, Pace was able to nab the left tackle to pair with him for years to come, in Teven Jenkins. Many thought the Oklahoma State Cowboys 6’6″ tackle would go in the first, but he slipped to day two and the Bears did not hesitate. Later on he bulked the offensive line again, drafting upside guard prospect Larry Borom out of Missouri.

One trouble area may be cornerback with Fuller gone, but sixth rounder Thomas Graham Jr. had sleeper grades from many analysts out of Oregon. The former Duck could help fill the void, but Chicago will also need something from 2020 second rounder Jaylon Johnson (just turned 22 in April), and free agent flier Desmond Trufant.

3. Key Vets Returning After 2020 Season

I wasn’t particularly high on the 2020 Bears defense, in part because I knew the offense would struggle, but also because some instrumental pieces were missing.

One major cog to account for was nose tackle Eddie Goldman, a 2020 COVID opt-out. Goldman had 40-plus tackles in 2017 and ’18 as one of the premier run-stuffers in the game. 2021 is only his age-27 season, so Chicago will count on the DT to return with avengeance after a year on the pine.

Alongside Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, this unit is still very formidable up front. The linebacker core also flaunts Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan in the middle, with free safety Eddie Jackson over the top. LB Christian Jones joins this crew, and they’ll also look to re-sign or replace strong safety Tash Gipson before preseason begins. Gipson started all 16 games with the Bears a season ago, and is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Let’s not forget the offensive side of the ball, as Pace held onto wide receiver Allen Robinson for dear life. New faces like Damien Williams, Damiere Byrd, Dazz Newsome, Khalil Herbert and Marquise Goodwin add some versatility to a group that needs to get more creative behind Fields and Nagy.


This defense may be slightly diminished from 2018, but it’s still pretty darn good, and this offense could theoretically become much more dynamic with a quarterback like Fields at the helm. Am I slightly worried that Nagy may just be a terrible coach? Absolutely. This is a make or break season for the HC though, so I expect him to pull out all the stops.

At the very least, I see the Bears as a playoff team again in 2021, but at +4800 odds right now on FanDuel Sportsbook, Chicago may just be the biggest sleeper pick to win Super Bowl LVI.

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