Skip to main content

NFL coaching roundup: Examining team coaching questions with two weeks left in regular season

With two games to go, the Bears have made no public disclosures of their plans for coach Matt Nagy. But privately, they seem to know which direction they're headed.

According to multiple sources, Chicago appears primed to have a new head coach for the 2022 season and is expected to begin its search for Nagy's successor after Week 18.

Nagy, who has a 33-30 record heading into the final two games of the regular season, said this week that he was under the assumption he will be able to coach through Week 18. That should be the case. As an organization, the Bears rarely make rash moves during the season, with George McCaskey wanting to see the final product.

After that, the Bears brass will hold discussions, and the likely outcome is that they will move on from Nagy, sources say. According to those in the building, Nagy has been business as usual, not making his future a major topic of conversation and focusing only on his team closing out the season the right way. There are factors he can handle, and factors he can't, and he has been focused on those that he can.

When he's met with the owners, it's been under his normal course of action as head coach, not in any way focused on his future.

But the eventuality of the situation is not lost on any of the participants. Nagy's associates and others close to him sound resigned to an unhappy ending to his Bears tenure. Nagy went to the playoffs and finished 12-4 in his first season, but that was followed by two 8-8 campaigns and this year's 5-10 mark thus far.

Nagy also presided over an uncertain and underwhelming quarterback situation, with the final three years of Mitchell Trubisky and the rookie year of promising quarterback Justin Fields, who was learning on the job. That said, all parties know the final responsibilities lie with the head coach.

Here's a look at some of the other pending coaching situations around the NFL, based on conversations with multiple sources with knowledge of each team's situation.

  • Broncos: There has been no firm decision on coach Vic Fangio, but it's safe to say his future is firmly up in the air, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation. Fangio didn't make the playoffs in his first two seasons, and it's headed that way for a third. Having 14 players currently on the COVID list doesn't help his cause to finish over .500. An incredible defensive mind with a great relationship with the front office and players, Fangio has the respect of the building. GM George Paton, who will make the call on Fangio, has built a strong working relationship with him and has a lot of respect for Fangio as a coach. But history does not speak well on a coach heading into his fourth year without having made the playoffs. It appears Fangio would have to make a compelling case to stay -- with the way the team finishes the year and his plans to fix the issues plaguing Denver, especially its struggling offense -- to ensure he gets a chance for a fourth season.
  • Texans: With back-to-back wins providing some optimism late in the season, there are currently no signs that the Texans will move on from coach David Culley after just one year, sources say. Last week's win over the playoff-hopeful Chargers with two dozen players on the COVID-19 list was impressive. There has been a learning curve for Culley, but finishing strong with a mostly depleted roster could show that the curve has been accelerated. The Texans are 3-3 over the last six weeks, though games against two challenging opponents at the end will be telling. The remainder of the season will offer a lot about Culley's future leadership of an organization in transition, with matchups against two teams in the playoff chase: the 49ers and Titans. These games are part of the larger picture the organization is trying to paint.
  • Panthers: Little has gone according to plan for the Panthers, who lost star running back Christian McCaffrey twice to injured reserve and have started three QBs this year. In spite of a 5-10 record and five straight losses, all indications are coach Matt Rhule will return, barring an epic meltdown on the field or some unforeseen circumstance, sources informed of Carolina's plans said. Rhule should get the chance to complete his turnaround on the field in Year 3 -- with the hope that improved QB play in 2022 helps achieve that goal. In truth, judging the plan has been difficult without a consistent QB. With a few changes, including a new offensive coordinator, the hope is that Carolina finally sees the fruits of its plans.
  • Vikings: After a down year in 2020, the Vikings entered the season needing to improve. Instead, it's been a roller-coaster of emotions, with the latest blow coming with Kirk Cousins testing positive for COVID-19 and missing Week 17. Mike Zimmer appears to be one of the coaches whose fate has not yet been decided, per sources informed of his situation. Winning out and making the playoffs would go a long way toward solidifying his status. Miss the playoffs -- for the fifth time in eight seasons -- and it would be a decision left to Minnesota's ownership.
  • Jaguars and Raiders: The two current openings have gone about their search differently. The Raiders have done some research and planning, but no requests are in and it appears they have not yet gone through the process, per team sources. The Jaguars, meanwhile, interviewed former Eagles coach Doug Pederson on Thursday for several hours at owner Shad Khan's home and they have a virtual interview set up with Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles this week, according to a source informed of his plans. That may not be the last Zoom interview before the season ends, as a few coaches are still mulling their options. Cowboys OC Kellen Moore is also expected to interview virtually for the Jags' head coaching job late in the week, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. Cowboys DC Dan Quinn and Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett have opted to wait until the regular season ends.
  • Jets and Lions: Fellow first-year coaches Robert Saleh and Dan Campbell have struggled when it comes to wins and losses, though there have been more than enough promising signs that neither is in any trouble. Both are coaches their respective organizations want to build around, and both will return in 2022, per team sources.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter.