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Head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers on the sidelines, Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during the second half of an NFL game
Left: Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images, Right: Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

As the NFL season gets closer and closer, could this season be the last season NFL fans see certain faces on the sidelines?

Though there’s no actual connection between fans and the coaches of their favorite NFL team, some would argue that their head coach is their best friend.

Probably not the case.

But, it feels that way for some. And unfortunately — unlike most Little Debbie products — these coaches don’t last forever.

Some of these names might hurt the fan base, but unfortunately, the truth hurts sometimes.

Now, just because these coaches are on the hot seat, does that mean this is their last season? No, absolutely not. A coach on the hot seat just means they really need to make it work this season, or it could lead to a head coach vacancy in their spot. Don’t believe us? Ask former Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy and former Bears general manager Ryan Pace, or even Mike Zimmer, who used to be the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

There are some coaches, cough cough New England’s Bill Belichick, that likely won’t ever be on the hot seat, even if their seat was inside an active Mt. Vesuvius. However, to be honest, he’s likely one of the few coaches with that power.

That said, let’s get to our first head coach on the hot seat in 2022.

Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Head coach Arthur Smith of the Atlanta Falcons stands on the sidelines
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

In his time as the offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans, the results were good. In fact, they were historically good! Now, was that due to the fact that those Titans had Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and Jonnu Smith? It’s certainly possible, but the stats are still impressive.

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That said, his time in the NFC with Atlanta hasn’t been the same, and neither has the supporting cast.

Since joining the Falcons in 2021, Smith and the Falcons have been an odd team to watch. Their record of 7-10 doesn’t, in my opinion, reflect how poorly the team performed at times.

In the 2021 season, Smith coached the Falcons to a 7-10 record. However, his offense ranked 26th in points for and 29th in yards for. On the opposite side of the ball, Arthur Smith’s Falcons ranked 29th in points against and 26th in yards allowed.

In all, the Falcons were not a good team, both on paper and on the field. And if things don’t turn around quickly, Arthur Smith could be getting the boot in Atlanta sooner rather than later.

Smith’s only saving grace is that Drake London and Desmond Ridder turn the offense into something new. It’s all up in the air, but the Falcons are in a split division. There are two teams that will likely be the two teams competing (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints), while the other two teams (Atlanta and Carolina) battle for pride and dignity.

Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule looks on from the sidelines.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

RELATED: The Baker Mayfield Trade Only Adds to Carolina’s Identity Crisis

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This is the most obvious hot seat for head coaches that could be thought of.

Matt Rhule hasn’t done anything close to making the Carolina Panthers a better football team since joining in 2020, and most of the blame can be put on Matt Rhule’s tendency to panic.

The most obvious proof of Rhule panicking can be seen by taking one look at the quarterback room for the Panthers.

Since joining the Panthers in 2020, Carolina has had four separate quarterbacks suit up for at least one start: Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold and Cam Newton.

And, there could be a fifth and sixth quarterback in three seasons as the head coach.

During this offseason, Matt Rhule added two more quarterbacks to their QB room, and it couldn’t be more obvious that Rhule has no idea what he’s doing.

Not only did the Panthers draft a quarterback, Matt Corral, but they also went and traded for Baker Mayfield. Not that Baker Mayfield is bad at all, but the team already had two quarterbacks. Now, they have Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker and Matt Corral heading into training camp.

Outside all the nonsense surrounding the Panthers’ quarterbacks, the team has performed well below par since Matt Rhule took over as head coach.

Since Rhule’s 2020 season, the Panthers have gone a combined 10-23. Not great.

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So, it’s clear to see how and why Matt Rhule is on the hot seat. If he produces another poor outing as head coach this season, it could be back to college for Matt Rhule.

Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns

 Kevin Stefanski talks to the media after being introduced as the Cleveland Browns new head coach
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

This one is more arguable, so it’s not as likely that Kevin Stefanski is fired after this season if poorly executed, but it’s absolutely fair to say he’s on the hot seat — or at least he should be.

Surrounding all the controversy around Deshaun Watson, that alone could put him on the hot seat. Then, on top of that, they let two of their biggest locker room guys go this offseason in Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield.

Say whatever you want about Baker, but he and Jarvis Landry were two major pieces to the team that broke the streak of the laughingstock Browns. Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry were two of the main pieces that helped win an AFC playoff game for the Browns. They haven’t done that since *checks notes* prior to the 2000s.

So, even though Deshaun Watson could be the nail in the coffin if everything surrounding him equates to a lengthy suspension, it’s incredibly damning for Stefanski to essentially sponsor that type of move. The handling of Baker Mayfield is enough to get someone fired, however, it’s unlikely to happen.

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For a team that’s dreamt of success, it’s odd that they’d get rid of two players that were paramount for that success.

Then, to have Mayfield play the entire season in a hypothetical wheelchair is something that rubs NFL fans the wrong way.

Now, it’s unlikely that Stefanski gets fired this season because of it, but if Watson has to miss a lot of time and the Browns have a poor season, it’s not going to look good for Kevin Stefanski or the Cleveland Browns.

Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys

Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys looks on from the sideline
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

“This is our year,” exclaim all Dallas Cowboys fans each year.

However, it never seems to be their year. In fact, it hasn’t been their year since 1995.

Now with McCarthy going into his third season as head coach, the clock is ticking.

After having an offense that scored 530 points, which ranked highest in the entire league last season, it was more than underwhelming when their postseason ended after their first game. And that has a lot to do with Mike McCarthy’s poor management.

In a list done by CBS, Mike McCarthy ranked dead last among Super Bowl Winners, and while CBS lists aren’t the period at the end of a sentence, it’s surely interesting to see.

When dissecting them, the Cowboys have taken a few steps back by trading away Amari Cooper, but it was most likely a mutual decision. Cooper didn’t seem happy there, and the Cowboys weren’t seeming to want to pay him. Letting Cooper go to another team wasn’t the deal that put McCarthy away — even if the value was incredibly low.

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The killer for McCarthy will be his inability to create any postseason success with such a talented roster, a similar problem that led to Jason Garrett getting the ax in 2019. The Cowboys are a team with so much talent, yet they find themselves losing time and time again when the lights shine the brightest.

Not all of the blame can go to Mike McCarthy, but it’s a fact that McCarthy’s seat is molten hot going into the 2022 season.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks reacts in the second half of an NFL game
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Pete Carroll is one of those NFL head coaches that seemingly has a job until he doesn’t want it.

That is, until last year’s performance.

Since Pete Carroll began his time with the Seahawks in 2010, the Seahawks have only had three losing seasons: 2010, 2011 and 2021. So, yes, you read that correctly. Last season was the first losing season Carroll and the Seahawks have had in nine straight seasons.

Most of that could be due to the battered up roster of the Seahawks last season, including Russell Wilson. But at the end of the day, Pete Carroll has been somewhat carried for the last few seasons. Had he not had the playmaker Russell Wilson is, who knows if he’d still be the head coach of the Seahawks.

The two of them — Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll — were essentially synonymous with the Seattle Seahawks. Without one, the other didn’t make sense, and vice versa.

Now, with Russell Wilson on the Denver Broncos and the Seahawks having a quarterback competition between Geno Smith and Drew Lock, this could be the final season for Pete Carroll in Seattle.

And if it isn’t, upper management is doing the Seahawks no favors. Pete Carroll was a great coach in his time with the Seahawks, but no one can be a coach forever.

Honorable Mentions

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Dakota Zientek graduated from the University of Iowa in 2020 with degrees in Journalism/Mass Communication, as well as Sport/Recreation Management. He's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan, though, an overall NFL junkie to his core. There isn't a take too hot for Dakota, especially under the Chicago Bears scope. Dakota loves debating any and everything under the NFL umbrella, so feel free to challenge him in the comment section. When he's not reading random pages on Pro Football Reference, he's either playing with his dog Staley (Chicago Bears' mascot name), or he's off to find the best local chicken wing spot. #BearDown #KeepShowingUp
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