One game doesn’t define a season, but a few can, and just four weeks into the NFL’s 2022 campaign, several head coaches are struggling to lift their teams. Like quarterbacks, coaches often get too much praise when they win and too much criticism when they don’t. In the end, however, staff is created or reduced based on results.
With that in mind, here’s our take on which trainers are hot right now and which ones aren’t yet:
The Cool Chaps: Under fire, but safe (for now)
John Harbaugh, Ravens (2-2): Now that Lamar Jackson is back in great shape, there’s no reason why his team shouldn’t play at AFC North. Baltimore’s defense has collapsed twice—and almost three times—in four games, and his once-vaunted aggressiveness has hurt rather than helped. But Harbaugh is too experienced in battle, he has too much history in the city to be written off.
Mike Tomlin, Steelers (1-3): His stubborn commitment to Matt Canada as offensive coordinator — or old-school philosophy in general — could ruin part of rookie Kenny Pickett’s season. A quarter of a year has already gone into Mitch Trubisky’s experiment. And they probably should have been fully immersed in recovery. But 15 years of stable leadership buys you a lot of time.
Brandon Staley, Chargers (2-2): He can’t control star player injuries, and despite them, Los Angeles survived against Houston in Week 4. But he remains the biggest question for a theoretical opponent, and his preferred side of the ball has produced the most points in the AFC. However, as long as Justin Herbert does this, his club must remain competitive.
Dennis Allen, Saints (1-3): A three-game losing streak has seen them quickly get to the top pick in the 2023 draft, which they’ve already traded, and there’s no clear path to redemption with Andy Dalton and/or a battered Jameis Winston under center. But ownership won’t help Sean Payton’s old buddy after he made it a temporary measure for 2022 anyway.
Warm Boys: Trouble Tendency
Frank Reich, Colts (1-2-1): Not only is it his fault that Indy gets through the starting QB every year, but they are on the verge of making the playoffs (no wins) from 2019 to 2022. He just got an extension last fall, but that was unofficially based on him resurrecting Carson Wentz, who had already been replaced with an older, potentially worse signalman. He and general manager Chris Ballard likely had a package deal as they ran the QB carousel but were unable to fix the other horses on the carousel. Despite this, owner Jim Irsay is known for being aggressive when it comes to handling leadership issues.
Nathaniel Hackett, Broncos (2-2): With their lucrative addition of Russell Wilson this offseason, he’ll get a decent leash to make this pair work, even if it takes until 2023. can keep them competitive, perhaps the new owner group will grow impatient.
The Burnt Rumps: Endangered
Matt Rule, Panthers (1-3): He says the right things, but his teams rarely do it. The main problem, as anyone with eyes might have predicted, remains the QB seat, where all of his gambling – Baker Mayfield being latest and current – has failed. Since he took over, the Panthers now have an 11–26 aggregate record.
Ron Rivera, commanders (1-3): You can be a favorite teacher and still fail as a head coach. Like Roulet, Rivera shuffled QB like they do in Washington, and it looks like he’s still a long way from making a real franchise hand. His once tough defense has also become a sieve. He’s now 27-38 since 2017, his last winning season as Panther coach.