With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we're beginning to hear footsteps catching up on a few NFL coaches. Fans want to fire their coaches after every frustrating loss, but Sunday's Week 11 games felt like a sequence of heartbreaking and/or ugly defeats for a group of embattled coaches across the league. Some were a product of bad decisions helping to influence an individual defeat; others were the same mistakes being made while producing similarly frustrating results.
Let's run through five head coaches and two offensive coordinators who lost Sunday and detail what went wrong for them, how it aligns with what has happened this season and why their losses felt so damning. I don't want to root for or predict that anybody gets fired, but I'll try to lay out the case for why things need to improve if each of these coaches wants to return in 2024.
I'll start in the nation's capital, where the Commanders lost at home in ugly fashion to a team playing its third-string quarterback:
Five head coaches who had a rough Sunday
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Week 11 result: Lost 31-19 to Giants
I'm not sure there's been a more ignominious two-game sweep by any team in NFL history. The Giants have now beaten the Commanders twice this season, outscoring them by 9.5 points per game. Against the rest of the league, the Giants are 1-8 and have been outscored by more than 16 points on average. Their starting quarterback on Sunday, Tommy DeVito, was averaging fewer than 5.0 yards per pass attempt and an anemic 1.8 adjusted net yards per pass across his first three pro appearances.
The one weakness on paper for the Commanders after trading away Montez Sweat and Chase Young at the trade deadline might have been their pass rush. They had produced just one sack on 92 dropbacks by opposing quarterbacks after the trade, suggesting the defense might be compromised without its two top edge rushers.
Well, the pass rush wasn't the problem Sunday. The Commanders sacked DeVito nine times on 35 dropbacks, good for a sack rate of 25.7%. There's an element of chicken-versus-the-egg here in terms of causation, but when defenses are able to create that sort of disruption, it almost always results in a victory. Since the turn of the century, teams that sacked the quarterback nine or more times had gone 43-1.