With all nine NFL Head Coach openings filled, The 33rd Team steps back to profile the coaches who were let go at the end of this season from a bird’s eye view. We take a look at each of their previous stops, check in on what happened with their most recent situation, and look forward to what could be next.
David Culley, Texans
Previous Stop: Baltimore Ravens Asst. HC/Passing Game Coordinator/WRs Coach (2019-2020)
Many people would argue that David Culley was not given a fair chance in Houston, and that is hard to argue. Culley was dealt a very tough hand. Culley came into an organization, where their star QB played zero snaps this season due to off the field issues. In addition, this was one of the worst rosters in the NFL. The Texans were not very competitive under Culley, as they finished with a 4-13 record, and half their wins came against the Jaguars. Culley’s brightest moments of his tenure were wins against the Chargers, and Titans.. Culley was fired after just one season. The Texans ended up hiring Lovie Smith to replace Culley.
Coach Culley currently does not have anything set in stone for the upcoming season, but it would not be surprising to see him land something soon. Despite a tough season, Culley is a longtime assistant coach in the league who has been coaching in the NFL since 1994. He has had a lot of success as an assistant coach, and he was the oldest first time head coach ever in the NFL (65).
Joe Judge, Giants
Previous Stop: New England Patriots Special Teams Coordinator (2015-2019)
Joe Judge came to New York after a seven-year stint in New England under Bill Belichick. Judge worked his way up the ladder and became their Special Teams Coordinator, and Judge was a key part of a lot of winning teams, winning 3 Super Bowls. Prior to New England, Judge won two national championships under Nick Saban at Alabama. Working under two of the greatest coaches the sport has ever seen, was a big reason for Judge’s hiring in 2020. Unfortunately for the Giants, they were unable to win many games under Judge.
The Giants struggled in the two years with Judge leading the ship, going 10-23. Judge also faced some controversy in his tenure, specifically his “fight” with OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo. Also, had a huge fight in training camp that had starting QB, Daniel Jones stuck under a dog pile. Lastly, he made some questionable claims towards the last couple weeks of his tenure. Judge preached discipline, however, his team struggled with it, and ultimately, he did not win enough games for the Giants to want to keep him. Judge was fired on January 11th, 2022 after just two seasons. He is being replaced by Brian Daboll.
Coach Judge was hired as an offensive assistant by the Patriots on February 8th, 2022, where he is returning for his second stint with New England.
Matt Nagy, Bears
Previous Stop: Kansas City Chiefs OC (2016-2017)
Matt Nagy had a solid tenure in Chicago that had some very impressive moments. Nagy’s first season with Chicago was by far his best, when he led the team to a 12-4 record and a first place finish in the difficult NFC North. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was even named to his first and only Pro Bowl in 2018. Unfortunately, Nagy and the Bears lost to the Eagles in the Wildcard round in the infamous “double doink” game. The Bears went 8-8 in both 2019 and 2020, and the statistical regression of Mitchell Trubisky was evident. The Bears did make the playoffs in 2020, but they lost in the Wildcard round to the Saints, and the team regressed significantly in 2021. With a QB controversy between rookie QB Justin Fields, and veteran Andy Dalton, the team finished with a 6-11 record. Under Nagy, the Bears had some of the best defenses in the league, and there were flashes of good offensive play as well. Unfortunately, the regression of the team and a poor 2021 was too much for the Bears to keep Nagy. Both Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace were fired after the 2021 season. Nagy has been replaced by Matt Eberflus.
Coach Nagy currently has nothing set up for the 2022 season, and a year off is a very possible option for him. With the success Coach Doug Pederson had in taking a year off to learn, grow and be with his family, it is certainly an option. There are rumors of him possibly succeeding Eric Bienemy as OC if Bienemy leaves Kansas City next season. It should surprise nobody to see coach Nagy back in the game soon.
Urban Meyer, Jaguars
Previous Stop: Ohio State HC (Nov. 28 2011 – Dec. 12, 2018)
Urban Meyer is one of the most successful college coaches in the past couple of decades, who has won three national championships. He is most notable for his stops at Florida and Ohio State. Despite his success at Florida and Ohio State, Meyer has dealt with a lot of turmoil at both schools. The culture created by Meyer at Florida was questioned heavily, with several players arrested across his tenure and accusations of a toxic culture in the building. A scandal at Ohio State caused Urban Meyer to be suspended for three games in 2018 and he ended up retiring after the 2018 season.
After a hiatus from coaching, on January 14th, 2021, Meyer was hired to become the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. His tenure in Jacksonville was filled with turmoil, scandal, and struggles on the field. Meyer did not last a season, and he was fired on December 16th, 2021. Meyer finished with a 2-11 record.
Coach Meyer currently does not have anything set in place for next season. It would be very surprising if he got a job this cycle after what has happened in Jacksonville.
Brian Flores, Dolphins
Previous Stop: New England Assistant Coach (2004-2018)
The most shocking fire of this cycle was the firing of Brian Flores. Flores was hired on February 4th, 2019, a day after winning his fourth Super Bowl with New England. Flores spent 15 seasons with the Patriots, coaching multiple position groups, and was even a pro scout in his early years with the team. Flores had a very solid run as Head Coach of the Dolphins. With a front office clearly focused on the future, Flores led them to a 5-11 record in 2019, an impressive feat for a team that had a front office clearly looking to rebuild.
In 2020, Flores led the Dolphins to a 10-6. Although they missed the playoffs, it was one of the more impressive turnarounds we have seen in recent memory. In 2021, Flores and the Dolphins started at an abysmal 1-7 record. However, Flores led the Dolphins to a 8-1 record down the stretch. Despite not making the playoffs in his tenure, Flores did an admirable job. There were reports of a power struggle between Flores and the higher ups, which led to his firing. Flores is being replaced by Mike McDaniel.
Coach Flores is in a very unique situation due to his lawsuit against the NFL. Flores immediately became one of the top options on the market after his firing, and this led him to getting multiple interviews. However, he did not get a shot at the Giants job fairly in his opinion, which led to him suing the NFL. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Coach Flores in the future. Will a team be willing to sign a new head coach with an ongoing lawsuit against the league? There is little doubt that Flores can come in and be a successful coach in the league, but it would not be too surprising to see him miss out on other opportunities with this ongoing lawsuit.
Mike Zimmer, Vikings
Previous Stop: Cincinnati Bengals DC (2008-2013)
Mike Zimmer spent eight seasons as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had some very good seasons under Zimmer, including the 2017 season where they were one game away from a Super Bowl appearance.
The Vikings made the playoffs three times in his tenure, and he went .500 or better in five of eight seasons. He finished 74-59-1 and had a 2-3 playoff record with the Vikings. Unfortunately, back-to-back years of mediocrity was enough for the Vikings to decide to move on from Zimmer. Zimmer is being replaced by Kevin O’Connell.
Coach Zimmer currently does not have anything lined up for next season. Zimmer should get strong consideration for a defensive coordinator job in the future. He is one of the brightest defensive minds in the league, who has had three different stints as a defensive coordinator in the NFL already. Zimmer is 65, so age is definitely a factor for him. Don’t be surprised if Zimmer gets something in the near future.
Vic Fangio, Broncos
Previous Stop: Chicago Bears DC (2015-2018)
Fangio was hired on January 10th, 2019. Unfortunately, the Broncos failed to find success throughout his tenure. Fangio was brought in due to his impressive defensive background, however, the Broncos were clearly stronger on the defensive side of the ball in his three seasons. Unfortunately, without a strong starting QB, their offense never took off under Fangio.
Whether it was Drew Lock, or Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos struggled offensively despite having quality weapons at every skill position. Fangio failed to reach a .500 record in his three seasons, and the Broncos decided it was time to move on. Fangio is being replaced by Nathaniel Hackett.
Former Broncos’ HC Vic Fangio received, and decided against, multiple offers to become a defensive coordinator for the 2022 season, per league sources. Fangio now is likely to take off this season before returning next year as the most coveted available defensive coordinator.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 13, 2022
Coach Fangio does not have anything set in stone for 2022, but there are rumors that he is going to join the 49ers in a consulting role. Like Zimmer, Fangio is one of the brightest defensive minds in football. He has been in the league every year (outside of 2010) since 1986, and has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL five times. Fangio is 63 years old, so age is a factor. It should surprise no one to see Fangio get something in the near future.