8 notable NFL coaches who missed games during the season since 2005

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Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury will not make the trip to Cleveland to help his 5-0 squad extend their winning streak against the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, former Denver Broncos coach from 2017-18, will take his place.

The criterion is coaches who missed a game or more and came back at some point during the regular season. Instances where a coach resigned due to the game not being fun anymore (Bum Phillips, 1985) or for what were determined to be health reasons (Bobby Ross, 2000) are outside the realm as they did not come back for that given season.

2005 — Mike Martz

Dilip Vishwanat-USA TODAY Sports

Already let’s start off with an exception to the rule. Martz will be included on the list even though he never coached a game for the St. Louis Rams after taking a medical leave of absence to deal with a heart issue following Week 5.

While Martz was away, linebackers coach Joe Vitt took over as interim coach. In his absence, Martz was having issues with the front office and even tried to call plays from home while recuperating from a heart condition. Martz was medically cleared to coach in the Rams’ season finale on Jan. 1, but the organization stuck it out with Vitt and fired Martz the next day.

Technically, he could have come back, but the Rams said no.

2012 — Chuck Pagano

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts’ coach was underwent treatments for leukemia during Weeks 5-16 of his rookie season, 2012. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians took over as interim and went 9-3 with the Colts in his absence, helping Indy rebound from a 2-14 record a year before to 11-5 and a playoff berth.

2013 — Gary Kubiak

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans’ 2013 campaign is one of the most horrendous in team history. Not only did the club somehow catch a 14-game losing streak following a 2-0 start, but Kubiak collapsed on the sidelines before halftime amid a 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football at NRG Stadium. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would replace Kubiak the next game, and ultimately for the final three games of the season as Houston fired the eventual Super Bowl-winning coach.

2013 — John Fox

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Fox reported feeling dizzy while playing golf during the Denver Broncos’ Week 9 bye, and doctors advised he get a heart valve replaced. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio replaced Fox from Weeks 10-13, going 3-1 in the process. Fox returned in Week 14, and the Broncos ultimately made it to Super Bowl XLVIII, where the Seattle Seahawks thrashed them 43-8.

2016 — Mike Zimmer

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Zimmer was suffering from a detached retina after the edge of his call sheet hit him in the eye during the Minnesota Vikings’ 20-10 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on a windy Monday night on Oct. 31. Zimmer had to undergo emergency eye surgery on Nov. 30, the day before a Thursday nighter against the Dallas Cowboys. Special teams coach Mike Priefer filled in, but Dallas prevailed 17-15.

2020 — Darrell Bevell

Kirthmon F. Dozier-Imagn Content Services, LLC

Only the Detroit Lions could have their interim coach get nixed for a game due to being a COVID close contact and have to rely on a second interim coach. Receivers Robert Prince filled in for Bevell in Week 16, but Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drilled the Lions 47-7. Bevell returned for the season finale.

2020 — Kevin Stefanski

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Fates couldn’t let Cleveland outdo Detroit in bad sports luck, so, the rookie coach, who led the Browns to an 11-5 record, couldn’t be a part of the wild-card game at the Pittsburgh Steelers due to testing positive for COVID. Mike Priefer would redeem himself and Cleveland would thump Pittsburgh 48-37.

2021 — Kliff Kingsbury

(USA Today)

Kingsbury became the first coach of the 2021 season to miss a game due to a positive COVID test. The 5-0 Cardinals go on the road to take on the road to play the Browns, incidentally the last team who had to have an interim coach due to COVID.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and special teams coach Jeff Rodgers will split the coaching duties against Cleveland.

Get well soon, Coach.

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