5 NFL Coaches Burning On the Hot Seat


It’s the one day of the year that head coaches of under-performing NFL teams dread the most: Black Monday. That’s the Monday morning after the conclusion of Week 17 of the NFL’s regular season, when many organizations that are disappointed with their team’s direction decide to make a head coaching change, and get a head start on hiring a new coach among the pool of prospective candidates. In any given year, somewhere between six or eight franchises (if not more) decide to make changes on that Monday or Tuesday.  Obviously, how these decisions play out will affect sports bettings odds for the season.

The sad part is, through Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season, the list of coaches who could be dismissed at year’s end could be on the higher end of that annual average. But we culled our list to the five head coaches who are sitting on the hottest of hot seats, as of today:

5. Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders — Before the 2017 season started, there were plenty of people who believed that the Oakland Raiders were primed to leapfrog the Kansas City Chiefs and take control of the AFC West. Derek Carr was one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the league, throwing to one of the better duos of wide receivers in the league (Amari Cooper). They had one of the five best offensive lines in the NFL. And on defense, they had perhaps the best overall edge rusher — if not the best defensive player overall in Khalil Mack — in the league as well. But after starting the season with back-to-back wins, the Raiders are 2-6 over their last eight games. In their last two losses, they’ve been outscored by a combined 45 points. The offense is underachieving, and a somewhat questionable defense has been terrible this year (they’re 26th overall in yards allowed per game, and 27th in passing yards per game). If Del Rio can’t lead this team to at least seven or eight wins this year, he could find himself out a job.

4. Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Whether the Oakland Raiders or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the most disappointing team for the 2017 season would make for an interesting debate. After captivating the nation’s interest during this season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” television show, Tampa Bay became a very trendy playoff pick, and everyone assumed that quarterback Jameis Winston was primed to make “the leap” into a true franchise quarterback. But Winston struggled mightily this year before going down with a shoulder injury, and Tampa Bay finds themselves with the fourth-worst record in the NFC through 10 games; the blame for both will fall squarely on Koetter’s shoulders. There are lots of rumors of big-name coaches being interested in the Tampa Bay job (Jon Gruden among them), and if someone of that caliber were to be sufficiently interested, the organization would have little hesitation in pushing Koetter out the door.

3. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts — Chuck Pagano has managed to evade the “bad coaching” spotlight over the last few weeks, as his Colts team has played tough against their last three opponents; and yet, even in that span, the Colts are still 1-2. Regardless of the fact that quarterback Andrew Luck’s shoulder injury and recovery was so mismanaged that it’s cost him this entire year, and the fact that Pagano was stuck with one of the worst-built rosters in the NFL (thanks to former General Manager Ryan Grigson), the Colts have simply found ways to lose week after week. That says a lot about the person leading the team.  New General Manager Chris Ballard, who was hired this past offseason, will very likely try and bring in someone whom he’s familiar with, to coach this team.

2. Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns — We’ll start off by saying this, as ridiculous as it may sound: Hue Jackson is a good football coach. He has a good football mind, and he’s someone that his players will play hard for. That being said, the NFL is a results-driven league, and there is simply no excuse for the fact that the Browns have a 1-25 record since the start of the 2016 regular season. It’s not Jackson’s fault that the team’s analytics-driven front office decided to pass on the opportunity to draft guys like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, leaving Jackson to try and win games with an overwhelmed rookie like DeShone Kizer. But a handful of very questionable coaching decisions by Jackson this season didn’t really help his cause either. He looks like an inevitable casualty of Cleveland’s “factory of sadness.”

1. Ben McAdoo, New York Giants — Regardless of their win against the (reeling) Kansas City Chiefs, it’s all but a foregone conclusion that Ben McAdoo will be fired by the New York Giants at the end of the season.  In the three weeks prior to their win against Kansas City, the Giants had not only gone 0-3 (giving them a 1-8 record through nine games), but had lost those three games by an average of over 20 points per game. The last loss in that streak included a double-digit loss to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers. It’s been overly clear that McAdoo is simply overmatched as a head coach, and there are too many whispers about his players quitting on him for them not to be true. Expect this announcement to be made very, very shortly after the season is over.

About Rajan Nanavati

Rajan Nanavati is a professional sportswriter with over 15 years of experience covering the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, college football, and fantasy football. His work has been featured on ESPN and the Washington Post, among other publications. He runs a successful sports podcast with several hundred listeners per month at http://www.hailtothedistrict.com/.