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.

Playoffs!? Wtf? Playoffs!? Rating the New NFL Head Coaches

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While almost everyone remembers that the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50, few people realize that they did so with a head coach that was brand new to the team heading into that season in Gary Kubiak. In 2016, of the 12 teams that qualified for the playoffs at the end of the 2016-2017 season, two of them were led by first year head coaches: Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants, and Adam Gase of the Miami Dolphins. So, it would stand to reason that the teams who made head coaching changes during this offseason are looking for their new head coaches to immediately replicate the type of success the aforementioned guys had. But who are the coaches in the best positions to lead their teams to the postseason? Here’s our list from least likely to most likely:

Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers — Shanahan and new General Manager John Lynch will start the process of rebuilding the great San Francisco 49ers franchise with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The problem is, they got the second overall pick in the draft because the team was so bad last year in general. The 49ers could basically use a major infusion of talent at the vast majority of positions on the team, most notably at quarterback. Blaine Gabbert and/or Colin Kaepernick are clearly not the answer, and the new braintrust will likely move quickly in trying to figure out who is the guy that’s going to lead their team for the near and long-term future. But outside of running back, where they have Carlos Hyde, and defensive lineman, where they drafted Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in recent years, there isn’t really a single position on the team that you could point to as a strength moving forward. Shanahan and Lynch will need a few years to restock the proverbial cupboard.

Sean McVay, Los Angels Rams — The Rams went in the total opposite direction of their previous head coach, when hiring their most recent one. They went from a grizzled NFL-stalwart in Jeff Fisher, to hiring the youngest head coach in NFL history in Sean McVay. McVay was considered somewhat of a “wunderkind” after guiding the Washington Redskins’ offense to the third-best ranking in the NFL last season. His job will largely be tied to the development of Jared Goff, the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Even though it’s still way too early to make any type of judgment on Goff, we saw much he struggled last season. The Rams offensive line remains awful for yet another year. They’ve had one wide receiver top 1,000 yards receiving in the past decade. After a superstar-caliber rookie season, running back Todd Gurley looked painfully mortal last year. McVay might be responsible for helping Goff develop, but he’s got his work cut out for him with the rest of this offense. The saving grace for the Rams is that the defense still has talent, including defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who’s one of the five best defensive players in the NFL.

Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills — Halfway through October, the Buffalo Bills looked like they might end up being one of the surprise teams in the NFL. They had a 4-2 record, including a shutout victory over the New England Patriots. But, from there on out, the bottom fell out for the Bills, as they finished with a 3-7 record down the stretch. That led to Rex Ryan’s dismissal, and the hiring of new head coach Sean McDermott. The first order of business for McDermott and Doug Whaley will be to find a starting quarterback, as it looks like Tyrod Taylor’s tenure in Buffalo is all but over. Many people think they’ll use the 10th overall pick in the draft to address the position, but let’s not forget they still have Cardale Jones as a developmental player, and perhaps the long-term answer. Still, the Bills don’t have much in the way of building block pieces around whoever fills the quarterback position. Running back LeSean McCoy looked great last season, but he’ll be 29 years old next season, and hasn’t played in all 16 games as a member of the Bills. Star wide receiver Sammy Watkins has missed 11 of his last 32 games. The offensive line has been inconsistent. The defense was ravaged by injuries and inconsistency last year. Buffalo proved they can be a good team if things break well for them, but they still have more questions than answers.

Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars — In reality, the Jacksonville Jaguars could end up being one of the most interesting and dangerous teams in the AFC, if not the NFL. It all depends on whether Marrone’s staff can resurrect the career of quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles appeared to be on an upward trajectory in his second year, leading a young and talented offense. But last year, Bortles badly regressed, and the offense — as well as the whole team — struggled as a result. But this is still one of the youngest and most talented rosters in the NFL.  It’s not out of the question for young stars like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns to bounce back, edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. to take another step forward. Their group of linebackers is one of the more underrated units in the NFL, and they have talent at both Safety positions. If Jacksonville can make a few upgrades on their still-porous offensive line, and perhaps add a little more consistency from the running game, they could help fix what ails Bortles. But this team will only go as Bortles does.

Anthony Lynn, San Diego Chargers — As snakebitten as this team was with injuries and plain old bad luck last season, San Diego sits near the top of this list for one simple reason: they still have quarterback Philip Rivers, who made the Pro Bowl last season (as an alternate). Even with an offense that continued to lose players seemingly on a weekly basis, Rivers still finished the year ranked among the top five quarterbacks in passing yards, yards per attempt, and touchdown passes. While he’s not exactly getting any younger, he’s still in the prime of his career.  The Chargers will also have some balance on offense, thanks to the second year breakout of running back Melvin Gordon. On defense, they have two of the best young talents in the NFL in defensive end Joey Bosa, who was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, and cornerback Jason Verrett, who admittedly missed much of last year after suffering a season-ending ACL injury. Still, with the offensive and defensive pedigrees that new head coach Anthony Lynn and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, this team is not that far away from contending for a playoff spot.

Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos — Vance Joseph, the highly-regarded former defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins, is probably the one coach in the best position to guide his team to the playoffs in his first year as head coach, mostly on the basis of the defense he’ll be inheriting. That group still has Von Miller, who is still perhaps the best edge rusher in the NFL, as well as the best pair of cornerbacks in the league in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Even with all the injuries and defections via free agency this team had after winning the Super Bowl, those guys represented the foundation of what was still probably the league’s best defense. Obviously, then, the biggest questions for the Broncos will be on the offensive side of the football, namely at the quarterback position. While most people believe that incumbents Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will battle for the starting job, it’s hard to rule out the possibility of the team acquiring a veteran quarterback — say, Tony Romo? — who could step in and lead this team immediately. If they can get even an average-level of play from the quarterback position, they can rely on their skill position players like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, C.J. Anderson, and second-year running back Devontae Booker to help spark an offense that sputtered down the stretch of last season.

[Analysis by NFL expert Rajan Nanavati]

Ouch! 3 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat!

rp_Donald-Trump-youre-fired.jpgMarvin Lewis-Cincinnati Bengals: He was once voted the AP Coach of the Year in 2009, and has a 112-92-2 career record, but he has never won a playoff game. Last year the Bengals had the playoff game against the Steelers won but then two critical 15 yard penalties allowed the Steelers to get into field goal range and win the game. The penalties sum up Lewis’ career, he takes chances on talented but hot-headed and reckless players and it came back to cost him bigtime. The Bengals have all the talent to seriously compete for a super bowl but they must stop shooting themselves in the foot and disappointing in crunch time. If they cannot win a playoff game this postseason, Lewis will be gone.
Chuck Pagano-Indianapolis Colts: Pagano has a 41-23 record with the Colts and is 3-3 in the playoffs, but he has still disappointed and the talent he has on his roster continues to underachieve. He has a franchise QB in Andrew Luck, and although I have always said Luck is highly overrated and a mere system QB at best, he has no OL to keep him healthy. The decisions by Pagano and his staff have hindered the Colts ability to have success. They have not addressed the OL and two years ago they drafted WR Phillip Dorsett when they already had a speed burner in T.Y. Hilton. He also has perhaps the dumbest playcall ever on his record, when he went for the suicidal fake punt against the New England Patriots. The Colts have gotten away with success against a very bad AFC South division, but it has improved tremendously and Pagano must find ways to sustain success and keep Luck healthy if he wants to keep his job.
Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys: Garrett has found a way to keep his job this long, but he must have the Cowboys make a deep playoff run in order to save himself this year. The Cowboys have one of the most talented offensive rosters in football, but they have not been able to stay healthy. They drafted RB Ezekiel Elliott to take pressure off an aging QB in Tony Romo and hope he can produce what DeMarco Murray did in 2014, when he led the league in rushing behind that great OL. The Cowboys problem is that they rely so heavily on a few players and if they get hurt, like WR Dez Bryant and Romo did last year, they have no depth to in place to compete. The defense is also a mess and the Cowboys have not done anything to fix it. Garrett must hope his stars stay healthy and that the Cowboys can finish in the 4th quarter, which is not something they are good at, as they must win shootouts just to compete. If the Cowboys miss the playoffs, it will be because of Garrett’s coaching flaws and personnel decisions and he will be gone.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]