On The Hot Seat

The life of a NFL head coach can be a tough one to handle and manage. Roster decisions, injuries, game planning, practices and everything else in between is involved with them becoming a success or a failure in their profession. However, some coaches, no matter what the talent level of their team or their coaching acumen or for whatever reason, just can’t cut it and wind up on the proverbial hot seat. This season is no different as we’ll now take a look at some coaches who may want to have the moving company on speed dial this upcoming season.

(Disclaimer: These coaches are being listed in no specific order such as most likely to least likely to get fired.)

Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles Rams (27-36-1 with St. Louis/Los Angeles; 169-156-1 career; 5-6 in playoffs with Tennessee) Not that any coach deserves to be fired…but relatively speaking if there was a coach that you could pinpoint and say deserves to get a pink slip, you would need to look no further than Fisher. 11 games under .500 in 4 years as head coach – even though he’s had 4 first round picks on the defensive line (Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and the now-departed Chris Long) another at linebacker (Alec Ogletree) and at safety (Mark Barron), along with value picks Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley on the offensive side of the ball. Even with all of this talent it hasn’t translated into anything of much substance on the field and that falls on the head coach at the end of the day. There was even some talk of giving him a contract extension but that since gone away. With the team moving to Los Angeles we will soon see if owner Stan Kroenke is about ticket sales and profits or winning football games. Replacing Fisher may be the first step to success for the Rams in their return to Southern California.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals (112–92–2 with Bengals; 0-7 in playoffs) Many may come to the defense of Lewis here by pointing out his 20 games over .500 regular season record and that’s fine. Regular season excellence should always be celebrated. It’s when the playoffs start that the real questions start getting asked with no answers. 7 straight losses in the playoffs would get any coach fired (or would have been fired by now) but somehow Lewis has managed to hold on to his job in the Queen City. Whatever the reason, this has to be the season for Lewis to show he can win a game in January and bring the Bengals their first postseason win since January 1990. With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green leading a talented offense and a championship-caliber defense they have to find way to push through and get it done. Otherwise, it may be time to replace Lewis and find someone who can win when it counts the most.

Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers (22-26 with Chargers; 1-1 in playoffs) The original idea with San Diego hiring McCoy was for him to follow the same formula that worked for him as Denver’s offensive coordinator: Take a veteran QB (Peyton Manning), give him a couple of receiving threats (Demaryius Thomas and Emanuel Sanders) and a running game (C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman) and watch the wins pile up. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way during his time in San Diego. McCoy was brought on as an offensive genius but there haven’t been may signs of that genius during his coaching tenure. While Philip Rivers has done his part, injuries to Keenan Allen, a suspension of Antonio Gates and no sign of a running game have hampered efforts to progress offensively. The defense has a great secondary but holes everywhere else along the defensive front. Add in the fact that the AFC West isn’t going to be as easy to navigate as it was in previous years and the call for his job could come sooner than later. While there are some bright spots on the team but unless the Chargers get back on track (especially with possible relocation on the horizon) in a hurry McCoy could find himself on the outside looking in at some point this season.

Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars (12–36 with Jaguars; 0-0 in playoffs) Bradley, like Mike McCoy, came to Jacksonville with a strong defensive background as the coordinator behind Seattle’s  vaunted “Legion of Boom” defense. Problem is, only “boom” heard in Jacksonville under Bradley has only come from the mascot hitting the drums in the pregame ceremonies. His record has been one of the worse in football since he took over but there are a couple of extenuating circumstances. The roster when he arrived was talent-poor but it been overhauled on both sides of the ball (through free agency and the draft). Questions still remain for Bradley, with critics asking if he is the right man for the job or if he is head coach material in the NFL. The AFC South looks to be one of the toughest in football this season so it’ll be important for Bradley to get off to a fast start and produce this season. Otherwise his seat could get really hot, really quick in 2016.

Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons (8-8 with Falcons; 0-0 in playoffs) Like Bradley, Quinn was an architect of “The Legion of Boom” in Seattle as a defensive coordinator and brought those skills and that background to Atlanta to get a team many thought was on the edge of something special to the next level. His initial season got off to a fast and successful start before the team stumbled down the stretch. The team was mentioned as a dark horse Super Bowl contender after a 5-0 start but how the Falcons dropped off and the way the team faded in second half of the season raised a lot of red flags concerning Quinn’s future. Matt Ryan and the offense need to become more explosive and get back to running the football more while the defense needs to avoid the letdowns and blown leads that doomed the end of last season. With the Falcons headed into a new downtown stadium and with the NFC South as competitive as it has ever been, Quinn will need to find what worked early last season and make it work for the entire season. If not, like the others listed, he could be on the hot seat in a hurry this season.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys (45–43 with Dallas; 1-1 in playoffs) Garrett, who some pundits call “Mr. 8-8” for the record he’s more commonly associated with, is probably under the most pressure out of anyone listed here. He’s only beaten 34% of teams above. 500 in his tenure and has generally not utilized the talent that Jerry Jones has provided him with. Last season was a lost season with injuries to Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and others making things difficult for Garrett to succeed. But with Romo in the twilight of his career, the players in place to make a deep run in the playoffs and Jones (and the Cowboys fanbase) placing pressure on him, anything less than a division title and some playoff wins could result in Garrett being shown the door in Dallas. It’s not Super Bowl or bust but with this being “America’s Team” you can rest assured Garrett is on a real short leash for this upcoming season.

This list could be bigger with others under similar pressures but these are the coaches with the most on the line, the most to prove, the most to win and, yes, the most to lose this upcoming season. They all face different challenges this season, from Super Bowl expectations to winning a single playoff game to just winning games, period. Every game, every play and every decision will go a long way for all of them as the season gets underway. As summer turns into fall and winter the sun in the sky may turn a little cold…but the seats these men find themselves sitting in this season will be plenty warm. If it gets too warm or too hot they’ll find themselves unfamiliar seat – one that will find them out of a job and out in the cold.


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Kansas City born and bred, covering KU sports, New York Jets, Los Angeles Lakers, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees and everything in between. Check me and my team out on SPORTS Elite. Email me at brianjones8204@aol.com

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