With the NFL regular season rapidly coming to a close, the ever-churning coaching carousel is ready to rev up once more.
Owners are quick to pull the plug on a deteriorating product. Turnover is all too common within NFL circles, and this upcoming offseason appears to be no different. We’ve selected nine head coaches with hot seats ranging in various heat levels from toasty to unbearably scalding.
Is this finally the year?
Lewis has been the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals since 2003. During this time, he’s accumulated a career record of 123-111-3. This record could be described as slightly above-average. When looking at the scope of the Bengals’ hapless franchise, this mark is much more impressive. While Lewis has done well in Cincinnati — particularly when compared to his predecessors — a change is needed.
The franchise has been trending in the wrong direction for the past two seasons. Though the Bengals have made seven postseason appearances in Lewis’ tenure, he’s failed to lead them to a single playoff victory in 15 years. In fact, Cincinnati holds the longest current streak without a postseason win (27 years). Star receiver A.J. Green is already 29 years of age, and multiple big-name players (Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Karlos Dansby) have left without much in return. Currently languishing at 5-8, the franchise could be poised to bring in a new voice next year.
To be fair, Arians has seen his roster completely decimated by injury. With that said, the collective future of both Arians and the current squad look rather cloudy.
Arians led Arizona to double-digit win totals in each of his first three seasons. He appeared primed to become one of the league’s best coaches. Fast-forward two seasons, and the narrative has changed quite a bit. Arizona finished with a 7-8-1 record last season, and currently sit with a 6-7 mark. Barring something completely out of the ordinary, it will be the second-straight season in which the Cards miss the postseason.
We don’t think Arians will get fired, per se. However, the pressure on his job certainly has been ramped up. With Carson Palmer on his last legs, a new quarterback will have to be brought into the fold. Though reputed as a terrific developer of signal-callers, Arians doesn’t have another one currently on the roster ready to lead this team back to prominence (sorry, Drew Stanton). Larry Fitzgerald can’t last forever — nor can a makeshift offensive line hold up in any reasonable way.
Without question, the franchise will experience a roster transition during the offseason. It will be fascinating to see how Arians and the Arizona braintrust navigate the potential headaches from both an injury and monetary standpoint.
Fox’s prior pedigree got him the Chicago job. On the surface, it appeared to be a very nice hire. Fox enjoyed playoff success with both Carolina and Denver. A rugged personality, he was expected to inject more energy into a team possessing the atmosphere of a library under stoic former coach Marc Trestman.
Year three for any coach is traditionally known as the year in which you make a turn — either positively or negatively. Unfortunately for the Bears, Chicago will finish with its third-straight losing season under Fox’s direction. Befuddling player personnel decisions has hindered his tenure — as has peculiar in-game management and the handling of the Mike Glennon/Mitch Trubisky saga.
The Bears actually do possess quite a bit of talent. It may behoove them to move to a younger, more offensive oriented coach (Josh McDaniels?). Though it would anger those in Ann Arbor, Jim Harbaugh is sitting there just Northeast of the Windy City. One would have guessed that Harbaugh is itching to get back to the pro ranks after being tasked with chasing the signatures of 17 and 18-year-olds.
Tampa Bay had huge expectations heading into the season. Many pegged them as a playoff team. With talent littered throughout the roster, this was the year for the Bucs to vault into becoming a quality NFC team.
Things haven’t gone to plan in the slightest. As such, Koetter’s hot seat is incrementally warming each and every day. The Bucs sit dead-last in the NFC South Division. Jameis Winston is seemingly regressing by the game — something the front office can’t like considering Koetter is rooted on the offensive side of the ball. Winston’s lack of consistency is an alarming cause for concern.
It’s not as if Tampa took a small step backwards from last year’s 9-7 surprise finish. This team truly looks lost — with leadership at the top being a major question mark. It won’t be a shock to see Koetter not make it to next season.
The Pagano tenure in Indianapolis has been tumultuous at best. From his cancer diagnosis in 2012 — to owner Jim Irsay’s colorful personality — nothing’s been easy for the longtime coach.
Indianapolis currently sits with a 3-9 record. Beyond that, it’s one of — if not the worst roster in the NFL from a talent standpoint. Andrew Luck’s injury issues have this franchise teetering from a division contender to a bottom-of-the-barrel squad. Much of this isn’t Pagano’s fault; he’s simply been victim to a bunch of bad luck.
It may be best for both parties to have a clean break. Pagano could latch on somewhere else (presumably as an assistant). The Colts have a ton of cap space heading into this offseason. With a bit of retooling and a healthy Luck, Indianapolis may be back in contention within the next two years. However, there’s plenty of uncertainty as to whether Pagano will be there to see this renaissance.
Jack Del Rio
The Raiders were the darlings of the NFL last season. Possessing a trio of young stars-in-the-making (Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper), it was expected that Oakland would win its division — and potentially even challenge New England for supremacy in the AFC.
Fast-forward one year, and the team has fallen back down to Earth in fantastic fashion. The offensive struggles have been highly surprising. Del Rio came under fire for dropping offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave in favor of promoting QB coach Todd Downing to the post.
Downing is said to have a very close relationship with Carr. As such, this likely played a role in his promotion. However, the move simply hasn’t panned out very well. Oakland is averaging a meager 20.3 PPG — down from last year’s mark of 26.0. In addition, Del Rio and GM Reggie McKenzie have failed to shore up an immensely poor secondary. With the move to Vegas looming, it will be an interesting decision in whether Del Rio indeed makes the move with the franchise to Sin City.
Joseph isn’t going anywhere. Though his first year hasn’t gone to plan, it isn’t Joseph’s fault that he was saddled with the quarterbacking duo of Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. An aging defense has been good — but is clearly showing signs of slowing down.
The hot seat is warming on Joseph simply due to the recent success of the franchise. John Elway is a winner in every sense — and likely won’t be satisfied with a below .500 season. Wholesale changes will invariably be made from a personnel standpoint. Settling the quarterback position — either via trade, free agency, or the draft — will need to occur.
Joseph will be given more time to succeed without question. However if another losing season occurs next year, all bets are off as to his longterm future with the team.
Jackson reminds you of the lovable — yet flawed favorite uncle. Though he’s got some issues, he’s still a beloved figure. In two years with the Browns, Jackson has a combined record of 1-28. Cleveland simply hasn’t gotten over the proverbial hump with the Los Angeles native in charge. Much of it has to do with a lack of quality quarterback play — though the franchise has been dubiously plagued by this entity for over a decade.
With new GM John Dorsey coming in, Jackson’s immediate future actually seems solidified. A respected executive, Dorsey will surely tinker with a somewhat talented preexisting roster. His public goal is to get Jackson some more ability within the squad.
Though the rapport between Dorsey and Jackson is currently positive, he likely won’t have a job beyond next year if there’s not noticeable improvement on the field going forward.
The less-popular of the two Gruden brothers may be falling siege to a rough-and-tumble culture in Washington.
Washington has been mired in a stand-off with quarterback Kirk Cousins for the last year. Cousins has established himself as a top-15 quarterback within the NFL — an asset many teams would love to have. However, his longterm future with the franchise continues to be a question mark. In four years, Gruden’s career record with Washington is 26-34-1. This mark doesn’t exactly inspire greatness — nor does it signal an elite coach by any stretch. Sitting at 5-8, Washington is careening towards a finish in the bottom-half of the NFL. Injuries along the offensive line have hindered the team’s ceiling considerably.
With Cousins, Bashaud Breeland and Zach Brown all slated to become free agents, this offseason will be crucial for both Washington and Gruden’s future as the head coach. If Cousins leaves, Washington likely would hit the reboot button.
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