Tuesday, December 27, 2016

NFL Coaches Hot Seat Getting Warmer

It's that time of the year again where NFL owners and front office executives make the difficult choice in firing their head coach. Fair or not, this annual purge takes out about a half dozen coaches and it looks like 2016 will spare no expense on its head coaching victims. As much as I hate compiling this list, because these are regular people we are talking about, these are the teams and coaches likely to part ways.

Already Gone: 
Todd Bowles might be next.
Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars made the decision to fire Bradley two weeks ago. He compiled a record of 14-48 in four years on the job. It was not all his fault, but not winning games isn't going to make any friends with the front office. Doug Marone is the interim head coach; he could be a candidate to replace Bradley full time.

Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles Rams: The Jeff Fisher era ended weeks ago with the Rams at 4-9, ending a rocky 4-1/2 year tenure with the LA/St. Louis franchise. Fisher went 31-45-1, and was best known for producing mediocrity, going 7-9 twice and 7-8-1 in his first season in St. Louis. Since being fired, Fisher is trying to repair his image through interviews, hoping he can land another coaching job. Recently he exposed Rams owner Stan Kronkie and his intentions to move to LA. The Rams are going for broke in their coaching search. Jon Gruden, Sean Payton, Jim Harbarugh, and even Ron Rivera are rumored coaches that the Rams are interested in.

Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills: The Bills fired Ryan on Tuesday morning, just days before the season finale against the New York Jets. Ryan went 15-16 in two seasons with Buffalo. He promised playoffs and never delivered. Ryan hasn't been to the playoffs as a head coach since 2010.

On the Hot Seat:
Todd Bowles, New York Jets: Bowles is likely coaching for his job on Sunday when the Jets face the Bills. Fair or not, Bowles' Jets have been uncompetitive down the stretch. They have gotten blown out by a combined 126-23 in three of their last four games, and have surrendered 41 points each in two of those contests. Bowles mishandled the quarterback situation, and his defense is one of the worst. Bowles isn't alone in blame though. GM Mike Maccagnan constructed this mess and should be on the hot seat along with Bowles. Jets owner Woody Johnson wouldn't surprise either way.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis is the longest tenured head coach in the NFL, and his Bengals have not done much in that time. Yes, Lewis has taken his team to the playoffs seven times, and he turned around a one time laughingstock of a franchise, but after an 0-7 playoff record and a season that will result in a losing record and no playoffs, many are clamoring for a change. However, owner Mike Brown is very patient -- he would have to be if he allowed Lewis to go on through the ridiculous Chad "OchoCinco" years without any retribution. There is speculation that Lewis might retire. Either way, it is likely the end of the road for Lewis in Cincy.

Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts: Pagano's Colts have been awful this year. A lot of that blame rests with Pagano for sure, but most of the blame should be pinned on GM Ryan Grigshon who built this mess of a team. What football executive decides to surround his franchise quarterback with no offensive line, an aging running back and no talent at receiver? And I am not the biggest Andrew Luck fan in the world, but seriously, what GM does this and thinks he's fielding a competitive team? While Grigson should take the fall, Pagano likely will fall on the sword first. He is fully responsible for the competitive performance on the field, and it hasn't been good for some time in Indy. Like Woody Johnson in New York and Mike Brown in Cincinnati, it wouldn't surprise if Colts owner Jim Irsay does nothing, but something should be done.

Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers: With the team likely moving to Los Angeles, and a full competitive rebuild also likely with aging stars Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates still on this roster, it is time for McCoy to go. The Chargers are bad. They have missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons for the Chargers, and McCoy takes a brunt of the responsibility. Plus, losing to the winless Cleveland Browns does McCoy no help in keeping his job. Adios.

Rex Ryan fired by Buffalo on 12/27/16.
Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers: Kelly's future with the Niners rests with the fate of GM Trent Baalke, who many expect to leave the Bay Area. Kelly's system has not worked in San Francisco, and hell it didn't work in Philly either. With the 49ers starring at a 1-15 season, and with madman Jed York running the show, it should be curtains for Kelly. Time for him to go back to college.

Likely safe, but you never know:

Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns: The Browns have been dreadful. A lot of that is the fault of Jackson, but the blame really falls at the feet of owner Jimmy Haslam, who has admitted that there this 1-15 season is major part to past mistakes. In short, Jackson should get a reprieve for this season and should be allowed to comeback next year. The Browns have a ton of draft picks. If they can improve to 6 or 7 wins in 2017 -- that would be a "Hue" step in the right direction. That being said, Haslam is unpredictable. He did fire Mike Pettine, who seemed to have the Browns moving in the right direction in spite of the Johnny Manziel fiasco.

Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions: This might seem a bit unfair to include Jim Caldwell on this list, but think about it. The Lions were 9-4 and in full control of their playoff destiny. They are likely going to lose out and finish out of the playoffs, barring the Giants beating the Redskins on Sunday. Collapses like this usually get coaches fired. Caldwell deserves to come back in 2017, and likely will be back, but if the Lions decide to fire him after this finish, who could blame them.

Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings: This is so weird. If I told you in August when the team lost Teddy Bridgewater for the season, and shortly thereafter lost Adrian Peterson for most of the season, you would have said an 8-8 season would be a miracle for the Vikings. But, the Vikings decided to go for it when Bridgewater went down. They traded for Sam Bradford, and got off to a 5-0 start. They are 2-8 since that great start and will miss the playoffs. There is even talk of "miscommunication" between Zimmer and his defense. The same defense that was playing lights out in September. Zimmer isn't going anywhere, but his seat will be hot heading into 2017.

John Fox, Chicago Bears: Fox should be on the hot seat albeit with a record of 9-22 in two seasons with the Bears, but there hasn't been that much chatter in Chi Town regarding his job status. The Bears have a lot of issues, namely the quarterback position. Jay Cutler is a bum and the team is stuck with Matt Barkley right now. Unless the Bears make a swift move on Fox next week, expect him to be back for one more year. He does have two years remaining on his deal.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints: It's not so much that the Saints will fire Payton, quiet the contrary, they love the guy.  Its the fact that he will be wanted by so many teams without a head coach. The Rams want Payton, and word is he might be interested. If the Jets fire Bowles next week, you can figure that Woody Johnson would also want Payton as well. So while the Saints want to keep Payton as their head coach, he may want to go to greener pastures all to his own. Next to Lewis he's one of the league's longest tenured coaches, and he may want the challenge of a big market.

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