7 NFL coaches on the hot seat to start 2016 season
7 NFL coaches on the hot seat to start 2016 season
Everybody’s all slathered up with optimism right now. Six months of players “feeling better than they ever have” thanks to watching what they eat, a month of fake-game successes to point to while conveniently looking past the hairy roster warts that exist, all teams in a tie for first.
Yet by next Tuesday morning, 16 teams will be 0-1 and the wind will not be so much beneath their wings. Among the 16 will be some teams whose coaches were given reprieves last January. And there will be owners who wonder how wise it was to give them a chance to stick around and make things right.
Which coaches have to worry most about an itchy finger on the firing trigger?
These coaches. . .
Rex Ryan, Buffalo
The Bills went 8-8 last year and, when you look at the results (a couple of three-point losses) it wasn’t all that awful from 30,000 feet. But up close, you had a Bills team that played with chronic lack of discipline, underachieved massively on defense, needed a pair of wins in the final two games to get to .500 and could never get to cashing the checks on the field that Ryan wrote with his mouth all year. The Pegulas don’t strike me as exceedingly patient people when it comes to Ryan. The Bills’ early-season schedule sucks. Two games with the Patriots, at Seattle, at Los Angeles, at Miami when it’s still hot and hosting the Cardinals. They’ve had a fleet of injuries on defense so Rex has a ready-made excuse when he gets the gate after Week 9.
Marvin Lewis, Bengals
While I’d never presume an in-season move from the excruciatingly slow-to-act Brown family, if the Bengals take the field with anything approaching the lack of discipline seen in their playoff loss to the Steelers when their tougher-than-thou, look-at-me histrionics cost them a win, then maybe even the owners will see it’s time to hit the eject button. Way too much talent on this team to be held hostage by players who will do whatever they want when the mood strikes them. With offensive coordinator Hue Jackson now in charge of the Browns, it will be interesting to see how Cincy performs with longtime quarterback coach Ken Zampese taking over. Lewis has been head coach since 2003. The Bengals have made the playoffs six of the last seven seasons. And they have been one-and-done every single time.
Mike McCoy, Chargers
Into his fourth season now and coming off a 4-12 season after consecutive 9-7 years, the Chargers are headed in the wrong direction and quarterback Philip Rivers is going to be 35 by the end of the year. San Diego has a decent early schedule with four of its first six at home including the Chiefs and Broncos. With Denver figuring to slip back, the division is not exactly a murderer’s row right now. But a team agitating for a new stadium needs wins to make a persuasive case that people will miss them when they’re gone. McCoy needs to find a way to provide those.
Jason Garrett, Cowboys
There are times when I think Garrett might be a Texas version of Marvin Lewis. He’s comfortable for the Jones Family. He’s been there longer than any coach in the Jones Era – five seasons – and already has a built in excuse since the routinely broken Tony Romo is broken again and Dak Prescott will be the starter. Last season, same thing. And they finished 4-12 after a 12-4 season in 2014. But the Cowboys have just that lone playoff appearance in 2014 since Garrett took over.
Doug Pederson, Eagles
Strikes me as completely overmatched. Having been at Andy Reid’s side for so long – and Reid may be a terrific coach but he’s not on the little things – Pederson has been plopped into a leading role with a team that’s gutting itself (and was gutting itself in the Chip Kelly Era) with a rookie quarterback now starting for it. Like Garrett, he’ll have the built-in excuse of having that rookie under center and that could buy him time. But if Pederson doesn’t look like the kind of coach who the Eagles think can get the most out of Wentz, they’ll pull the plug on him too and look elsewhere. Not a real consistent program down there.
Jim Caldwell, Lions
Caldwell survived the regime change in the offseason that put former Patriots exec Bob Quinn in charge of everything, but Quinn’s shown so far he’s determined to remake the Lions in the Patriots’ image. So if Caldwell doesn’t carry over whatever it was he said or did to curry Quinn’s favor, look for the Lions to start shopping for the next guy. And that next guy could be someone from Foxboro, either Matt Patricia or Josh McDaniels.
Gus Bradley, Jaguars
The buzz around the Jaguars cuts both ways. On one hand, nobody has bothered to talk about the Jaguars with any level of seriousness since Byron Leftwich was throwing for them. On the other hand, the expectations of making a big leap could be a little outsized. They’ve won 12 games in three seasons under Bradley. Finish 8-8 and you’re doubling your average win total. But people aren’t talking about the Jags in 8-8 terms, rather they are being discussed in postseason terms. And with the players they drafted on defense the past two seasons – Dante Fowler, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack – it’s on Bradley to get something out of this defense that he was brought in to shape in the mold of the Seahawks defense. The Jaguars are tethered offensively to quarterback Blake Bortles, who is an updated version of Drew Bledsoe. He threw 35 touchdowns last year but 18 picks, leading the NFL. He has yet to finish a season with over 60 percent completions. When the Jags disappoint, it will be interesting to see if Shad Khan stays patient.