We’re only a quarter of the way through the NFL season but already it appears that some coaching positions may be in jeopardy. Beginning with the coaches on the “hottest seat” (or whose job is most unstable), here are 5 coaches who need to find a spark for their respective teams, or risk losing their jobs.
(1) Ben McAdoo- New York Giants
The New York Giants are the surprise story of the season thus far, and not in a good way. Only a year after going 11-5 and guiding the Giants to the playoffs as a rookie head coach, Ben McAdoo and his squad have taken a massive step backwards. After starting this season 0-4, the Giants can pretty much kiss the playoffs goodbye. Only one team in NFL history (1992 Chargers) has overcome an 0-4 start to make the playoffs. Further, the issues facing the Giants are not exactly easy fixes mid-season. Despite their porous offensive line and lackluster run game being their primary issues last season, the Giants did little to address them in the offseason. They did draft running back Wayne Gallman in this year’s draft, but it appears that he alone will not be enough to rejuvenate their rushing attack.
McAdoo served as offensive coordinator with the Giants before being promoted. The Giants did not want to lose him, and believed he was the best option to get the most out of quarterback Eli Manning. Giants fans are still waiting for that to happen. Without an effective Eli, McAdoo will have a tough time convincing anyone he is worthy of the position, especially considering his consistently tense relationship with star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. GM Jerry Reese is the man who assembled this squad, and after 10 years, the Giants may look to fully clean house. It just may happen sooner than expected.
(2) Chuck Pagano- Indianapolis Colts
The first three seasons of Pagano’s tenure with the Colts saw them finish each season 11-5. Further, the Colts consistently improved in the playoffs, advancing a round deeper with each year. Everything was looking up for the Colts. Then suddenly, it wasn’t.
Since his arrival in Indy, the Colts have failed to provide Andrew Luck with a suitable offensive line. While his skill, among other factors, may have hid that deficiency early in his career, the punishment Luck has taken is really beginning to show. Fast forward two years, and after back-to-back 8-8 seasons, the Colts have started this season 0-4. Pagano will only be able to use Luck’s injury-caused absence as an excuse for so long. The fact is, the Colts do not have a roster that scares opponents. Besides T.Y. Hilton, there is no Colt that warrants a specific game plan. Most notably, the Colts’ defense continuously ranks at the bottom of the league despite Pagano’s own history as a defensive coach. With a new GM at the helm, Pagano is on this ice. If Andrew Luck comes back and the team fails to compete, it’s hard to imagine Pagano leading the team this time next season.
(3) John Fox- Chicago Bears
Already off to a rough 1-3 start to the season, Fox was forced to play his ace in the hole. Fox is sending Quarterback Mike Glennon and his eight turnovers to the bench in favor of this year’s second overall draft pick, Mitchell Trubisky. Regardless of how you think Trubisky will fare on Sunday, having the #2 pick in the draft on the bench gave Fox a sort of excuse for his team’s poor play. “Sure we are bad, but we got the future on the bench.” However, in choosing to start Trubisky, Fox can no longer hide behind promises for the future to keep his job. With this decision, all of his chips are on the table. If Trubisky looks composed and is able to produce on the field, Fox will be hailed as a genius for having the guts to turn to the rookie. However, if Trubisky is no better than Glennon, and the Bears continue to struggle, he will be the coach who ruined a great QB prospect by rushing him to the field. Further, much like Pagano, Fox’s background is on the defensive side of the ball. This considered, it’s hard to see GM Ryan Pace tolerating the Bears’ awful defensive performances much longer, particularly with young coaches like Sean McVay working wonders with young quarterbacks. Fox’s future is inextricably intertwined with how Trubisky plays. But hey, No pressure kid.
(4) Anthony Lynn- San Diego Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are in really bad shape. They just moved to a city that ignores them. They play in the smallest stadium in the NFL, StubHub Center, but can’t fill it with anything other than opposing fans. Just last week, Philly came to town and it was a sea of green throughout the crowd. Most importantly, the Chargers look pretty terrible. Sure, they don’t look Cleveland terrible, but any team led by Phillip Rivers should look far better than they do. Chargers players are fed up, as evidenced by Philip Rivers’ clear frustration with Lynn in the Chargers loss last Sunday. It seems as though the only real beneficiary of this move was (unsurprisingly) team owner Dean Spanos. Meanwhile, Lynn may very well find himself as the scapegoat for this mess come the end of the season. With a losing record, disgruntled players and a seemingly non-existent fan-base, the Chargers may be looking for any spark they can get. Tough as it is, the coach is usually the first casualty of finding that spark. Lynn will probably last the season, but with the prospects of a total organizational and brand rebuild in the offseason, it’s hard to see the Chargers keeping him around much longer. Given Rivers’ frustrations with the team, he may not be far behind.
(5) Marvin Lewis- Cincinnati Bengals
Entering his 15th season as head coach of the Bengals, most NFL fans are left wondering how Marvin Lewis still has a job. Lewis is not necessarily a “bad” coach, but after 14 seasons and zero playoff victories, there is not much to show for his efforts. Coaches and their messages get stale over time. And, with no championships or major victories to fall back on, it is astonishing that the Bengals have not looked for a new leader. Further, Lewis has definitely made some questionable decisions. For instance, he continues to support notorious cheap shot artist Vontaze Burfict, giving him an unlimited supply of second chances. Lewis has gotten away with perennial playoff failures thanks to his team’s annually strong regular season performances. However, with the Bengals going 1-3 to start the season, and looking terrible in the process, Lewis can no longer count behind regular season victories for job stability. Let’s hope the Bengals kept Hue Jackson’s number. He’s only a short drive away and undoubtedly looking for a way out himself.
Logos courtesy: Giants.com, Colts.com, logodatabases.com, USAtoday.com, Bengals.com
Cover photo courtesy: Daily Mail UK