Rating the job security of every NFL head coach

Rating the job security of every NFL head coach

The New York Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo on Monday amid a 2-10 season. But the Giants won’t be the only team looking to hit the reset button as the 2017 season winds down.

NFL Nation reporters took the temperature of the rest of the league, rating the job security of every head coach using the following scale:

5. Hot seat: Headed out if things don’t turn around in the final four games
4. Warm seat: Not safe if the season ends up a disappointment
3. Lukewarm seat: Not under fire but not disaster-proof
2. Cool seat: Safe barring a total disaster
1. Cold seat: No way he’ll get fired


Rating 5: Hot seat

John Fox (12-32) has the worst winning percentage (.273) in team history. There’s a real chance he leaves town with fewer victories than his predecessor, Marc Trestman (13), who lasted just two years on the job. The Bears have never even been .500 under Fox, whose time in Chicago is drawing to a close. — Jeff Dickerson

The Bengals had yet another prime-time meltdown against the Steelers on Monday night, and their chances of making the playoffs are almost nonexistent now. They couldn’t reach a contract agreement with Marvin Lewis before the season, essentially making him a lame-duck coach. A disappointing 2017 season could lead to a mutual parting of ways between the two sides. — Katherine Terrell

Hue Jackson is 1-28 leading the Browns, and it’s tough to see a coach surviving that. He insists he hasn’t lost the owners’ confidence, and the owners are not talking about the situation. But Jimmy Haslam stood up strongly for Jackson before the season. An 0-12 record since, though, puts stresses on that stance — except nobody could expect this season’s team, as built, to win many games. Given Haslam’s belief in Jackson, it would not be a surprise if he stayed. But given the record, it would not be a surprise if he left. — Pat McManamon

Chuck Pagano survived back-to-back 8-8 seasons, missing the playoffs both times. But the end is in sight after six seasons as the Colts’ coach. Pagano was assured his first losing season at the helm in Indianapolis when the Colts lost to Jacksonville in Week 13. Last January, owner Jim Irsay would only guarantee that Pagano would coach this season, despite him being under contract in 2018 and 2019. Pagano has gone from leading the Colts to the playoffs in his first three seasons, to likely not making the postseason in his final three. — Mike Wells

The Bucs finished 9-7 last year in Dirk Koetter’s first season as head coach, but at 4-8 and having been outscored 81-33 in three NFC South games, things aren’t looking good. What’s worse is that the Bucs have averaged less than 20 points a game in the three years Koetter has been calling plays and have averaged 18.5 points in 2017, despite being loaded with weapons. By comparison, when former Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford had to take a leave of absence in 2014, first-time coordinator Marcus Arroyo’s offense was averaging 16 points a game. Does some of that fall on quarterback Jameis Winston‘s shoulder injury? Sure. But the previous coaching staff didn’t get any rope when their defensive line was decimated by injuries, or when their best player on defense at the time, linebacker Kwon Alexander, was issued a four-game suspension. The Bucs lost all four of those remaining games. — Jenna Laine


Rating 4: Warm seat

Jason Garrett was named Coach of the Year just a year ago after directing the Cowboys to a 13-3 finish with a rookie quarterback and rookie running back. But Dallas has been one of the bigger disappointments in 2017 with a 6-6 record. Losing Ezekiel Elliott to a six-game suspension hurts, but the Cowboys had months to prepare for his absence, and the offense fell apart during a three-game losing streak when the defense needed it most. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has publicly backed the coaches — and not in a vote-of-confidence kind of way. In 2015, Garrett was able to withstand a 4-12 finish with then-quarterback Tony Romo missing 12 games. Every team every year loses players somehow, and the good ones answer the challenge. Will Jones be as kind if the Cowboys collapse in their final four games? — Todd Archer

The Broncos have never fired a coach who started and finished just one season with the team, so history says Vance Joseph would get a chance to help clean up the mess of 2017. But with nine losses in the past 10 games — including eight in a row, and four by at least 20 points — it’s unclear how the organization would react if Joseph closed out the season with four losses. Part of the Broncos’ issues right now is they have no clear plan regarding what kinds of players they want for what kinds of schemes they want, on either side of the ball. To change coaches again certainly wouldn’t help clear up the vision, but public opinion has affected the team’s thinking at times. Four more losses could put Broncos general manager John Elway and president/CEO Joe Ellis in a position where they feel like they “have to do” something. — Jeff Legwold

Bill O’Brien has one year left on his contract, so the Texans will likely sign him to an extension early in the offseason, or he and the team will part ways. O’Brien hasn’t made injuries an excuse this season, but it would have been hard for the Texans to overcome losing quarterback Deshaun Watson, defensive end J.J. Watt, linebacker Whitney Mercilus and running back D’Onta Foreman, regardless of who the head coach was. O’Brien is on the warm seat, but I think general manager Rick Smith and owner Bob McNair will bring O’Brien back. — Sarah Barshop

Todd Bowles is hovering between 3 and 4. Despite already winning five games, he has continued to facilitate the team’s move in the right direction in what began as a rebuilding year. The Jets have been competitive in all but one game, and many of their young players are showing signs of development. Bowles has changed the culture in the locker room, eliminating the stink from last year. Still, the job isn’t done yet. Ownership is looking for an upbeat finish to the season. — Rich Cimini


Rating 3: Lukewarm seat

Just two years ago, the Cardinals had the most prolific offense and were a game away from the Super Bowl. Since 2015, they’ve won just 12 games in the past two years while the offense has struggled not only to move the ball, but to score. It’s not all Bruce Arians’ fault. He’s working without his starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, and star running back, David Johnson. However, if the Cardinals have a major meltdown in the last four games, the question of replacing Arians should be taken seriously. Otherwise, he’ll be safe for at least another season, should he decide to return. — Josh Weinfuss

Dan Quinn guided the Falcons all the way to the Super Bowl in his second season a year ago. Although that early success certainly pleased owner Arthur Blank, Blank isn’t content with being a runner-up. He wants a title, especially after the Falcons came so close before blowing a 28-3 lead against New England. If the Falcons miss the playoffs this season, it won’t cost Quinn his job. But if things start to spiral down moving forward, he’s not immune to Blank’s wrath. — Vaughn McClure

Any perceived heat for John Harbaugh has been reduced since the Ravens put themselves in prime position for their seventh playoff berth in 10 seasons under him. Harbaugh has always had strong public support from owner Steve Bisciotti, even after Baltimore missed out on the postseason the past two years. “I’m lucky to have a leader like him,” Bisciotti said in August. But there will be increased scrutiny surrounding Harbaugh if the Ravens fall apart in the final four games like they did in 2016. –Jamison Hensley

This is a tough question about Jim Caldwell, and it’s something of a yearly ritual. This season is a bit more difficult to gauge, and if I could put it at a 3.5, I would. A playoff appearance should mean he’s safe, and even a 10-6 record with no playoff appearance should mean he’s fine. Without knowing the length of his contract extension, it’s tough to say what a 9-7 record or worse would mean for his job status. He does not seem to be as safe as he was six weeks ago, though. — Michael Rothstein

On one hand, Jack Del Rio just signed a four-year contract extension in the offseason after leading the Raiders to a 12-4 record and their first playoff appearance since 2002. On the other, the Raiders are one of — if not the most — disappointing teams in the NFL this season. At 6-6, they’re still in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West, but owner Mark Davis — while not as impetuous as his late father Al, who ran through nine head coaches from 1995 through 2011 — is not exactly in a great mood. As Del Rio himself said after firing defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. two weeks ago, nobody in the organization should be comfortable. — Paul Gutierrez


Rating 2: Cool seat

This could get bumped up a notch if Ted Thompson retires — or is forced to retire — but the 64-year-old GM still has more than a year left on his contract. The Packers are not a shake-it-up organization, and that comes from the top in team president Mark Murphy. And even if the Packers did hire a new GM, there’s a decent chance it would come from in-house (or someone who once worked in-house), where Mike McCarthy has strong support. — Rob Demovsky

After opening the season 0-4, Anthony Lynn’s Chargers have won six of their past eight games and are tied atop the AFC West. So even if the Chargers were to fall flat in the last four games, it would be hard to believe the front office would move on from the first-year head coach. Lynn’s job should be safe heading into 2018. — Eric D. Williams

This was a “prove-it” year for Doug Pederson, and so far he has proven to be far better than most anticipated, even budding into a candidate for Coach of the Year. With the Eagles exceeding expectations and holding the league’s best record for most of the season, Pederson has certainly earned at least another year barring total self-destruction down the stretch. — Tim McManus

The Titans are 17-11 since Mike Mularkey took over as full-time head coach before the 2016 season. That’s tied with Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson for the best record among the seven 2016 head coach hires. Mularkey is on his way to leading the Titans to their first playoff berth since 2008. The offense hasn’t lived up to some of its high expectations, but barring a total collapse or aggressive desire for change, Mularkey should be safe. Currently in year two of a three-year deal, he’s much more likely to get an extension than to be fired. — Cameron Wolfe

Jay Gruden signed a two-year extension last offseason, so he has three years remaining on his contract. More than anything, Washington’s downfall this season is a product of injuries, with 11 projected starters or key backups on injured reserve. It’s hard to blame coaching for the team’s current situation. — John Keim


Rating 1: Cold seat

Sean McDermott will be given two years at a minimum to turn things around in Buffalo, and most likely longer. His team has generally exceeded expectations in his first season. The Bills still have a chance to finish with what would be just their third winning record since 2000, so some level of respectability has returned to the franchise, which was owner Terry Pegula’s goal for this season. — Mike Rodak

The Panthers are holding onto the No. 6 seed in the NFC. If they make the playoffs, it would be the third time in four years. That, a trip to Super Bowl 50, and two NFL Coach of the Year awards should make Ron Rivera a lock to be back next season. — David Newton

Doug Marrone has taken a franchise that won only 17 games over the past five seasons to the verge of the playoffs. He has done it by changing the culture around the team, with some significant help from executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin. That started with a mentally and physically exhausting training camp. Based on what this franchise has gone through over the past decade, especially the debacle that was the 2016 season, Marrone should be in the conversation for Coach of the Year. — Mike DiRocco

The Chiefs signed Andy Reid to a contract extension last summer. While the team’s recent slump doesn’t inspire confidence in Reid’s coaching ability, it won’t lead chairman Clark Hunt to regret his decision. He’s not a reactionary owner and always takes the long view on this type of issue. In the bigger picture, even considering how the Chiefs have collapsed after their quick 5-0 start to the season, Reid is the best coach Kansas City has had in a long time. — Adam Teicher

The Rams hired Sean McVay when he was only 30 years old because they wanted to grow with him. And that belief has been strengthened considerably while witnessing the masterful job he has done with an organization coming off 10 consecutive losing seasons. McVay, the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, has the Rams sitting at 9-3, representing the team’s best start since 2003. He has taken the controls of an offense that was among the NFL’s worst for about a decade and has suddenly turned it into one of the league’s best, while breathing life into franchise quarterback Jared Goff. But what has impressed the front office most about McVay has been his ability to lead and change the culture. — Alden Gonzalez

Adam Gase earned a lot of equity winning 10 games and taking the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season as head coach in 2016. Miami is 5-7 in 2017, but Gase is playing with house money. He has the support of ownership and has remained steady through all the injury and distractions the Dolphins have faced this year. — James Walker

Mike Zimmer has a strong case for NFL Coach of the Year after taking a Vikings team that lost two starting quarterbacks and their top 2017 draft pick to injuries and turning them into Super Bowl contenders. A year after Minnesota slid to an 8-8 finish after a 5-0 start, Zimmer has had a handle on every complicated situation that has risen this season. Battling hardships on and off the field in 2016 — he had eight surgeries on his eye since last season — Zimmer has experienced tremendous growth in his fourth year as a head coach. He built an elite defense while allowing Pat Shurmur to install an offense that has yielded big improvements in every category. With a first-place team eyeing the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC playoff picture, Zimmer’s seat is about as cold as it gets. — Courtney Cronin

If the Saints stuck by Sean Payton through three straight 7-9 seasons — even giving him a lucrative extension in 2016 — they’re certainly not going to change course now after this breakthrough 9-3 season with a young, rebuilt roster. And when they eventually need to replace Drew Brees, there would be no better tutor for the next quarterback. The only wild card is that Payton could be in demand around the league, but it would be awfully hard to pry him away with things going so well in New Orleans and his contract running through 2020. — Mike Triplett

Mike Tomlin’s seat couldn’t be more chilled. In fact, 113 wins over 10-plus seasons gives Tomlin more security than any NFL coach outside of New England. Tomlin has never had a losing season and just ensured his eighth double-digit-win campaign in 2017. His .657 win percentage is among the game’s best, and he coaches a franchise that’s basically allergic to turnover. Some Steelers fans like to complain about Tomlin, but almost every other NFL franchise would take his record. — Jeremy Fowler

The Niners and CEO Jed York entered this season with no delusions about a quick turnaround for coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. Shanahan has won the respect of the locker room and, despite all the losing, his team has showed no signs of friction or of giving up on him. Shanahan and Lynch signed six-year deals in the offseason, and York has said he will give them plenty of time to see their vision for the franchise realized. Shanahan isn’t going anywhere. — Nick Wagoner

Outside of Bill Belichick, there might not be an NFL coach with more job security than Carroll. Consider this: The Seahawks (8-4) have a chance to win at least 10 games for the sixth straight season. Before Carroll arrived in 2010, they had only five seasons in franchise history with double-digit victories. Carroll has one Super Bowl title with the Seahawks, another Super Bowl appearance and a contract that runs through 2019. He’s the league’s oldest head coach at 66, so the question is how much longer Carroll will want to continue coaching. In all likelihood, he’ll be in Seattle as long as he wants to be. — Brady Henderson


Bonus rating 0: The coldest seat of all … again

Bill Belichick is secure enough to break the 1-5 scale and introduce a new category of “he can coach as long as he wants.” The saying in New England is “In Bill We Trust,” and Belichick has earned that through 18 years of sustained success. Of the growing number of records being set or chased by the Patriots is this: With a 15th straight 10-win season, the Patriots are on the verge of tying the 49ers’ record for most consecutive 10-win seasons (the 49ers had 16 straight from 1983 until 1998). — Mike Reiss

Source: http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/32for32x171205/nfl-2017-rating-job-security-every-head-coach

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