Coaches Hot Seat – Week 2

September 25, 2015:

Wow! What a difference a week makes. Jim Tomsula went from genius to dunce. Tomlin went the other way. Dolphins have played poorly in going 1-1 in 2 winnable games putting Joe Philbin squarely in the hot seat. Tom Coughlin continues to show why he should have retired 2 years ago as the Giants blew 4th quarter leads in both their games. The Seahawks, defending SB losers, have started out with 2 losses as have the Ravens and the Saints. Only Sean Payton of those three needs to have any concern about his job (although some of the assistant coaches…).

We’ll start off talking about the coaches on teams that have gone 0-2, so far.

  • Tom Coughlin (NYG) – Another messy loss by Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants. If this doesn’t prove to ownership that Coughlin has stayed too long, will ANYTHING? BURNING HOT (again)
  • Chuck Pagano (IND) – This team is one hot mess. The Coach and GM are sniping at each other in public. The word is that it’s even worse inside the building. By not doing much of anything to address the crappy O-Line during the off-season, the Colts are seeing their fruits in getting pounded by both the Bills and the Jets. Andrew Luck appears to have seriously regressed after improving in each of his first 4 years in the league. But then what do you expect if your QB is expecting to get hit every time he drops back to throw the ball? HOT
  • Sean Payton (NO) – HOT
  • Chip Kelly (PHI) – Chip Kelly got all the keys to the building this off-season and proceeded to make lots of questionable personnel changes. Now the owner has even come out and said that he doesn’t even know if Kelly knows what he’s doing or not. After going 10-6, fading down the stretch and missing the play-offs his first 2 years, Kelly is squarely eyeing the hot-seat. UNCOMFORTABLE
  • Bill O’Brien (HOU) – Despite the good will he engendered during HBO’s Hard Knocks, Bill O’Brien is quickly squandering it all. Telling your starting QB that he’s the starter, but that you would consider pulling him if he doesn’t measure up had the expected instead of the desired effect. With his confidence already shaky, Hoyer played so poorly in the opener, that O’Brien replaced him with Ryan Mallett after 3 quarters. Not a good message to send to anybody. Instead now they have a stronger armed QB who is unproven and makes lots of stupid mental errors. Now how do you go back to the first starter and what confidence could he possibly have if you did. This could be another 1-15 or 2-14 team. Of course, that can be blamed on them not having a starting quality QB – except that O’Brien’s pronouncements on Hard Knocks during training camp about how good his QB’s were tends to invalidate that excuse. (Note: I have been very critical of Houston’s GM Rick Smith in the past.) Bill Belicheck disciples still batting .000 as NFL head coaches. UNCOMFORTABLE
  • Gus Bradley (JAX) – Year 3 of the Gus Bradley regime after going 4-12 and 3-13 in their first 2 years. If they don’t shows some marked improvement this year, that could be all she wrote. UNCOMFORTABLE.
  • Jim Caldwell (DET) – After making the play-offs with a more disciplined approach last year, Detroit (and particularly Matthew Stafford) have regressed so far this year. Would the Ford’s be so bold as to fire a Head Coach after only 2 seasons? Unlikely. WARM.
  • John Fox (CHI) – Nobody expected much out of the Bears this year. Let’s see how Foxy does over the course of the season. SAFE
  • John Harbaugh (BAL) – After getting killed by the Bengals in week 1, the Raiders took it to the Baltimore Ravens leading to major questions about how they will deal with not having Terrell Suggs for the rest of the season. The Ravens were not able to get off the field on third down which has been a familiar refrain for the last several years.
    Baltimore has a brutal first half schedule. After a 2-week trip out west to play in Denver and Oakland, their next three games are at home against the Steelers, Bengals and Browns. This is followed by another 2-week trip to the west coast to play at Seattle and San Francisco. One can easily see them coming back at 1-6. The only good part about any of this is that this means they will have the Chargers, Chiefs, Cardinals and the Rams at home. SAFE
  • Pete Carroll (SEA) – Although I predicted that the Seahawks were ripe for a fall, I don’t anticipate them completely imploding (a la Bill Callahan coaching the Raiders after their SB win). Kam Chancellor is now returning to the team after a 2-week hold out (after the owner sided with the GM in the dispute, and Chancellor realized that he had no advocate in the team office and absolutely no leverage). He is the leader in that defensive backfield, so I anticipate their play to take a quantum leap. The Seahawks have the Bears, Lions, and Carolina Panthers at home in 3 of the next 4 weeks with a trip to Cincinnati in between. SAFE

2nd Year Coaches

  • Bill O’Brien (HOU) – After another lackluster performance, the Texans are off to a 0-2 start. It sure would be nice to have a QB right about now. (See above)
  • Lovie Smith (TB) – After letting rookie QB Marcus Mariota shred them last week, the Bucs got it together and stifled the New Orleans Saints.
  • Jay Gruden (WAS) – A stable QB situation and change at Defensive Coordinator and the Redskins look like they can be contenders in the suddenly sparse NFC East.
  • Ken Wisenhunt (TEN) – After shredding the Bucs cover 2 defense last week, rookie QB Marcus Mariota had to play against one of the better man-to-man cover defenses in Cleveland. Without his receivers running free through the zones and with his receivers unable to gain separation, Mariota struggled until leading the Titan on 2 late drives.
  • Jim Caldwell (DET) – Not a good look for the Lions so far this year. Caldwell may be heading towards a warmer posterior. (See above)
  • Andy Reid (KC) – Lost a close one to Peyton Manning’s Broncos.
  • Mike Pettine (CLE) – Beat up on the Titans after getting beat up last week by the Jets.
  • Mike Zimmer (MIN) – That’s more like people were looking for when they picked the Vikings to go to the playoffs.

First year coaches :

Jack Del Rio (OAK) – After getting killed by the Bengals in week 1, the Raiders took it to the Baltimore Ravens in week 2. Their defense was supposed to be their strong point with Khalil Mack leading the way, but giving up 33 points a game doesn’t give one much confidence going forward. Meanwhile, rookie WR Amari Cooper continues to shine, and FA pickup Michael Crabtree has added another weapon for Derek Carr.

Rex Ryan (BUF) – Oops. Rex & Co sure stepped in a big pile this weekend. New England spread out their offense negating the awesome pass rush of Buffalo and Rex had no answer for it.

Jim Tomsula (SF) – SF looked like the 49ers of 3 years ago for their first week. Then they looked like the train-wreck everyone was expecting against Pittsburgh. It will be an interesting season by the bay this year.

John Fox (CHI) – The Bears have looked decent in their first 2 games, but how long can they sustain that with Cutler out for who knows how long. (Although I’m sure there are plenty of Bears fans that are happy to go to the next option.) Jimmy Clausen to the rescue?

Todd Bowles (NYJ) – Bowles had an easy start with Cleveland and the Jets defensive front, one of the best in the league, easily overmatched a Colts team that was a SB darling of the national media. Hmmm. Maybe offensive line play does matter to how a team performs. You think?

Dan Quinn (ATL) – Dan Quinn has the Falcons playing way above their heads. The defense is flying around with abandon and Matt Ryan has been is usual competent self. Julio Jones is making a case as the best WR in the NFL.

Gary Kubiak (DEN) – The Broncos have won 2 close games against quality opponents. However, it’s notable that this week, they threw out Kubiak’s west-coast offense and went back to the shotgun, hurry-up offense that Peyton has played his entire career.
On a side note: this speaks to the raging debate among those that insist on ranking players. Bill Belichek has a different game plan every week for Tom Brady whereas Peyton has played in one style of offense his entire career. The flexibility of Tom Brady allows Belicheck to change up his play-calling to get the most out of any given week. This would probably elevate him above Peyton in my book even if the play-off results were not so lopsided.

Hot Seat:

  • Tom Coughlin (NYG) – 2 time SB winner. Has not made the play-offs in any other season as the Giants Head Coach. GM Ernie Accorsi is being questioned as well.
  • Chuck Pagano (IND) – Already being described as on the hot seat before the season even started (despite taking the Colts to the playoffs each of his years in Indy), two ugly losses and a 0-2 record to start are not helping things. GM Ryan Grigson is sharing his seat.
  • Joe Philbin (MIA) – Tannenhill has looked like the bad Tannenhill so far this season and Ndomukong Suh has done nothing after becoming the highest paid defensive player in football. It looks like maybe new GM Mike Tannenbaum is reproducing his “success” with the New York Jets.
  • Sean Payton (NO) – “I get the impression that Sean Payton isn’t a very nice person.” Around The NFL podcast – 9/22/15


  • Chip Kelly (PHI) – (See above)
  • Bill O’Brien (HOU) – (See above)
  • Gus Bradley (JAX) – With Blake Bortles starting to get comfortable, the Jags are not getting blown out as much starting towards the end of last season. They are still losing, but they look like they’re going the right direction.

Warming up:

  • Jim Caldwell (DET) – Old habits die hard. Or tend to reoccur as is more the case here.
  • Jason Garrett (DAL) – With last years OL Coach Bill Callahan now in Washington and last year’s OPOY RB DeMarco Murray in Philadelphia, suddenly the Cowboys can’t run the ball anymore. This was supposed to be the most talented O-line in the NFL.
  • Jeff Fisher (STL) – Played the Seahawks nicely as always, but then laid an egg in DC.


  • Ron Rivera (CAR) – Continues to get the most out of this talent deficient team. The friendly schedule helps.
  • Mike Tomlin (PIT)
  • Mike McCoy (SD)
  • Marvin Lewis (CIN)
  • Bruce Arians (ARZ)

Definitely Safe:

  • Mike McCarthy (GB) –
  • John Harbaugh (BAL) – Super Bowl Winner in 2012. Harbaugh has led the Ravens into the playoffs every year he’s been there except one.
  • Pete Carroll (SEA) – Super Bowl Winner in 2013
  • Bill Belicheck (NE) – Super Bowl Winner

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