2015 Coaches Hot Seat – Final Week

Never in my years watching the NFL has there been so much turmoil in the coaching ranks during the season. This has been the year of the NFL Coordinator Terror. So far, we have seen 4 offensive coordinators go – only one of who was fired along with his head coach – and 3 defensive coordinators fired as well as 2 of the more public head coaching firings. (I’m not counting Chip Kelly as a mid-season departure.) Detroit even fired their entire front office mid-season (President Tom Lewan and GM Martin Mayhew). With that intro let’s look at the individual teams.

Fired:

  • Ken Wisenhunt (TEN) – After winning in week one with the rookie #2 draft pick Marcus Mariotta at QB, the Titans looked listless and their offense unimaginative. After a season and a half, it is surprisingly not a question about keeping Wisenhunt even until the end of the season. Former Bills Head Coach Mike Mularky takes over as interim.
  • Joe Philbin (MIA) – Tannenhill has looked like the bad Tannenhill for the listless Dolphins 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. Dan Campbell is a stop-gap and won’t be kept as the head coach next season.
  • Chip Kelly (PHI) – As in all cases for head coaches not named Bill Belicheck (Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren to name a couple), Chip Kelly gets all the personnel powers in addition to his coaching duties and fails miserably.

Gone:

  • 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 4 years in Indy. This is his own preference. Pagano refused a 1-year extension before the season. I imagine (although very few interpret it this way) that he has had it with GM Ryan Grigson who seems to NOT be on the hot seat (but should be) because he has the favor of Irsay. (A recent account describes recently fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton as being forced on Pagano by Grigson.) We’ll see if Irsay changes his mind once he finds out that the best coaching candidates are not interested in this opening.
  • 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.
  • Mike Pettine (CLE) – I think that Pettine has done an admirable job in Cleveland. However, this dysfunctional fan base appears to smell blood, so Haslam may be forced to blow the whole thing up and start again.

Likely Gone:

  • Sean Payton (NO) – How much of the Saints problems are due to Drew Brees declining skills is no longer the burning question in NO. With no run game and a pourous defense, no one seems to care anymore.
  • Jeff Fisher (STL) – Played the Seahawks nicely as always, however, another 7-9 season doesn’t cut it. Unfortunately, the team’s planned move to LA complicates this situation and may let Fisher keep his job.
  • Mike McCoy (SD) – With Wisenhunt as his OC, McCoy lead SD back to the play-offs in 2013. However, last year they regressed and they have gone even further now. This could be the LA effect.

Uncomfortable:

  • 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.
  • Dan Quinn (ATL) – After starting out going 5-0, the Falcons were 1-8 over the last 9 games. Their win against the previously undefeated Carolina Panthers probably quiets any thought of making Quinn a one-and-done HC.
  • Jim Tomsula (SF) – Firing Tomsula after one year would be an admission that administration screwed up with forcing out Jim Harbaugh. I don’t see that happening however much it might be deserved.
  • Rex Ryan (BUF) – Again, it is unlikely that Rex be fired after only one season, but with new owners the Pegulas and Rex’s prior record, it’s not crazy.

Cooling down:

  • Jim Caldwell (DET) – Fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Since then, Jim Bob Cooter has changed the offense to suit Matt Stafford’s skills and they are looking much better. Although the conventional wisdom is the Caldwell is gone after the season, I’m not so sure that Martha Firestone Ford won’t keep him – at least until there’s a new administration in place.
  • Jason Garrett (DAL) – With last year’s OL Coach now in Washington and last year’s OPOY RB DeMarco Murray in Philadelphia, suddenly the Cowboys can’t run the ball anymore. It took almost half a season for Darren MacFadden to get healthy and revitalize the run game, but by then the season was lost. Stephen Jones has commented that you don’t fire a coach and blow up a staff after one losing season. True, but there do need to be changes, whether that is just in the scheme or if the personnel enters int it as well is yet to be seen.
  • Bill O’Brien (HOU) – After totally mismanaging his QB situation to start the season, O’Brien APOLOGIZED to his team (Imagine Belicheck doing that!) and since then they have been winning. They’re currently on track to win the AFC South after looking totally lost earlier. They are remarkably doing this with their 4th starting QB of the season. (The other teams using 4 QB’s this year are the disappointing Ravens and Colts.

Over-acheivers:

Not much to say about these guys; the group name says it all.

  • Jack Del Rio (OAK)
  • Todd Bowles (NYJ)
  • Jay Gruden (WAS)
  • Andy Reid (KC)

Stable:

  • Mike Tomlin (PIT) – If Pittsburgh misses the play-offs again this year, it will be the 3rd time in 4 years. The Rooney’s have always been an incredibly loyal franchise, but at what time do you decide that it’s time to move on? It’s a very small possibility that he’s let go.
  • Mike McCarthy (GB)
  • Gary Kubiak (DEN) – Kubiak was drafted by the Broncos the same year Elway got there and they have been best buddies ever since. No way he gets let go at this point.

Definitely Safe:

  • John Harbaugh (BAL) – Super Bowl Winner in 2012. Before this year, Harbaugh had led the Ravens into the playoffs every year he’s been there except one. This team still plays hard as seen by their win over Pittsburgh last week. The defense has gotten markedly better over the last half of the season. Otherwise, I’d be predicting DC Dean Pees getting fired. I don’t see that now. However, I don’t have the same confidence about OC Marc Trestman.
  • Marvin Lewis (CIN) – Expect OC Hue Jackson to get another shot at a head coaching gig this offseason.
  • Ron Rivera (CAR)
  • Bruce Arians (ARZ)
  • Pete Carroll (SEA) – Super Bowl Winner in 2013
  • Bill Belicheck (NE) – Super Bowl Winner

 

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