NFL Coaching Hot Seat Power Rankings: Vance Joseph overtakes Hue Jackson, Mike McCarthy enters the picture
With five weeks in the books, we take a look at which coaches are in danger of losing their jobs
Coaches dominated the storylines for both good and bad reasons in Week 5.
Sean McVay went for a fourth-and-1 to secure the Rams' two-point win over the Seahawks. Doug Pederson went for two with his team down eight in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' loss to the Vikings. Ron Rivera ran the ball with no timeouts, which forced his kicker to drill a 63-yard field goal to push the Panthers past the Giants. Jason Garrett, the anti-McVay, punted away the Cowboys' opportunity to beat the Texans.
On the good side, you have McVay and Pederson pushing the game forward into the modern age. McVay knew the quarterback sneak is undefeated, so he let Jared Goff get the one yard the Rams needed to win the game. Pederson knew the math checked out, so he went for two and put his team in a position to steal a one-point win. Only one of those moves resulted in a win, but both coaches deserve credit for their forward-minded thinking.
On the bad side, you had Rivera calling for a running play on third-and-1 from the Giants' 46-yard line with ~30 seconds remaining, even though he had no timeouts and was losing by a point. The Panthers got the first down (well, maybe), but they ran out of time to move the ball any closer. Garrett straight up passed up a chance to win a game by punting on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 42-yard line, even though his quarterback is Dak Prescott and his running back is Ezekiel Elliott. Only one of those moves resulted in a loss, but both coaches deserve scrutiny for their backward-minded thinking.
Coaches dominated the storylines for both good and bad reasons in Week 5, so it seems like a good time to conduct a temperature check. Below, you'll find our Hot Seat Power Rankings for NFL head coaches.
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First, a few notes.
One, it goes without saying that ranking coaches in order of who is more likely to get fired isn't something to hoot and holler about. These are real people with real jobs. With that being said, it is our job to criticize and praise these coaches. So, even though it doesn't feel entirely right to be ranking hot seats, we have to, because ...
Two, all 32 coaches are not ranked, because it seems silly to include coaches like Bill Belichick, Pederson, Andy Reid, Sean Payton, and McVay, all of whom could skip their next game for a screening of "A Star Is Born" and still have a job come Monday. Hell, maybe they should take advantage of their job security, because let me tell you, "A Star Is Born" is a fantastic movie.
Three, this isn't a list of who we think should be fired. We also have to factor in what upper management appears to be thinking. Just because we all think Garrett should be on his way out in Dallas doesn't mean he'll place highly on this list, in part because Jerry Jones is seemingly a big fan of his coach.
Four, I don't think any of these coaches are on the verge of getting fired right now. That might change by December, but for now, I think they're all safe until the winter.
Five, roughly half of the league's coaches are listed below. Obviously, I don't think 16 or so coaches will be fired. But at this point in the season, when mediocre teams haven't yet plunged into the downward spiral that will eventually consume them, you can make the case that any coach not named Belichick, Pederson, Reid, and McVay could get fired if things go south in a truly awful way. Pay less attention to the actual numbering of the list and more attention to the tiers.
OK, onto the list because ...
Why they missed the cut
- Lions coach Matt Patricia. The Lions have beaten the Patriots and Packers in two of the past three weeks. Bob Quinn finally got his guy in Patricia and he's definitely not looking for an excuse to fire him. He wants Patricia to succeed, so the Lions really need to collapse for Patricia to lose his job. It's almost definitely not happening this season.
- Falcons coach Dan Quinn. Usually when teams with Super Bowl aspirations start 1-4, their coach's seat heats up. But Quinn is probably safe. Injuries are a legitimate excuse. They've completely derailed the Falcons' season. Meanwhile, Quinn's resume is good enough for him to survive a down year. He's 30-23 with two playoff berths and one Super Bowl appearance. Furthermore, the Falcons have remained competitive despite their injuries. They'll probably be able to win some games down the stretch.
- Raiders coach Jon Gruden: Ten years, $100 million. He's not getting fired.
- Colts coach Frank Reich: This is a rebuilding job and he has the Colts looking competitive.
Tier 4: Cool, but combustible
15. Ravens' John Harbaugh
It might seem strange to put Harbaugh anywhere near this list. He's gone 97-68 as the Ravens coach with six playoff appearances and one championship.
However, consider thatafter the 2017 season ended with the Ravens missing the playoffs for the third-straight season. Bisciotti refused to issue a playoff ultimatum, but he also didn't guarantee Harbaugh would survive another playoff-less season.
The Ravens are 3-2 with a plus-55 point differential, but they just lost to the Browns. If they stumble and miss the playoffs, Harbaugh could be a goner. Fair or not, Harbaugh is saddled with higher expectations than many of his peers. It wouldn't be crazy if the Ravens decided to chase the next great offensive mind with Lamar Jackson's development in mind.
14. Bills' Sean McDermott
I almost left McDermott of this list entirely after his team scored another upset win on Sunday, but put him on because these Bills are so bad from a talent perspective that going winless from here on out isn't out of the realm of possibility. And if that happens, let's just say that there aren't many coaches who can survive an 11-game losing streak. That being said, the Bills have shown the ability to shock teams in the playoff hunt. So I don't see this happening. McDermott taking the Bills to the playoffs last year also might buy him more time as the Bills continue their rebuild.
13. Bengals' Marvin Lewis
The Bengals are rolling, having won four of their first five games. They look like the best team in the AFC North by a significant margin. But as Will Brinson put it on Twitter ...
Lewis has made the playoffs seven times in Cincinnati, but he's never won a playoff game. The bar is higher for Lewis here -- as it should be. Lewis makes it onto this list because he needs to make the playoffs AND win a playoff game to keep his job ... probably. That's a difficult bar to clear.
He'll remain on this list until he wins a playoff game.
12. Chargers' Anthony Lynn
With the Chiefs dominating the headlines, the Chargers have flown under the radar despite surviving September and owning a 3-2 record. They're firmly in the mix for a playoff spot, even if the Chiefs are already running away with the division. If the Chargers continue on this path, his job should be safe. But the Chargers are never far off from disaster. And if the Chargers (noun) Chargers (verb) this up in predictable fashion, Lynn -- after missing the playoffs last year despite working with a playoff-caliber roster -- could be a goner.
11. Dolphins' Adam Gase
How fast fates can change in the NFL. After three weeks, Gase had his Dolphins at 3-0 and seemingly proved that last year's debacle was an aberration caused by Ryan Tannehill's torn ACL. And then, the Dolphins went into Foxborough and got slaughtered by the Patriots before blowing a 17-point lead to the Bengals.
With the Dolphins at 3-2, Gase isn't in the danger zone yet, but if the Dolphins continue their descent, he'll get there. Taking the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2016 might buy him another season regardless, but two losing seasons in a row could doom him.
10. Jets' Todd Bowles
On Sunday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Jets are
So, he's not on the hot seat ... yet.
But there is no movement afoot in the organization to make a change and no one is coaching for his job at this point, sources said. Would I be surprised if the Jets were in the market for a new coach in 2019 (particularly one with a top pedigree on the offensive side of the ball)? Not in the least. At this point, however, the chatter is far ahead of where the organization is, in terms of pondering a change.
A dominating win over the Broncos helps Bowles' chances. And if the Jets show signs of improvement over the course of the season, he'll likely be brought back. But if the Jets don't improve and Sam Darnold's progress stalls then the Jets might decide to bring in an offensive-minded coach to accelerate Darnold's development.
Tier 3: Bad starts, but it's way, way too early
9. Giants' Pat Shurmur
Let me be clear: I don't think Shurmur, who got hired this offseason, is getting fired during the season. I think there's a strong possibility the Giants decide to hang onto Shurmur after the season regardless of how many games they win, because they'll want Shurmur to develop their next franchise quarterback. That being said, this Giants situation is highly combustible. It's difficult to leave him off the list.
The Giants aren't just 1-4. They're 1-4 with their star player throwing their quarterback under the bus andjust over a month after he signed a long-term extension. A season ago, Ben McAdoo didn't appear to be on the hot seat and then . I don't know if that'll happen to Shurmur, but worrying signs are already there. If Sherman loses control the way McAdoo did and if the Giants continue to lose, why wouldn't the Giants look to start fresh with a new coach and quarterback?
8. Cardinals' Steve Wilks
Let me be clear again: I also don't think Wilks, who got hired this offseason, will be fired during the season. It's been five games.
But if the Cardinals continue on their present course, Wilks has to be a candidate to get fired after the season. For now, Josh Rosen's takeover on offense buys Wilks enough time to last throughout the entire season.
But troubling signs have already emerged. For one, Wilks' staff doesn't seem to know how to use All-Universe running back David Johnson. It's indefensible that Johnson has been targeted only 22 times in the passing game, because he's the best pass-catching running back in football, the only running back capable of running routes typically reserved for wide receivers. In 2016, Johnson averaged 7.5 targets, five catches, and 54.9 receiving yards per game. This year, Johnson is averaging 4.4 targets, three catches, and 24 receiving yards per game.
Partly related: The Cardinals stink. They're 1-4 with their only win coming against the C.J. Beathard-led 49ers. It won't be at all surprising if the Cardinals decide to hire their own version of Sean McVay / Matt Nagy in the offseason with Rosen's development in mind.
Tier 2: Heating up
7. Cowboys' Jason Garrett
I almost left Garrett off this list entirely, because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has always backed him publicly. But after Sunday night's debacle, it's time to include Garrett. We already went over the decision to punt on fourth-and-1.
What's concerning for Garrett's sake is that we weren't the only ones annoyed by his decision. So
"We were being outplayed. It's time for risks at that particular time," Jones said, via the team's official website.
The Cowboys aren't any good (2-3), so it wouldn't be difficult for Jones to fire Garrett after another disappointing season. It remains to be seen, though, if Jones wants to work with another coach after defending Garrett for so long.
6. Packers' Mike McCarthy
It feels odd to list a coach here as successful as McCarthy (123-72-2 with a Super Bowl ring), but Aaron Rodgers:regarding the dynamic between McCarthy and
League sources said the future Hall of Fame quarterback has been frustrated with the state of the Packers' offense this season and concerned over some of the staff changes made.
The dynamic between coach and player after 12 years is something being watched closely by those close to them, with McCarthy signed just through the 2019 season at this point and the Packers having high hopes for this campaign. Several people in regular contact with the duo wonder if they'll still be working together next season, though obviously ample time remains this season to produce a more efficient point-scoring offense and contend in the tough NFC.
And then the Packers went out and lost to the Lions to drop their record to 2-2-1. If the Packers miss the playoffs while running McCarthy's offense -- something that isn't unlikely given the state of the Bears and Vikings -- they could decide to replace him with a more forward-thinking offensive mind. It might be a tad unfair to McCarthy, but the expectations in Green Bay aren't playoffs. The expectations are Super Bowl. If the Packers win only one Super Bowl with Rodgers, they'll be more disappointed than satisfied.
There's still plenty of time for Rodgers to save McCarthy's job. We've seen the Packers start slow before. Rodgers almost always wills them into the playoffs.
Tier 1: Hot in here
5. Redskins' Jay Gruden
Since Gruden took over, the Redskins have gone 30-37-1. Their lone playoff appearance came after a nine-win season. They've yet to win a playoff game. Gruden, of course, isn't the only one to blame for the Redskins' consistent mediocrity -- the problems begin and end with people above him -- but not many coaches can survive four playoff-less seasons in five years. Saints, the Redskins appear to be heading toward another mediocre, playoff-less finish., when the Redskins got blasted by the
Perhaps their saving grace is that the NFC East lacks a good team, so there's a chance the Redskins could sneak in as a nine-win division winner. That might be what saves Gruden his job.
4. Buccaneers' Dirk Koetter
It was telling that when Koetter announced the Buccaneers were giving Jameis Winston his starting job back, he said, "Winston is the guy that's going to be here way longer than I am." Koetter entered the season already on the hot seat. The two wins to open the season, courtesy of some FitzMagic, cooled his seat a bit, but after what happened in Week 4, when the Buccaneers got blown out by the Bears, consider it hot again.
Just listen to what he said at the time.
Koetter said. "We should fire every person that was on that field today, starting with me. That was horrific."
Koetter's record with the Buccaneers? 16-20. If the Buccaneers stumble down the stretch, Koetter is likely gone.
3. Texans' Bill O'Brien
Yes, the Texans beat the Cowboys on Sunday to push their record to 2-3, but the manner in which they won shouldn't inspire much confidence. Despite out-gaining the Cowboys by 170 yards, they only won when Garrett bailed them out by punting in overtime. Even then, it required a miraculous catch and run by DeAndre Hopkins to get the Texans into field-goal range.
The way O'Brien handled the team's red zone trips is especially concerning. They went 1 of 6 in the red zone, and the play-calls included sweeping runs with Deshaun Watson, who is coming off a torn ACL. Watson took an absolute pounding.
Last year, O'Brien's excuse was legitimate: They had no healthy players. This year, everyone is healthy, from Watson to J.J. Watt to Whitney Mercilus. O'Brien is out of excuses. This team is nowhere close to becoming a playoff contender. If the Texans miss the playoffs again, it wouldn't be surprising to see them move in a different direction. O'Brien is 33-36 as the Texans' coach and while he's made the playoffs twice, he's never won more than nine games in a season.
2. Browns' Hue Jackson
Congratulations are in order. In Week 5, Jackson won his first Sunday game with the Browns, pushing his record with the team to 3-33-1.
Despite the win, it's impossible to remove Jackson from this tier of the list. Even when they find ways to win, it looks like they're trying to lose. The game-winning field goal, which came at the very end of overtime, barely fluttered over the crossbar. On the sideline, it legitimately looked like Jackson wasn't aware the game was over.
His win-loss record speaks for itself. Keep in mind, general manager John Dorsey inherited Jackson. He didn't hire him.
However, Baker Mayfield has the Browns looking dangerous -- like a team that could win six or so games. If the Browns go from zero wins to six wins, will they really fire Jackson?
1. Broncos' Vance Joseph
Joseph nearly got canned after his first season in charge ended with a 5-11 record, but John Elway opted to give him another chance. That second chance hasn't gone well so far, with the Broncos owning a 2-3 record. All three of those losses came in the past three weeks. There was a double-digit defeat in Baltimore, , and then the absolute drubbing the Jets handed them in New York.
After the latest defeat, ESPN):(via
"It's the same s--- every week, I'm tired of talking about the same s--- the last two years."
Truth be told, it's probably John Elway who deserves to be on the hot seat considering none of his quarterback moves after Peyton Manning retired have worked out, with Case Keenum representing the latest failure. But Elway probably won't fire himself and it'll be difficult for the Broncos to push out a franchise icon. So, it seems likely that if the Broncos don't turn around their season, Joseph will depart as the scapegoat.
That doesn't mean Joseph is blameless in the Broncos' decline. He certainly hasn't helped himself in all of this. He's lost twice as many games as he's won in Denver.
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