The 2020 NFL season is now at full throttle, but it didn't arrive with all of the usual pomp and circumstance due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and anxieties that stem from it. Still, there's no shortage of excitement around the league as teams ready to start the Week 4 slate of games. Not every club is brimming with hope and expectation though, at least not after seeing their own ineptitude over the first three weeks of the season, as is usually the case each year. Clubs like the Jacksonville Jaguars, despite a surprising upset win over the Colts in their opener, now seem to be continuing in their inability to correct their tailspin, and they're not the only one -- not by a long shot.
That said, we begin to scan the NFL to determine what each head coach is up against for his respective team, and five readily jump out as those who enter the year on the hot seat.
1. Dan Quinn - Falcons
This relationship simply can't continue.
Quinn was routinely named a hot seat candidate in 2019 and for good reason. The Atlanta Falcons simply haven't been the same team since the historic 28-3 halftime collapse in Super Bowl LI against the New England Patriots. They're perfectly average at 24-24 the last two seasons leading into 2020, and it's not because of Matt Ryan -- as some would have you believe. I'm of the belief Ryan is mostly fine, and that the mistakes he's made with some throws are just part of the territory, i.e., there's no such thing as a flawless QB. Ryan is very much a franchise quarterback -- hence the nod as former league MVP -- but Quinn has to get the train pumping in the right direction in 2020. With two receivers on the field , and the signing of All-Pro running back Todd Gurley, the Falcons offense should've been a terror to open up September.
And not for nothing, they're averaging 30 points per game, but the defense is giving away all of the church's money. The Falcons have now succumbed to back-to-back comebacks from the Cowboys and the Bears, both of the double-digit variety. The former saw them cough up a 20-0 lead to secure a loss, and they're now sitting at 0-3 in a brutally difficult NFC South. Quinn isn't necessarily a bad coach, but the inability to avoid in-game collapses is mind-numbing. Arthur Blank served as his apologist in 2019, but it's time to wave goodbye before it's too late in 2020.
2. Adam Gase - Jets
OK, it's time to decide between winning and Gase, because it doesn't appear the two things are married.
In 2019, all it took was a defeat of the also unimpressive 2019 New York Giants to secure Gase's job, with team owner Christopher Johnson stating unequivocally there would be no changes at the head coach position last season -- despite early struggles. Johnson was clear that Gase would return for 2020, and he has. That's not the weird part though, considering the team finished with a 6-2 record in their last eight games with Sam Darnold returned from a bout with mononucleosis (OK, that last part was indeed weird, but stick with me on this).
What's up with the relationship between Gase and All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell? And is the regression on Darnold attributable to Gase??
In Gase's first year, there was a reported rift stemming from Gase allegedly having wished the Jets didn't award Bell the contract they did, which set the stage for occurrences such as the one in 2020 training camp -- when Bell took to Twitter to shoot down claims of a hamstring injury and instead demanding more practice reps. Bell has since walked back those comments, but there's only so much moonwalking that can be done here before someone admits one or the other has to beat it. Then there was Jamal Adams, who publicly skewered Gase's leadership -- or lack thereof -- on his way out of town. Now sitting at 0-3, the chances Gase is the next one to get pushed out is rapidly increasing.
3. Doug Marrone - Jaguars
Seriously, that's the first word that comes to mind when thinking about the Jaguars, and their fanbase deserves better than what it's been getting in recent history. The organization has been in an outright tailspin since appearing in the AFC Championship game following a promising (and exciting) 10-6 season in 2017. There was tons of promise for the future at that time, but it took but an instant for things to implode, and in spectacular fashion. The decision to extend quarterback Blake Bortles was not met well by some players, and the club has since been trapped in toxicity that's led to the shedding of several All-Pro and Pro Bowl talents, leaving them a shell of themselves as they enter 2020.
There was Jags optimism after they upset the Colts in Week 1 and hung with the Titans in a Week 2 loss, but it was an ugly home defeat at the hands of the Dolphins in Week 3. It's quite the fall from grace for Marrone, who led the team in 2017, but is 11-22 in his last two seasons and -- outside of the spark plug that is Gardner Minshew -- is in part to blame for the Jaguars being the laughingstock of the entire NFL.
Having already fired Tom Coughlin earlier this year, if the Jaguars are again in the basement come 2021, and if owner Shad Khan wants to turn the ship around, tossing Marrone overboard as well will be the right thing to do for a team who has never once made it to the Super Bowl. And who couldn't possibly be much further from doing so right now.
4. Matt Patricia - Lions
This isn't going as planned.
When the Detroit Lions hired Patricia as their head coach in 2018, they did so under the guise of him having been born of the Bill Belichick tree of coaching. Well, two years in, there's nothing Belichickian about his reign quite yet. As a matter of fact, it's been the opposite, as the Lions moved in the wrong direction the past couple of years. They went an uninspiring 6-10 in Year 1 under Patricia and then finished 2019 with a 3-12-1 mark. Granted, they were without Matthew Stafford for eight games, but they were 3-4-1 with their franchise QB on the field. And that record was despite Stafford having thrown for 2,499 yards along with 19 touchdowns to only five interceptions in those eight starts.
In other words, the QB is not the issue, which leaves the bullseye on the front office and coaching, but the former isn't going to fire themselves. Patricia is going to have to really show something in 2020 for Lions fans to buy in, because they're nowhere near doing so just yet. He'll presumably have Stafford for the full ride this coming season, and there's no shortage of offensive weapons surrounding him, with future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson now joining the fold as well.
That only leaves the defense to get back to shutting down opponents, something it has not been able to do. Allowing an average of more than 26 points per game in 2019 doesn't look good for a coach who hangs his hat on defense, and who's been a defensive coordinator before heading to Detroit. Sure, they held the hapless Giants (who are averaging fewer than 13 points per game in 2020) to just that -- 13 points -- but two of their first three defensive outings have no impressed, making it no surprise they're 1-2 right now.
That win over the Cardinals in Week 3 feels good in the moment, but tick tock.
5. Matt Nagy - Bears
OK, Chicago. Now you're cooking with Crisco.
Mitchell Trubisky, and it's thus far put the club in a bad situation. The former first-round pick has proven he'll never be Patrick Mahomes or DeShaun Watson -- two QBs the Bears passed on to select Trubisky in 2017 -- but that's not really Nagy's fault, considering he didn't arrive until 2018. What is Nagy's fault is the decision to tie himself to Trubisky's submarine, which seems to descend lower into the sea with each game., Super Bowl caliber, to be frank, but your quarterback situation is disturbing and I can't stop looking at Matt Nagy as I (and the rest of the football world) tried to figure out his plan there heading into 2020. It appeared someone in Chicago was/is hellbent on not being proven wrong when it comes to
Although he went 8-7 in 2019, Trubisky threw only 17 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, and it led the Bears to pass on executing his fifth-year option. That decision made it appear Nagy was ready to begin moving on from Trubisky, as also evidenced in the Bears' decision to give up a 2020 fourth-round pick to acquire Nick Foles and his hefty contract, which is still guaranteed $21 million after restructuring. With that, the QB competition was underway in Chicago, only it wasn't really at all.
The decision to finally bench Trubisky and toss the keys to Foles paid off in a comeback victory over the Falcons in Week 4, and the continued start of Foles puts the Bears in much better position to join the tournament in January. Nagy is a talented coach, but sometimes talented coaches also make bad decisions that cost them their jobs. With the QB change, he might finally escape this list once and for all -- later.