The 2020 NFL season is nearing its midway point, and it's been quite a ride -- given complications stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic along with a rash of severe injuries around the league. Not every club was brimming with hope and expectation as the season got underway in September, and while some who were have seen their optimism torpedoed by a variety of factors, teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets are, to quote former NFL head coach Dennis Green, exactly who we thought they were.
We're not letting them off of the hook, though. With Dan Quinn and Bill O'Brien having already been fired by the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans, respectively, the question of who follows them to the unemployment line takes center stage. As the calendar readies to flip to November, there are at least three head coaches still sitting on the hot seat, and two of them are about to spontaneously combust.
Given how things are going with the Jets and Jaguars, don't be surprised if fire alarms start blaring soon.
1. Adam Gase - Jets
What on Earth are the Jets waiting for here?
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 was up with the relationship between Gase and All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell? And is Darnold suddenly not good or is it all attributable to Gase?? Bell has now been released, not long after Jamal Adams was traded -- both having very public issues with Gase -- pushing the Jets deeper into the talentless abyss. Currently sitting at 0-7 on the year, the Jets are now 7-16 in Gase's first 23 games as head coach and play caller, and an offense that was ranked 31st in the league in 2019 is now ranked 32nd, scoring a measly 12.1 points per game while their defense allows 29 points per contest (24th).
Not that there was any armor to begin with, but if there was, it's been cracking for a while now and even more so with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams taking veiled shots at the offense's inability to stay on the field and score points -- alluding to that as one of the reasons his defense is seemingly gassed.
Gase finally gave up play-calling duties in Week 7 after passionately saying he never would, and that's a clear indication he's on his last legs in New York. As he should be, given the continued ineptitude and regression of Darnold on his watch.
2. 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. All told, the Jaguars are now 1-6 after losing six consecutive games, and there's no end in sight to the losing -- barring a win over the equally bad Houston Texans after the coming bye week.
It's quite the rapid fall from grace for Marrone, who is 12-27 since appearing in the aforementioned AFC Championship game and is in large part to blame for the Jaguars being the laughingstock of the entire NFL.
Having already fired Tom Coughlin earlier this year and also having shipped out a tremendous amount of disgruntled talent, if owner Shad Khan wants to turn the ship around, tossing Marrone overboard as well will be the right thing to do. Otherwise, the Jaguars will continue to swirl down the porcelain bowl.
3. Matt Patricia - Lions
Well played, sir.
The current two-game win streak, capped by an impressive come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 7, definitely buys Patricia some much needed slack in the rope. That said, having dropped three of their first four games entering a season wherein Patricia was viewed as a hot seat candidate, his recent round of success doesn't absolve him of all of his sins -- which is why he's on this list, albeit in a much more chilled capacity than Gase and Marrone.
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 and has not been 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 the second half of 2020 for Lions fans to fully buy in, because many of them are still undecided. The good news is Stafford looks back to full health and there's no shortage of offensive weapons surrounding him, with future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson joining the fold as well this year.
That puts a bullseye on the defense, a unit that needs to start shutting down opponents. Allowing an average of more than 26 points per game in 2019, and 27.5 points per game thus far in 2020, doesn't look good for a coach who hangs his hat on defense -- and one who's been a defensive coordinator before heading to Michigan.
Fix that and the Lions will be cooking with Crisco, and Patricia will finally end talk of a future without him in Detroit.