NFL 2018: Five coaches on the hot seat

There’s always talk about job security for NFL players – namely, that there’s no such thing for the vast majority of them. But in recent years, being a head coach hasn’t exactly been a long-term gig: over half of the teams in the league have gotten a new head coach since the end of the 2015 season.

This year, there are seven new guys, seven men hired to turn the tires of their respective franchises. But it’s a given that by the end of this season, and maybe sooner, we’ll see another crop of teams looking for a new head coach again.

It’s not easy to speculate who might be fired; head coaches have guaranteed contracts and stand to make millions even if fired, but their assistants get paid much less, don’t often see big checks rolling in if the job ends, and will be uprooting their families once again. But it’s NFL reality.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is entering his eighth season in charge, but has led the Cowboys to the playoffs just twice. (AP)
5. Vance Joseph, Denver (Yahoo Sports)

John Elway finally – albeit seemingly reluctantly – admitted his mistake and moved on from Paxton Lynch, and it seems Joseph was just fine with that decision. It’s not often we talk about guys with only one season as head coach under their belt being on the hot seat, but as they lost eight straight last year on their way to 11 defeats, Joseph’s Denver Broncos were barely competitive, losing by an average of 16.6 points in that stretch. Elway – who deserves a fair share of the blame for Denver’s troubles but won’t ever admit it – said it was “embarrassing” for the team to lose that way. He left Joseph hanging for 24 hours after the season ended before announcing he’d be back for a second season, so Joseph is seemingly facing an uphill climb.

4. Jason Garrett, Dallas (Yahoo Sports)

Garrett is starting his eighth full season as Dallas Cowboys head coach, but in that time he’s only made it to the playoffs twice, both times when Dallas won the NFC East, in 2014 and ‘16. He’s 1-2 in the postseason. This is another coach whose general manager doesn’t do him many favors – if you love your young quarterback, why don’t you get him better talent to throw to? –  but in Garrett’s case, the GM is also the owner, and you can best believe if it comes down to it Garrett is out first. And Jerry Jones loves making a splash, so if Garrett isn’t doing it for him, he’ll find someone else who could.

3. Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay (Yahoo Sports)

His first season in Florida was solid, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers regressed in 2017, which isn’t a great sign, and not what ownership expected when Lovie Smith was unceremoniously booted after the 2016 season in favor of Koetter, who was his offensive coordinator. Tampa Bay’s offense has been average on his watch, last year ranking 18th in points scored (20.9 per game) and 24th in red-zone efficiency (26 touchdowns in 53 opportunities), though it was fourth in third down conversions (43.4 percent). The Bucs will also be without suspended Jameis Winston for the first three games of the season.

2. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati (Yahoo Sports)

He was gone, then he wasn’t gone. Saved by the Cincinnati Bengals’ wins in the final two games of the season, the NFL’s second-longest tenured head coach got a reprieve. The question is, will it pay off? After five straight playoff appearances from 2011-15 – but not a single postseason win despite having one of the strongest rosters on paper over that time, particularly on defense – Cincinnati has finished third in the AFC North each of the last two seasons, with 13 wins in that time. It might be time for a major rebuilding in Cincy.

1. Hue Jackson, Cleveland (Yahoo Sports)

A few years ago, it seemed unfair that Jackson had only gotten one season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders – he’d gotten them to 8-8 that year but was still booted. But in two years running the Cleveland Browns, he’s won just one game. One. It almost seems impossible to see such failure from an NFL franchise over that length of time. This is a league where it’s basically tradition that at least one team that finishes in the division basement one year will be division champs the next. Jackson “punished” rookie receiver Antonio Callaway for an early-morning incident where he was caught driving on a suspended license by playing him more, his coordinators are yelling at each other in practice, and his defensive coordinator is mocking injured first-round draft picks in front of cameras. If the Browns got it right with Baker Mayfield, it might be best if he starts next year to have him do it with a new coach and new culture.

Seat’s warm, but could get hot quickly: Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh, Buffalo Bills’ Sean McDermott, Washington Redskins’ Jay Gruden

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