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Which NFL Coaches Are On The Hot Seat This Season?

There are 32 men in the world that can state “NFL Head Coach” is their job. 7 of these men are new to their jobs and 7 are entering their second season as head coaches. The odds are that 6-8 of the remaining 18 men now gearing up for training camp will be doing something else, someplace else in June 2015. Which ones might that be?

What do mean, I'm coaching for my job?
What do mean, I'm coaching for my job?
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

I will rate the job security of the coaches by the heat of the seat. We will start with the divisions that matter the least to us Bolts fans:


NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles – 2nd year coach Chip Kelly should be back in 2015. Particularly since this division may become a cakewalk to a second straight playoff appearance. This seat is downright chilly.

New York Giants – Tom Coughlin has been coaching the Giants since 2004. Winning two Super Bowls and working for owners that prize continuity and loyalty makes this seat cooler than it would be in other cities. If the Giants pratfall as badly as or worse than last year, it is possible that one of the O’Mara’s may make a quiet suggestion to Tom that he retire with dignity. A little warm, but potentially blazing hot next year.

Washington Redskins – Jay Gruden is in his first year and DC is not Cleveland. Cold seat.

Dallas Cowboys – Jason Garrett took over from Wade Phillips in mid-season of 2010, coaching the team to a 29-27 record (which features the very picture of mediocrity with a 24-24 record in his first 3 full seasons). Still, this is Dallas and anything less than a Lombardi Trophy is considered despicable failure. On paper, no coach’s seat should be hotter than Garrett’s, with the team last making the playoffs in 2009. There are 3 things that could save Garrett’s job:

  1. Making the playoffs.
  2. The genuine respect and admiration Jerry Jones’ has for Garrett.
  3. A built-in injury excuse from the loss of Sean Lee for the season and the potential loss of a QB coming off of his second back surgery in an 18-month span.

If Romo performs well this season and the Cowboys still post an atrocious record (both events are certainly possible), Garrett'a expiring contract will not be renewed. This seat was already pretty dammed hot last year, it is a fire hazard now.



NFC North

Green Bay Packers – Coach McCarthy has coached the Pack since 2006 and only missed the playoffs twice. After winning the Super Bowl in 2010, the Packers have had an early exit from the playoffs in the past three seasons and barely won their division in 2013 before getting bounced (again) by the 49ers in a hyper-cold game. While there is no real groundswell of "Super Bowl or bust" from the fans, this seat may start to get unpleasantly warmer if the Packers miss the playoffs this season. Room temperature seat.

Detroit Lions – Jim Caldwell is another first year coach. Since this is not Cleveland, the seat is cold.

Minnesota Vikings – Ditto for first year coach Mike Zimmer.

Chicago Bears – 2nd year coach Marc Trestman is safe for now as the ownership group believes that Trestman has a plan and can execute it. The seat is cool to the touch.


NFC South

Carolina Panthers – No seat was hotter early last year than the one occupied by the Bolts' former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Then "Riverboat Ron" made an appearance and he got the Panthers to the playoffs. This seat could quickly re-heat if the Panthers regress this season. Considering the state of the team’s receiving corps, another division title may be hard to accomplish. This seat is much too warm for comfort.

New Orleans Saints – Returning from the Bountygate suspension, Sean Payton picked up right where he had left off by getting the Saints into the playoffs and beating the Eagles on the road, only to get stomped by the Seahawks a week later. Payton has brought unprecedented success to a perennially snake-bit team, which means there is an icicle or two on this seat.

Atlanta Falcons – Mike Smith’s seat is starting to get a noticeable reading on the thermometer after the dirty birds posted a putrid 4-12 record last season. Smith had not permitted the Falcons to post a losing record since taking over in 2008, but this seat may start to heat up if the team does not improve in 2014. The thermometer is starting to show some positive numbers on this seat.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – First year coach Lovie Smith did not take the Cleveland job, so his seat is ice cold.


NFC West

(In the 2014 season, this is the NFC division that we Bolts fans actually care about.)

Seattle Seahawks – Coming off of a Super Bowl-whipping of the Donkeys, which bore a closer resemblance to an infamous movie scene than a real football game, few seats in the NFL are colder than Pete Carroll’s.

Arizona Cardinals – Rookie head coach Bruce Arians would have gotten the Cardinals into the playoffs last year if his team played in the NFC North or East. Year 2 of his regime is spent in a cold seat.

St. Louis Rams – Coming into your 3rd year with a losing record, no playoffs in the first two years and slim prospects of making the playoffs in year 3 is not a recipe for job security as an NFL coach. This seat is painfully hot going into 2014, as Sam Bradford continues to be a painful reminder of the benefits of a rookie wage scale.

San Francisco 49ers – 3 playoff appearances in three years, with three straight trips to the NFC Championship game and 1 unsuccessful trip to the Super Bowl. Normally, Jim Harbaugh’s seat would be declared frigid. This temperature increased to something above absolute zero after off-season reports surfaced about tension between Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke. Still, "tension" is usually only a precursor to a coaching change involving a successful coach and a quality GM (See: Chargers, San Diego, 2004-2006). For 2014, Harbaugh’s seat is frozen solid.


AFC South

The Bolts only play Jacksonville this season, so we don’t really care too much about this division this year.

Jacksonville Jaguars – All indications are that second year coach Gus Bradley will be given a 3 year chance (at least) to build this team up. Truth be told, the Jaguars were playing halfway decent football at the end of the 2013 season. Brrrrr.

Houston Texans – First year Coach Bill O’Brien did not take the Cleveland job, so his seat is really, really cold.

Indianapolis Colts – Chuck Pagano has made the playoffs in his first two seasons. Bitterly cold seat.

Tennessee Titans – Former Bolts Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was smart enough to not take the Cleveland job and instead hired on with an owner that will keep even a mediocre head coach around for a decade or two (See: Fisher, Jeff). This seat could pull duty as an ice chest if the need arose.


AFC North

The Bolts only play Baltimore from this division in 2014, so again, we Charger fans don’t really care about this division.

Baltimore Ravens - Jim’s brother John Harbaugh took sibling rivalry to new heights in the February 2013 Super Bowl and got a second Lombardi Trophy for Baltimore, so there are probably a few more seasons of grace with this job. Not making the playoffs for a second straight year would add a few degrees to the temperature of this seat, but for right now, it is close to absolute zero.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Tomlin hit the lotto in terms of NFL Head Coaching gigs back in 2007. The Steelers have had exactly 3 coaches in the past 45 years and Tomlin has not had a losing season yet. By my figuring, he probably has another decade (at least) left on this job. Very cold seat.

Cincinnati Bengals - Marvin Lewis has been coaching the Bengals since 2003, with the last three years being fairly successful in terms of winning the division. Winning a play-off game (0-5 record) is a whole different story though. Perception among the fan base seems to be that Lewis may be this generation’s Marty Schottenheimer, although many Bengals faithful put more blame on QB Andy Dalton. This seat has a little bit of a temperature to it, but it is still pretty chilly, as Mike Brown seems to value continuity almost as much as the Rooneys in Pittsburgh do.

Cleveland Browns – Mike Pettine turned out to be the last only man standing that would take this job. Replacing Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after one season (with a revolving door at QB in 2013) cannot give anyone a sense that they will be given a 2-3 year chance to make their mark with the Browns. Given the Davis-ian dysfunction shown by the team’s owner, this seat cannot be declared comfortable, unless you subscribe to the theory that lightning does not strike twice in the same place (an inaccurate theory according to science). This seat still has residual heat left over from the incineration of Chud.


AFC East

This division may have the highest Head Coach turnover next January. Since the Bolts play all four of these teams in 2014, we fans will get a good look at the part San Diego could play in getting as many as 3 coaches fired next January.

New York Jets – Rex Ryan had a great first two years, but the last three have seen the team deteriorate. This season, Ryan’s future rests on the arms of Geno Smith and the Dog Whisperer Screamer. With many surprised that Ryan returned to try a light the afterburners on the J-E-T-S in 2014, this seat is already hotter than the exhaust flame from an actual jet.

Miami Dolphins – Many were surprised by Joe Philbin returning for his 3rd season after 2013’s debacle. Few things will get a coach fired quicker than the perception that he has lost control of the locker room. With the Martin – Incognito debacle not completely resolved (Center Mike Pouncy was named as an Incognito accomplice and another "un-named lineman" that got harassed pretty badly are both still on the team), you can’t help but wonder how many other shoes (or studded black leather boots) are left to drop. What I suspect will get Philbin ousted next January will be the same cause that got current offensive coordinator Mike Sherman canned at Texas A&M; the questionable skills of QB Ryan Tannehill. This seat is smoking hot and not in the same way as Lauren Tannehill.

Buffalo Bills – While most of the other 2nd year coaches are safe, Doug Marrone may not make it to his 3rd year as the Bills Head Coach. Yes, there was disappointment in last year’s 6-10 record and he will need to get better results from a team that has some intriguing talent in his second year on the job. The real danger to Marrone may not be in the possibility of further disappointment (he cannot afford another losing season), but the impending ownership change once Ralph Wilson’s widow (Mary) and the NFL decide who gets to buy the team. If The Donald ends up with a controlling interest in the team, Marrone may get to hear "You’re Fired!" in January from His Eminence The Trump in person. This seat is red hot and may actually burst into flames when the ownership changes (October).

New England PatriotsLucifer Bill Belichick is the longest tenured NFL Head Coach (2000). With a .728 winning percentage, 11 AFC East Titles and 3 Championships to his credit, the future Hall of Fame coach will be on the Pats sideline for about as long as he wants to be. This seat is so cold it has frozen itself to Bill’s butt and may require a supernatural act to unfreeze it, let alone get it even slightly warm.


AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs – 2nd year coach Andy Reid will remain on the Chiefs sideline into 2015, even if he needs some technology to keep him upright. Frigid seat.

Denver Broncos – John Fox has coached the team to an AFC West title for 3 straight years after taking over from the one guy in the world that thought Tim Tebow was worth a 1st round pick. And if you think "any coach could get to the playoffs with fivehead Payton Manning"; remember that the first of those AFC West titles (and a playoff win) came with Tebow as the team’s QB. This seat is colder than the peaks of the Rockies in February.

Hell on Earth Oakland Raiders – Posting a 4-12 record in each of your first two seasons as a coach for a franchise that has not been to the playoffs since 2002 is bad news in the NFL. While Mark Davis is not as senile impetuous as Daddy Dysfunction, another 4-6 win season may get Dennis Allen paroled fired. This seat could burst into flame if somebody waves a fan near it.

So there you have it, an early look at the job security situation in the NFL. My suspicion is that Dallas, Carolina, St. Louis, Miami, Buffalo, New York (Jets), and Oakland will be looking for new Head Coaches next February. I also believe that the Coaches in Jacksonville, New York (Giants), Atlanta, and Green Bay will be coaching for their jobs in 2015.