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Which AFC Coaches Are On A Hot Seat?

12 of the Bolts games this season (like every season) are against other AFC teams and 10 of those games in 2015 are against the AFC West and the AFC North. Top to bottom, those are arguably the best two divisions in the conference. As good as those two divisions are, there are some teams in them that could get a coach fired at the end of the season.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

AFC South

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

Jacksonville - There is some temperature on this seat.  At this point, it is all about Blake Bortles and the team getting to .500 or better.  The Jags will probably not make the playoffs, but that may not be needed to keep Gus Bradley around for another year.  This seat is not hot yet, but is warm and every loss or mistake by Bortles will increase the temperature.

Houston - Bill O'Brien still does not have a franchise QB (Hoyer was not wanted in CLEVELAND.  Think about that for a minute.) and his offense depends upon Adrian Foster, who looked pretty much used up last season.  This may be a tough season for O'Brien and ownership may look to make a change if the team cannot challenge the Colts for the AFC South.  The seat is starting to warm up.

Indianapolis - Chuck Pagano has made the playoffs in his first three seasons.  Whether he can get enough of a rushing game and defense to make it 4 in a row is a valid question, but this remains a bitterly cold seat.

Tennessee - Former Bolts Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt presided over a team that was so bad, the Titans fans were calling for his head halfway through his first season.  If the team does not show any growth this season, "Whiz" may once again be a hot commodity as an OC in early 2016.

It is astonishing to me that Marcus Mariota remains unsigned due to the former Duck insisting that the offset language be removed from his rookie deal and the team refusing to do so.  I am of the opinion that Mariota may be wise to sit this season instead of jumping into a dumpster fire.  This seat is much hotter than it should be.  Whiz is perilously close to getting the same type of reputation that Norval Turner has.

AFC East

The Bolts went 2-2 against this division last year, but only have to play Miami this season.  After the 37-0 drowning at the fins of the phish in 2014, hopefully the Chargers can get some revenge at home this time around.

New York - Sic Semper Tyrannis Rex...and in comes Todd Bowles. Hopefully, he got comfortable with the QB play last year in Arizona (the QB play AFTER Carson Palmer went down).  He will see about the same "quality" of play in New York this season.  While the Jets STILL do not have a franchise QB (Geno Smith could EASILY be supplanted by Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Think about that for a minute.) and a running back by underachieving committee, Bowles will get a safe honeymoon year.  Brand new, cold seat.

Miami - Joe Philbin, like Jeff Fisher is absolutely coaching for his job this year.  The team has posted a .479 winning percentage on his watch.  Tannehill actually showed some competence last season and the parts seem to be there to make a playoff run.  The problem for this team is being in the same division as The Hooded One in New England and a lot of other teams in the AFC that could easily win 9 to 11 games.  The Dolphins may be victims to a tie-breaking numbers game in January and their coach with them.  This seat is much hotter than Cocoa Beach in July.

Buffalo - New Recycled Head Coach Rex Ryan walks into a familiar situation.  The makings of a top shelf defense, a shaky QB situation, and an offense that looks like it is fresh out of 1975, after OJ ran out of gas.  Still, this is a honeymoon season and Rex's seat should be as cold as Lake Erie in December.

New England - Beelzu-bill is the longest tenured NFL Head Coach (2000).  Coming off of yet another Suberb Owl victory, thanks to some help from the owner of his soul, Lucifer a bad play call by Pete Carroll, this seat is encased in ice, similar to the resident of Dante's lowest circle.  (The infernal analogy is entirely merited.)

AFC North

The Bolts play all of the teams listed here, so we do care about these guys.

Baltimore - John Harbaugh got the team back into the playoffs last year before getting bounced by the Pats.  This seat is one of the cooler ones in the conference.

Pittsburgh - Mike Tomlin coached the team to an 11-5 record last season and did a decent job of coaching to do it.  With the way that the Rooney Family values continuity, that ought to buy him another decade.  Very cold seat.

Cincinnati - Marvin Lewis has yet to win a playoff game.  This seat is getting warmer, as management seems to have endorsed Andy Dalton by covering his ginger topped dome in cash.  Not making the playoffs or another one and done could mean the end of Coach Lewis' run through the jungle.

Cleveland - Mike Pettine did a credible job with this team last year.  Not having a viable franchise QB in a division with one elite and another above average QB, not to mention sharing a state with a team that has one of the best top to bottom rosters (and a decent QB) in the AFC, would make Cleveland a tough job for any coach.  Pettine's seat seems to be room temperature, but he will need to get the QB situation figured out or things will be warm going into 2016.  Josh McCown (on top of the depth chart over the dried out Johnny football.  Think about that for a minute.) will not be the answer here anymore than he was in Tampa Bay last year.

AFC West

The division we always care about.

Kansas City - Andy Reid's seat is not as warm as the one occupied by his starting QB.  If Alex Smith cannot get the offensive performance to at least come closer to that of the Chiefs defense, he could be gone in 2016.  Reid will be back.  This seat is still a little cool to the touch.

Denver - This is another situation that I was dead wrong about last July.  It took a truly putrid playoff performance at home against the Colts to convince John Elway that John Fox had hit his coaching ceiling with the team.  Fox, after getting the donkeys to the playoffs 4 straight seasons, had amassed a 3-4 playoff record.  Out went John and in came Gary Kubiak and his high blood pressure.  This seat is already warm; Elway seems to have the bar set quite high and most likely wouldn't have a problem telling his former clipboard caddy to take a hike.

Oakland - After an epic losing streak, the rivals (one more time!) fired a coach midseason and handed Tony Sparano the keys to the Pinto.  With the front office in Denver blowing up the coach's locker room after the playoff pratfall, Jack del Rio became available and now takes over the despised Oakland team.  He should get the chance to put his stamp on the team and this seat is first year chilly.

San Diego - There are some reports out there that McCoy's seat is getting warm.  I'm not buying it.  This is the ownership group that kept Norval around for at least a year too long.  Prediction:  Unless the offense improves markedly this season, the front office will try to lure Whiz back as OC when the Titans can him next January.


If you are not grateful for Philip Rivers, go back and look at some of the QB situations listed above.  While expectations are an overarching theme in the NFC, with a couple of instances of QB issues leading to coaching hot seats, the situation is different in the AFC.  In this conference, it is QB trouble more than expectations that keep coaches up at night.  Miami might be the exception; the front office probably expects more out of Philbin's team than it can deliver and that will probably cost him his gig.

I am figuring that Miami, Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati are going to have head coaching openings next year.  Houston might, also.  In 4 of 5 of those situations, the lack of a credible NFL QB will be taken out on the coach that has to make chicken salad out of...