More than a few NFL head coaches from 2016 were shown the door quite quickly at the conclusion of the season. Others that didn’t exactly produce tremendous results still remain on board with their respective teams.
But how much longer will those specific head coaches remain employed in 2017?
In some cases, a coach such as New Orleans Saints Sean Payton has already seen his best years on the job come and go. Yet, he is still employed. Meanwhile, a couple of head coaches are attempting to resuscitate franchises that have some serious work up to do for their frustrated fans if they hope to retain their jobs.
On that note, it’s time to discuss six head coaches entering 2017 already on the hot seat.
1. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
Pagano’s Colts did not experience the bounce-back season that was expected in 2016. Instead, Indianapolis finished 8-8 for a second year in a row and wound up in third place in the AFC South.
It marked the worst finish for the Colts since Pagano took control of the team in 2012. Quarterback Andrew Luck returned from an injury marred season, yet a middling finish was the end result. For now, Pagano’s job seems to be safe. But new general manager Chris Ballard intends to re-evaluate Pagano heading into 2018.
Perhaps Pagano can get the team thriving now Ryan Grigson is out of the picture. But botched fourth-down calls such as this ill-fated fake nonsense must cease.
— Colts Problems (@Colts_Problems) January 4, 2017
A rocky start to 2017 or a situation where the Colts are falling behind the rest of the teams in the division later in the season could see Ballard’s postseason re-evaluation of Pagano fly right out the window.
2. Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns
Jackson has the tall task of getting the Browns to achieve more than the one measly win they managed in 2016. A win that didn’t come along until Week 16, we might mention. And a win that led to some rather comical happenings around Cleveland.
While we don’t envision the Browns winning more games than they lose, another goose egg in the win column for multiple weeks could pave the path to Jackson’s demise in 2017.
Rebuilding and re-stocking the roster is key. Fortunately, the Browns have 12 picks in the upcoming draft including No. 1, No. 12 and No. 33. So Jackson should have some terrific talent to work with, provided the front office does its job right. The Browns are in a fantastic position to add a slew of young rookie talent, including No. 1 draft prospect, pass rusher, Myles Garrett. Cleveland could certainly use a player of his skill level considering their defense finished in 31st place last year.
The Browns will certainly consider taking a shot at another quarterback. Then they could still potentially deal draft currency to land Jimmy Garoppolo. Acquiring stability and durability at this position is key in keeping Jackson’s job safe once Week 17 rolls around. But given the team’s sad history on this front, we’re not holding our breath.
3. John Fox, Chicago Bears
The Bears made two interesting offseason moves surrounding the quarterback position. They signed the duo of the inexperienced Mike Glennon and turnover-prone Mark Sanchez to the quarterback squad. Plan A is for Glennon to start. But what if the team has to turn to Sanchez?
Sanchez is bad so if he plays significant time something went terribly wrong, John Fox will be fired, and Ryan Pace will be on the hot seat.
— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) March 24, 2017
Fox is beginning his third year with the Bears, and he has won nine games total. The Bears finished last in the NFC North from 2015-16, and the roster as a whole is not very impressive.
This follows four successful years coaching the Denver Broncos and producing a 46-18 record. Another poor season and a last-place finish would almost certainly see Fox out the door in 2017.
Unfortunately, Fox had to deal with several key players on the Bears falling victim to injuries last season. Hopefully, those star players will make a robust return, which could help Fox keep his job. Making smart decisions in the upcoming draft, including wisely using pick No. 3, will also be crucial.
4. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
The Saints need to make it to the postseason. The last time the team played past Week 17 was in 2013. Since, they have had three, very dry, 7-9 finishes in the NFC South.
Payton has one of the most elite quarterbacks in the league in future Hall of Famer, Drew Brees. As a result of Brees’ talents, the Saints produced the No. 1-ranked offense in 2016. Yet, because of a terrible defense, only the seven wins were accomplished.
Getting to the playoffs is obviously Payton’s No. 1 priority in 2017. That’s the same for every coach. But unlike many, anything less than a postseason berth could result in the end of the Payton era. Brees vows to play another few years, so the window of opportunity for Payton to advance his team into the postseason is closing.
Payton and the Saints need to bolster their defense in order to improve their win-loss record. Last year, New Orleans’ defense surrendered 28.4 points and 375.4 yards on average per contest.
It’s time for Payton to get his team back on course…or else.
5. Todd Bowles, New York Jets
Bowles is heading into his third season coaching the Jets, who finished in last place last season.
— Jets TalkLine (@JetsTalkLine) December 25, 2016
Re-signing and trusting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the answer at quarterback was just one of the team’s major downfalls last year.
The Jets have fortunately moved on from both Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith, but not necessarily to greener pastures in that department. For now, it appears they will feature veteran Josh McCown, who is on his eighth team since 2002, behind center. He headlines a quarterback cast featuring Bryce Petty and an underwhelming Christian Hackenberg.
Making things even more interesting, the offense no longer has Brandon Marshall, and it’s been rumored Eric Decker is also on his way out the door.
On defense, things must improve as well. The Jets gave up 25.6 points on average to their opponents in 2016, far more than the meager 17.2 points the offense scored per tilt.
Bowles has two years left on his contract and must get his team back on track in a hurry. Otherwise, he will be joining the likes of former Jets coach Rex Ryan in the unemployed line.
6. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Lewis has been coachingthe Bengals since 2003. Aside from Bill Belichick, he’s the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL. But he can’t boast the same kind of success. Not hardly In his 14 seasons with the team, Lewis has yet to coach his Bengals past the Wild Card round.
Worse than that, the Bengals failed to make the postseason at all in 2016, which marked the first time since quarterback Andy Dalton was drafted in 2011. Injuries unfortunately plagued the team, with the most critical being the absence of star wideout A.J. Green.
Lewis will be coaching the final year of his contract and doesn’t think he will receive a one-year extension like he did during the 2016 offseason.
“I don’t anticipate anything happening,” Lewis said, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.”
Lewis sports a 118-103-3 record, which is not the worst by far. But how many more seasons will the Bengals’ brass (not to mention the fans) tolerate just getting by? If Lewis does not receive that extension as he suggests, the writing is on the wall if the Bengals miss the postseason a second year in a row.