It doesn’t take but one poor season for NFL coaches to be fired these days.
While it’s true some coaches keep receiving endless chances while remaining on thin ice, on the other hand some coaches in new surroundings will find themselves under tremendous pressure to dig their team out of the dumps.
Many NFL teams have little or no patience any more for the rebuilding process. More often than not, it’s win or go home — literally.
The following is a list of NFL coaches already on the hot seat approaching the 2016 season.
Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills
Ryan is one of the most outspoken head coaches in the business. But fans are still waiting for him to put his money where his mouth is.
In seven years of head coaching, Ryan sports a .482 win/loss percentage. He also hasn’t coached a playoff game in five years and his Bills actually went backwards with an 8-8 record last year.
Ryan will be tested once again with an uphill battle within a New England Patriots-dominated AFC East.
Eight wins is simply not enough to edge the team into playoff territory — something Buffalo has not experienced since 1999. That was six head coaches and 13 starting quarterbacks ago.
The Bills are dealing with some injuries and are still trying to see if they have a reliable franchise quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. Anything less than finishing second in the division could see the Bills moving on from Ryan.
Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions
Caldwell escaped the chopping block after the Lions brass fired their president, general manager and offensive coordinator last year after beginning the season with a 1-7 record.
Fortunately, Caldwell salvaged his job for at least one more season when the Lions finished 2015 with a 6-2 record. Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s level of play improved tremendously under his new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. As a result, Caldwell reaped the benefits.
New general manager, Bob Quinn, recently said that Caldwell’s job security will not be based on how many wins the team accomplishes this year.
Caldwell is now faced with the task of overcoming the departure of the franchise’s best player, Calvin Johnson. Furthermore, Detroit’s rushing game ranked dead-last in 2015 when only seven rushing scores were made. This is something that definitely needs some work in order for the Lions to improve.
Caldwell managed an 11-5 record in 2014 during his first year in Detroit, but last year’s seven wins were all too reminiscent of the Jim Schwartz days.
If another unimpressive campaign is the final result in 2016, it will be interesting to see if Quinn keeps his word regarding Caldwell’s job safety.
Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers
McCoy has quite the mess to mop up after his Chargers posted the worst record (4-12) the franchise has recorded since 2003. He is entering his fourth year in San Diego, and other than a postseason appearance in 2013 the team has regressed.
Losing game after game, fans eventually became embarrassed and basically gave up as the season crawled on. Unfortunately, the Chargers were dealt several injuries last year. But the team also lacked spirit and fight.
Making matters worse was there was no semblance of a run game, and first-round pick Melvin Gordon failed miserably in his role.
This season, McCoy’s Chargers have plenty of work cut out for them to compete with the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and a much-improved Oakland Raiders in the AFC West.
The head coach can’t afford another bad season. One more will almost certainly result in the unemployment line.
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
After a couple of 7-9 campaigns, Payton still remains employed with the Saints.
But how much longer will the franchise keep the faith? The team has not made the playoffs since 2013. And the Saints Super Bowl victory from 2009 seems eons ago. New Orleans sports a fabulous offense and one of the most skilled quarterbacks in the league in that of Drew Brees.
However, the team’s 31st-ranked defense from last year is where the team fell short. It was no surprise to see the Saints move on from defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in the middle of 2015.
Payton could be the joining Ryan on his way out if the Saints do not turn things around this season. Other than an unstoppable 15-1 Carolina Panthers in 2015, the NFC South is typically up for grabs.
Something Payton’s Saints have struggled with the last couple of years is losing by just one or two blown plays.
“Yeah, we were a play or two away from winning a few of those games, and yet that repeated itself a handful of times, Payton said via Mike Triplett of ESPN.”
How many more excuses will the Saints brass put up with in 2016?
Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles Rams
Since Fisher was signed to the Rams in 2012, the team has managed no more than seven wins in any season.
Playing within a division that houses the red-hot Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, more wins are clearly a must to advance.
Fisher and his Rams have been on what seems like an endless search to find stability at the quarterback position. This is an area the team constantly falls short. The Rams’ first-round pick from 2012, Sam Bradford, sustained injuries in both his rookie year and in 2013.
The club’s top passers in 2014-2015 consisted of Austin Davis and Nick Foles. Yuck. To correct the horrible wrongs at quarterback, Fisher traded away a boatload of draft picks in order to secure Jared Goff at No. 1 in the 2016 NFL Draft.
While Goff learns the system, Fisher’s plan is to leave Case Keenum in as the starter. Meanwhile, the Rams are transitioning to a new stadium and await one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.
Surely Fisher will be feeling the heat, per usual, while he attempts to push his team into a better standing.
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
Quinn offered a mixed bag of tricks and treats during his debut as an NFL head coach in 2015.
The Falcons improved to 8-8, but after posting five wins in a row to kick off the season, Atlanta managed only three more wins in 10 games. It was a disturbing turn of events for Quinn’s Falcons, who showed so much potential early on.
The Falcons have not visited the playoffs since losing the conference final in 2012. Keeping up with the Carolina Panthers is a tough a goal for Quinn, but eight wins or worse clearly won’t do the trick.
The fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are turning the heat up in the NFC South should also be of concern.
Atlanta has plenty of talent on offense, including one of the league’s top wide receivers in Julio Jones. Interestingly, it was a lagging pass rush that caused the team lose traction last year.
The Falcons hadn’t done much to address this weakness until they signed veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney, who led the Cardinals with eight sacks last season. Though, a 36 year-old roster addition won’t solve all of the problems on defense.
If Quinn’s Falcons experience another underwhelming campaign, the coach might be looking for a new team in 2017.
Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers did not expect to be the bottom-feeders of the NFC West in 2015, even though most experts expected nothing less. They were not one bit sentimental about letting former head coach Jim Tomsula go after one terrible campaign.
So while it’s not typical for teams to cut a coach after one year, it stands to reason Kelly could be one-and-done as well if he doesn’t turn the ship around. Kelly was fired before finishing his third season with the Philadelphia Eagles after disastrous personnel decisions led to a 7-9 finish.
Unfortunately, San Francisco hardly presents the pristine opportunity for Kelly to redeem himself as an NFL head coach. Determining the best quarterback between former starter Colin Kaepernick and incumbent Blaine Gabbert is just one of the chores Kelly must handle with care.
Considering the divisional competition in the NFC West, his 49ers will be hard-pressed to finish any better than third place.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have kept Lewis on board since 2003. But how much longer will Cincinnati’s brass remain patient with postseason impotence?
Lewis will face a ton of pressure to once again attempt to get his Bengals past one-and-done postseason status. Since 2009, the Bengals have lost six Wild Card playoff games. Furthermore, Cincinnati has not made a Super Bowl visit since 1988.
Coaching a team that has an impressive offense and commanding defense, Lewis’s Bengals need to win a playoff game. Quarterback Andy Dalton showed vast improvement last year until he sustained a thumb injury late in the season. He has a wonderful supporting cast in A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill to help resume his progress.
On the defensive side, the Bengals managed the sixth-most takeaways in the league in 2015.
The team as unit is more than capable of pushing itself beyond its Wild Card barrier. It is well past time Lewis makes this happen.