Want a nice, stable job with a long-term outlook? Don’t become an NFL head coach.
More than half of the NFL’s current head coaches (17 of 32) have been with their teams for three seasons or fewer, and a whopping seven are entering their first year in a new job. NFL coaches just don’t stick around that long; only one team can win the Super Bowl each year, and clubs that fall short of expectations often take it out on their sideline leader.
This season likely will be no different. We’re still hours away from the regular season kickoff, but there already are a number of coaches whose jobs could be in serious jeopardy if their squads stumble out of the gate. Some choices are obvious — you know whoever is coaching the Cleveland Browns will make this list — while others may surprise you a bit.
Without further ado, here are eight coaches whose seats have the highest temperature entering Week 1.
1. Hue Jackson, Browns. See above. Cleveland is a mind-boggling 1-31 with Jackson as its head coach, and that’s partially due to a complete lack of talent. Yet there’s some buzz around the team this fall thanks to a busy offseason (and HBO’s “Hard Knocks”), so if Jackson can’t lead this Browns roster to at least a handful of wins this season, you have to think he’s toast.
2. Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs haven’t kept a head coach longer than three years since Jon Gruden stuck around from 2002 to 2008. If Koetter, who’s entering his third season in Tampa, can’t right the ship and guide the team to at least a .500 record after last season’s 5-11 mess, he’ll continue that trend.
3. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys. You could argue Garrett is the perfect head coach for Jerry Jones; he mostly stays out of the way and allows his bombastic owner to generate all the headlines. But the ‘Boys have just two playoff appearances in Garrett’s seven-year tenure and have lost in the divisional round both times, so the pressure is mounting. Another 9-7 campaign or worse could be Garrett’s final blow.
4. Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos. Joseph didn’t exactly have the time of his life during a 5-11 debut season. You’d have to think he has some room for error considering the Broncos just hired him, but try telling that to Josh McDaniels, who got the ax in Denver midway through his second year despite going 8-8 in the previous campaign.
5. Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins. From what we’re told, Gase is changing the culture in Miami and leading the Dolphins into the future. That sounded nice after a 10-6 debut campaign in 2016, but things went south in a hurry in 2017. The Fins don’t look like much of a threat this year, either. If they stumble to another sub-.500 record in 2018, someone will have to pay the price, and it very well could be the head coach.
6. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals. Fancy seeing you here, Marvin. Lewis still hasn’t won a single playoff game during his 16-year tenure in Cincinnati, but the Bengals inexplicably signed him to a two-year contract in January after a second straight losing season. Lewis should be on the hot seat, but Cincy appears literally incapable of letting him go.
7. Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins. Gruden has channeled his inner Jeff Fisher, guiding Washington to a thoroughly mediocre 24-23-1 record over the past three seasons after a 4-12 debut campaign. This team doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, and besides, how long can the NFL handle two Grudens in its coaching ranks?
8. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens. Is Harbaugh’s Super Bowl honeymoon period finally ending? The Ravens have made the playoffs once since winning it all in 2012, and they’ve put forth a winning record just twice in that span. If they’re in the playoff hunt again this year, there’s a good chance Harbaugh stays. But if they dip below .500, don’t be surprised if owner Steve Bisciotti finally pulls the plug.
9. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots. … Just kidding.
Thumbnail photo via Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Images