As some NFL head coaches are getting ready to lead their teams into the playoffs, others are preparing themselves for the possibility of having to search for a new job. After several prominent teams underachieved in 2014, it’s all but certain that a few coaches won’t be back next season.
In just the last two years, there have been 15 head coaching changes, and a few more will be coming on Black Monday. There is speculation about the future of head coaches who have had some of the longest tenures in the NFL, including New York's Tom Coughlin and Atlanta's Mike Smith. Chicago's Marc Trestman and Jacksonville's Gus Bradley could find themselves on the hot seat, having been with their teams for just two years. While those coaches might be back with their respective teams in 2015, the same can’t be said for a few others.
Below are three coaches that are expected to be fired after the 2014 season.
It’s unknown where Harbaugh will be coaching next season, but it’s apparent it won’t be with the San Francisco 49ers. Since the first month of the season there have been reports that players on the team have wanted the head coach to be let go. There’s also been reported friction between Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke, and there’s no reason to bring the coach back after the team has missed the playoffs.
Harbaugh will likely become the No.1 candidate for open head coaching jobs on Black Monday, considering the amount of success he’s had in a short period of time. He reached the NFC Championship Game in his first three seasons with San Francisco, and took Stanford from one win to 12 wins in four seasons. The Oakland Raiders and Michigan appear to be his two most likely destinations in 2015.
There was a debate whether or not Ryan would be back with the New York Jets after last year, and it would be one of the biggest surprises of the offseason if the franchise decided to bring him back, once again. New York won’t have a winning season for a fourth straight year, winning just three games heading into Week 17. According to Brian Custer, host of SNY’s “Jets Post-Game Live” both Ryan and general manager John Idzik are likely gone.
Ryan will almost certainly be heard from in 2015. He had success in his first two years with the Jets, leading them to back-to-back AFC Championship Games, and he could become a candidate for a few open coaching positions. If he’s not back on the sidelines next year, Ryan could find himself as an NFL analyst for a major network.
Even though he’s only gone 3-8 as Oakland’s interim head coach, Sparano has helped improve a team that was the last to win their first game in 2014. However, he doesn’t appear to be destined to take over the job full-time in 2015. As Harbaugh is pursued by Michigan, the Raiders are expected to make him their No.1 candidate and top any offer that comes from the Wolverines. In the first week of December, mytopsportsbooks.com gave Sparano the best odds of any coach to be fired.
Sparano had three out of four losing seasons as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, and is guaranteed to have a losing year as the interim coach of the Raiders, so he might not be a top head coaching candidate next season. However, he should land somewhere in the NFL as an offensive assistant.