The St. Louis Rams have already poured cold water over any hot-seat speculation surrounding head coach Jeff Fisher, but the same can’t be said for a third of the NFL’s head coaches with three weeks left in the regular season.
Fisher padded his Rams record to 6-8 this season, and is overall mark to 26-35-1 since he joined up in 2012, with a victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday night. But even before the game NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported both Fisher and St. Louis general manager Les Snead aren’t in danger of being fired despite failing to snap a 12-year postseason drought.
NFL.com’s story about Fisher’s job security stressed the Rams potential move to Los Angeles, and how management might want to avoid a power restructuring while moving to new market.
As we take a look around the rest of the league, with 10 other coaches potentially on the hot-seat, there are a number of circumstances that may hinder or accelerate a coaches removal from power when Black Monday comes crashing down on January 4.
Here’s a look at each coach who could be on the chopping block three weeks from now.
Mike Pettine, Cleveland Browns
The 49-year-old Pettine is about to finish just his second season in Cleveland, but the Browns regressed from 7-9 a year ago to 3-10 this season. Much of the issues stem from quarterback Johnny Manziel and all the baggage he brought and made heavier for Pettine and the Browns offense this season. The Browns also dealt with injuries along their very talented young secondary.
But Pettine also came from the Jets as a masterful defensive coordinator, and Cleveland’s also slipped from ninth in points allowed and fourth in takeaways last year to 30th and 18th in those categories this season. The Browns higher-ups have made quick, rash decisions before, and Pettine could be the next.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Once both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant went down with injuries, it seemed any win Dallas achieved would be a godsend. But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones specifically called out his coaching staff’s failure to “coach up” more than four wins despite Romo’s injury early in the season. And to be fair, Jones may be right. Five of the Cowboys eight losses this season have been by a touchdown or less.
Garrett, now in his sixth season in Dallas, has faced this kind of pressure before and most called for his head last season before Dallas ripped off a 12-4 campaign and clinched the NFC East. Dallas will need a lot of help from its division foes in order to make the playoffs this year, and Jones may have lost his patience with Garrett.
Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions
The Lions already cleaned out most of its front executives earlier this season, but Caldwell is still around and coaching for his job. Last year, his first in Detroit, Caldwell pushed the Lions to 11-5 for a playoff berth behind one of the league’s best defenses, but now they’re 4-9 with no hopes of a return trip.
Considering Caldwell’s only in his second season, he may be safe. But it will depend on what the rest of the coaching market looks like.
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
Another tenured coach who dealt with major injuries to his star quarterback, Pagano and the Colts are in danger of losing control of the AFC South and his job could be on the line. There were several reports throughout the season about Pagano’s alleged feud with Indianapolis GM Ryan Grigson, and it harkened back to the 49ers messy divorce from Jim Harbaugh due to his strife with GM Trent Baalke.
The Colts have lost two straight by huge margins, which led to Pagano’s bizarre comments earlier this week, saying: “They can fire you, but they can’t eat you.” Pagano may be right on both of his fronts unless Indy returns to the playoffs and makes a run.
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Rarely does a coach with two Super Bowl rings get placed in the hot seat, but Coughlin’s questionable play-calling, New York’s five fourth-quarter meltdowns, and the potential to miss the postseason for the fourth straight year may cost him his job. That is unless the Giants take the NFC East. And there’s also the Eli Manning factor. He entered the league with Coughlin as his coach and has never played under anyone else. New York just gave Manning a huge contract extension, so upsetting their franchise player may not be in the Giants best interest.
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Unusual trades and signings, coupled with an at times ineffective offense, put Kelly’s job in jeopardy. And that’s not even including the media feud with frustrated star running back DeMarco Murray. Kelly’s offense was supposed to be revolutionary, but since his first year in 2013 when the Eagles were second in the NFL in total offense, the attack has regressed every year since. There was also the speculation revved up by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who said he thinks Kelly and Philadelphia’s ownership are “sick” of each other.
Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers
Mired in a dreadful 3-10 campaign after consecutive 9-7 years with just one playoff appearance and victory, McCoy already said last month that he’s fighting for his job. San Diego’s offensive line has been very limited and ineffective due to injuries, and that’s led to a lack of development of the running game and rookie rusher Melvin Gordon, who was viewed as threat to take pressure off All-Pro quarterback Philip Rivers.
Instead, the Chargers are last in the NFL in rushing and haven’t scored a touchdown in the last eight quarters. They were also dealt that harrowing Week 11 loss to AFC West rival Kansas City, a 33-3 debacle that set the fire under McCoy’s chair.
A Case Of The Interims
Dan Campbell, Miami Dolphins
Taking over for the fired Joe Philbin in October, Campbell’s gone 4-5 in nine games and the Dolphins have barely any chance of making the postseason. Miami may or may not hold Campbell’s record against him, though he did suffer very poor losses to the Dolphins main rivals, losing to New England, Buffalo, and the New York Jets by an average of 21 points. The Dolphins have also seen little to some improvement from quarterback Ryan Tannehill under Campbell, and the only thing to truly praise on offense is running back Lamar Miller.
Campbell said following Week 14’s Monday night loss to the Giants that he wasn’t sure if he had a handle on the full-time job, but he could convince the Dolphins to give him a full season for a true shot at a turnaround.
Mike Mularkey, Tennessee Titans
Mularkey took over even later than Campbell, replacing Ken Whisenhunt after Week 8, and going 2-4 at the helm with one of the worst defenses in the league providing little support to rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota. According to ESPN, Titans GM and interim CEO and president Steve Underwood have been working on a “master list” of candidates, which could mean Mularkey’s entered lame duck territory.