top of page

NFL Midseason Coaches Hot Seat

Photo Courtesy of Robert Robinson @badasskidsent

Written By: Roy Countryman @PreacherBoyRoy

Here at the halfway mark of the NFL season, there have been a number of epic performances both by individuals and by teams, but now comes the time when we start to feel the thermostat getting turned up on those teams' head coaches that are underperforming. In this article, we will examine which coaches are on the hot seat, look at the valuable assistant coaches on the staff, and delve into a logical choice of successor if said coaches are let go. We will put some thought into the positive of each job, as well as the work that needs done on each team.

To start this exercise, I would like to share that history shows that over the last 5 seasons, there will be an average turnover of 6.6 Head Coaching jobs. We have already seen our first Head Coach axed in Hue Jackson, and we will evaluate that position as well.

Also, for this exercise, big-time college Head Coaches such as Chris Petersen (Washington), Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Matt Campbell (Iowa State), and Matt Rhule (Baylor) have decided to stay at the college level, but other candidates from the college level may be taken into consideration.

Safe Haven (0% Chance of being fired)

Bill Belichick- NE

Sean Payton- NO

Sean McVay- LAR

Mike Tomlin- PIT

Doug Pederson- PHI

Jon Gruden- OAK

Mike Zimmer- MIN

Andy Reid- KC

Low Key (Less than 10% chance of being fired)

Kyle Shanahan- SF

Dan Quinn- ATL

Pete Carroll- SEA

Ron Rivera- CAR

Anthony Lynn- LAC

Wet Behind the Ears (First Year Coach-Should get a long leash)

Matt Nagy- CHI

Mike Vrabel- TEN

Pat Shurmur- NYG

Frank Reich-IND

Matt Patricia- DET

Steve Wilks- ARI

Let’s See How Things Play Out (35-45% Chance, contingent on rest of the season)

Adam Gase- MIA

Sean McDermott- BUF

Bill O’Brien- HOU

Jay Gruden- WAS

On The Hot Seat!

Vance Joseph- Denver Broncos

Reasoning-No consistency of team effort, lack of an ability to develop offensive chemistry, and a lack of direction in general of his team.

Assistant Coaches to Retain

  • Pass Rush Consultant- DeMarcus Ware

  • Offensive Line/Guards and Centers- Sean Kugler

Possible Replacement- John Harbaugh, Ex-Baltimore Ravens Head Coach

Background- The longtime stalwart on the Baltimore sideline gets a second chance almost immediately after the Ravens let him go. John Elway should wine and dine, and do whatever it takes to get this hard nosed, gritty coach to instill some discipline on this roster. He brings with him a QB savant in Marty Mornhinweg that can help them develop a QB, and an up-and-coming DC who had great success in his first year coordinating in 2018.

Coordinator Choices- OC: Marty Mornhinweg DC: Don Martindale

Appeal to Job- Tremendous collection of pass rushers, solid defensive backfield, and a dynamic combo at the RB position, enough cap space (over $46 million) to acquire some talent through free agency.

Verdict-> 90% Chance of being fired.

Todd Bowles- New York Jets

Reasoning- Inconsistent effort on a week to week basis, bad game-day manager as a Head Coach, teams seem to flinch in the spotlight, need a better coach to nurture young QB.

Assistant Coaches to Retain

  • Kevin Greene- OLB Coach

  • Robert Nunn- Defensive Line Coach

Possible Replacement- John DeFilippo, Vikings Offensive Coordinator

Background- One of the hottest names on the coaching carousel the last few years. He was a key component to helping Carson Wentz's development, and has been terrific in his first year calling plays in Minnesota for Kirk Cousins. Would be a terrific coach to mold and grow with Sam Darnold. He promotes McCown to OC once he decides to retire, and becomes another steadying force to his development. He goes out of the box for his DC hire, and brings back a fan favorite from when he played for the Jets, Jim Leonhard. He has been at the helm of a super aggressive, and dynamic defense at Wisconsin the last two years.

Coordinator Choices- OC: Josh McCown: DC, Jim Leonhard

Appeal to Job- Sam Darnold, great collection of talent on defense at all three levels, tons of cap space (Over $100 million in cap space), and a collection of draft capital to build up the roster around the young QB.

Verdict-> 85% Chance of being fired.

Doug Marrone- Jacksonville Jaguars

Reasoning- Has not been able to string together a consistent offense in his tenure.

Assistant Coaches to Retain

  • Todd Wash- Defensive Coordinator

  • Marion Hobby- Defensive Line Coach

  • Mark Collins- Linebackers Coach

  • Perry Fewell- Defensive Backs Coach

  • Pat Flaherty- Offensive Line Coach

Possible Replacement: Dan Campbell, Saints Assistant Head Coach/TE Coach

Background- Has an intensity and attention to detail that helps him to get the most out of his players. Has been at Sean Payton’s side the last few seasons, and has been watching and adapting his schemes and philosophies to his own. Has the grit and toughness that Tom Coughlin values. Will help change a culture that needs a shakeup. Played and learned under Bill Parcells, and even was a team leader. Coughlin values Parcells opinions.

Coordinator Choices-Bill Musgrave-OC,Todd Wash-DC

Appeal to Job- Dominant defense, hard-nosed downhill RB, a physical OL that likes to impose their will.

Verdict-> 75% Chance of being fired.

Dirk Koetter- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Reasoning- Uncertainty at the QB position, a stunted growth of young QB, and a serious lack of an ability to develop quality depth all about the roster, as well as serious questions on defense.

Assistant Coaches to Retain

  • Todd Monken- Offensive Coordinator

  • George Warhop- Offensive Line Coach

  • Brentson Buckner- Defensive Line Coach

Possible Replacement- Jim Schwartz, Eagles Defensive Coordinator

Background- Schwartz gets a chance of redemption as a Head Coach. Things soured in Detroit for him, but one thing you could always say about his teams were they played hard. He has been at the helm of some of the best defenses in the last 5 years. He holds onto OC Todd Monken, because even though he has an unsettled QB spot, he was able to create some big plays and put up some even bigger stats. Buckner is a quality DL coach who gets the moniker of DC, but Schwartz will actually be the one calling the plays on defense.

Coordinator Choices- OC: Todd Monken DC: Brentson Buckner

Appeal to Job- Tons of talent along the defensive line, a dynamic duo of TE’s, a little bit of cap space to address issues on roster (around $17 million), as well as draft capital.

Verdict-> 70% Chance of being fired.

Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys

Reasoning-The model of mediocrity, always just doing just enough to survive, and now Jerry Jones decides to change course, and find a new lead man.

Assistant Coaches to Retain

  • Kellen Moore- Quarterbacks Coach

  • Rod Marinelli- Defensive Coordinator

  • Ben Bloom- Linebackers

Possible Replacement- Kris Richard, Cowboys Defensive Backs Coach

Background- An under the radar hire for Garrett as a DB coach, he has been working his way up the ladder to get his shot as a HC. He was a vital coaching assistant to the building of the Legion of Boom in Seattle. Richard is a young, intelligent defensive mind that will will help in tightening up that side of the ball, and will trust a noted play caller in Todd Haley that has a knack for developing talent at the skill positions (sans the Cleveland experiment). He holds onto Rod Marinelli, because of the continuity and the way the defense has played this year.

Coordinator Choices- OC: Todd Haley DC: Rod Marinelli

Appeal to Job- Young Offensive building blocks at QB, RB, and WR. Formidable defense that has playmakers at all levels. Cap space (around $55 million) to either resign some of their young players or go add to roster through free agency. A Chance to change a culture of mediocrity, and take team to the next level.

Verdict-> 65% Chance of being fired.

Mike McCarthy-Green Bay Packers

Reasoning-Tension between him and Aaron Rodgers due to a lack of a running game to compliment his passing ability, as well as a sense of being too bland with his game plans.

Assistant Coaches to Retain

  • Jason Simmons-Secondary Coach

Possible Replacement- Gus Bradley, Chargers Defensive Coordinator

Background- A new GM, then a new head coach; that's the way the NFL usually works. Bradley is a defensive coordinating guru. No matter where he goes he assembles top notch quality defenses. He was a galvanizing force behind the assembly of the dominant defenses in Seattle during their Super Bowl runs. He had a terrible first go around as a Head Coach in Jacksonville, but trust me if he is given a chance to lead a team with a good QB, he will rally the troops around him. His first decision is to bring back Aaron Rodgers' best buddy to call plays, his former QB coach Alex Van Pelt, and he elevates Jason Simmons from secondary coach to DC after some great work with a lot of young talent in the secondary. The Defensive Coordinator title is only a title, because it will be Bradley overseeing that side of the ball.

Coordinator Choices- OC: Alex Van Pelt DC: Jason Simmons

Appeal to Job- Tremendous amount of job safety because the Packers are a stable franchise. Aaron Rodgers, a good group of WRs, Jimmy Graham at TE, and a young and hungry defensive backfield. Cap space ( around $46 million) and a new and aggressive GM who showed a prowess to go and get players to supplement to their roster.

Verdict-> 65% Chance of being fired.

John Harbaugh- Baltimore Ravens

Reasoning- With Ozzie Newsome retiring, and Eric DeCosta transitioning to full time GM, I believe he will want a fresh face and voice in the locker room if Harbaugh fails to get deep into the playoffs this year. I believe there will be a lot of shake ups in coaching and personnel coming to this franchise.

Assistant Coaches of Note

  • Greg Roman- Assistant Head Coach/TE Coach

  • Chris Hewitt- Secondary Coach

  • Assistant Head Coach/ST Coordinator- Jerry Rosburg

Possible Replacement- David Shaw, Stanford Head Coach

Reasoning- I am convinced that it will take a rare opportunity to pry Shaw from Stanford, and this may be one of the few jobs to come available that just might lure him away from Palo Alto. He has history being an assistant on Brian Billick’s staff in the early 2000’s, and has fond memories of coaching in this town. Baltimore is a model organization, and is structured to win now and in the future. Shaw would be able to come in and apply any changes he wishes. He holds onto Greg Roman as his OC, who was a very innovative play caller when Kaepernick was coming into his own in SF, as well as a great affinity for running the ball. This should translate in being able to cultivate an offense towards the talents of Lamar Jackson. Shaw brings in Mike Pettine for the DC job once he is let go by the Packers, because he got to know him by working with him previously in his stint as an assistant in Baltimore.

Coordinator Choices- OC: Greg Roman DC: Mike Pettine

Appeal to Job- Young QB on the roster to groom (Lamar Jackson), stout defense that is annually in the Top 5 of most categories, a imposing secondary, a willingness to sign key free agents, or acquire draft picks that fit their molds. Has around $32 million to play with in free agency.

Verdict-> 55% Chance of being fired.

Marvin Lewis-Cincinnati Bengals

Reasoning- This is a situation, where Lewis is not fired, but rather reassigned, by his own merit. I think he wants to transition to a position that takes him off the sidelines, but not away from the game. Mike Brown values anything he says, and I believe would jump at the opportunity to keep him onboard in a front office capacity.

Assistant Coaches of Note

  • Teryl Austin- Defensive Coordinator

  • Bob Bicknell- WR Coach

  • Frank Pollak- Offensive Line Coach

  • Jacob Burney- Defensive Line Coach

  • Daronte Jones- CB Coach

  • Robert Livingston- Safeties Coach

Possible Replacement- Hue Jackson, Ex Cleveland Browns Head Coach

Background- One of the most ineffective head coaches in NFL history gets a second chance so quickly? The answer is yes, because he falls into the head coaching job he should have waited on in the first place. Marvin Lewis lobbied for Jackson to sign a contract to name him head coach in waiting, but rather he spurned the offer to coach in Cleveland. Well, the grass isn’t always greener, right? Jackson is a terrific offensive mind, and has rapport with a lot of the offensive playmakers on this team, and works well with them. He can move into a situation where he isn’t in a power struggle and is surrounded by veterans that know how to win. He chooses his right hand man, Ken Zampese, as his OC, and on defense they roll with the status quo.

Coordinator Choices- OC: Ken Zampese DC: Teryl Austin

Appeal to Job- A rapport with like-minded individuals, coaches, and personnel people. A chance to work as head coach under his mentor Marvin Lewis, and a chance to show that Cleveland was just a bad situation. A good chunk of cap space ($60 million) to play with, even though we all know their owner will not dump it all back into the team.

Verdict-> 50% Chance of being fired.

So here you go, football world. I had a blast examining all of these teams' rosters, situations, and mocking coaches to each team. Leave me some feedback, and let me know if you agree, disagree, or think of a better alternative to some of my choices.

bottom of page