The NFL Head Coach Hot Seat Rankings, Part II

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images


Earlier in the week we began ranking all 32 NFL head coaches based on their likelihood of being canned (morbid, I know). For Part I of those rankings, click here.


16. Rex Ryan – New York Jets

Rex Ryan was Vegas’ preseason favorite to be the first coached canned in 2013, so bravo Rex for guiding the Jets to a 5-4 record so far this season. The Jets, in fact, currently hold the sixth and final playoff spot.

Normally when a coach exceeds expectations, he keeps his job and there’s no denying the Jets’ record through nine games has given Rex a lifeline. But here’s the problem: by all accounts, Ryan should have been fired at the end of last season and a case could even be made he should have been fired two years ago. He badly overestimated the ability of Mark Sanchez—yep, that Mark Sanchez—and normally in the NFL, that’ll garner a pink slip.

Ryan is now getting a second chance with rookie Geno Smith and the Jets passing game is by far the worst aspect of their team. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Smith is obviously inexperienced and very well could develop into a viable NFL starter (and it’s not like the Jets have gifted him many pass-catching weapons) but it’ll be interesting to see how patient the Jets’ front office will be considering Rex has probably already overstayed his welcome in the Big Apple.


15. Jim Schwartz – Detroit Lions

This may come as a surprise to some, as the Lions have been one of the better teams in the NFC this season, but it really seems that the Lions are winning despite Jim Schwartz, not because of him.

The Lions continue to be one of the least disciplined teams in the league and the team’s struggles to close out games have been well-documented and can be read about here, here, here and here. Schwartz’s in-game decision-making skills have also come into question in his five-year tenure as the Lions’ head coach. His .375 winning percent as the team’s bench boss doesn’t exactly scream “job security” either.

If the Lions stumble down the stretch and miss the playoffs, Schwartz will without a doubt be packing his belongings in January. And even then, simply making the playoffs may not be enough.


14. Jeff Fisher – St. Louis Rams

Jeff Fisher was difficult to rank because he’s a good coach in a terrible situation. Cortland Finnegan (ranked as the worst cornerback so far this season by, Sam Bradford (mediocre when healthy, which he is not at the moment) and this really awful player named “Dead Money” eat up about a third of the Rams cap space in 2013. Ouch.

The Rams showed some real signs of promise last season, finishing only a half game below .500 while going 4-1-1 against their divisional foes (yes Donovan—for the millionth time, ties can happen) but they haven’t been able to follow that up in 2013. Aside from a few impressive individual performances, namely running back Zac Stacy and defensive end Robert Quinn, the Rams have underwhelmed and find themselves in last place in the NFC West.

Again, to blame this all on Fisher—who has helped piece together a formidable front seven—wouldn’t be fair. But the NFL is a results-based business and Fisher hasn’t had many positive ones.


13. Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons

Let’s play a game called “Name That Healthy Falcons Receiver”!

“Julio Jones?”


“Hmmm…okay…Roddy White?”

Bzzzzz…wrong again.

“Okay Tony Gonzalez has to be heal—”


“Harry Dougales?”

His name is Harry Douglas, but no, also wrong.


And that’s all the time we have folks! The answer we were looking for was: NOBODY!


Needless to say, it’s been a rough year for injuries in Atlanta and that’s obviously out of Mike Smith’s hands, but if the Falcons finish, say 4-12, does Mike Smith keep his job? Sure, the Falcons have been a great regular season team since Smith took over in 2008, but the Falcons’ 1-4 playoff record under his watch doesn’t make him invincible.

This Falcons team had some major flaws coming into this season and the injuries obviously haven’t helped things. But this disaster of a season can’t fully be blamed on the injury bug, and Smith may take the fall for it.


12. Doug Marrone – Buffalo Bills

Over the past 15 years, the Buffalo Bills have employed seven different head coaches, which works out to an average tenure of about two years per head coach. Over the course of those 15 years, only one coach (Dick Jauron) lasted more than three years and even he couldn’t finish his fourth before getting the boot.

If history tells us anything, Doug Marrone’s tenure as the Bills’ head coach was coming to a close before it even began.


11. Mike Tomlin – Pittsburgh Steelers

There’s no denying that Mike Tomlin is a good coach. He accomplished more before his 40th birthday than most coaches could ever dream of accomplishing in their entire careers. Still, it appears that Mike Tomlin has overstayed his welcome as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After missing the playoffs last season (the first time since Tomlin’s hiring in 2007) the Steelers got off to a horrendous start in 2013 and currently sit in last place in the AFC North with a record of 3-6. The defense looks old and the offense looks discombobulated. The Steelers appear to be an excellent “let’s blow this team up and start over” candidate. It remains to be seen if Tomlin’s past accomplishments allow him to be a part of a rebuild, or if he’ll be part of the wreckage.


10. Mike Shanahan – Washington Redskins

Is Mike Shanahan still a good coach? Was he ever? He inherited John Elway when he was hired by the Broncos in 1995, won a pair of Superbowls in ’97 and ’98, Elway retired in ’99 and Shanahan has won just a single playoff game over the past 14 years.

Shanahan certainly has an eye for running back talent, as he consistently drafts guys late, only to have them surpass all expectations and become world-class players. But in today’s game, where the passing game reigns supreme,  if a head coach’s best skill is identifying and developing talent at the running back position, how useful is he? Based on his recent track record, it would appear the answer to that question is “not very”.

The Redskins have their quarterback of the future, for the better or for injury worse. Now they need to start looking for their coach of the future.


9. Tom Coughlin – New York Giants

Whenever there’s talk of Tom Coughlin needing to be fired, the Giants turn their season around and heroically make the playoffs thanks to a Tony Romo implosion in Week 17. So you’re welcome, Giants fans.

Coughlin has accomplished so much as the head coach of the Giants that it won’t be easy for management to cut him loose, nor should it be. But since starting last year 6-2, the Giants have gone 6-11 in their last 17 games. Eli Manning doesn’t look anything like an elite quarterback and their once daunted pass-rush is non-existent.

The Giants may make the playoffs this year, simply because of the unrivaled terribleness of the NFC East, but it’d only be delaying the inevitable. Real changes need to be in the Big Apple, and Coughlin may be one of them.


8. Dennis Allen – Oakland Raiders

The only NFL franchise who loves firing coaches more than the Bills is the Oakland Raiders. Allen is on year two of his tenure as the Raiders’ head coach, so the clock really is ticking.

As it turns out, the quarterback Allen wanted as his starter is not good at football. The quarterback he went with instead runs the ball like this, but unfortunately throws like this.

Good luck in all your future endeavors, Dennis Allen.


7. Gus Bradley – Jacksonville Jaguars

The 2012 Jaguars finished with a .125 winning percentage (ranked 31st), allowed 27.25 points per game on defense (30th) and scored 15.94 points per game on offense (30th).

You know that expression “it can’t get any worse”? Well…

The 2013 Jaguars currently own a .111 winning percentage (ranked tied for 31st), are allowing 32.33 points per game (32nd) and have scored 12.78 points per game (32nd).

Cracking the top 10 as a first-year coach is a tough thing to do, but gosh darn it Gus Bradley—you’ve earned it!


6. Mike Munchak – Tennessee Titans

This is Mike Munchak’s third season as the Titans’ head coach and the team still resembles nothing  like a playoff team, let alone a contender.

Munchak has that deer-in-the-headlights look, perfected by Jim Caldwell. When you’re being compared to Jim Caldwell as a coach, that’s a really bad sign.


5. Leslie Frazier – Minnesota Vikings

On January 3rd, 2011, the Vikings removed the interim tag from his title and the Leslie Frazier era in Minnesota officially began. Let’s break down what Leslie Frazier has done for the Vikings since then:

2011: Drafted Christian Ponder (over Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick) in April and traded for Donovan McNabb in July. The fact that the previous sentenced needed to be written is evidence enough that Leslie Frazier is a viable candidate to be fired, but I digress. To the surprise of nobody, the Vikings finish the 2011 season with a record of 3-13.

2012: Adrian Peterson makes a never-been-seen-before comeback from a torn ACL, puts the team on his back and the Vikings finish 10-6. It’s rumored that Leslie Frazier uttered the words “let’s run the ball” multiple times during the season, so some credit is due.

2013: Peterson proves he is human after all, returns to just being the best running back in football and the Vikings currently own the third worst record in the NFL.

Needles to say, the Leslie Frazier era has been a disaster.


4. Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys

It’s really telling when the head coach of a first place team ranks in the top five in the NFL Head Coach Hot Seat Rankings, but boy does Jason Garrett deserve to be here.

There may not be a worse coach in football. How can a team with the talent the Cowboys have be so mediocre? The Cowboys are exactly .500 (21-21) and have yet to make the playoffs since Garrett officially took over in 2011, yet the team possesses well above-average talent at multiple positions, including at quarterback. Say what you will about Romo’s Romoisms in the fourth quarter, but he’s a top 10 quarterback in the NFL and is being put in a lot of bad situations late in games because of poor coaching.

It’s also really telling when a head coach doesn’t even trust his own abilities.

The only chance Jason Garrett has of keeping his job at season’s end is that Jerry Jones forgets to fire him…again.


3. Joe Philbin – Miami Dolphins

Somebody has to be held responsible for the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito mess and all indications are Philbin should shoulder a great deal of blame for allowing whatever it is that went on to continue long enough for it to reach the point of a public embarrassment. The details of what went on aren’t important, at least not for the purpose of these rankings. Regardless of what went on in the Dolphins’ locker room, something went on and it went on right under Joe Philbin’s nose.

The Dolphins missed the playoffs last season and are 1-4 in their last five games and on track to miss them again this year. A lack of success and a locker room in disarray should be plenty enough justification for Philbin to be out of a job by season’s end—if not sooner.


2. Gary Kubiak – Houston Texans

In Gary Kubiak’s first five years as the head coach of the Texans, from 2006 to 2010, the team went a combined 37-43 and never made the playoffs. Despite many calling for Kubiak to be fired, owner Bob McNair opted to fire almost everyone on the coaching staff not named Gary Kubiak at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

In 2011, the team hired Wade Philips as defensive coordinator, which tuned out to be a great hire as the defense improved drastically and spearheaded the Texans’ first playoff appearance and victory in franchise history. After a 12-4 record and another playoff victory last season, expectations were sky-high and Kubiak’s job security was no longer a topic of conversation coming into 2013. That is until the team starting playing games. Expectations are now rock bottom and Kubiak is all but guaranteed to be looking for employment as the Texans are currently riding a seven game losing streak.

High expectations, a bad team and no proof that the head coach is competent. That’s the kind of combination we like to see near the top of these rankings!


1. Greg Schiano – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This one was kind of obvious, right?

The hiring of Greg Schiano was a curious one at the time, and even more so now. Schiano was hired after enjoying moderate success in the college ranks, coaching a smaller football program at Rutgers. His crowning achievements, which aren’t all that impressive, came all the way back in 2006, however, making the timing of the hire a little bizarre (there is literally no mention of anything from 2007 to 2012 on Schiano’s Wikipedia page).

Schiano’s inaugural season with the Bucs wasn’t great, but showed promise. Josh Freeman, Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson formed a solid trio on offense and the Bucs’ front seven was forming an identity. The secondary needed some major work, which was addressed in the offseason as the Bucs traded for Darrell Revis and signed Dashon Goldson. Those additions made the Bucs a trendy pick to win the NFC South, or at least, make the playoffs as a wild card.


The Bucs couldn’t be further from a playoff team. It took them 10 weeks to earn their first win of the season—a three-point victory over the dysfunctional Dolphins. They’ve cut Freeman, Martin was ineffective and is now on IR, and that secondary that was supposed to be improved is still horri-awful, in large part because Schiano refuses to deploy Revis in man-to-man coverage. The Bucs’ sideline is such a disaster, defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan jokingly invited fans to come to a practice to help him with the Bucs’ defensive game plan and fans actually took him seriously and showed up.

The 2013 season has been an utter embarrassment for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and business owners don’t like to be embarrassed. Changes will be made.

Start updating that resume, Greg.


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