There are 32 NFL teams. Each year somewhere between 5–8 coaches lose their jobs. It’s never too soon to start thinking about who is where. Oakland already fired Dennis Allen, and it’s likely five more guys will join him. So who will they be?
22 guys are safe at this point:
- Bill Belichick, NE – Five straight division titles. Missed the playoffs once since 2002. 7–2 this year.
- Doug Marrone, BUF – 2nd season. 5–4 after 6–10 last year. Would have to lose out to be at risk.
- John Harbaugh, BAL – Made playoffs in first five seasons. Won Super Bowl two seasons ago. 6 wins already; 6–10 wouldn’t even be enough.
- Mike Pettine, CLE – First year.
- Bill O’Brien, HOU – First year.
- Chuck Pagano, IND – Third year. About to make playoffs for third time.
- Gus Bradley, JAX – Year two. Not doing well, but expectations are low.
- Ken Whisenhunt, TEN – First year.
- John Fox, DEN – Three for three in playoff appearances. One Super Bowl trip.
- Mike McCoy, SD – Year two. Playoffs last year.
- Andy Reid, KC – Year two. Playoffs last year.
- Tom Coughlin, NYG – One one playoff appearance in last five seasons. But two rings. Probably goes on on his own terms.
- Chip Kelly, PHI – Year two. Looks like a 2nd straight playoff appearance.
- Jay Gruden, WAS – First year.
- Jim Caldwell, DET – First year.
- Mike Zimmer, MIN – First year.
- Mike McCarthy, GB – Five straight playoffs plus a Super Bowl ring.
- Sean Payton, NO – Four straight playoffs plus a Super Bowl ring.
- Lovie Smith, TB – First year
- Pete Carroll, SEA – Just won a Super Bowl
- Bruce Arians, ARI – 2nd year. 8–1.
- Jeff Fisher, STL – Only in year three. Lots of injuries. Probably gets more time.
Good as Gone
Rex Ryan, NYJ
Rex Ryan deserves a lot of credit for lasting this long. He really banked a lot of credit by making the playoffs those first two seasons. He is 0 for 3 since and is currently 1–8. The Jets are really bad. Ryan could immediately get re-hired, but at worst he’s unlikely only out of a job one year.
Mike Smith, ATL
Smith went to the playoffs in four of his first five seasons including a trip to the NFC title game. But injuries derailed this team last season, and they are currently 3–6. Smith probably has to get to 8 wins to keep his job. Otherwise, Falcons owner Arthur Blank has to start thinking about not wasting the primes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
Too Close to Call
There are three more coaches still out there to get fired. It will come from this list of 7 name, from least likely to most likely.
Joe Philbin, MIA
Philbin somehow entered the season on a warm seat despite improving from 7–9 to 8–8 last season. Miami is currently 5–3. 8–8 almost surely keeps his job and Miami’s defense is one of the best in the league. If this team finished 2–6 though, he would probably be gone.
Mike Tomlin, PIT
The fact that teams would line-up to hire Tomlin means he probably isn’t going anywhere. But after two 8–8 seasons without the playoffs things can get restless. Tomlin is 5–3 in the playoffs and has two trips to the Super Bowl (one ring). Pittsburgh is 6–4. He probably get’s at least another year unless they lose out.
Marvin Lewis, CIN
He has been coaching the Bengals since before the forward pass was legalized1. He has a winning record, and has made the playoffs in three straight seasons. But he is 0–5 lifetime in the playoffs. The Bengals are 5–3–1 in the leagues’s deepest division, and could miss the playoffs even with 9 wins. This is a team with tons of talent that lost both coordinators in the offseason. So Lewis is probably safe.
Jason Garrett, DAL
Garrett has never made the playoffs or had a full “winning” season, but he has gone 8–8 for three years. Dallas started 6–1 and are now 7–3. After that start raised expectations, missing the playoffs would be catastrophic. It would also likely mean having finished 4–5. Hard to see Jerry Jones letting that slide.
Marc Trestman, CHI
Only in his second season, but the Bears have been horrible. Even though the defense has been ravaged by injuries there is too much talent on offense for this team to be so middle of the road. It’s unlikely a coach gets fired after two seasons, especially with traditionally tight fisted owners, but the Bears window with this offense is going to close fast, so it might be time to try something else. Seven wins probably saves his job though.
Jim Harbaugh, SF
This seems almost unimaginable. Harbaugh is in year four. He has been to three NFC title games, and one Super Bowl. Any team would kill for a coach that good that fast. And yet the rumors of lockeroom antics won’t die. And currently at 5–4 the playoffs are far from a lock. If the rumors are true about the way the team is being managed, and the 49ers miss the playoffs they may cut him loose. This situation is too unpredictable though.
Ron Rivera, CAR
Rivera was on the hotseat last season after a slow start. But he finished 12–4 and made the playoffs. The Panthers have taken a step back and at 3–6–1 don’t look good. Short of going 6–0 from here on out they will probably miss the playoffs. 4–2 is probably enough to cost him his job. So it doesn’t look good
Rex Ryan and Mike Smith get the axe, joining Dennis Allen. Carolina doesn’t bounce back and Ron Rivera gets the boot. Dallas totally implodes and misses the playoffs. Bye-bye Jason Garrett. The Bears finish 5–11 and the Marc Trestman Experiment comes to an end.
- Rough estimate [↩]