This is the last weekend before Seahawks training camp starts, and the third-to-last weekend before Seattle’s first preseason game. If you’re like me, you’re hoping time can speed itself up.
With opening night between New England and Kansas City less than 50 days away, I figured we could take a look at which head coaches around the NFL are facing the dreaded pink slip this season. As Seahawks fans, we can sit back and relax knowing that Pete Carroll won’t be at risk of getting fired any time soon. Going to two Super Bowls, winning one of them, and having five consecutive ten-win seasons provides you with that luxury.
These are five candidates I have in mind, in no particular order:
Todd Bowles - New York Jets
Bowles’ surprise 10-6 season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback gave way to a 5-11 mess, with the pass defense regressing to almost rock-bottom 31st DVOA. Fitzpatrick is gone, but the Jets “upgraded” by signing Josh McCown. The backups are Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, both of whom are awful. I can’t think of a worse roster in the league than this one, and while most of Bowles’ assistants from 2016 have already been sacked, I’m pretty sure Todd’s on his way out once the Jets finish last again in 2017.
Ron Rivera - Carolina
Carolina is looking just a tad dysfunctional. Not only did they just fire Dave Gettleman as team GM, his interim replacement is Marty Hurney, the previous GM who got fired to make way for Gettleman. After 2017, who knows what this Panthers team will look like?
Which brings me to Ron Rivera. He was hired in 2011, so he’s been with Cam Newton for the duration of his coaching career. The results have been mostly unimpressive. Sure, Carolina went 15-1 and made it to the Super Bowl two years ago, but it’s quite evident that while they weren’t as excellent as their record indicated. Rivera’s next best season was 2013, when they started 1-3, finished 12-4, and got bounced at home by the 49ers in the divisional round.
Rivera has had a sub-.500 record in four of his six seasons as Panthers HC, although 7-8-1 was enough to win the NFC South in 2014. I don’t think five in seven years is something Riverboat Ron can survive.
John Fox - Chicago
Seems pretty cut-and-dry. Fox is 9-23 in his two seasons with the Bears, having been axed by Denver even after making the playoffs in all four years he was there. Unfortunately for him, Denver did win it all (against Carolina, where Fox first rose to prominence) as soon as he was binned.
The Bears are a rebuilding team, no question about it. Jay Cutler is no more, so it’ll be one of the horribly overpaid Mike Glennon or #2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky getting the start at quarterback. Oh yeah, and about that Trubisky pick...
Chicago is probably in for another rough season. Believe it or not, every NFC North team has made the playoffs at least twice since Chicago’s last berth (2010).
Sean Payton - New Orleans
I can’t believe the Saints don’t get more attention for being so mediocre as of late. From 2014-2016, they’ve had a trio of 7-9 records and have been dreadful on defense. Drew Brees is 38 years old and figures to not have much time left to produce magnificent results at a high-level. The Saints front office has committed itself to fixing its defense this offseason, but is it too little, too late?
Payton has given the Saints a Super Bowl win and multiple playoff appearances, but I’d be surprised if they finished in the top-half of the NFC South, and that would probably mean it’s time to part ways.
Chuck Pagano - Indianapolis
The Colts needed to shake things up after failing to make the playoffs for the second season in a row. Chuck Pagano could’ve been tossed, and frankly everyone involved with designing this play should’ve been fired two years ago, but the ax fell on GM Ryan Grigson. Pagano’s best seasons both ended with the Colts getting summarily stuffed in a locker by the Patriots. Supposedly he’s not in a “win or get fired” situation, but it’s not as if Jim Irsay is one to stick to his guns. It’s even possible that Pagano still gets fired if they make the playoffs but, say, get eliminated in the wild card round. I don’t think Irsay envisioned Indianapolis not really being all that close to a Super Bowl appearance five seasons into the Andrew Luck era. I’d sooner believe they’ll miss the playoffs again than make a deep playoff run in year six.
You may have noticed I left Marvin Lewis off the hot seat list even when Cincinnati has seemingly seen its window of contention slam shut without even a playoff win. It’s quite obvious that he’ll never actually be fired, and in fact he will still be coaching the Bengals in the year 17776.
Now it’s your turn. Who’s on your radar for getting fired either during or after this NFL season?