0 of 32
The NFL draft may serve as a natural high for some fanbases, but the sizzle of the regular season keeps the flames under more than a few seats quite toasty. No NFL head coach will be fired between now and at least October (unless something wild and unpredictable occurs). This doesn’t mean each is comfortable with where he stands within his respective organization. Some, like the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, are made men. Others are just trying to make it through another season. And the league’s six brand-new head coaches have no clue what to expect during their first campaigns leading a franchise. Even in April, a heat check is needed to understand where each of the 32 head coaches sits before the 2018 seasons begins. Some hot seats never cool. A few more remain warm. The majority are quite comfortable…until the games begin.
1 of 32
Steve Wilks didn’t enter the ideal situation as the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Granted, most hires are forced by poor performances the previous season, but Wilks must overcome more than most.
First, the former defensive coordinator replaces one of the NFL’s most personable and successful coaches in Bruce Arians. The 2014 NFL Coach of the Year made Arizona into a perennial playoff contender with a 49-30 record during his five-year tenure.
Second, veteran quarterback Carson Palmer retired as well. The organization’s top priority is finding a quarterback beyond free-agent signees Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon.
The honeymoon period won’t last too long since the Cardinals may struggle to compete in the NFC West against the stacked Los Angeles Rams, improved San Francisco 49ers and established Seattle Seahawks.
2 of 32
Dan Quinn’s best coaching job so far came last year, not the previous season when the Atlanta Falcons appeared in Super Bowl LI.
The Falcons had every reason to slip into a post-Super Bowl funk after losing a 28-3 second-half lead to the New England Patriots. Instead, Atlanta finished 10-6 and won its Wild Card Round game against the Rams.
“The only fight that matters is the one you’re in,” Quinn told NFL Network’s Michael Silver (via Fox 5 Atlanta). “So when people bring up the Super Bowl? F–k that…We’re looking at what’s right in front of us.”
The head coach’s no-nonsense attitude has been the driving force behind the team’s success, as he has overcome having to deal with a young defense, an offensive coordinator change after the 2016 season and quarterback Matt Ryan‘s statistical regression in 2017.
3 of 32
An NFL coach can live off a Super Bowl victory for only so long. Since winning Super Bowl XLVII six years ago, the John Harbaugh-led Baltimore Ravens are 40-40 in the regular season with one playoff appearance.
What makes matters worse is the decline throughout the Ravens roster.
Baltimore’s wide receivers are among the league’s worst, and Joe Flacco’s 2017 performance ranked among his poorest, as he had just 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
The Ravens still finished 12th in total defense, but Harbaugh must find ways to improve upon an offense that finished 27th overall last season. Otherwise, Baltimore will become an afterthought in the AFC North.
4 of 32
Sean McDermott led the Buffalo Bills to their first playoff appearance since the 1999 campaign. This achievement alone should be enough to keep him as the team’s head coach for the next decade or more.
Clearly, the Bills are heading in the right direction because of McDermott’s determination to change the organization’s culture alongside general manager Brandon Beane. The duo traded away malcontents and those who didn’t fit its long-term vision, including Marcell Dareus, Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby and Tyrod Taylor.
The roster has a long way to go before completion, though. AJ McCarron steps in for Taylor, but quarterback is still a primary concern. Once the team drafts its next franchise signal-caller, far more will be needed to supplement the passing game.
The Bills have yet to reach consistent contender status. Even so, they seem to have found the right man for the job.
5 of 32
The Carolina Panthers have experienced ups and down throughout Ron Rivera’s seven-year tenure, yet the team has managed four playoff appearances in the last five years.
Change is a way of NFL life, though.
For example, the Panthers organization rehired general manager Marty Hurney and gave Rivera a two-year contract extension this offseason despite the franchise’s impending sale. Rivera understands the 2018 campaign is a 16-game trial for the incoming ownership group.
“We have to be on top of our game,” the head coach acknowledged, per Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt. “It does add a little bit of pressure, but that’s the nature of the game. It really is a one year at a time as far as whether you get next year.
“We’ll approach it that way. We’ve been under pressure before and we’ve had to prove it and come out and produce, and that’s where we are.”
6 of 32
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy is the most intriguing hiring of the offseason.
First, the former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator performed well when he took over play-calling duties from Andy Reid. The Chiefs averaged 397.8 yards per contest in Nagy’s six games orchestrating the offense.
Second, Nagy assembled an impressive staff by retaining Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, luring respected special teams coordinator Chris Tabor away from the Cleveland Browns and bringing spread guru Mark Helfrich on as the offensive coordinator.
Finally, the Bears organization made sure to supplement Nagy’s scheme with talented targets in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton to maximize Mitchell Trubisky’s potential.
It won’t come as a surprise if Nagy and Co. make the Bears into instant contenders.
7 of 32
Sometimes it feels like Marvin Lewis will be the Cincinnati Bengals head coach until the end of time.
Both sides contemplated their options after the end of the 2017 campaign only to agree on a new two-year deal. Eventually, the 59-year-old’s time will come.
The Bengals haven’t performed well the last two seasons with a 13-18-1 record after making the postseason in each of the previous five campaigns. Cincinnati’s recent downturn only magnifies the fact Lewis has an 0-7 playoff record in his 15 seasons.
The team appears to have reached the point of diminishing return under the current coaching staff. Another sub-.500 campaign in a division featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers and an improved Cleveland Browns squad won’t bode well for Lewis’ future.
8 of 32
The Cleveland Browns own the first overall pick in this year’s draft for a reason.
Plenty of blame has been placed on former general manager Sashi Brown for tearing down the roster. Poor coaching also led to a 1-31 record over the last two seasons.
Hue Jackson built his reputation as a quarterback whisperer due to the success he experienced with Joe Flacco in his rookie season and Andy Dalton later in his career. Jackson’s presence in Cleveland hasn’t yielded any positive results, as the coach failed to develop Cody Kessler, Robert Griffin III, Kevin Hogan and DeShone Kizer.
General manager John Dorsey is now running the organization, and forced marriages rarely succeed. Dorsey may be building the Browns roster with the team’s next head coach in mind unless drastic improvement occurs.
9 of 32
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett received a dreaded vote of confidence from owner Jerry Jones after last year’s 9-7 campaign.
“I certainly know a lot about Jason Garrett. Because of that, I can very quickly and candidly say that he’s not, his job is not an issue here at all,” Jones said in December, per the Associated Press (via USA Today).
A 22-10 record over two seasons is usually good enough to warrant an extension. Being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys demands a little more because of Jones’ overbearing presence.
The 13-3 campaign form 2016 set a difficult standard. A winning record without a postseason appearance the following year turned into disappointment. Quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t play as well during his sophomore campaign, and the head coach must find a way to rein in running back Ezekiel Elliott.
10 of 32
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway contemplated the possibility of moving beyond head coach Vance Joseph after only one season before reconsidering and staying the course, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.
“Looking back I feel good about the fact that we can stay where we are,” Elway said, per the Associated Press’ Arnie Stapleton (via USA Today). “With Vance making some changes on his staff … we’ll have a chance to get better.”
Joseph responded by firing six assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. The revamped coaching staff should benefit from having Case Keenum at quarterback and the talent of the incoming fifth overall pick.
11 of 32
New Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is arguably football’s smartest man. Patricia earned an aeronautical engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before entering the coaching ranks.
The 43-year-old is a natural fit working alongside general manager Bob Quinn after they spent 12 seasons together with the New England Patriots.
“This is my first time walking this path, so to have someone that’s kind of next to me saying, ‘Hey, look, be alert for this,’ or, ’Let’s be ready to go on this,’ and kind of just pushing me along from that standpoint … has been hugely helpful,” Patricia said, per the Detroit Free-Press‘ Dave Birkett. “So we kind of just fall right back into our normal routine and kind of like he said, the good ol’ days.”
The Lions are building a top-down philosophy with Patricia and Quinn in lockstep.
12 of 32
The Green Bay Packers failed to make the playoffs in 2017 after eight straight postseason appearances. The fact Green Bay still finished 7-9 overall despite Aaron Rodgers‘ fractured collarbone is a testament to Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff.
The Packers head coach has experienced problems in recent years with offensive play-calling and an underwhelming defense, yet the team remains competitive.
The organization restructured this offseason, as Ted Thompson moved into a senior adviser role and Brian Gutekunst became the general manager. This may provide slight concern for McCarthy’s long-term status, but Gutekunst has worked for the Packers since 1998.
McCarthy made a few changes, too, with a pair of new coordinators in Joe Philbin and Mike Pettine. Normally, coordinator hires pave the way toward a head coach’s dismissal. In this case, both should help improve the Packers and place them back in the postseason conversation.
13 of 32
After years of dealing with uncertainty at the game’s most important position, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien understands Deshaun Watson’s play will drive the team’s overall success. Unlike some NFL coaches, O’Brien is willing to adapt his offense to Watson’s unique skill set.
“I think you have to be willing to change in this league relative to the talent you have,” the coach said, per Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith.
O’Brien’s openness toward change is important since his relationship with general manager Rick Smith has been described as “toxic,” according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Aaron Wilson. Even so, Texans owner Bob McNair signed O’Brien to a four-year extension in January.
The coach’s handling of his quarterback coupled with his overall flexibility will determine whether he’s off the hot seat.
14 of 32
Frank Reich might not have been the Indianapolis Colts’ first choice as head coach, but the organization may have stumbled over a better option compared to Josh McDaniels.
Reich hasn’t been groomed his entire coaching career nor failed at a previous spot.
The man once known for being the backup Buffalo Bills quarterback who orchestrated the greatest comeback in NFL history earned his current position based on Carson Wentz’s development. Reich’s understanding of the quarterback position is vital in Indianapolis, where the handling of Andrew Luck and his health are the organization’s biggest question marks.
“As a head coach you just don’t blink, even when it’s your star player,” Reich said, per ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. “You know it’s a team sport and you trust your team. You certainly appreciate the contributions of your star player, and obviously Andrew is that, so we’re optimistic.”
15 of 32
The Jacksonville Jaguars are now counted among the AFC’s elite thanks to executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and head coach Doug Marrone.
Jacksonville’s roster is arguably the league’s deepest and most talented. But Marrone’s direction proved to be a huge factor in the franchise’s turnaround.
“Every week, we ran the same defense,” Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey said after Gus Bradley’s firing, per ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. “We never changed defenses. We never changed plays. What we were running on first down at the beginning of the season we were running on first down at the end of the season. What we were running on second down, third down, same. Nothing ever changed.”
In-game adjustments are crucial, and Marrone had the Jaguars far better prepared during last year’s 10-6 campaign.
16 of 32
Andy Reid’s consistency is as good as any NFL head coach not named Bill Belichick. The Kansas City Chiefs won at least 10 games and made the playoffs in four of his five seasons.
The 2018 campaign may be difficult for the mustachioed coach since he’ll be breaking in a new starting quarterback after relying on Alex Smith since arriving in Kansas City. Plus, he’ll do so without offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, who became the Chicago Bears head coach after taking over the Chiefs’ play-calling duties last season.
Patrick Mahomes’ talent is off the charts, but he’ll still experience ups and downs during his first full season as a starter. How Reid manages the 2017 first-round pick will determine whether the Chiefs make another playoff run or drop a rung in the AFC West.
17 of 32
The Chargers are fighting an uphill battle in a tiny stadium and serving as second citizens to the Rams in Los Angeles. But head Anthony Lynn still got the most out of his team with a 9-7 record in his first year at the helm.
The team is equipped to compete for a playoff berth. Philip Rivers is still playing at a high level. Mike Pouncey should provide stability at center. More is expected of Mike Williams during his sophomore campaign. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are the game’s best pass-rushing duo.
In the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs will be breaking in a new starting quarterback, the Raiders must bounce back from a 6-10 campaign, and the Broncos may still be searching for a signal-caller even after signing Case Keenum.
The division is wide open for the taking.
18 of 32
Sean McVay is the reigning NFL Coach of the Year, and he’s about to embark on an interesting journey filled with raised expectations.
McVay’s cemented his wunderkind status by taking the NFL’s worst offense and turning it into the league’s top-scoring unit. His next trick is to mold a successful season out of the parts from other organizations.
Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald and Lamarcus Joyner form the franchise’s foundation.
But McVay and general manager Les Snead weren’t content with last season’s surprising 11-5 performance. The organization traded for Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks. The team also signed five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to pair with Donald.
McVay and his Rams aren’t sneaking up on anyone this fall. Instead, they’ll be considered one of the favorites to compete for a Super Bowl LIII appearance.
19 of 32
Adam Gase surprised during his first year as a head coach with an outstanding season. His team floundered last year. Now, the Miami Dolphins are about to enter Phase III of Gase’s plan—which involves establishing a new culture after a 6-10 campaign.
Ndamukong Suh and Mike Pouncey are gone. Gase and the front office are searching for those who understand how to win.
“I think the common thread is we’re just trying to get guys with experience winning, who have been successful, have done it right, are professionals and are just good examples,” Gase said, per the Palm Beach Post‘s Joe Schad.
As a result, the Dolphins signed veterans Danny Amendola, Frank Gore and Josh Sitton. Each of them is on the wrong side of 30, but they’re exactly who Gase wants in his locker room right now because they’re fully invested.
20 of 32
Life couldn’t be much better for Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. He already leads one of the league’s best teams after last season’s 13-3 effort, but it has the potential to be even better with Kirk Cousins.
“We’re going to do what Cousins does best,” Zimmer said, per the Minneapolis Star-Tribune‘s Ben Goessling. “He’s the most important player, really, on the offense, so we have to figure out what he does best, what he feels comfortable with and kind of go from there.”
The organization didn’t stop once it handed a three-year, $84 million contract to its new quarterback. General manager Rick Spielman also signed Sheldon Richardson to fill the defense’s hole at 3-technique.
Minnesota’s two biggest concern areas addressed in one fell swoop. Not too shabby. Zimmer should be a happy man going into the draft.
21 of 32
Bill Belichick’s career sits at a crossroads.
The previous statement may seem a tad silly, because he’s arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history. But the New England Patriots coach suffered another Super Bowl defeat and lost his defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, to the Detroit Lions. Plus, Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger.
Meanwhile, Belichick turns 66 years old in 10 days. Retirement may not be at the forefront of his mind, but it’s coming sooner rather than later.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft might be the only one inside the league who knows how long Belichick plans to coach.
“We have a pact that we don’t talk about that,” Kraft said in February, per the Sporting News’ Joe Rodgers. “He knows and I know. But he won’t be done this year.”
22 of 32
Sean Payton recaptured the magic last season with an 11-5 record and an NFC South division crown after three straight 7-9 campaigns. The New Orleans Saints went from the league’s most consistently mediocre team to a Super Bowl contender in one offseason.
The biggest adjustment came on the offensive side of the ball. Payton relied less on his Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and leaned heavily on the Saints’ talented backfield.
Brees’ 536 pass attempts were by far his lowest total since 2009. In fact, Brees has attempted 600 or more passes in nine of his 12 seasons with the Saints. New Orleans tied for the league lead at 4.7 yards per carry thanks to Mark Ingram and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara.
Understanding a roster’s capabilities and adjusting schemes based on those is good coaching.
23 of 32
Pat Shurmur joined Jon Gruden as recycled head coaches this offseason after failing at their previous stops. The New York Giants coach finished 9-23 overall in two seasons with the Cleveland Browns before being fired.
Some may point toward the Browns’ instability and Shurmur’s success with the Minnesota Vikings as reasons he can be successful with the Giants. Former Browns team president Mike Holmgren thinks Shurmur’s problems ran a little deeper.
“I said, ‘Pat, I don’t think you are having enough fun. Everything is doomsday. Joke with the guys. Tease them. Let them see you are human,” Holmgren told the New York Daily News‘ Gary Myers. “He was scowling. He’s a good play caller, he’s a good offensive coordinator.”
Successful coaches like Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll learned from previous failures. Hopefully, Shurmur has done the same.
24 of 32
Todd Bowles survived two tumultuous seasons and became more established as the New York Jets head coach than any point since being hired in 2015.
Expectations often coincide with a coach’s security or lack thereof.
Bowles’ job is far from secure since the roster still needs answers at quarterback, among other positions, but as long as the Jets continue to improve and outperform expectations, his status should be secure.
25 of 32
The NFL isn’t trapped in a time warp even though it feels like we’re in 1998 with Jon Gruden’s hire as the Oakland Raiders head coach and the organization’s subsequent moves.
Owner Mark Davis described Gruden’s acquisition as the “biggest day” of his life, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
“Everybody knows that I’ve been infatuated with doing whatever it takes to get him here,” Davis said, per SB Nation’s Levi Damien, “but really didn’t know how deep our conversations were going or how far along we were to making it happen. Somebody asked me what was harder: to get the 31 votes to go to Las Vegas or to get Jon Gruden, and by far to get Jon Gruden was the toughest.”
The nearly $100 million deal would be a waste if the 54-year-old can’t adjust to today’s game after serving as the Monday Night Football color analyst for nine seasons.
26 of 32
The Philadelphia Eagles are reigning Super Bowl champions, and Doug Pederson’s squad has a chance to be even better this fall.
How is that even possible?
Philadelphia is now a destination team. The Eagles acquired veterans Michael Bennett (who is facing a felony charge of injury to the elderly), Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace to offset the losses of Vinny Curry, Torrey Smith and Beau Allen. An argument can be made the newest additions are upgrades in the short term.
Plus, quarterback Carson Wentz is expected to return fully healthy after last season’s torn ACL. As good as Nick Foles was during the playoff stretch, Wentz performed at an MVP-level before the injury.
The one obstacle Pederson must overcome is dealing with the losses of offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. Both are talented coaches, but Pederson retains play-calling duties.
27 of 32
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the NFL’s most stable franchise, and Mike Tomlin has no fear of losing his job at any point in the near future. This is especially true after five straight seasons with double-digit regular-season victories and playoff appearances.
Despite the success, Tomlin has detractors. Fox Sports analyst and Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw famously stated on Speak for Yourself, “[Mike Tomlin is] a great cheerleader guy. I don’t know what he does. But I don’t think he is a great coach at all.”
NFL coaches are CEOs. They manage the talent found within their coaching staff and player roster. Tomlin succeeds because he’s capable of orchestrating the entire team with his relatability. A head coach doesn’t become the fastest to win 100 games in franchise history by accident.
Pittsburgh remains the New England Patriots’ biggest threat in the AFC.
28 of 32
All of the pieces are falling into place for the San Francisco 49ers. The organization found its general manager and head coach last offseason and its franchise quarterback at the trade deadline.
Kyle Shanahan can now build his offense (and the team) around Jimmy Garoppolo after the signal-caller agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million contract.
Garoppolo set the stage last season when the team finished 5-0 with him starting. A few pieces are still missing, particularly an X-receiver and interior offensive linemen.
Shanahan is known as a superior play-caller. His zone-stretch offense has proved effective at each of his previous stops. Garoppolo is an ideal fit as is free-agent acquisition Jerick McKinnon. The 49ers are well on their way to competing for a playoff appearance.
29 of 32
Two factors are working against Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll despite his 79-48-1 record during the previous eight seasons.
First, the Seahawks appear to be in a rebuilding phase. Richard Sherman, Sheldon Richardson and Jimmy Graham are no longer with the team. The organization traded Michael Bennett to the Philadelphia Eagles. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, meanwhile, could retire because of serious neck injuries.
Second, Carroll is the NFL’s oldest head coach and turns 67 years old in September. But he’s yet to consider retirement.
“People talking about retirement,” the head coach tweeted, “I ain’t old enough to think about retiring!”
Retirement may be a graceful way to bow out after the 2018 campaign since the Seahawks are no longer the NFC West’s best team. They’re now much closer to being the division’s worst squad.
30 of 32
Dirk Koetter became the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, in part, because of his relationship with Jameis Winston.
“Dirk has been here [since] my first year,” the quarterback said, per the Tampa Bay Times‘ Rick Stroud. “He came in—then he was the OC. As the head coach, it has been kind of different, but Dirk is the man. I think he has taught me a lot, especially just me playing quarterback. You just don’t understand that relationship in that quarterback room. We spend so much time together … it’s like a family.”
Koetter’s first season as an NFL head coach went well with a 9-7 record. The Buccaneers developed into a preseason favorite to make the postseason in 2017. Instead, Tampa Bay finished with a 5-11 record.
The Buccaneers decided to retain Koetter despite the underwhelming performance. He’s now on a year-by-year basis, with Winston’s maturation key to the coach’s survival.
31 of 32
The Tennessee Titans decided a pair of 9-7 campaigns during Mike Mularkey’s two years as the franchise’s full-time head coach wasn’t good enough. The Titans fired Mularkey, who didn’t have synergy with general manager Jon Robinson, and hired Mike Vrabel.
Mularkey provided the team with an identity; Vrabel takes over to establish a new culture.
“Everything we do is going to be geared towards winning and being physical,” the first-time head coach said, per ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe. “We want to prepare our players so they know what to do, which will allow them to play fast and aggressive.”
Vrabel’s hires of Matt LaFleur and Dean Pees as coordinators are critical to the team’s evolution. The Titans became outdated on both sides of the ball. LaFleur helped establish the league’s highest-scoring offense, while Pees is an experienced veteran coach.
32 of 32
Head coach Jay Gruden said the Washington Redskins are “without a doubt” better at quarterback after trading for Alex Smith, per ESPN.com’sJohn Keim.
Of course, Kirk Cousins and the organization had a tenuous relationship. Washington’s previous starter still produced three straight 4,000-yard campaigns.
“I don’t want to compare two players, but we’re always trying to be better at every position,” Gruden said. “We got better. Alex’s experience is well-noted, and his record the last five years is what it is. You could argue that all day, but we feel very good.”
Despite Cousins’ play, the team has managed a 28-35-1 record under its current head coach.
Gruden can’t be expected to retain his job if Washington produces another middling record, especially with improved quarterback play. Status: Warm
- NFL Considering Boosting Draft Picks of Teams That Hire Black Coaches
- Remote control: Tech support staffers star in NFL offseason
- 2020 NFL Draft signing tracker for first-round picks: Contract details for top 32 picks as they're reported
- DeAndre Baker, Quinton Dunbar wanted on armed robbery charges: What to know about the two NFL players
- NFC East burning questions for 2020 season: New coaches and a snakebitten QB the major storylines
- NFL to propose Rooney Rule change that includes draft-pick incentives for minority hiring, per report
Gauging How Hot Every NFL Coach's Seat Is Heading into the Draft have 4871 words, post on bleacherreport.com at April 6, 2018. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.