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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press photos John Fox has gone 12-32 in three seasons in Chicago, and his days might be numbered.

  • Associated Press Jets coach Todd Bowles might have been able to save his job by exceeding expectations, which were significantly low, this season.

  • Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has had success but his teams in Cincinnati have never won a postseason game.

  • Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano had back-to-back 8-8 seasons heading into this 3-9 campaign so far.

Thursday, December 07, 2017 1:00 am


NFL coaches feeling the heat

McAdoo's firing likely just first of many to come

Mark Maske | Washington Post

The New York Giants were an unlikely candidate to become the first NFL team to fire its head coach this season. The Giants are known for their patience. They hadn't fired a head coach during a season since 1976.

But it nevertheless was the Giants who put the NFL's coaching carousel in motion. They dismissed Ben McAdoo on Monday amid a raging controversy over McAdoo's now-rescinded benching of quarterback Eli Manning last week.

McAdoo was the first coach ousted, but he surely won't be the last. Here is a look at the coaches who could be in next, beginning with those whose seats seem to be the toastiest at the moment:

John Fox, Bears

The Bears are 3-9 this season and 12-32 under Fox as he nears the end of his third season. Not everything he has tried this season has backfired, but it sure has begun to feel that way.

He was done no favors by the team's disjointed offseason approach at quarterback with the signing of Mike Glennon and trading up in the draft to select Mitchell Trubisky. Doing one or the other would have made sense. Doing both didn't.

About the only argument for keeping Fox, it seems, would be to maintain continuity and stability for Trubisky, who has had enough promising rookie-year moments since taking over as the starter to believe that he can be the real deal. But that probably won't be enough for Fox to keep his job.

Chuck Pagano, Colts

Owner Jim Irsay surprised many in the league a couple years ago by retaining Pagano as his coach and Ryan Grigson as his general manager. Grigson was ousted last offseason after a second straight 8-8 season and was replaced by Chris Ballard.

There is an argument to be made that it would be unfair to judge Pagano on a 2017 season in which the Colts have been without Andrew Luck and didn't have a viable Plan B at quarterback until trading for Jacoby Brissett just before the opener.

But that argument likely is offset by the fact that Pagano isn't being judged solely on this season, but on the team's downward spiral since reaching the AFC title game after the 2014 season.

Hue Jackson, Browns

The woes of the Browns are not primarily a coaching issue. They are primarily a roster-construction issue. The “Moneyball” approach to building an NFL team is failing miserably, at least as it's being applied in Cleveland.

No team has gone so far out of its way, it seems, to avoid drafting a franchise quarterback with the Browns having traded away the opportunities to choose Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the last two drafts. The front office couldn't land Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. It couldn't manage to file the trade documentation in time to complete an agreed-upon deal for AJ McCarron from the Bengals.

This isn't all Jackson's doing. It isn't even primarily Jackson's doing. But with a team that is 1-27 since the start of last season, it's difficult to construct an argument that any key football decision-maker deserves to stay.

Marvin Lewis, Bengals

Everyone clamoring for the Bengals to move on from Lewis as their coach forgets just how dreadful this team was – and for just how long – before his arrival. But the clamoring is louder than ever with the Bengals likely headed to their second straight non-playoff season.

They remain without a postseason victory during the tenures of Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton. Owner Mike Brown could decide that the time has arrived for significant changes.

Vance Joseph, Broncos

Joseph is a rookie head coach, and front office roster architect John Elway bears the responsibility for the Broncos' quarterback woes beginning with Peyton Manning's final season.

But it's Elway's call, and he certainly isn't going to fire himself. It will be interesting to see how much patience he has with Joseph after accusing the team of being soft.

Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers

This was supposed to be a playoff team this year in quarterback Jameis Winston's third season. Instead, it has regressed and the future is highly uncertain.

The Buccaneers sought to maintain continuity for Winston when they promoted Koetter from offensive coordinator to head coach to replace Lovie Smith. But that stability has not resulted in on-field progress, at least not this season.

Bill O'Brien, Texans

The Texans have been ravaged by injuries, losing prized rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive standouts J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. This is their first non-winning season under O'Brien after three straight 9-7 campaigns.

There should be enough goodwill stored up to buy O'Brien at least one more season. But no one should forget that O'Brien looked at Watson and Tom Savage in the offseason, training camp and the preseason and decided it would be a good idea to open the regular season with Savage as Houston's starter.

Todd Bowles, Jets

The Jets actually have exceeded expectations, with five victories and counting in a season that began with them being accused of tanking in pursuit of the top overall selection in the draft.

Whether that is enough to keep Bowles around remains to be seen.

Jason Garrett, Cowboys

Owner Jerry Jones' ire has been aimed at the league office and Commissioner Roger Goodell for the six-game suspension of running back Ezekiel Elliott. Jones has remained supportive of Garrett.

But the disappointment is great after the Cowboys began the season with such a firm conviction that they were Super Bowl-bound in Year 2 for Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott. There just mind be some leftover blame to be spread around.

John Harbaugh, Ravens

All is well if the Ravens find a way to reach the AFC playoffs as a wild card. But what if they have a third straight non-playoff season?

Harbaugh is a good coach and has had great success in Baltimore. The Ravens are a stable organization. But another year spent on the outside of the postseason looking in just might lead them to consider making a change.

Jay Gruden, Washington

Gruden has done a very good job with an injury-decimated Washington team. He deserves to stay. Does that necessarily mean that Washington will agree and do the right thing?

Bruce Arians, Cardinals

Arians is in a special category. The decision about whether to remain will be his to make.