Ben McAdoo was the first to go. The Giants’ decision to fire their second-year coach kicks off a month of misery for struggling coaching staffs around the NFL, and a crass conversation piece for league onlookers. Who will be next? At the moment, all we know for sure is that several more are likely to go—there have been at least five coaching vacancies every season going back to 2010. Here are the coaches who appear to be most at-risk after Week 13.
THE HOTTEST SEATS
John Fox (12-32 in Chicago): Like the Giants’ brass, Bears leadership doesn’t panic often. In fact, Chicago has never fired a coach in-season. But Fox is almost certainly out after this year, his power declining in the Windy City ever since management went over his head in trading up to draft Mitchell Trubisky. After three losing seasons, Fox currently has the worst winning percentage in Bears history (.273).
Hue Jackson (1-27 in Cleveland): FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Browns a 46% chance of going 0-16. But even if Cleveland gets a win (possibly over the Brett Hundley-led Packers team this weekend), it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine Jackson coming back. He may not even want to, given the rift that has seemingly developed between him and a front office more focused on acquiring future assets rather than building up the current roster.
Chuck Pagano (52-39 in Indianapolis): Sunday’s 30-10 loss in Jacksonville ensured the Colts will finish with a losing record for the first time under Pagano. A lack of player development and lackluster results in close games this season will likely cost him a chance to redeem himself in Indianapolis. With Andrew Luck in the fold, this team was supposed to rule the AFC South for a decade. Instead, Luck is hurt, and the Colts are now looking up at three rising contenders.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Vance Joseph (3-9 in Denver): Joseph started his rookie coaching campaign 3-1. The Broncos have lost eight straight since then, and at least one local columnist is now telling fans to boycott the games. That’s the kind of chaos it normally takes for a coach to lose his job after one season. And offensive coordinator Mike McCoy didn’t even last that long.
Dirk Koetter (13-15 in Tampa Bay): Koetter was promoted to head coach in 2016 mainly to help Jameis Winston develop into an elite quarterback. The fact that Winston currently boasts a 12-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio and the Bucs sit at 4-8, does not bode well.
Marvin Lewis (123-110 in Cincinnati): The Bengals seem destined to finish at or around .500 this year, and Lewis’s contract expires at the end of the season. Could Vontaze Burfict’s myriad fiascos and Andy Dalton’s stalled development (he’s currently 23rd in QBR) be enough to convince Mike Brown to move on from the league’s second-longest tenured coach? Or will Lewis get a chance to improve on his 0-7 playoff record? (Or will Lewis make the decision for Brown by retiring at season’s end?)
Jason Garrett (64-52 in Dallas): Injuries and the Ezekiel Elliott suspension would be more than just about any coach could overcome, and Thursday’s win over Washington certainly helped Garrett’s case. But Dallas does not currently have a win over a team with a winning record, and if they falter down the stretch, Jerry Jones could start looking for his own Sean McVay.
COACHING HIS WAY INTO ANOTHER YEAR
Todd Bowles (20-24 in New York): Going into the year, Bowles was considered a lame duck. But leading what is considered to be one of the least talented rosters in football, he’s fought to a respectable 5-7 record, thanks in part to offensive coordinator John Morton’s ability to build a league-average offense around Josh McCown. At this point, New York might be out of the running for one of next year's top QB prospects, postponing a total rebuild.
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1. Steelers 23, Bengals 20. A competitive AFC North rivalry game was overshadowed by a series of scary hits involving three of the biggest names in the game: Ryan Shazier, Vontaze Burfict, and Antonio Brown. Shazier's case was the most severe. He appeared to lose feeling in his lower body after delivering a tackle; he was carted off the field and taken to a nearby hospital. Burfict was carted off the field (he signaled to the crowd that he was O.K.) in the fourth quarter after sustaining an illegal blindside block from Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown did not need medical attention on the field, but absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit from Bengals safety George Iloka while catching the game-tying touchdown. As for the actual game, Pittsburgh ultimately overcame a 17-point deficit to keep pace with the Patriots at 10-2.
2.Rob Gronkowski was suspended one game for attacking Tre'Davious White Sunday. Sally Jenkins thinks it should have been more.
3. Here's my favorite story of the day. Lions rookie Tion Green's mother surprised the running back at the team hotel the night before the Lions played in Baltimore. Despite the fact he'd been inactive for most of the season and hadn't logged a rushing attempt in the NFL, she said, "Tomorrow you're going to have a good game. You're going to score a touchdown." Mom does know best.
4. Jemele Hill and Dave Zirin both wrote about the fracturing of NFL player activists. "What we’re witnessing is just the modern-day version of Booker T. Washington versus W.E.B. Du Bois," Hill says. "Or Cornel West versus President Barack Obama." Meanwhile, Zirin argues that the two camps disagree about "where change actually comes from: whether it is handed down from above or achieved from below. It’s the difference between calling for peace and calling for justice."
5.Of course the Seahawks are clicking again after a slow start. According to Pro Football Focus, Duane Brown has played a big part. Since acquiring him from the Texans, Seattle has moved from 30th to 10th in pass blocking efficiency.
6. "A federal law that effectively bans commercial sports gambling across most of the nation faced skepticism at the Supreme Court on Monday," Adam Liptak reports.
7. Bill Barnwell tried to sort out the AFC playoff race, from the Steelers-Patriots competition for the top seed to the Ravens trying to hold off a cluster of .500 teams for the 6-seed.
8. College football fans ought to dive into Heather Dinich's story about how the most controversial CFP decision yet came to be, if only for the detail about the committee's security guard actually preferring baseball.
9. Another Chiefs loss means another attempt to understand what's gone so horribly wrong for once-5-0 K.C.
10. Aaron Rodgers is almost back. His teammates are understandably hyped. “That boy,” running back Jamaal Williams said, shaking his head, “he came back, and he just flicked it. I was like, ‘Dang!’ I was like, ‘Wow! Are you sure that man is injured?’ I was like, ‘That is far! I couldn’t even do that on my good day.’ I mean, he flicked it. I feel like he didn’t even throw it. He just flicked it.”
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It's about timeAlvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have a nickname. My vote went to Two Dat.
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