As the NFL’s playoff picture becomes more clear, which coaches are on the hot seat after Week 14?
Warm: Doug Marrone
Others: Steve Wilks, Jay Gruden, Ron Rivera
The Jaguars (4–9) should be expecting a new quarterback in 2019. Might they be expecting a new (old) coach, too? It’s difficult to say that Marrone is truly the problem in Jacksonville—the Jaguars have been committing quarterback malpractice for at least a year and a half, as I chronicled a few weeks ago, and getting to the AFC title game in spite of Blake Bortles last season covered up the sores that we’re seeing now. The Jags are 1–8 in their past nine games, with their most recent defeat an embarrassing 30–9 loss to Derrick Henry’s Titans. Jacksonville could right the ship this week against Washington, which is now on its fourth quarterback this season ... but what if they lose? A CBS Sports report Sunday morning stated there’s a “growing perception” that Tom Coughlin will come down from his suite and coach the Jaguars again. It’d be a move a la Pat Riley with the 2005 Heat, except these Jags aren’t in playoff contention with their quarterback. It’s fair to ask if Marrone is the guy to handle all the egos in that locker room, but it’s also fair to wonder why the team should be turned over to the 72-year-old coach who has done so little to correct their issue at the most important position on the field.
Heating Up: Vance Joseph
Others: Marvin Lewis, John Harbaugh
Not only do the Broncos (6–7) have some good wins (Seattle, Pittsburgh and L.A. Chargers) but they also have some incredibly close losses to good teams (Kansas City twice, Houston, L.A. Rams). But Sunday’s loss to San Francisco was their worst loss of the season—outpacing even that ugly road loss to the Jets in Week 5. The Broncos, despite the odds, had crawled back into the playoff hunt. At 3–6 entering their bye week, Denver appeared to be playing for Vance Joseph and was sitting at 6–6 with a chance to get above .500 in December for the first time under Joseph. Losing to Nick Mullens’ 2–10 49ers is tough to do, but Joseph’s Broncos did it while they were streaking. John Elway hadn’t been coy dropping hints earlier in the season about Joseph’s long-term future in Denver. So what’s keeping Joseph on medium heat rather than the category below? I believe he’ll get canned after the season, but an 8–7 Broncos team (they have the Browns and Raiders next) could host the Chargers in Week 17 for a chance at the final AFC wild card spot. A playoff trip in Year 2 could stave off the Reaper for Joseph.
On Fire: Dirk Koetter
Others: Todd Bowles, Gregg Williams*, Joe Philbin*
This will be the 11th straight season the Buccaneers (5–8) miss postseason play, and in that time period, no head coach since then has lasted more than three seasons. This is Dirk Koetter’s third season, and he took a Tampa Bay team on the upswing from Lovie Smith’s last season to nine wins and, in the past two years, won 10 games since. The Bucs were up 14–3 in the third quarter against the Saints on Sunday but lost 28–14. Their only quality win this season was the Week 1 win in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the future of the quarterback position is unclear—no one is sure if Jameis Winston is the unquestioned starter in 2019 and no one really knows whether Koetter is the man to lead him in his development as Tampa Bay wrestles with whether they extend the contract of former No. 1 overall pick in his fifth season. The Bucs have a tough slate to finish the season—at Baltimore, at Dallas, home against Atlanta—before the end of the year. A 6–10 season would mirror the 2015 season that sent Lovie Smith packing after just two years.