As the NFL’s playoff picture becomes more clear, which coaches are on the hot seat after Week 15?
Warm: Steve Wilks
Others: Ron Rivera, Jay Gruden, Adam Gase
Let me be clear: I don’t believe in firing coaches after one year. If you do that, everyone involved with hiring the coach should be fired (and that could happen with Arizona GM Steve Keim.) But there’s no ignoring the mounting pressure on Wilks in the desert. Everyone knew this would be a rebuilding year with Josh Rosen under center, and surely no one expected a playoff season. But this season has been bad—really bad. The latest lowlight came in Atlanta on Sunday when the Falcons rolled the Cardinals 40-14. There doesn’t seem to be much fight in this team, which has lost five games by three or more possessions. After perking up slightly when Byron Leftwich took over as offensive coordinator, the offense is dead last in points per game. Eight times this season the Cardinals have failed to score more than 14 points, and they haven’t won a game in which they turned the ball over. The win in Green Bay in Week 13 may save Wilks for 2018. But if the Cardinals decide to do what San Francisco did in 2016 with Jim Tomsula and fire their coach after one year, everyone in volved in the hiring should also be fired. Wilks will easily find a defensive coordinator role.
Heating Up: Doug Marrone
Others: Marvin Lewis, John Harbaugh
Jacksonville just lost to a Josh Johnson-led Washington team, making it clear that the wheels have fallen off for the Jaguars. This win for Washington keeps Jay Gruden on low heat and heat up the fire under Marrone’s seat in a week’s time. This is Jacksonville’s eighth loss in its last nine games, with the only win coming last week in that odd 6–0 victory against the Colts. The defense allowed a season-high 426 yards as Derrick Henry ran all over the Jags. You could argue Marrone was an early whistle away from the Super Bowl last year, but now his team has collapsed like no other squad this season. “I don’t know,” Marrone said when asked about his job security. "That's not a question for me. I'm just going to keep coaching as hard as I can. I don't make those decisions." Who knows if Tom Coughlin will come back down to the sidelines next season? But with each loss, it’s looking less likely that Marrone will return to coach this team filled with personalities.
On Fire: Vance Joseph
Others: Dirk Koetter, Todd Bowles, Gregg Williams*, Joe Philbin*
Taking the points on Saturday night moves Joseph from medium to hot this week. The only thing that was going to save Joseph in 2018 was a playoff berth, and the Broncos are now eliminated from postseason contention. A proud franchise, Denver hasn’t had consecutive losing seasons in 46 years. The Broncos are about to do that this season, and Joseph’s name will be on both of them. It seems like forever ago the Broncos had won three straight and had a decent shot at sneaking into the AFC playoffs. But awful losses to the 49ers and at home to the Browns will do it for Joseph. Then, a report came out Monday morning saying that John Elway tried to lure Mike Shanahan back to the Broncos after last season. Joe Ellis (and the Rooney Rule that Elway was seemingly willing to circumvent to get his man) stopped him from getting his old coach back, and Joseph was given another year where he’d be a lame-duck coach for nearly the whole season. There’s no sense in firing Joseph before the end of the season, but there’s no scenario out there where he’s back in Denver in 2019.
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