The NFL’s playoff picture is all but set, so which coaches are on the hot seat after Week 16?
Warm: Adam Gase
Others: Ron Rivera, Jay Gruden, Doug Marrone
These four coaches who all have legitimate reasons for why they should keep their jobs, but there are logical arguments to be made why each of the four should lose their jobs. I won’t be surprised if all four are coaching their respective teams in 2019, but let’s look at Adam Gase. Known as an offensive guru when hired in 2016, the Dolphins have extended the NFL’s fifth-longest playoff losing streak to 18 years after getting knocked out of playoff contention this week. None of Gase’s three offenses have finished in the top half of the league in total offense or scoring offense. Admittedly, Miami has exceeded my own expectations, but even after the miracle win against the Patriots that pushed their record to 7–6, the Dolphins will again be home in January, and Stephen Ross may be getting antsy.
Heating Up: Steve Wilks
Others: Marvin Lewis
This group sees some movement from last week. Marrone’s seat cools slightly after beating the Dolphins and crushing their playoff hopes. John Harbaugh found himself off the hot seat entirely when it was announced Saturday night that he and the Ravens had reached a contract extension. We’re left here with Wilks and Lewis, and truthfully it should just be Lewis. Wilks is all but fired, and as I wrote last week, I don’t think he should be the only one in the organization to be let go. Who thought these Cardinals would compete in 2018? More importantly, who put this destined-to-fail group together? How is it that Wilks may be the only head to roll in Arizona? The Cardinals haven’t wowed in the draft in recent years. They haven’t had a winning season since the 2015 year that ended in embarrassing fashion in Carolina (to Wilks-coached defensive backfield that picked off Carson Palmer three times). GM Steve Keim has overseen these drafts and these losing seasons. If Wilks’s firing is a foregone conclusion, Keim should equally be on the hot seat.
On Fire: Dirk Koetter
Other: Vance Joseph, Todd Bowles, Joe Philbin*, Gregg Williams*
The pros for Dirk Koetter: The Bucs have gained more yards this season than they ever have before. The team started the year with wins against one of this season’s Super Bowl favorites and the defending world champions. And since firing their defensive coordinator, the Tampa Bay defense has finally stepped up and played well down the stretch.
There are a lot more cons. In Koetter’s 12 years as an offensive coordinator or head coach, he’s had two top-10 scoring offenses (2007 Jacksonville and ’12 Atlanta). So for all those yards, these Bucs still aren’t scoring like they could be. Tampa Bay has missed the playoffs 11 straight seasons now, and in seven of those seasons, they’ve racked up double-digit losses. Since firing Jon Gruden, the Bucs have had four coaches. Not one lasted more than three seasons, and Koetter is a game away from finishing his third season with a 19–28 record. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported this Sunday and I tend to agree: Koetter getting fired isn’t a guarantee because you can’t be assured you’ll find a better option. If you believe the coaching-candidate pool is weak, what’s the harm in sticking with Koetter another year? Additionally, what if you still don’t know what to do with Jameis Winston? Surely the Bucs can’t feel comfortable entering into a contract extension with him going into his fifth season. Sticking with Koetter and Winston in 2019 is like pushing your last $20 to the middle of the table. You’re probably going to bust, but after 11 years of losses, what’s one more?
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