Coaches already feel the pressure
The NFL season is now a week old, but we all know it’s not unheard of for teams to make coaching changes as early as September. Will the ax fall somewhere this month? Probably not. But will the proverbial coaching hot seats warm up as the autumn temperatures cool? Inevitably.
Here’s this season’s initial installment of our weekly hot seat rankings. 1. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts: His team didn’t look capable of beating the Los Angeles Rams even if Andrew Luck had been fully healthy and at the top of his game. Luck’s health is obviously a major key to Indy’s fortunes, but this club has been in steady decline since blowing the whistle on Deflategate, going 16-17 since the 2014 AFC Championship Game. That’s not entirely Pagano’s fault, but former general manager Ryan Grigson has already been ousted. And showings such as Sunday’s 46-9 stinker certainly won’t endear Pagano to first-year GM Chris Ballard, who might eventually decide he needs his own guy on the sideline.
2. John Fox, Chicago
Bears: The rumor mill would have you believe that Fox and GM Ryan Pace do not see eye to eye, and it hit overdrive after Pace’s stunning move to acquire the No. 2 selection of this year’s draft to get QB Mitchell Trubisky. But there’s no sidestepping Fox’s 9-24 record in Chicago either, even if the Bears gave the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons all they could handle Sunday. Unless the Bears turn the corner with veteran QB Mike Glennon, it’s hard to envision Trubisky being the guy who can salvage Fox’s tenure.
3. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: His deal expires after this season. He has never won a playoff game in 14 seasons and didn’t even reach the postseason last year. And, most concerning, his club laid a Week 1 goose egg for their lame-duck coach. Not a good way to get another contract, even for a guy who’s enjoyed owner Mike Brown’s loyalty since 2003. 4. Todd Bowles, New York Jets: His roster doesn’t have 53 NFL-caliber talents on it, seemingly by design. The real questions seem to be, 1) Will Bowles want to hang around after this slog of a season? and/or 2) Do the Jets see him at the helm as they embark on what appears to be a lengthy rebuild?
5. Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns: His team gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a spirited battle Sunday, further evidence Jackson has the Browns finally pointed in the right direction. But it’s worth wondering if a franchise not known for patience will let him see his long-term vision through.
6. Ben McAdoo, New York Giants: He had a strong maiden voyage in 2016, leading New York back to the playoffs. But the weather can change quickly in New York, and McAdoo’s offense, which lacked injured WR Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday night, was still shockingly inept against a middling Dallas Cowboys defense. The Giants better improve quickly, or the tabloids will be calling for McAdoo’s newly coiffed head soon enough.
7. Bill O’Brien, Houston
Texans: He’s guided a flawed roster to three consecutive 9-7 finishes, the last two good enough for AFC South crowns. But this team’s obvious weakness is the quarterback position, and O’Brien hasn’t been able to fix it — which was apparent again Sunday. He’s earned time to develop rookie Deshaun Watson, who seems to be the best hope O’Brien’s had for a solution. But if the Texans crater and Watson doesn’t make strides over the course of the season, O’Brien might find himself in jeopardy.
John Fox, who led Carolina and Denver to conference titles, is 9-24 two games into his third year as coach of the Bears.
Chuck Pagano’s Colts are 16-17 since their last postseason trip in the 2014 season.