Coaches al­ready feel the pres­sure

USA TODAY International Edition - - SPORTS - Nate Davis @ByNateDavis USA TO­DAY Sports

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.

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