The Washington Post Sunday
Temperature check on coaches’ seats
As some have made their jobs more secure, others have moved closer to being shown the door
The Green Bay Packers’ abrupt dismissal of Mike McCarthy, their former Super Bowl-winning coach, after last Sunday’s dispiriting loss at home to the Arizona Cardinals made him the second coach fired this season, after the Cleveland Browns’ Hue Jackson. Jackson and McCarthy surely will have company within a few days after the completion of the regular season. But the list of possibilities is ever-shifting; some teams are helping their coaches’ cases — and some clearly are not.
Here’s an updated look at the situations of those coaches thought to be in the most jeopardy:
Todd Bowles, Jets: The firing of Bowles appears to be a near certainty, with New York on a six-game losing streak that dropped its record to 3-9. There already has been speculation that McCarthy could replace him. But that is problematic, given that McCarthy was criticized for the lack of creativity of his offensive system in Green Bay. The Jets seem to need an innovative offensive guru to oversee the development of quarterback Sam Darnold, the No. 2 selection in this year’s NFL draft.
Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers: Koetter’s dismissal once looked like a virtually done deal. But Tampa Bay has won two straight games to climb back to the fringes of the NFC playoff race. Jameis Winston is back in the lineup at quarterback and playing better. If all of this continues, there might be a case to keep Koetter and commit to Winston long term. But then again, it might be too little, too late.
Marvin Lewis, Bengals: Lewis’s team is finding the wrong way to avoid another first-round playoff defeat. The Bengals are well on their way to a third straight non-playoff season, with four straight losses and a 5-7 record. They were a laughingstock of a franchise before Lewis arrived, and he deserves credit for raising the expectations to the point that their inability to win in the postseason has become the issue. But this season’s spiral seemingly has increased the likelihood that Lewis will not return as the coach, possibly with a move to the front office, and perhaps will be replaced by Jackson, who rejoined Lewis’s coaching staff after being fired by the Browns.
John Harbaugh, Ravens: Harbaugh, like McCarthy, is a former Super Bowl winner who seemingly has been coaching all season to keep his job. Harbaugh’s Ravens, unlike McCarthy’s Packers, are getting the job done, at least for now. Baltimore is on a three-game winning streak since rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson took over as the starter for the injured Joe Flacco. Harbaugh has adapted his approach, using the running game to complement the league’s top defense. But nothing is decided yet. The Ravens are 7-5 and fighting for a postseason spot, and another non-playoff season probably will cost Harbaugh his job.
Jason Garrett, Cowboys: Dallas seemingly has taken charge of the NFC East, and owner Jerry Jones always has expressed his support for Garrett. The Cowboys clearly are the team to beat in the division entering Sunday’s game at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. But if they don’t complete the job and reach the playoffs, it’s conceivable Jones could make a switch.
Doug Marrone, Jaguars: When Jacksonville reached last season’s AFC championship game, Marrone received plenty of credit. That was justified. The team opted during the offseason to stick with Blake Bortles at quarterback, and all seemed fine when the Jaguars got off to a 3-1 start. But things have come undone, with eight losses in nine games. A seemingly indifferent effort Thursday night in a lopsided loss at Tennessee probably did not help Marrone’s cause.
Vance Joseph, Broncos: A 3-6 start for Denver put Joseph, its second-year coach, on the endangered list. When the Broncos traded wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, there was reason to wonder whether they were giving up on the season. But Joseph has held things together. The Broncos are back in the AFC wild-card chase, and Joseph’s job security seems to have increased proportionally.
Ron Rivera, Panthers: It wasn’t so long ago that Carolina was pushing for top-contender status in the NFC. Quarterback Cam Newton was in the league MVP conversation, and Rivera was being credited for a brilliant move to bring in Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator to assist in Newton’s development as a passer. But things have gone awry with a four-game losing streak that has dropped Carolina to 6-6. Rivera shook up his defensive coaching staff and took control of the defense himself. He has had to answer questions about whether new owner David Tepper could have big changes within the organization in mind if the season continues to unravel. Rivera is a respected coach. But will that be enough if the Panthers don’t turn things around?