Whose Job Is On The Line In 2015?
In a league that is constantly changing, whether it be how the game is played or who is considered a contender, there is one consistent aspect of the NF that we can always count on: every off-season (usually soon after the regular season finale), coaches who underachieve in their allotted time receive the boot while other new promising names take over to try and salvage the well being of a struggling franchise. Coaching turnover is a religious part of the NFL's time off, and it is always interesting to evaluate who might be cleaning their office out by season's end. The list I comprised for this upcoming season is based upon organization expectations, organization patience, and recent success. You've probably looked at a calendar recently and have realized it is June, so this of course will be an early crack at who needs to be very careful starting in September. That makes it all the more fun, anyway.
Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars
No reason to be surprised here; this one is fairly obvious. Any time a head coach has only won seven games in two seasons, their job is most likely going to come into question. When Bradley took the job in 2013 after he was the defensive coordinator in Seattle, the Jaguars had just earned a second overall pick following a two win effort the season prior. Nobody expected a turnaround would be an easy task in the Sunshine State by any means. With that being said, Bradley's squad has not made much progress since he took the job.
The Jags had one less win in 2014 compared to Bradley's first season, and the numbers throughout his tenure so far are not on his side either. His hybrid 4-3 defense containing the "Leo" (weakside) linebacker off the edge with a lot of Cover 1 and 3 has not proved to be as successful as it was with Seattle. Jacksonville's total defense ranked 27th and 26th respectively through Bradley's first two years on the job, and points allowed were not shockingly also among the league's worst. On the other side of the ball, the show has been even worse. For each of the the past two seasons, the Jaguars finished dead last in scoring and second to last in total yards.
Bradley is a talented mind that can still turn his head coaching career around, but he is going to have to show the front office some major improvement in 2015. With all this considered, it has not been all his fault by any means. He has not possessed the greatest talent in the world, and he had to guide rookie quarterback Blake Bortles through a learning curve last season. The off-season was viewed very successful by many after bringing in tight end Julius Thomas from Denver and drafting defensive end Dante Fowler (who unfortunately just tore his ACL) and running back T.J. Yeldon. Time will tell, but Gus Bradley is running out of time.
Chances he is fired: Depends on improvement
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
The longest tenured coach after Bill Belichick is a sure thing to be gone if his team does not make a deep run into the playoffs. With the Bengals since '03, Lewis has compiled a mark of 100-90-2 (.526) in the regular season, which has curiously been enough for him to last 12 seasons. However, the reason why Lewis' survival as head coach is so interesting is because of what he has done in the postseason: Nothing. Lewis is 0-6 in the playoffs with the Bengals and has never gotten further than the Wild Card round. Seems like there should be some sort of a catch here when considering that ugly statistic.
Look, it's clear that 1: Lewis must have a good relationship with management and 2: Owner Mike Brown is a patient guy. They probably acknowledge the fact that Lewis' teams are always competitive and in the mix for a playoff berth. While that is understandable, at some point, you're going to want to get to that next level. The Bengals have reached the playoffs the last four seasons just to come away with nothing. The franchise still has not won a playoff game since 1990. I do not see how Lewis keeps his job if this team does not make a serious run toward a Super Bowl. Could it happen? The defense will prove its worth as always, the backfield duo of Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill is arguably the best in the NFL, and they still have A.J. Green. We all know it comes down to Andy Dalton, and that is where the problem lies. This should be Lewis' last season in Cincinnati.
Chances he is fired: Bank on it
Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins
After three years in Miami, the results Philbin has put together can be best described as mediocre. After winning seven games in 2012, his Dolphins have been .500 for the past two seasons. The expectations now for this team are that they are ready to make a jump into the playoffs, especially after acquiring the largest jewel available in free agency, Ndamukong Suh. The good news for Philbin is that his offense finally came around last year, finishing 14th in total yards and 11th in scoring. Ryan Tannehill asserted himself as a top 10 pick as he completed 66% of his passes and threw for over 4,000 yards with 27 touchdowns. A talented receiving core featuring Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker should help put up points. On defense, expect them to get after the quarterback with Cameron Wake and Suh on the same defensive line.
Where the challenge will come for Philbin in year four is within the division. The Bills and Jets both improved this off-season and will feature two of the league's best defenses. As for the Patriots, they are still the defending world champion Patriots. If Philbin is going to get this team into January, he is going to have to have them ready for six grueling divisional games. There is a lot of talent on this Miami roster, and you can bet the organization will want to see the Dolphins take that next step, with or without Joe Philbin.
Chances he is fired: 50/50
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Yeah, you knew he had to be on here. With a 20-12 record in Philly so far and back to back double-digit winning seasons, Kelly has no right being on this list. However, Chip Kelly is no ordinary coach. This one is short and sweet; any coach with the power Kelly possesses who turns over as much of their roster as he did this off-season is going to have to answer the bell. He reconstructed an already winning team, and of course, that has made many scratch their heads. To be clear, from this point on, Kelly has done a fine job with the Eagles. This is a revolutionary coach with a revolutionary offense. Don't anticipate Kelly losing his job unless his crazy acquisition experiment completely self-destructs and lends the Eagles a very high pick in next year's draft. But just by default, how could his seat not be a little toasty?
Chances he is fired: Unlikely
Jeff Fisher, St.Louis Rams (20-27 overall): Fisher needs to make big strides with this very talented roster this season and challenge for a Wild Card in the NFC.
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts (36-18 overall): 2015 is the final year on his contract and the Colts are not expected to extend Pagano before the season. In three years, his teams have progressively advanced deeper into the playoffs, but Jim Irsay does not seem patient. He'll have to prove his worth this season.
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers (33-33-1 overall): Besides for one 12 win season that earned him AP C oach of the Year, his other three seasons in Carolina have all been under .500. He was a beneficiary of the weakest division in football in 2014.