Jackson, McAdoo feeling the heat most among NFL coaches
Hue Jackson’s position on an NFL coaching hot seat is no surprise. Nothing was expected of the Browns anyway.
Ben McAdoo’s spot on a similarly burning seat is stunning because plenty was projected for the Giants.
Those are the two most prominent cases of a head coach in trouble as the NFL heads toward its stretch drive. Among those two, their teams have one victory.
Jackson and McAdoo are not the only head men whose job security is tenuous — if even that. Add in Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis, John Fox in Chicago, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Dirk Koetter in Tampa Bay.
And don’t think that Jim Caldwell in Detroit and Todd Bowles with the Jets are completely safe.
Several betting outlets even have odds on which of the current NFL coaches in precarious positions who go first.
As all of them would say — and some of them have — “it’s our job to coach, not to worry about those things.”
That, of course, doesn’t mean they aren’t somewhat nervous.
This one is most obvious, although to his credit Jackson doesn’t seem to have lost the faith of his players. Upper management is another story.
Jackson appears to be at odds with Cleveland’s analytics-reliant front office. He can only coach the “talent” he is given, and the skill level in Cleveland might not win in the Big Ten.
Give him credit for this: Despite only John McKay, who went 0-25 with a ragtag bunch of expansion Buccaneers in the 1970s, Jackson has the worst 25-game span in NFL history at 1-24. But he consistently takes the blame for what goes wrong in Cleveland.
And plenty does go wrong.
This one is confounding.
New York didn’t make the playoffs in each of the four seasons Tom Coughlin coached after winning his second NFL title by beating the Patriots in the 2012 Super Bowl. When Coughlin was forced out, the Giants elevated offensive coordinator McAdoo, who also was coveted by other clubs.
He guided the Giants to an 11-5 record and playoff berth in 2016 with a big-play defense.
That defense has crumbled, the offense has been inept — it’s fair to blame injuries to three key receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr. for some deficiencies — and the locker room is a mess. McAdoo has suspended both starting cornerbacks for a game for violating team rules, and what some characterize as rumblings are more like earthquakes.
Do you think there are some Giants fans clamoring for Coughlin nowadays?
When you lose your outstanding quarterback to lengthy injury, as Pagano has with Andrew Luck, you probably are doomed. That Luck’s surgery was at the start of 2017 and he never got onto the field this season is beyond Pagano’s control, but the coach’s Plan B has been a bust.
Lowlights this season have included continual late-game collapses and some mind-boggling plays by the opposition. The Colts haven’t been the same since losing the AFC title game in the 2014 season. Yeah, the “Deflategate” game.
Owner Jim Irsay also is seeing empty seats in Indy. Pagano’s seat is on fire.
Like Jackson and Pagano, Lewis is a nice man who spent lots of time working his way through the ranks. He’s also the best coach Cincinnati has had since founder and Hall of Famer Paul Brown from 1968-75.
But the time perhaps has come for the second-longest tenured NFL coach to move on.
The Bengals have gone to the playoffs seven times under Lewis. They’ve left the postseason after one game all seven times.
Their offense is abysmal as the front office, which includes decisions by Lewis, allowed top linemen Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler to walk in free agency. QB Andy Dalton has regressed. Dalton is earning a ton of money, so Lewis has stuck with him over AJ McCarron, who could become a free agent after this season.
Perhaps most damning: The Bengals are downright dull.
Fox guided the Panthers and, later on, the Broncos to Super Bowl appearances (and losses). The Bears are about as close to a Super Bowl as Chicago is to Mars.
Bears fans are ticked that Adam Gase departed for Miami before last season, ending any hopes he would take over for Fox at some juncture. The Bears haven’t been relevant in the Windy City since Lovie Smith was in charge, and he got fired in 2012 with an 84-66 record and two NFC championship appearances. Smith was 10-6 in his final season; Fox is 12-29.
The main reason Fox isn’t higher on this list of coaches who could get torched is that these Bears have a foundation. The running game with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen is outstanding. They believe they have their franchise quarterback in second overall draft choice Mitchell Trubisky. The defense has some young playmakers.
None of which means Fox will be around in 2018.
DIRK KOETTER, BUCCANEERS (3-6)
Tampa Bay rivals the Giants in some ways as a flop this season. While a huge leap upward was expected — the NFC South was supposed to be a powerhouse division, with the Bucs in the mix. It has been the league’s best sector this season, but with the Bucs mired at the bottom.
History is not on Koetter’s side. The past two coaches (Greg Schiano and the aforementioned Lovie Smith) only got two years. The coach before that (Raheem Morris) got three. The Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and haven’t won a postseason game since the 2002 team won the Super Bowl.
Where are you, Jon Gruden?
But Koetter’s players verbally are supporting him, and he has the offensive touch needed to help Jameis Winston progress.
AP Sports Writers Tom Withers, Michael Marot and Fred Goodall contributed.