The running mantra among NFL coaches and players is that the acronym “NFL” stands for “Not For Long” rather than National Football League. Reaching the NFL is the peak of the football coaching industry, but as many of coaching’s biggest names have learned during their careers, NFL coaches have little-to-no job security. This season, seven teams – almost 25-percent of the league – will be breaking in new head coaches.
Furthermore, with the current landscape of the NFL, it’s almost a given that there will be at least five job openings following the 2015 season (Joe Philbin, fired after his Dolphins opened the season 1-3, was the first). This fact sparked our interest in examining which coaches around the league will be on the hot seat from day one of the upcoming season. For many of the coaches we chose, it’s all about making a run to the Playoffs. For the remaining coaches, it’s all about getting out of the proverbial NFL cellar. Without further ado, here is a look at the four head coaches who are on the hot seat through the first quarter of the 2015 NFL season.
1. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
- 2015 Record: 3-2
- Record With Team: 36-17
You may find Pagano’s inclusion on this list to be puzzling given the Colts’ recent success, but the simple truth of the matter is that the 54-year-old coach’s contract expires at the end of the 2015 season. Pagano has been the Colts’ head coach for three full seasons – two of which were spent coaching on the sidelines, and one was spent battling and beating leukemia – and his team has made the postseason all three years. The Colts refused to offer Pagano a long-term contract extension before the 2015 season, which tells us that if the Colts fail to meet the sky-high expectations they have set for themselves this year, Pagano could be in the market for a new job come January. Andrew Luck’s underwhelming and injury-plagued season so far can’t be helping Pagano’s case, either.
2. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
- 2015 Record: 3-2
- Record With Team: 99-82
Coughlin’s job security has been in flux for the last couple of years. Had he not led the team to two Super Bowl titles during his time in New York, the Giants’ front office wouldn’t have been nearly as patient with the 69-year-old coach as they have been. In fact, if it weren’t for an excellent final month of the 2014 season, the Giants would likely be breaking in a new head coach as we speak. The team opted to extend Coughlin’s contract through the 2016 season, but a one-year contract extension in the NFL serves as nothing more than a tactic designed to mitigate the potential distractions of an in-season contract dispute. If they Giants again finish in the bottom third of the NFL standings, we fully expect Coughlin to be forced into retirement.
3. Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams
- 2015 Record: 2-3
- Record With Team: 22-30-1
Fisher has won a lot of games during his time as an NFL head coach, but that may not be enough for him to keep his job if the Rams don’t start to show serious signs of improvement in 2015. The Rams proved in 2014 that they are capable of playing with and beating any team in the league, but still managed to finish the season with a losing record for the 10th consecutive season. Simply put, the Rams’ roster is far too talented for them to not be perennial contenders for a spot in the NFC Playoffs. If Fisher doesn’t have them in the postseason – or at least close to it – we wouldn’t be surprised to see a coaching change in St. Louis.
4. Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars
- 2015 Record: 1-4
- Record With Team: 8-29
When Bradley took the job with the Jaguars, nobody really expected him to turn things around immediately. He has now had two full seasons on the job, and if the Jags don’t show signs of life in 2015, Bradley could find himself looking for a job this offseason. Most of Jacksonville’s success will depend on the development of quarterback Blake Bortles, but the second-year quarterback should benefit from playing with an improved supporting cast this season (although with the Jags 1-4 start this doesn’t seem to be the case). On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars lost their 2015 first round pick, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., for the season, which creates a gaping hole at one of the most important positions in Bradley’s 4-3 defensive scheme. Fortunately for Bradley, the Jaguars’ strength of schedule ranks 25th in the league, and his team plays in one of the weakest divisions in the league. At the end of the day, however, if Jacksonville finishes in the bottom five of the NFL standings again in 2015, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Jaguars relieve Bradley of his duties at the end of the season.