The New York Giants were an unlikely candidate to become the first NFL team to fire its coach this season. The Giants are known for their patience. They hadn’t fired a head coach during a season since 1976.
Nevertheless, the Giants put the NFL’s coaching carousel in motion this week. They dismissed Ben McAdoo on Monday, the day after the Giants lost in Oakland to drop to 2-10 amid a raging controversy over McAdoo’s now-rescinded benching of quarterback Eli Manning last week.
McAdoo was the first coach ousted, but he surely won’t be the last. Here is a look at the coaches who could be next, beginning with those whose seats seem to be the toastiest:
John Fox, Bears . . . The Bears are 3-9 this season and 12-32 under Fox as he nears the end of his third season. Not everything he has tried this season has backfired, but it sure has begun to feel that way. He was done no favors by the team’s disjointed offseason approach at quarterback with the signing of Mike Glennon and trading up in the NFL draft to select Mitchell Trubisky. Doing one or the other would have made sense. Doing both didn’t. About the only argument for keeping Fox, it seems, would be to maintain continuity and stability for Trubisky, who has had enough promising rookie-year moments since taking over as the starter to believe that he can be the real deal. But that probably won’t be enough for Fox to keep his job.
Chuck Pagano, Colts . . . Owner Jim Irsay surprised many in the league a couple of years ago by retaining Pagano as his coach and Ryan Grigson as his general manager. Grigson was ousted last offseason following a second straight 8-8 season and was replaced by Chris Ballard. There is an argument to be made that it would be unfair to judge Pagano on a 2017 season in which the Colts have been without Andrew Luck and didn’t have a viable Plan B at quarterback until trading for Jacoby Brissett just before the opener. But that argument likely is offset by the fact that Pagano isn’t being judged solely on this season, but on the team’s downward spiral since reaching the 2014 AFC championship game.
Hue Jackson, Browns . . . The woes of the Browns are not primarily a coaching issue. They are primarily a roster-construction issue. The “Moneyball” approach to building an NFL team is failing miserably, at least as it’s being applied in Cleveland. No NFL team has gone so far out of its way, it seems, to avoid drafting a franchise quarterback as the Browns, who traded away opportunities to choose Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the past two drafts. The front office couldn’t land Jimmy Garoppolo. It couldn’t manage to file the trade documentation in time to complete an agreed-upon deal for AJ McCarron. This isn’t all Jackson’s doing. It isn’t even primarily Jackson’s doing. But with a team that is 1-27 the past two seasons, it’s difficult to argue that any key football decision-maker deserves to stay.
Vance Joseph, Broncos . . . Joseph is a rookie head coach, and front office roster architect John Elway bears the responsibility for the Broncos’ quarterback woes beginning with Peyton Manning’s final season. But it’s Elway’s call, and he certainly isn’t going to fire himself. It will be interesting to see how much patience he has with Joseph after accusing the team that Joseph coaches of being soft.
Dirk Koetter, Buccaneers . . . This was supposed to be a playoff team this year in quarterback Jameis Winston’s third season. Instead, it has regressed and the future is highly uncertain. The Buccaneers sought to maintain continuity for Winston when they promoted Koetter from offensive coordinator to replace Lovie Smith. But that stability has not resulted in on-field progress, at least not this season.
Marvin Lewis, Bengals . . . Everyone doing the clamoring for the Bengals to move on from Lewis forgets just how dreadful this team was — and for just how long — before his arrival. But the clamoring is louder than ever with the Bengals likely headed to their second straight non-playoff season. They remain without a postseason victory during the tenures of Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton. Owner Mike Brown could decide that the time has arrived for significant changes.
Bill O’Brien, Texans . . . The Texans have been ravaged by injuries, losing prized rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive standouts J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. This is their first nonwinning season under O’Brien after three straight 9-7 campaigns. There probably should be enough goodwill stored up to buy O’Brien at least one more season. But no one should forget that O’Brien looked at Watson and Tom Savage throughout the offseason, training camp and the preseason and decided it would be a good idea to open the regular season with Savage as Houston’s starter.
Todd Bowles, Jets . . . The Jets actually have exceeded expectations, with five victories and counting in a season that began with them being accused of tanking in pursuit of the top overall selection in the NFL draft. Whether that is enough to keep Bowles around remains to be seen.
Jason Garrett, Cowboys . . . Owner Jerry Jones’s ire has been aimed at the league office and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for the six-game suspension of running back Ezekiel Elliott under the personal conduct policy. Jones has remained supportive of Garrett. But the disappointment is great after the Cowboys began the season with such a firm conviction that they were Super Bowl-bound in Year 2 in the league for Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott. There just mind be some leftover blame to be spread around.
John Harbaugh, Ravens . . . All is well if the Ravens find a way to reach the AFC playoffs as a wild card. But what if they have a third straight non-playoff season? Harbaugh is a very good coach and has had a great deal of success in Baltimore. The Ravens are a stable organization. But they’re not accustomed to prolonged failure, and another year spent on the outside of the postseason looking in just might lead them to consider making a change.
Jay Gruden, Redskins . . . Gruden has done a good job with an injury-decimated Redskins team. He deserves to stay. Does that mean that the Redskins will agree and do the right thing?
Bruce Arians, Cardinals . . . Arians is in a special category. The decision about whether to remain will be his.
Read more on the NFL: