Coaching Carousel 2018: Who’s Safe?

With Black Monday just over three weeks away, seats are starting to heat up for many coaches around the NFL. Coming off a year in which seven teams changed leadership, look for a slew of rumors to swirl for several coaches in the coming month.

This year’s coaching carousel got started well before the end of the season for Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns and Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers. Which other coaches are likely to be with or without jobs come New Year’s Day?

Fates Sealed:

Hue Jackson – Cleveland Browns

After back-to-back seasons with only one win, Hue Jackson was fired in late October after an improved 2-5-1 start. The Browns continue to be in dire need of someone to bring the organization back from years of bottom-dwelling, as they remain the laughingstock of the NFL. While Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma Sooners Head Coach, sounds like an intriguing name given his history with Baker Mayfield, I see the Browns going with the safer, more experienced choice. They won’t have my approval when it happens, but after all, it’s the Browns. Riley just makes too much sense.

Predicted Replacement – Mike McCarthy (Green Bay Packers – Former Head Coach)

Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers

In an unsurprising and long time coming decision, the Green Bay Packers decided to part ways with Mike McCarthy last weekend after an embarrassing loss to the previously 2-9 Arizona Cardinals. For a few years, there had been rumors of tension between Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy, and the organization rightfully and decisively chose who they plan to proceed with in the future.

Even though Rodgers is 35, he remains their best opportunity for success in the foreseeable future. Green Bay should seek an aggressive, experienced head coach that can connect easily with Aaron Rodgers. Look for a veteran like Josh McDaniels to seize the opportunity to work alongside a great quarterback.

Predicted Replacement – Josh McDaniels (New England Patriots – Offensive Coordinator)

More Likely Than Not:

Todd Bowles – New York Jets

With Sam Darnold as the clear favorite to lead this franchise, it’s time for the Jets to get an experienced head coach to help him develop properly. Todd Bowles is 13-31 through two and a half year with the Jets, and I think the fans, players, and organization will be looking for a change this coming offseason. I could see the recently-fired John Harbaugh looking to snatch up the opportunity to work alongside Darnold in New York.

Prediction – Fired

Predicted Replacement – John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens – Head Coach)

On the Edge:

John Harbaugh – Baltimore Ravens

If the Ravens fail to make the playoffs this season, John Harbaugh will be without a job on December 31st. Even if they don’t, a disappointing playoff run might still seal his fate. The Ravens need to move forward with Lamar Jackson, but I don’t think John Harbaugh is the one to do that with. Although I believe he is a fantastic coach, his style of play fits quarterbacks more like Joe Flacco and Sam Darnold than that of Lamar Jackson, and , his time in Baltimore is about to come to an end. With the solid defense Baltimore holds, a fresh offensive mind could help propel Lamar Jackson to the next level. Matt Campbell, one of the rising dynamic coaches in the NCAA, could help spark Jackson with his innovative college-style offense.

Prediction – Fired

Predicted Replacement – Matt Campbell (Head Coach – Iowa State University)

Marvin Lewis – Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati. I am telling you it is time to let Marvin Lewis go. He has been your head coach for fifteen seasons without a single playoff victory, and that’s not changing this year. After a fourth straight loss last Sunday at home against the Broncos, I sincerely thought they would finally let him go. Then again, I thought they would after ten years of no playoff wins, or maybe after 15? Instead, they handed him a two-year extension, which he will unfortunately serve out before finally departing next year, after seventeen seasons of coaching with nothing to show for. The contentedness with mediocrity is incredible. Cinci, I’m disappointed.

Prediction – Stays (somehow)

Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys

This is truly a playoff-or-bust scenario — or so I would hope. I can’t see Jerry Jones justifying another season without a playoff berth or victory. Fortunately for Jason Garrett, I see the Cowboys winning the NFL East (Least) and losing in the first round. Whether this would be enough for Garrett to last another season remains to be seen, but I think his chances increase greatly with the division secured. There’s just something about Jerry Jones’ passion for Jason Garrett that I can’t fully grasp.

Prediction – Stays

Dirk Koetter – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I believe Dirk Koetter, 19-25 in his first two and a half seasons, is a good football coach that will take an NFL franchise far one day. It just won’t be with the Bucs. Unless Tampa finishes their intense schedule on a distinctly high note, there’s simply too much talent on this roster to remain mediocre for any longer. Whether Tampa decides to stick with Jameis Winston going forward or not (they shouldn’t), they still need to add an eager, motivated coach to call the shots. While they should set their sights high, look for Tampa to be at the bottom of the list of desired destinations for potential coaching candidates. A possible Jim Schwartz return to the big stage might be the best bet for a team looking to shore up its defensive struggles.

Prediction – Fired

Predicted Replacement – Jim Schwartz (Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator)

Jay Gruden – Washington Redskins

Injuries, injuries, more than a few questionable signings, and even more injuries. I believe Jay Gruden is a respectable NFL coach, but we just haven’t seen him at his full potential yet. Two quarterbacks with broken legs and about twelve new offensive linemen later, the Redskins remain one game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East and tied for a wild-card spot. Are they likely to make the playoffs with Sanchize running the show? Hell no – but Jay Gruden shouldn’t be held accountable. I mean Mark Sanchez…really? It never works! Maybe Josh Johnson can be the savior in Washington.

Prediction – Stays

Vance Joseph – Denver Broncos

There are rumors swirling around Denver that Vance Joseph, 11-17 in a season and a half in Denver, is on the hot seat. I don’t buy it. John Elway has had his back since day one, even after an embarrassing 5-11 first season. The problem in Denver seems to be more the roster than the coaching staff, and – hey – they still have a chance to make the playoffs this season. Even if they don’t, I still see Elway giving Joseph another shot in the 2019 season.

Prediction – Stays

Ron Rivera – Carolina Panthers

As a die-hard Carolina Panthers fan, this one is personal. In seven years as the coach of my Panthers, Rivera has made Carolina a better organization. He has shown nothing but pure class and respect to other coaches, the players, and the fans en route to two Coach of the Year awards, one Super Bowl berth, and an impressive record of 70-53-1. However, none of that changes the fact that he is an old-school coach in a rapidly changing sport. With Cam Newton pressing 30 years old, the time is now and the talent is present for the Carolina Panthers – just not with Ron Rivera leading it.

Carolina needs to go young and offensive-minded, simply because it’s the trend: The Rams, Bears, Chargers, Texans, and Colts are all reaping the benefits from revitalizing their leadership. Since leaving Philly with a Super Bowl ring as the quarterbacks coach, John DeFilippo has been one of the hottest prospects for a head coaching position in the 2019 season. His innovative style would be a necessary spark for Cam Newton and Carolina’s highly-dynamic offensive weapons. Thank you Ron – I mean that – but it’s now or never for this team.

Prediction – Fired

Predicted Replacement – John DeFilippo (Minnesota Vikings Offensive Coordinator)


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