Hot Seat Watch for NFL Coaches as Trade Deadline Nears
Trades might not be the only major NFL movement as the trade deadline nears.
The "what have you done for me lately" nature of the league could easily mean more head coaches get shown the door as the divide between contenders and pretenders grows.
The Atlanta Falcons already fired Dan Quinn after they got off to a 0-5 start, and the Houston Texans showed head coach/GM Bill O'Brien the door after his rebuilding plan flopped.
The coaches still on the hot seat have had similarly putrid starts and diminishing returns for at least one season. First-year coaches figure to get a longer leash to enact their visions, but the following coaches haven't shown enough to cool their seats during pivotal seasons.
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals
The rails appear to be coming off for Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.
The Bengals are off to a miserable 1-5-1 start after last year's two-win showing, which means Taylor currently has a career 3-19-1 record.
The Bengals are one of the most patient organizations in sports, and Taylor's late arrival for his first season (his Rams were playing in the Super Bowl) made it hard for him to assemble a staff. He largely ended up with Marvin Lewis carryovers.
The Bengals did revamp their roster this offseason, serving as one of the free-agent market's biggest spenders. But it hasn't mattered much on the field, and now veterans like Carlos Dunlap have caused locker room issues before the season's halfway point.
The Bengals still aren't winning games, the offensive line remains bad, the run defense is awful (28th at 133.7 yards per game) and Dunlap ended up forcing his way to Seattle. Cincinnati doesn't have the luxury of being patient anymore if the risk is failing 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow.
Hot seat watch: Warming up
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
The clock seems to be quietly ticking on Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.
Zimmer's Vikings are off to a miserable 1-5 start with a minus-37 point differential. The lone win on the record came over 1-6 Houston, which canned head coach Bill O'Brien immediately thereafter.
Although Zimmer is billed as a defensive guru, the Vikings are coughing up 32 points per game, the third-most in the league. Playing Green Bay, Tennessee and Seattle didn't help, but coughing up 40 points to a 1-6 Atlanta Falcons squad in the most recent loss is far less explicable.
This isn't what the Vikings imagined when they signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a two-year, $66 million extension in March. There's no easy way out, either, as they have only $4.4 million in available cap space.
Zimmer is 58-43-1 with three playoff appearances over his six-plus seasons. However, the Vikings have seemed to toe the line between contention and rebuilding for a few years, and the dismal start to their 2020 season could push them toward the latter.
While Zimmer won 10 games and a playoff game last year, the Vikings also fired Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier one season removed from playoff showings, so there's precedent for his potential dismissal.
Hot seat watch: Hot
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
It took until Week 7, but Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia finally matched his win total from last season's 3-12-1 showing.
It still might not be enough.
Billed as a Bill Belichick understudy who would rebuild the Lions' culture and fix their defense, Patricia seemingly has them going backward. They sit third in the NFC North courtesy only of a terrible Minnesota squad and two straight wins over the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars and 1-6 Falcons.
The Lions are coughing up 27.5 points per game and have generated only eight sacks, which ranks 28th leaguewide. Quarterback Matthew Stafford hadn't topped the 300-yard mark until this past Sunday, and 35-year-old running back Adrian Peterson is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry.
Patricia is now 12-25-1 despite inheriting a team that went 9-7 in consecutive seasons before he arrived. His predecessor, Jim Caldwell, went 36-28 before getting fired.
Hot seat watch: Scorching
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars' decision not to make a change at head coach this past offseason came as a surprise.
In 2017, Marrone guided the Jaguars to a 10-6 record and a surprise run to the AFC Championship Game. In the two ensuing seasons, Jacksonville went a combined 11-21 while beginning to offload veterans from that 2017 squad.
This year, Marrone has the Jaguars at 1-6 with a minus-66 point differential. This was always going to be a rebuilding year, but being nowhere close to .500 again is problematic regardless.
Near the midpoint of his fourth full season on the job, Marrone has a 23-34 record with only one winning season. The Jaguars have lost six in a row while coughing up 30 plus points in each, and they still have tough games against the likes of Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Green Bay left on the schedule.
Hot seat watch: Scorching
Adam Gase, New York Jets
What else is there to say about Adam Gase at this point?
Gase was an eyebrow-raising hire in 2019 because he had put up a paltry 23-25 record over three seasons in Miami. The New York Jets hired him anyway and went 7-9 in his first season, but 2018 No. 3 pick Sam Darnold didn't show major improvement while getting sacked 33 times over 13 games.
Their 2020 campaign has only been worse, as Gase's Jets are off to an 0-7 start with a league-worst minus-118 point differential. Darnold has already been sacked 18 times in five games, and the Jets have scored 20 or more points only once.
Not only is an offensive-minded coach like Gase not showing progress with a top-three quarterback prospect, but his defense is also awful. New York gave up 37 points to a Brett Rypien-led Denver Broncos squad in Week 4, as one egregious example.
Gase is now 7-16 in New York, he's given up play-calling and talents like Le'Veon Bell and Jamal Adams have fled. His dismissal seems like only a matter of time.
Hot seat watch: Incinerated