We’re now more than one-third of the way through the NFL season. With Week 7 kicking off Thursday night, it’s time to check in on the coaches whose seats are getting warmer as temperatures get colder. Here’s a look at the five coaches who currently have the hottest seats.
5. Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions
Caldwell has led the Lions to consecutive wins over the Eagles and Rams, taking the team to 3-3 and cooling off his seat significantly. That said, he’s not out of the woods yet. Road games against the Texans and Vikings loom after a Week 7 date with Washington.
The problem for Caldwell is that the Lions rank 25th in total defense (379.7 yards per game) and just 18th in total offense (349.3 yards per game). Detroit also ranks 22nd in points allowed (25.5 per game) and 12th in points scored (25.0 per game). So the Lions aren’t really good on either side of the ball.
Coming off a 7-9 season, Caldwell’s position was tenuous. Now it’s even shakier because at 3-3, the Lions don’t have the look of a playoff-bound team. He almost certainly needs to reach the postseason to keep his job.
4. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have lost consecutive games and dropped to 2-4 on the year. While Lewis has had a relatively successful tenure in Cincinnati, the franchise has stagnated under his watch. He’s in his 14th year with the Bengals, and while he has a 114-98 record and went 12-4 last year, the team has yet to win a playoff game with Lewis.
Here’s the thing, Lewis typically puts together a competitive team, and the Bengals are talented enough to dig out of their 2-4 hole. The problem comes when you talk about taking things to the next level. At this point there’s no indication Lewis can take Cincinnati beyond a postseason berth. Despite seven seasons with 10 wins or more, he’s 0-7 in the postseason.
At some point, players need to hear a new voice. While some people love Lewis and trust him to eventually figure things out, the Bengals need him to deliver now. If he can’t, he’ll be looking for work after the year.
3. Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bradley has the Jaguars off to a 2-3 start, and after his first three seasons, that’s actually an improvement. Bradley went 4-12 in his first season in 2013, then followed that up with records of 3-13 and 5-11 in his next two campaigns. While the Jags don’t have the NFL’s most talented roster, the fact that they’ve shown zero growth under Bradley is bad news for the 50-year-old head coach.
While Jacksonville has won two straight after an 0-3 start, the results haven’t been entirely promising. While Bradley’s defense ranks eighth in total yards allowed (321.4 per game), the Jaguars rank just 21st in points allowed (25.4 per game). The offense hasn’t been great either. The Jags rank 29th in total offense (320.0 yards per game) and 21st in points allowed (21.0 per game).
The Jaguars have some fantastic young talent, with guys like Blake Bortles, Jalen Ramsey, Dante Fowler Jr. and Myles Jack. There’s a solid foundation to build upon, but if Bradley can’t show improvement this season, someone else will get a chance to do it.
2. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are just straight up bad. They are 2-4 and are in last place in the incredibly weak AFC South. Pagano has two AFC South titles on his resume and three consecutive 11-5 finishes from 2012-2014. But last season big things were expected from his team and the Colts went 8-8, losing a number of close games and getting blown out 45-10 by the Steelers.
With the money owner Jim Irsay sank into Andrew Luck’s extension this offseason, he’s expecting better than 2-4. Pagano is also a guy with a defensive background and the Colts are awful on that side of the ball. They currently rank 30th in total offense (411.2 yards per game), 29th in pass defense (293.5 yards per game), 25th in rushing defense (117.7 yards per game) and 28th in points allowed (29.0).
At this point there’s just no evidence Pagano adds any value to the franchise.
1. Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers
A mid-week home win over the Denver Broncos wasn’t enough to cool McCoy’s scorching seat. The fourth-year head coach has authored four fourth-quarter meltdowns as the Bolts sit at 2-4 and are firmly in the basement of the AFC West. Following up a 4-12 season by collapsing late in winnable games is not a way to keep your job. Especially with as much talent as the Chargers have.
McCoy went 9-7 in his first two seasons with the team and has never finished better than third in his division. San Diego’s penchant for blowing leads during his tenure has become as reliable as clockwork. He’s just 7-19 in his last 26 games. At this point the Chargers are wasting Philip Rivers’ career. San Diego needs to go on one heck of a run to save McCoy’s job.