Everyone knows the NFL stands for “not for long” in a lot of league circles. That phrase certainly applies to the status of head coaches. It’s not a matter of if a few head coaches will lose their jobs in 2019. Instead, the proper challenge is identifying which guys will get the axe.
Never fear though, we’re here to help you maneuver through the muddy waters of who might get their pink slips during the season. Read on to discover the identity of the five head coaches who are most likely to hit the unemployment line this season.
5. Mike Vrabel
Vrabel would be higher on this list if there were higher expectations for the Titans coming into the season. The team’s projected over/under win total is set at a very manageable mark of 7.5. Unfortunately for Vrabel, there’s a strong probability that the wheels are going to come off for the Titans.
No coach whose employment is tied to the success of Marcus Mariota at quarterback should feel safe. The former Oregon star may lose his job to Ryan Tannehill if he struggles early. If that happens, the Titans are going to be a team without a clear direction. It’s easy to envision the higher-ups in Nashville deciding that a coaching change is necessary to plot a new course.
4. Matt Patricia
The Lions were a solid, but unspectacular playoff contender before Patricia arrived. Now they are easily the weakest team in their own division. At some point, the former Patriots assistant is going to pay for his failed efforts to rebuild Detroit in New England’s image.
Oddsmakers certainly aren’t optimistic that the Lions’ fortunes are going to change this year. Their over/under win total for the year is set at 6.5 In other words, it would be a major surprise if Detroit even flirts with a postseason bid. The Lions probably won’t make the move to fire Patricia early in the season, but their front office won’t stand for a truly embarrassing campaign. If Detroit heads into the final week(s) of the season sitting on just two or three wins there will be major changes in the building. Firing Patricia would be an easy choice under those circumstances.
3. Bill O’Brien
There’s a quality argument to be made that says O’Brien should be fired for the beating he’s allowed quarterback Deshaun Watson to take during his young career. The former Penn State head coach managed to save his job last year with an improbable run to the playoffs after a nightmare start.
That run has raised the expectations for O’Brien’s team heading into the 2019 season. Their odds to win the AFC are coming in as low as 14/1. That doesn’t make them a favorite, but it does show the reality that a lot of people expect this to be a solid playoff team.
The franchise’s failure to really strengthen their offensive line during the offseason may come back to cost O’Brien his job. If Watson suffers another serious injury the franchise may decide to cut ties with the coach who can’t protect their franchise quarterback.
2. Doug Marrone
Plenty of Jaguars fans believe Marrone deserved to lose his job last season after Jacksonville went from preseason Super Bowl contenders to one of the worst teams in the league. The team’s front office elected to give him another chance heading into the 2019 season, but he’s definitely on a short leash.
The only good news for Marrone is that his team’s expectations have been greatly tempered. Their odds to win the AFC stand at an ugly mark of 20/1. No one outside of Duval County really expects this group to make a playoff run. That doesn’t mean Marrone can afford to go 4-12. The team’s paying Nick Foles big money to fix their offensive struggles. If that doesn’t work out, Marrone will pay with his job.
1. Jay Gruden
Jon Gruden may become the NFL’s biggest punch line this year, but it’s his brother who enters the season on seriously thin ice. It’s been a long time since the Redskins had a team capable of making a deep playoff run. This group doesn’t appear capable of that either.
The Redskins aren’t anywhere near favorites to win their own division. Their odds to win the NFC East stand at an ugly mark of 10/1. A lot of that pessimism stems from Washington’s uncertainty at the quarterback position.
Colt McCoy currently sits atop the depth chart, but the Redskins will almost certainly trust their offense to either Case Keenum or rookie Dwayne Haskins. Keenum is, at best, an adequate NFL starter. That won’t be enough to drag this mediocre roster into the playoffs.
Haskins may ultimately become a star, but he’s not ready to lead a winner in his first season in the pros. There just isn’t a signal caller on the roster who is capable of making Gruden a success in 2019. That’s why he tops our list of coaches who will be fired this year.