Before the season, we named six NFL head coaches that were on the hot seat. Now that the season is half over, let’s take a look at whether those six coaches have more or less job security than they had when the season started, as well as a few coaches that have joined them on the hot seat.
Dennis Allen, Oakland – There’s probably not a lot Allen can do to prevent the Raiders from finishing last in the AFC West this year, but so far he’s done enough to at least give himself another year as head coach. The Raiders are definitely more competitive than they were last year, and they should be able to improve upon their 4-12 record from last year, despite sharing a division with two of the NFL’s better teams. Games against Denver and Philadelphia notwithstanding, Oakland has been better defensively this season, and that should be enough to bring Allen back next year.
Jason Garrett, Dallas – Garrett’s fate is still far from determined, and it doesn’t help that Jerry Jones is unpredictable and doesn’t always think soundly. The Cowboys are in good position to win the NFC East and go to the playoffs, which would almost certainly save Garrett’s job, but they should probably be better than 5-4, and there’s still time for a second half collapse that could cost Dallas a playoff spot. If that happens, Garrett could easily lose his job, despite anything Jones has said previously about his belief in his head coach.
Mike Munchak, Tennessee – Right now, Munchak’s job status looks pretty good. His quarterback started to make progress before suffering an injury that knocked him out for a few weeks, but now Jake Locker is back on the field and the Titans are definitely in the middle of the playoff hunt. Three of Tennessee’s four losses this season have come against the NFL’s elite (Kansas City, Seattle, and San Francisco), so it’s hard to say that the Titans are underachieving this year. Even if Munchak can’t get Tennessee to the playoffs this year, there’s been enough progress made to retain him as the head coach.
Ron Rivera, Carolina – Things weren’t looking good for Rivera and the Panthers early in the season, but things have turned around in a hurry with four straight wins and much better play out of quarterback Cam Newton. As much as Newton has improved last year, it’s Rivera’s defense that’s leading the charge in Carolina and initializing a power shift in the NFC South. The Panther’s schedule will get tougher in the second half of the season, with at least four games against teams that look headed for the postseason, but barring a complete collapse, Rivera looks good to return to the Panthers next season.
Rex Ryan, New York Jets – Before the season, Ryan was a virtual lock to be fired after the season, but he’s given himself a fighting chance to keep his job. That being said, the situation changes on almost a weekly basis, as the Jets have been terribly inconsistent this season, losing to the Steelers only to beat the Patriots the next week, then getting crushed by the Bengals only to beat the Saints this past weekend. If Ryan gets the Jets to the playoffs it’ll be hard to fire him after the low expectations heading into the season, but there’s so much that can happen between now and the end of the season, not to mention the instability within the organization, which puts his job status very much in the air.
Jim Schwartz, Detroit – Schwartz has definitely taken the heat off himself that was building up after last year’s 4-12 campaign. Detroit’s defense still has a lot of work to do, but Schwartz seems to have the quarterback he needs to win, and an offense that can by dynamic at times. The Lions look like a team that could win 10 games and go to the playoffs, which should take the heat off Schwartz for at least a couple years.
Those who weren’t on the hot seat at the start of the season, but are definitely on it now are:
Leslie Frazier, Minnesota – Things were good for Frazier last year after the Vikings won 10 games and went to the playoffs, but unless they can turn things around in the second half, he could be out of a job. Minnesota’s season isn’t all on Frazier, as there’s been a ton of instability at quarterback for the Vikings, and none of the three that have played appear to be the answer for them. However, Frazier went 3-13 in 2011, and if he repeats that record this year, which looks quite possible, it’ll be hard to justify keeping him, even with a 10-win season and postseason appearance sandwiched in between.
Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay – How Schiano is still employed is anybody’s guess. It doesn’t matter how many years or how much money remains on his contract, Schiano should be out after this season, and he should consider himself lucky not to have already received his walking papers.
Gary Kubiak, Houston – The seat under Kubiak was definitely starting to heat up, but his episode at halftime of Sunday’s game reminds us that there are more important things.