With six weeks of NFL football now in our rearview mirror, it’s about the time of year we begin considering two looming events, the playoffs and head coaches getting their pink slips. Today, we’ll be focusing on the latter.
Although there are a number of terrible teams around the league, some coaches have a “get out of jail free” card going for them. Most first-year coaches, for example, don’t have to worry about job security. Gus Bradley, who is leading one of the worst teams in recent memory, doesn’t have to worry about the Jaguars firing him, even if the Jaguars finish with one win on the year. Everyone understands the Jaguars are awful, and no one is blaming the head coach.
Other coaches, however, face a more difficult struggle. Tom Coughlin is one of the longest tenured head coaches in the league, and he’s won two Super Bowls, yet his job security is tenuous at best. Most feel that the Giants, as one of the models of stability in the NFL, will let Coughlin determine his own fate at the end of the season, meaning a resignation is more likely than a dismissal.
Predicting the first coach to get the ax is always difficult. Sometimes, a mid-season firing comes from a team most expected to wait. That being the case, this season’s crop of hot-seat coaches is headlined by two utter disappointments.
Gary Kubiak, who has been given more rope than almost every coach in NFL history, has been a chronic underachiever from the beginning of his tenure with the Houston Texans. This season has been no exception, and at 2-4, the Texans may begin looking for someone else to lead the team. Wade Phillips, the team’s defensive coordinator, has plenty of head coaching experience, and he’d be the perfect interim coach to lead the Texans for the rest of the season in a post-Kubiak era.
The other frontrunner comes out of Tampa Bay, where the Buccaneers can’t win a game, and rumors have been flying around that Greg Schiano was the leak behind the news that former starting quarterback Josh Freeman was in the first stage of the NFL’s drug abuse program. In addition, there’s a strong perception that Schiano is a less than honest coach. With so much working against him, it’s hard to imagine Schiano making it to the end of the year.
Of the two men, it seems likely that Kubiak will actually outlast Schiano for one key reason. The Texans could still turn their season around, especially when we consider how much talent is on their roster. The Buccaneers, by contrast, are just a terrible football team that has virtually no hope of a playoff run, and the negative press the team is getting due to Schiano is just too much.