As the march toward NFL season continues, now is as good a time on any to carry out the time-honored tradition of speculating on which head coaches need robust performance to save their jobs.
There can always be a surprise firing in the NFL, but these are coaches who appear to be entering the season on the dreaded hot seat.
Bill Belichick, Patriots
The end of the Belichick era in New England would be stunning in the sense that he is approaching Don Shula’s all-time wins record and has coached the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships.
However, owner Bob Kraft is said to be getting impatient that the team has not had a playoff win in the last four seasons.
Patriots insider Tom Curran told a stunned Rich Eisen last month that Belichick is “on the hot seat, and he’s been there at different levels of warmth since 2019.”
Factors have included the dissolution of the relationship with Tom Brady, who went on to win a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, and the decision to have the offense run by Matt Patricia, previously a defensive coach, which led to disastrous results last season.
When doesn’t the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys enter the season on the hot seat?
The Cowboys have had consecutive 12-5 seasons and knocked Brady and the Buccaneers out of the playoffs last season.
However, the team stalled out in the divisional round, losing 19-12 to the Niners.
McCarthy won a power struggle over offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and will be calling plays this season, as Moore took the same position with the Chargers.
The pressure will be on for him to justify that move.
Saleh is entering his third season with Gang Green, after going 4-13 in 2021 and 7-10 last season.
Saleh is not likely to lose his job this season, because the Jets project to be a playoff team after adding Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
However, with these increased expectations comes increased pressure.
If the Jets sputter this season, it’s easy to envision a scenario where Saleh is the scapegoat.
This is the season where Kevin Stefanski and the Browns have to justify the eye-popping price they paid for Deshaun Watson.
The Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson and then turned around and gave him a five-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed.
This was in addition to the PR cost of acquiring Watson, who was accused of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen Houston-area massage therapists.
Watson was rusty after returning from a 10-game NFL suspension over the matter and missing the entire season before as the investigations into the allegations proceeded.
The Browns were 11-5 and won a playoff game in Stefanski’s first season in 2020, but were 8-9 in 2021 and 7-10 in 2022.
There was chatter about whether Staley would lose his job after last season when the Chargers had a stunning collapse against the Jaguars in the playoffs, blowing a 27-point lead.
Quarterback Justin Herbert signed a five-year deal worth more than $260 million this offseason, and the Chargers organization has expectations of postseason success after shelling out that type of contract.
There is an axiom in professional sports that new ownership always wants to install its own guys.
With the Commanders changing hands from Dan Snyder to a group led by Sixers owner Josh Harris, the pressure is on Rivera to keep the job.
He frankly may have entered the season on the hot seat regardless, as he is entering his fourth season in Washington D.C. and the team has not yet had a winning record during his tenure.
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