Coaches Caught In Traffic

It’s already got to the time of year when we start to look at next year, particularly because a few teams have very little to look forward to. So, as we start on the road to next season we look at which coaches are likely to get stuck in traffic and left behind at the traffic lights.


Gus Bradley – Jacksonville Jaguars: Red and Dead

These traffic lights aren’t even red, there’s been a power cut, the traffic lights aren’t even working and there’s traffic chaos and a 4 car pile-up! Expected improvements haven’t been delivered and this roster is certainly better than its been showing. There was a lot of admiration for Shahid Kahn for showing patience with his staff and young team, and allowing them to grow together but I expect that patience may be gone by black Monday.

Offensively the team has regressed, the quarterback has gone backwards and needs some intervention before that regression ends him permanently. They sit at 2-7, 4 games behind the Texans and realistically out of playoff contention with a horror schedule in their upcoming games. Bradley is toast, with their remaining games there’s a chance they finish back of the 5-11 they finished with in 2015.

Nutshell: Doomed


Chip Kelly – San Francisco 49ers: Amber

Thing’s aren’t looking great for the 49ers right now. Chip Kelly arrived in San Fran after a disappointing end to his time in Philly.  Despite insisting his future lies away from the college game his fast-paced offence that keep opposing defences on their toes has taken some time to get going on a talent deficient offence.  The failure of the offence puts even more stress on his defence. With an offensive system that requires a healthy and good quality defence as it results in more defensive snaps against you it puts pressure on Kelly’s ideals in the bay area. A knackered defence is a lot easier to manage at the college level where you’re allowed a roster size of approximately 104 million players.

If the 49ers front office recognises the that this office is devoid of talent, they might look at it and decide that their head coach should be given a pass this year and allow him to rebuild. Given his attempted rebuilding job in Philadelphia they may decide he isn’t the man for the job. Alternatively, if the front office decides the roster is better than has been showing then Chip may be doomed.

Nutshell: Chances are though that Chip gets a shot at rebuilding this team, which may also be terrifying for 49ers fans.


John Fox – Chicago Bears: Amber

Chicago need a rebuild, there’s no doubt about that but how much of a rebuild is somewhat open for question, and how to go about rebuilding the team is open for question. Offensively I think they’re alright at best (words chosen carefully) and defensively they could use some help but they’ve got plenty of cap space coming their way for 2017 so there’s room for some creative rebuilding there.

John Fox is a good coach and a winning coach over a long career and those are rare enough in the NFL but right now his Bears are going backwards, the performance against Tampa was pretty abject and Ryan Pace and the front office may decide that after 2 years of double digit losses they may rebuild with someone else at the helm.

In a Nutshell: This depends on the type of rebuild the Bears want, if they want to blow it all up and start from the ground up then it’s likely Fox is done for.


Hugh Jackson – Cleveland Browns: Red

This may seem a little harsh given that there’s a lot of sympathy for the Browns, they aren’t talented and they’re right at the start of a massive cultural shift in the organisation. The team have shown flashes of some good stuff and have been unlucky with some injuries but when it comes to it, they’re almost certainly going to be 0-16 and in a notoriously impatient fan base that makes him a red.

I’m not a fan of the chopping and changing at quarterback, Hugh Jackson is supposed to be a quarterback whisperer and while he’s not exactly loaded with talent at the position, chopping and changing all the time, sometimes through injuries, other times through poor performance doesn’t do anyone’s confidence the world of good. I’d like to see him give the job to Kessler, the Rookie has many flaws but so do all rookies but he’s careful with the football at least and he isn’t going to throw the game away.   Having an established starter at least allows you to game plan and pick the bits of the playbook to establish a bit of an offensive identity.

Nutshell: All the noises are he will survive but you can’t be the worst team in the NFL and not be on a very hot seat.


Todd Bowles – New York Jets: Red

The Jets have disappeared down a hole from where they were last season and its not been pretty watching. I like Todd Bowles but in the heat of the New York press and the bright spot lights that come with it there’s going to be an awful lot of change around the Meadowlands this off season if not for Bowles then possibly his staff. His quarterback situation has gone downhill faster than a jet-propelled skier, and defensively he’s suffering from indiscipline and the rapid decline of Darrelle Revis.

I guess the main problem is just how far short of expectations this team has fallen, most thought they were in for a genuine tilt at the playoffs maybe even their division. They have a whole host of divisional games to come after their week 11 bye including going twice against the Patriots. 4-12 might be the ceiling for this team and that unfortunately, might be enough to send Bowles back to the ranks of the co-ordinators.

Nutshell: I like Bowles but chaos has started to reign for the Jets and that usually never ends well.


Mike McCoy – San Diego Chargers: Red

He was lucky to survive the rumours surrounding his position early in the season but I suspect his luck will run out should the Chargers finish below .500.   The Chargers have been positively mercurial of late, in fact for McCoy’s whole tenure. They’ve gone from sublime to ridiculous typically with layovers in Average City and Calamity Corner.

Some of the mistakes you can’t legislate for, others you have to look at the coaching staff and acknowledge that these mistakes are something that shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Part of good coaching involves ensuring that your players are mentally prepared as well as physically prepared, so when a holder muffs the snap on a field goal attempt while some will say you can’t legislate for that others will say that sort of error should be coached out on the practice field. Long story short though the Chargers keep finding ways to lose games and that may do for McCoy. If you can’t be good be lucky and McCoy is neither.

Nutshell: McCoy is already on a short leash which by the end of the season will run out.


Ron Rivera – Carolina Panthers: Green

The Panthers loss to the Chiefs in Week 10 would have done for the Panther’s playoff hopes had Atlanta not muffed up against the Eagles. In many ways, it’s a result they’d have hope might go the other way. Their hopes of winning the division are slipping away and with the entire NFC East above .500 the wildcard slot they would have their eyes on moved further away instead.

Rivera will be given a chance to right what many observers will see as an anomaly, the comedown of losing Super Bowl 50, while many will hope that Riverboat Ron hasn’t hit the rocks. This was supposed to be the comeback worthy of Lazarus including a healthy Kelvin Benjamin which would improve an already dynamic offence. What has happened instead has been nothing short of disappointing.

Nutshell: It would be a harsh owner to get rid of Rivera at this point. He’s earned a shot at correcting this anomaly.


Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers: Amber

This is amber turning red pretty quickly. McCarthy has an advantage over a couple of other coaches on this list insofar as nobody seems to want to win this division. If the Packers manage to arrest this slide and sneak the division then McCarthy survives but there are some worrying signs floating around this team, its going backwards and Aaron Rodgers is finding it harder to paper over the cracks and consequently is going backwards too.

This is a young team though, their average age of 25.36 3rd youngest coming into the season so some inconsistency can be expected. This is a roster built through the draft with very few big name free agents, but if we’ve learned anything in recent years a few additions in the right place can improve a team though it’s something Ted Thomson regularly eschews. The Packers aren’t like any other team in the way they are run and they don’t make changes quickly or easily but something could change to prevent the slide that they teeter atop of.

Nutshell: The Packers aren’t an organisation that panics easily but something isn’t quite right in Green Bay so I wonder if a change is coming.


Chuck Pagano – Indianapolis Colts: Amber

Teflon Chuck as he should be known from now on, there seems to be very few people in the front office of the Colts that stuff doesn’t stick to.   GM Ryan Grigson is likely made of Stainless Steel or more likely Mithril because this is a pair that seem to escape from everything.

They sit behind the Titans in the division at the moment below .500 but there are some winnable games coming. I have a terrible feeling that sitting around 8-8 will see Pagano and company survive and that would be a terrible shame, their job would have basically been saved by Andrew Luck once again and this franchise will likely slip further into mediocrity.

Nutshell: If it were anyone else they would be gone or at the very least Red but Teflon Chuck finds a way to survive.


Jeff “7-9” Fisher – LA Rams: Amber

If Chuck Pagano is Teflon, then 7-9 Jeff Fisher is positively ceramic. I think it’s telling that they’ve made the switch to Jared Goff at this time. Case Keenum hasn’t been playing well but this team has stalled after a bright start and with the offence tanking and losses starting to mount up then Fisher will see this as his “Get Out of Jail Free” card. It’s necessary from a football perspective but it’s been necessary for most of the season to get the rookie in. Its borderline cynical at this point to put Goff in. I don’t see how much he has improved from the bench between weeks 9 and 10 that meant he could go in after their bye week.

I had the misfortune to watch the Rams at Twickenham and to say the stunk the place up was an understatement. To further 7-9 Jeff Fisher’s potential woes I’m not a fan of their remaining schedule to say the least so even 7-9 may even be a stretch.

Nutshell: 7-9 Jeff Fisher is a survivor but I think it would be a miracle if he survives this, but stuff doesn’t stick and is easily wiped clean off him so who knows!


Marvin Lewis: Green

This is the first time in what feels like forever that we likely won’t see Marvin Lewis’s Bengals for a relatively short post season appearance. They have the luxury of another division that no team in it seems to want to win, but I think regardless of whether they find a way to come through or miss the playoffs there’s a lot to be said for how Lewis has operated this franchise in his 13 years as head coach.

Whatever has happened in Cincinnati this season it’s been a step back but the entire division has taken a step back so they still have a hope. They’ve played 2 of the hardest divisions in football this season in the AFC East and probably the best division in football right now the NFC East. The AFC North is 2-8-1 against the NFC east this year, raise your hand if you saw that at the start of the season?! Be Honest.

Nutshell: Another coach that gets an opportunity to prove this was an Anomaly.