Rating every NFL coach’s job security: Who’s safe, who’s not

The Browns have already let go of Hue Jackson, but Cleveland won’t be the only team to ditch its head coach this year. In fact, there have been at least six NFL head-coaching changes every year since 2011.

Which teams are most likely to hit the reset button for 2019? NFL Nation reporters took the temperature of the league, rating the job security of every head coach using the following scale:

5. Hot seat: Headed out if things don’t turn around in the final four games
4. Warm seat: Not safe if the season ends up a disappointment
3. Lukewarm seat: Not under fire but not disaster-proof
2. Cool seat: Safe barring a total disaster
1. Cold seat: No way he’ll get fired

Rating 5: Hot seat

Coach: Mike McCarthy (125-76-2 over 13 seasons)

A year ago, McCarthy’s seat was cool. He got a one-year contract extension through 2019 shortly before former general manager Ted Thompson was forced aside. The GM search was done in part to make sure McCarthy had a solid pairing, which he got with Brian Gutekunst, except for this: Gutekunst doesn’t have the authority over the coach; team president Mark Murphy took that on. Now, this season has spiraled in a way no one foresaw, and the feeling is that a second straight season without a playoff berth could result in a coaching change. No team wants a lame duck coach, and how could the Packers do a new deal with McCarthy coming off a poor season? The perception that Aaron Rodgers isn’t fully behind McCarthy doesn’t help matters, either. — Rob Demovsky

Coach: Todd Bowles (23-36 over four seasons)

Bowles has lost 16 of his past 21 games and will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. So, yes, he’s in serious trouble. It’s not all his fault, but someone has to pay, and it appears that general manager Mike Maccagnan is safe. Barring a miracle turnaround, Bowles will be replaced by an offensive-minded coach who can develop quarterback Sam Darnold. — Rich Cimini

Coach: Dirk Koetter (18-25 over three seasons)

The Bucs might have snapped a four-game losing streak, but they are still three games under .500 this season and seven games under .500 during Koetter’s tenure. Patience is wearing thin, and quarterback Jameis Winston, whom Koetter was brought in to develop, is showing the same ball security issues he had when he came into the league four years ago. On top of that, Koetter had the opportunity to fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith at the end of last season and didn’t, a move that unquestionably cost the Bucs games this season. — Jenna Laine

Rating 4: Warm seat

Coach: Steve Wilks (new coach)

There’s no denying that this season has been an unmitigated disaster for Wilks, who has had to change starting quarterbacks and fire his offensive coordinator. Here’s why Wilks likely won’t be fired after the season, even if the Cardinals finish 2-14: The offense has made enough of a turnaround under interim offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich that it could save Wilks’ job. Give Wilks a whole offseason with Leftwich to implement his offensive system, and then see what happens. If the Cardinals get off to another start in 2019 like this one, then Wilks will be on the hot seat by midseason. — Josh Weinfuss

Coach: John Harbaugh (100-71 over 11 seasons)

The hot seat has cooled recently for Harbaugh, thanks to a rookie quarterback and a two-game win streak. Lamar Jackson has won his first two starts, and the Ravens are suddenly the favorites for the final playoff spot in the AFC. However, if Baltimore fails to reach the postseason — like it has done the past three years — Harbaugh’s run in Baltimore is likely over. Owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged this offseason that he considered parting ways with Harbaugh, so Harbaugh has been on notice the entire 2018 season. — Jamison Hensley


Stephen A. Smith expresses his frustration about Marvin Lewis keeping his job with the Bengals despite consistent underperformance.

Coach: Marvin Lewis (130-118-3 over 16 seasons)

It seemed almost inevitable that Lewis would leave at the end of the 2017 season, but he ended up reaching a two-year contract extension. While the Bengals certainly don’t work the way other teams do, it’s clear that fans are fed up, which shows in the declining attendance numbers at Paul Brown Stadium. Lewis has a built-in excuse with an extraordinary amount of injuries and a defense so bad that it resulted in the firing of defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, but the way this season has gone has been disappointing after the team’s hot start. Lewis’ future is not set in stone either way. — Katherine Terrell

Coach: Jason Garrett (73-58 over nine seasons)

If this question had been asked at the midway point, Garrett’s seat would have been not just hot but red hot. Now a three-game win streak has the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East and in control of their destiny, but it doesn’t mean Garrett is safe. The pressure remains on him, especially now that the Cowboys look to be the favorites to win the division with five games to go. Owner Jerry Jones has maintained patience and belief in Garrett, who has two playoff appearances and one postseason victory in his tenure. Garrett has rallied the Cowboys at the most important time, but he better keep winning if he wants to find himself secure for 2019. — Todd Archer

Coach: Doug Marrone (14-15 over three seasons)

The Jaguars have lost seven consecutive games, just fired their offensive coordinator and benched their starting quarterback, so some of the goodwill Marrone earned by taking the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game last season has eroded. If they fail to win another game — which isn’t out of the question because of the rash of injuries to the offensive line — Marrone’s job is definitely in jeopardy. That would be 12 losses in a row, which would surpass the longest single-season losing streak in franchise history (nine in 2016). — Mike DiRocco

Coach: Jay Gruden (34-40-1 over five seasons)

The Redskins have missed the postseason the past two years. A third straight miss? With a franchise suddenly having a hard time selling tickets? That would be a bad look. There’s no guarantee that Gruden will be fired if they miss out — not every problem stems from coaching, and players aren’t privately grumbling about him — so the number should perhaps be a 3.5. He isn’t exactly safe, but he isn’t exactly a lock to leave with a poor finish. Injuries have impacted a second straight season, yet the Redskins remain 6-5 with a shot to win the NFC East. They do need to play better and can’t rely on injuries as an excuse if they miss the playoffs, especially if they stumble poorly down the stretch. Gruden has two years left on his contract, thanks to an extension signed after the 2016 season. — John Keim

Rating 3: Lukewarm seat

Coach: Vance Joseph (10-17 over two seasons)

Joseph’s seat is cooling since the Broncos won back-to-back games, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed in the building just how hard the team plays for Joseph. The Broncos have to show maturity and win games down the stretch, however. Joseph doesn’t have personnel power, so a lack of impact from the 2017 draft class and issues along the offensive line don’t really fall on his desk. In Joseph’s favor is the fact that the Broncos have slugged it out with the league’s best this season and still have a playoff shot. — Jeff Legwold

Coach: Adam Gase (21-22 over three seasons)

We’ve seen coaches get fired for under .500 records through three seasons — just look at Mike Mularkey in Tennessee last season. But Gase seems more likely to return in 2019, even if Miami doesn’t make the playoffs, because owner Steve Ross appears sympathetic to the injuries Gase has dealt with. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has missed 25 games the past three seasons, and the Dolphins have placed 10 players on season-ending IR this season, including key offensive contributors such as Josh Sitton, Daniel Kilgore, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. Miami seems likely to undergo some change, but Gase — who made the playoffs in 2016 — seems set to get another chance to get it right as long as the team doesn’t mail it in down the stretch. — Cameron Wolfe

Rating 2: Cool seat

Coach: Dan Quinn (33-26 over four seasons)

Owner Arthur Blank told ESPN that Quinn is not the problem. But if the Falcons happen to embarrass themselves with some bad losses the rest of the season, Blank might change his tune. The reality is Atlanta probably won’t make the playoffs, which will lead to some tough staff decisions after the season. Quinn isn’t exactly on the hot seat, however, being signed through 2022. — Vaughn McClure

Coach: Matt Patricia (new coach)

It’s highly unlikely that the Lions would move on from Patricia after one year, particularly since he and general manager Bob Quinn (and quarterback Matthew Stafford) appear tied together with contracts that run through 2022. But there are definite concerns about where Detroit is headed in the future, particularly coming off two straight 9-7 seasons under Jim Caldwell. Barring a complete collapse — which would include losing out and some more off-field snafus — Patricia should return in 2019. But make no mistake, his and Quinn’s seats will be much warmer if things don’t start to turn around next season. — Michael Rothstein

Coach: Mike Zimmer (45-29-1 over five seasons)

The Vikings have gone through their fair share of ups and downs this season, but Zimmer’s job won’t be on the line, barring a major collapse over the next five games. The Vikings had to overcome the growing pains that come with a new offensive system and new quarterback, plus struggles on defense, and Zimmer has helped turn around the defensive issues. Vikings ownership voiced a vote of confidence in Zimmer months ago. Given the expectations for this franchise in years to come, that shouldn’t change. “We, quite frankly, as owners have grown in this process to realize that we need to get the best people here, people like Coach Zimmer and [general manager] Rick Spielman, and to have the confidence in them that they’re going to get us to where we need to be,” Minnesota co-owner Mark Wilf told ESPN in January. — Courtney Cronin

Coach: Ron Rivera (70-52-1 over eight seasons)

New owner David Tepper wants to win, and he wants to win now. Should the Panthers continue their current skid and finish with a losing record and miss the playoffs, Rivera would have only three winning seasons in eight. Granted, he made the Super Bowl in 2015 and was the NFL Coach of the Year twice, which should give him plenty of job security. But if the team collapses after a 6-2 start, he might not have the loyalty that former owner Jerry Richardson showed him. — David Newton

Coach: Pat Shurmur (new coach)

Even though it has clearly not gone well in Shurmur’s first year in charge, he has some time. How much? Ben McAdoo went 11-5 his first year and was gone before the second was complete. The difference here is that the Giants are in a rebuild. They know it. Shurmur’s fate will be more connected with the next quarterback than the current one. That likely gives him at least a few more seasons, barring a total disaster. — Jordan Raanan

Rating 1: Cold seat

Coach: Sean McDermott (13-14 over two seasons)

ESPN’s Football Power Index projects the Bills to win 6.4 games, which will edge the preseason projection of 6.3 wins. McDermott’s second season has gone more or less as expected, with the Bills taking a step back as they transitioned from veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor to rookie Josh Allen. There are areas in which McDermott has opened himself up to criticism, such as his now-abandoned faith in Nathan Peterman, but the second-year coach will undoubtedly get at least another season to see through his rebuilding project, no matter what happens down the stretch. Expectations will rise in 2019. — Mike Rodak

Coach: Matt Nagy (new coach)

Nagy is probably going to win NFL Coach of the Year. The Bears are likely one more good season away from Nagy receiving a contract extension; that’s how highly the Bears organization and the city of Chicago think of him. He has done a terrific job thus far. — Jeff Dickerson

Coach: Bill O’Brien (39-36 over five seasons)

There was talk about O’Brien being on the hot seat after the Texans started 0-3, but even that was unlikely because he signed a four-year extension in January that will keep him in Houston through the 2022 season. Now that the Texans have won eight games in a row and have a two-game lead in the AFC South, O’Brien’s job is safe. — Sarah Barshop

Coach: Frank Reich (new coach)

Reich has already led the Colts to more victories this season than they had all of last season (four) while having them in contention to make the playoffs after missing the postseason the past three seasons. The Colts might not make it, but he has brought a competitive and positive attitude in the building that had been missing over the past few seasons. — Mike Wells

Coach: Andy Reid (62-29 over six seasons)

It’s safe to say that Reid will coach the Chiefs as he long as he wishes. The Chiefs are legitimate Super Bowl contenders and appear to be set up well for the future. That all is in huge contrast to the 15 or so seasons before his arrival. — Adam Teicher

Coach: Anthony Lynn (17-10 over two seasons)

Since starting his Chargers tenure 0-4, Lynn is 17-6, and he has the Bolts on the precipice of making the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Lynn’s edict of taking care of the football also has Philip Rivers playing at an MVP level. Lynn isn’t going anywhere. — Eric D. Williams

Coach: Sean McVay (21-6 over two seasons)

Cold seat. In less than two seasons, McVay has established himself as a model hire. After winning the NFC West in his first season, McVay has the Rams one win away from clinching a second consecutive division title and poised to make a Super Bowl run. McVay is the mastermind behind one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, and he has proven himself as a leader despite being the league’s youngest coach at 32. — Lindsey Thiry


The NFL Live crew discusses how Patriots OC Josh McDaniels will once again garner plenty of interest for head-coaching jobs in 2019.

Coach: Bill Belichick (222-77 over 19 seasons)

This could be the most secure seat in all of professional sports. It has been the same answer for Bill Belichick for the past 15 or so years. — Mike Reiss

Coach: Sean Payton (115-72 over 12 seasons)

The Saints made a strong commitment to Payton with a lucrative extension even when they were in the middle of three straight 7-9 seasons from 2012-14. They’re definitely not changing their minds now that they have been proven right. The Saints have re-emerged as one of the NFL’s best teams, and Payton has been as hot as ever as a creative game planner and playcaller. — Mike Triplett

Coach: Jon Gruden (new coach; 40-35 over five seasons with Oakland from 1998-2001)

With a 10-year contract worth a reported $100 million, Gruden isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “That’s just the way it is,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN.com the night the Raiders fell to 1-8. Besides, under Gruden, the Raiders have torn down their roster and are in the middle of a reconstruction … less than two years before Gruden is a headliner on the Las Vegas Strip. Yeah, the Raiders need his star power in Sin City. — Paul Gutierrez

Coach: Doug Pederson (25-18 over three seasons)

The season hasn’t gone as planned, and the offense has regressed. Pederson owns plenty of that. But a Super Bowl title buys a coach at least one year off the hot seat. The Eagles signed Pederson to an extension this offseason that runs through 2022. — Tim McManus

Coach: Mike Tomlin (123-63-1 over 12 seasons)

Tomlin is a “1” just about every year. Unless he has his first losing season, that won’t be changing. Local fans like to grumble about Tomlin, but he has been one of the league’s most consistent coaches since 2007, with a .660 regular-season win percentage. His 8-7 playoff record isn’t as good, but he puts himself in position to change that virtually every January. — Jeremy Fowler

Coach: Kyle Shanahan (8-19 over two seasons)

When the Niners made Shanahan their third coaching hire in as many seasons in 2017, they finally committed to the long-term rebuild that had been coming for a few years. The results, particularly in close games, have been disappointing, but this is only Year 2 of Shanahan’s six-year deal, and he’s going through it without his franchise quarterback and top running back, among other key injuries that make this season tough to evaluate. The 49ers knew this would take some time. Shanahan has kept his team competitive despite frustrating losses, and there’s no indication from anyone making the decisions that his job is in any sort of jeopardy. — Nick Wagoner

Coach: Pete Carroll (85-53-1 over nine seasons)

Carroll has the Seahawks in position for a run at a wild-card spot, despite having undergone one of the biggest offseason roster overhauls of his tenure. He’s the most successful coach in franchise history and has a contract that runs through 2019. Even with an uncertain ownership situation following Paul Allen’s passing, it seems the question isn’t how long the Seahawks will want Carroll but how long Carroll — the NFL’s oldest coach at 67 — will want to keep going. — Brady Henderson

Coach: Mike Vrabel (new coach)

Vrabel was brought in to insert energy into the franchise. There is a good vibe in the building, and the team has shown flashes. It’s hard to imagine any coach having to weather the storms that Vrabel has, including losing the top receiving option in Delanie Walker for the season and the injury issues that Marcus Mariota has suffered. Yet the Titans are still in the mix for a wild-card spot. — Turron Davenport

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