Overreactions are usually going to play a massive role early on in a football season. Injuries, limited weapons, and tough matchups all factor into any team starting 0-2. However, some fan bases around the NFL are more than ready to declare their head coaches as candidates for the hot seat.
An 0-2 start isn’t a sentence to termination, but it will raise eyebrows. Blowing leads and allowing sub-par offenses to torch your team week after week won’t settle well. And before you know it, organizations keep falling down the rabbit hole until they reach preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft.
It’s early, and plenty of things can change. For now, the water is boiling, and a couple more losses could have theses men firing up their resumes looking for employment.
Which NFL Head Coaches are on the hot seat in 2020?
Miami Dolphins Brian Flores
Prior to the Dolphins’ 31-13 victory over Jacksonville, Flores was sitting at 0-2. That’s the only reason he’s on the list. When brought in by Chris Grier and Stephen Ross, the Dolphins likely had the worst roster in the league. Flores’ defensive scheme helped the team pick up five wins when everyone thought they’d have a chance to win the coveted 0-16 title.
Miami is still rebuilding and isn’t ready to release “Weapon X,” more commonly known as Tua Tagovailoa. Sure, the defense is struggling, but in a limited offseason with new key pieces, what else would expect? It’s a marathon, not a race, and Flores’ seat is colder than the ice baths Ryan Fitzpatrick takes after every outing.
Hot seat meter: 1
Denver Broncos Vic Fangio
Fangio could have used one of those timeouts late to put pressure on Stephen Gostkowski, who couldn’t make a kick to save his life, but that’s beside the point. Veteran coaches understand how to coach when adversity is against them. A rookie coach would have crumbled when seeing Jeff Driskel enter the game against a stout Pittsburgh defense. Instead, the Broncos made it close with a quarterback people say “who?” when mentioned.
Denver is without their star pass rusher in Von Miller. Drew Lock, the hopeful reincarnation of John Elway, will miss up to six weeks with a shoulder injury. Even when he returns, the Broncos go-to target Courtland Sutton is out for the season, and Philip Lindsay could miss more time than expected. Injuries play a factor on rebuilding teams, making Fangio’s seat more like the blue mountains on a Coors Light than a burning fire pit.
Hot seat meter: 2.5
Houston Texans Bill O’Brien
Less than a month after giving Deshaun Watson a four-year, $160 million extension, the head coach/general manager guru isn’t winning over the fans. Two games against the Ravens and Chiefs have Houston’s defense looking atrocious at best. Throw in near-unwatchable snaps from the right side of the offensive line, and things aren’t looking pretty for the defending AFC South champions.
Watson’s still running for his life as Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton look more like traffic cones than linemen. The receiving corps is playing catch-up with DeAndre Hopkins, with all three targets failing to grab the coveted No.1 role. O’Brien’s play-calling might be the worst factor as the team still relies on a balanced attack despite the lack of a run game.
If O’Brien weren’t buddies with the McNair’s, his keister would be cooked thanks to limiting Watson’s potential. Alas, his five winning seasons will keep him around. Sorry Texans fans, O’Brien is sticking around.
Hot seat meter: 4…and that’s being generous
Philadelphia Eagles Doug Pederson
Andy Reid received the cold shoulder from the City of Brotherly Love after struggling to recreate the magic of the 2000s in the 2010s. Could the same be happening to Pederson in 2020? Philadelphia was considered a contender in the NFC entering the year, and thanks to inadequate offensive line play, they’re tied with the Giants at the bottom.
Carson Wentz has regressed due to little protection. Miles Sanders’ return should balance out the production, but any injury to him causes concern on the ground. A young receiving unit will have to find stability soon if the Eagles want to bounce back against the Bengals. All that said, the warm glow around Pederson’s improbable work with Nick Foles is just starting to melt. In 2021 we can talk.
Hot seat meter: 3.5
Cincinnati Bengals Zac Taylor
The Bengals are bad. They were awful in 2019, and even with Joe Burrow now as the face of the franchise, they’re not much better. Taylor is riding off the coattails of Sean McVay during his time in Los Angeles, and Cincinnati believed that immense brain out west would rub off in Paul Brown Stadium. Swing and a miss, Mike Brown.
Taylor’s saving grace will be the development of Burrow. Last Thursday, he looked the veteran part of a signal-caller when throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. If he regresses, the team will have to invest in a new coach just like they’re investing in a new quarterback. The kettle is on, but at a simmer for now. Any regression raises the heat week by week.
Hot seat meter: 5
Minnesota Vikings Mike Zimmer
“And with the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft”…is what most Vikings fans are thinking. Kirk Cousins has been the epitome of mediocrity in 2020, posting the lowest passing rating and third-lowest QBR in the league. All that is bound to turn around, right? The defense, however, is in for a rude awakening.
Zimmer has always been able to develop young corners into quality gems. His three starters are all 23 or younger and still developing at a record-slow pace. Star pass rusher Danielle Hunter is on the injured reserve, and linebacker Anthony Barr will join him for the remainder of the season. Zimmer’s seat will be lukewarm if the team struggles, but that’s it. If anything, retirement is more likely following his mundane comments after being outscored 71-45 in two games.
Hot seat meter: 4.5, Retirement meter: 8
Detroit Lions Matt Patricia
You can bring the talent from New England, but if Belichick isn’t a part of it, game over. The Lions are learning that the hard way as things continue to blow up in their face with Patricia. Granted, Matthew Stafford has been without Kenny Golladay, thus limiting the passing game. What’s the defense’s excuse this time?
The Lions have allowed an average of 425 yards per game, and one game played host to Mitch Trubisky. Their run defense is a league-low after letting Aaron Jones steal the show Sunday afternoon. It’s year three for Patrica, and things aren’t getting better. In fact, they continue to head south. He might not be the first to go, but he’ll likely be heading out no later than Black Monday.
Hot seat meter: 9
New York Jets Adam Gase
Remember when Gase was this offensive innovator who fixed Peyton Manning? Maybe it was the doctors that performed the surgery on the Hall of Fame quarterback before his stint in the Mile High City. The Jets head coach was a problem well before his time in Big Apple as his offenses in Miami finished 24th (2016), 25th (2017), and 31st (2018). And last season in New York? 31st with the likes of a dual-threat weapon in Le’Veon Bell.
Bell is on the IR, which might be lucky for him as his numbers have hit all-time lows in Gase’s system. Sam Darnold, a talented quarterback, is being flustered and called a bust due to poor play-calling. Gase has proven he’d rather settle for the easy points rather than fight back from behind. Jet fuel burns at 1,517 degrees. Wouldn’t you know? That’s the same temperature as Gase’s seat.
Hot seat meter: 9.9
Atlanta Falcons Dan Quinn
Honest question; who would have let Quinn back in the office after Sunday? The Falcons’ offense is scoring, Todd Gurley is working, and the tandem of Matt Ryan to Calvin Ridley might be one of the best in football. And yet still, Quinn has found a way to ruin the 28-3 jokes thanks to a comeback win by Dallas last weekend.
The defensive backfield struggles were going to be a problem all season. That’s lived up to the status as Atlanta currently ranks 31st in passing yards per game. Thanks to those concerns, the Cowboys scored 17 unanswered points in the final eight minutes. The kicker of all was the onside kick: does Quinn know you can fall forward on the ball?
Atlanta deserves better than this, and if the cards are right, this bird should be officially cooked by midseason.
Hot seat meter: 10