The average head coach’s lifespan in the NFL is less than 4 years. Let that sink in. Teams are constantly searching for their next version of Bill Belichick or Sean McVay to resurrect their team from mediocrity and turn them into a bona fide contender. Every year we see a number of head coaching positions vacated and filled in a span in just a few weeks. Which NFL coaches might be on their last legs for the upcoming 2020 season if they can’t turn their team around?
Adam Gase, New York Jets
The New York Jets season did not go as planned in 2019. Adam Gase was brought on as the head coach this year in order to help Sam Darnold progress in his second year, and Darnold was largely average for most of the 2019 season. Running back Le’Veon Bell was brought on to take some of the pressure off of Darnold, and he averaged his lowest yards per carry (3.2) of his entire career. Simply put, this entire organization did not measure up well in 2019 with the upstart Buffalo Bills and perennial AFC East winner New England controlling the division.
While this will only be Gase’s second year upcoming with the Jets, he will most definitely be under the microscope. If Sam Darnold once again fails to progress in his third year, the Jets front office may be inclined to clean house and hit the reset button on the coaching staff and try to find someone else to help him develop as a passer.
Keep in mind however, Darnold is still just 22 years old and his best days are clearly ahead of him. So while Gase will be in the proverbial hot seat to start the year, I think we need to keep our expectations in check. The Jets have yet to really build a team around Darnold, and until that happens no one will be able to accurately judge his talent as a quarterback in this league.
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
What a bizarre way to end the regular season for Doug Marrone. The third year head coach seemingly didn’t know his fate after multiple rumors were swirling about him being dismissed from the staff, but no real sources confirming any of it. A few days later, it was announced by owner Shad Khan that Doug Marrone would indeed be retained as the head coach. Aside from Marrone’s first season as head coach in 2017, the results have been disappointing with two last place finishes the last two years in the suddenly competitive AFC South.
This is another spot where I think we need to check out expectations a little bit. With all the things that went on in this organization this season concerning Tom Coughlin and the illegal fines, it’s entirely possible that this last place finish wasn’t all Doug Marrone’s fault. Jacksonville still has talent to build around, with a deep and talented defense along with upswing rookie Gardner Minshew set to be the quarterback of the future.
Armed with a bevy of draft picks that includes two picks in the top 20, Jacksonville is in a good spot to draft well and stock up on talent. This will come with heightened expectations of course, and if Marrone doesn’t show he can bring this team back to the dominance they experienced in 2017, Doug Marrone as well as Shad Khan could be on their way out of the organization.
Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
Can Matt Nagy blossom into a winning head coach? Or was he simply a product of being a part of now Super-Bowl-winning Andy Reid’s coaching staff? That’s what every Chicago fan has been asking themselves after seeing the Bears flounder to an 8-8 record with an inconsistent Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. It may be unfair that Trubisky will always be compared to Mahomes and Watson as the quarterback taken before them, but the results do not lie. Patrick Mahomes is now a super Bowl champion, and Deshaun Watson guided Houston to the playoffs for the second year in a row.
I’m a little more worried about Matt Nagy than the other two coaches I’ve already mentioned. The NFC North is always a dogfight and with the Packers and the Vikings always being tough to beat, Chicago will need a very strong record to take the NFC North. The only way that happens is if Mitch Trubisky goes through a significant transformation at the quarterback position, and I just don’t see that happening.
Trubisky took a step backwards in his third season, and even Chicago’s elite defense wasn’t enough to support the anemic offense, leading to a middling 8-8 record. The Bears are still feeling the absence of draft picks from the Khalil Mack trade, so I don’t see the Bears getting a whole lot better unless it’s primarily through free agency. Nagy’s days could be numbered.
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
I’m a bit surprised I’m even writing about Dan Quinn in this article. It looked like he was about to get axed midway through the season, and Atlanta then proceeded to have a defensive resurgence and go 6-2 in the second half of the season. That surge saved Quinn’s job for at least one more year. And let’s not forget that only three years ago he led them to a Super Bowl appearance against the Patriots, even if it was the sight of their humongous 28-3 lead collapse in the second half.
The last two seasons for the Falcons have been below expectations, however. They’ve missed the playoffs both years, and that’s caused some to question whether Quinn is really the right guy for the job in Atlanta.
While I do think Quinn is a decent head coach, he will most assuredly be on a short leash, and may not last the entire season. With Matt Ryan getting up there in age and becoming more and more of a cap hit each year, this could be another team inclined to clean house and start fresh at the coaching position and maybe even at the quarterback position if their 2020 season doesn’t go as planned. The famed “Legion of Boom” defense that Quinn patented back with Seattle was a long time ago, and you have to wonder if we’ve already seen the best of Dan Quinn.
Picture Source: Chicago.suntimes.com
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