NFL 2017: Which head coaches are already on the hot seat?

Two weeks into the regular season and there are already some head coaches feeling the pressure, and a few who are staring unemployment in the face

The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and it is also one in which fortunes can flip on a dime. As a result, the job of NFL head coach is more insecure than any in sports.

We may only be two weeks into the new NFL season, but there are already several head coaches feeling the heat. Surprisingly bad play, poor decision-making, and sometimes plain dumb luck has put these guys in the firing line.

Which coaches are treading the finest line with their positions? And which, if any, can turn it around and save their necks?

Bill O'Brien, Houston Texans

Let's start with O'Brien, whose Texans are an uninspiring 1-1. The "QB Guru" once again showed his poor decision-making when it comes to the starting job, handing the job to Tom Savage only to give him the hook after a half.

It's not the first time O'Brien has flip-flopped on his starting quarterback, after going back-and-forth with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett in 2015. For any coach, settling on a starting QB is a massive decision, and there is nothing wrong with changing your mind, but this is now the second time he has quickly changed course and it's not a good look for a former QB coach to be so unsure and incorrect about his signal callers.

Now that Deshaun Watson is, seemingly, the incumbent under center O'Brien cannot give him the hook and needs to try and give him a platform to succeed. The problem is that outside of DeAndre Hopkins there isn't even a good target on the team, and the offensive line is in a horrendous state which is pulling the running game down.

This team was meant to be fueled by it's defense, but for an offensive head coach that is always a problem, and if Watson can't get the offense moving then another 9-7 season, even with a divisional crown, shouldn't be enough to save O'Brien's job.

Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts

Chuck Pagano said "49ers" in his post-game press conference after the Colts got shredded by the Rams in Week 1. It was funny, it was a slip of the tongue, a simple brain-fart. That isn't why he should be getting the can though.

When Pagano came into Indianapolis in 2012 he had a shiny new quarterback and a defensive pedigree. That sounds like the kind of recipe that made Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning work so well! Except Andrew Luck, for as good as he is, isn't Manning, and Pagano's defensive brilliance has disappeared.

The Colts have slowly been getting worse and worse, and while his GM has consistently handed him poor picks, there hasn't been a single success story from the Colts defense. Their best player, Vontae Davis, came over via trade and was already a good corner. Pagano hasn't been able to coach up anyone that has entered the Colts organization and his defensive scheme hasn't been able to cover for any shortcomings in personnel.

Luck's absence may spare Pagano the blame of what is looking like a disastrous season and keep him in his job, that and the fact that he signed a four-year extension in January 2016, but it's pretty clear that the Colts aren't going anywhere with Pagano at the helm.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

Sean Payton is one of the most respected offensive playcallers in the NFL. However, as a head coach it's safe to say that there have been some struggles. He has rolled through defensive coordinators without finding a single competent one, and now the offense is starting to falter.

The Saints have scored 39 points in their first two games, which is poor by their standards considering that they faced a Patriots defense lacking its signal caller and any pass rush on Sunday.

It has been a brutally disappointing start to the season for New Orleans, but it's also been an incredibly disappointing run for the Saints, who haven't made the playoffs since 2013 and have gone 7-9 every season since.

Is that really the record of a great head coach? Drew Brees and a brilliant passing game hasn't been enough for them since 2009's magical Super Bowl. One gutsy onside kick isn't enough to prop up years of disappointment.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

This one should be obvious, however Marvin Lewis has survived 14 years without a playoff win so surely two games without a touchdown shouldn't be a problem.

That run has already cost offensive coordinator Ken Zampese his job, but with the personnel they have, especially on the offensive line, it doesn't look like the are going to get any better on offense soon.

Andy Dalton has crumbled without good protection, quickly looking like a quarterback who should be replaced.

That is not the form of a quarterback who can carry a poor offense, and in the AFC North a poor offense is going to get run over and left in the dust.

The Bengals have a trip to Lambeau this weekend, making an 0-3 record extremely likely. After that they go to Cleveland, where a loss would surely end Marvin Lewis' long and unspectacular reign.

  1. POLL: Who will be the first head coach to be fired?

    1. Bill O'Brien
    2. Chuck Pagano
    3. Sean Payton
    4. Marvin Lewis
    18 votes
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Toby Durant


Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.


I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.