Rating the job security of every NFL head coach in 2019: Who's safe, who could get fired

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Friday, December 6, 2019

Washington fired the first NFL head coach of the 2019 cycle when it parted ways with Jay Gruden in October. On Tuesday, the Panthers fired Ron Rivera. He won't be the last. Eight coaches were let go last season, the eighth straight with at least six head coach openings. Could we hit six again this season?

We asked our NFL Nation reporters to rate the job security of every coach, taking the temperature of the league to see which teams are likely to hit the reset button and start over in 2020. We used the following scale for our ratings (each team is in alphabetical within its tier):

4. Hot seat:Headed out if things don't turn around in the final four games

3. Warm seat: Not safe if the season ends up a disappointment

2. Cool seat: Safe barring a total disaster

1. Cold seat: No way he'll get fired

Jump to a team:



KC | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO




Atlanta Falcons (3-9)

Coach: Dan Quinn (39-37 over five seasons)

Quinn has been on the hot seat for a while, and a 3-9 record and elimination from the postseason over Thanksgiving doesn't help. Owner Arthur Blank said after the Seattle game he planned to evaluate every aspect of the team. A change seems inevitable, particularly with the empty seats Blank has started to see in his $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium. -- Vaughn McClure

Dallas Cowboys (6-7)

Coach: Jason Garrett (83-66 over 10 seasons)

Garrett might not have entered the season on the hottest of seats, but it was still pretty warm. With a 6-7 record and the inability to beat a team with a winning record this season, the seat can't get any hotter with less than a month to go. Owner Jerry Jones has said this is Garrett's job for the rest of the season and has hopes things will turn around. Garrett is in the final year of his contract and must do more than win a mediocre division -- he must win playoff games -- to earn another extension. If the Cowboys don't win the NFC East, Jones has to move on. Just don't call it a firing, because Garrett's contract expires after the season. -- Todd Archer

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)

Coach: Doug Marrone (20-26 over four seasons)

The Jaguars have lost four games in a row by 17 or more points. The supposed franchise quarterback has been bad and just got benched. The defense has given up 200-plus rushing yards a franchise-record four times this season. Jacksonville just secured its 11th non-winning season in the past 12 years, and it appears headed for double-digit losses for the eighth time in the past nine seasons. The only way Marrone could save his job might be to go 4-0 and have rookie quarterbackGardner Minshew II play well. But even that may not be enough. -- Michael DiRocco

New York Giants (2-10)

Coach: Pat Shurmur (7-21 over two seasons)

Eight straight losses have the seat at an extremely uncomfortable temperature. Shurmur is 7-21 as Giants coach, and the fan base appears fed up with his presence. This wasn't supposed to happen in Year 2 with three seasons remaining on his deal and a rookie franchise quarterback on the roster. But the Giants weren't supposed to be this bad, and, if it continues in this direction the final four games, there could be major changes. -- Jordan Raanan


Cleveland Browns (5-7)

Coach: Freddie Kitchens (first season)

Yes, it is Kitchens' first season, but the Browns have been one the league's biggest disappointments. General manager John Dorsey gambled on Kitchens and will give him every opportunity to show he deserves another season. But this season has been a mess on and off the field, which ultimately falls on the head coach. -- Jake Trotter

Detroit Lions (3-8-1)

Coach: Matt Patricia (9-18-1 over two seasons)

Patricia's record has left him facing weekly questions about his future. It's entirely possible the Ford family will give him another season to implement his vision with general manager Bob Quinn, but securing two straight losing seasons and two years without a playoff berth after his predecessor had winning seasons in three of four years has put him in trouble. -- Michael Rothstein

Minnesota Vikings (8-4)

Coach: Mike Zimmer (55-36-1 over six seasons)

Zimmer is in line to earn another contract extension -- his deal goes through the 2020 season -- after putting the Vikings in position to get back to the playoffs. The turnaround from last season, when the Vikings missed the playoffs and tensions rose internally over the direction of the offense, is the byproduct of Zimmer's all-or-nothing approach in Year 6. The final quarter of the season will determine how much warmer Zimmer's seat gets, and where he's at now certainly puts the pressure his job security down the stretch. His defense has struggled throughout the season, allowing 400 yards to Seattle in a game that could have greatly impacted the Vikings chances to earn a home playoff game. That cannot continue to happen if he wants to remain on the safe side.-- Courtney Cronin


Chicago Bears (7-6)

Coach: Matt Nagy (19-10 over two seasons)

Nagy doesn't have the same job security he enjoyed last season when he was the NFL Coach of the Year, but it's a stretch to think the Bears will fire him. The team has struggled across the board on offense -- Nagy's specialty -- and the coach has shouldered his share of the blame. Still, the Bears are 19-10 in the regular season under Nagy. For comparison sake, John Fox went 13-34 in Chicago. Nagy isn't going anywhere. -- Jeff Dickerson

Cincinnati Bengals (1-11)

Coach: Zac Taylor (first season)

Even though the Bengals have the best odds of finishing with the NFL's worst record, Taylor should be more than safe this offseason unless something unforeseen happens. The Bengals are on the cusp of a full rebuild, a likelihood that always seemed inevitable barring a surprising run in Taylor's rookie year. Also, Taylor's predecessor, Marvin Lewis, held the job for 16 seasons despite never winning a playoff game. -- Ben Baby

Houston Texans (8-4)

Coach: Bill O'Brien (50-42 over six seasons)

Texans owner Cal McNair showed his belief in O'Brien this summer when he decided to forgo hiring a general manager and give his coach even more say in personnel decisions. O'Brien is 8-4 this season and coming off a big win against the Patriots, and even if the Texans don't win a playoff game this year, he is likely safe. -- Sarah Barshop

Los Angeles Chargers (4-8)

Coach: Anthony Lynn (25-19 over three seasons)

The Chargers are struggling, but Lynn just led them to a 12-4 record and the postseason last season. Chargers brass likes Lynn's unflinching leadership style, and it would be surprising for them to move on after one bad season. Lynn fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt in October, but the offense hasn't taken off amid three straight losses.-- Eric D. Williams

Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)

Coach: Doug Pederson (34-26 over four seasons)

The Eagles have greatly underperformed, and everyone in the organization is feeling the heat in Philly right now. But when you deliver the city its first Super Bowl title, it buys you some time. -- Tim McManus


Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1)

Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (first season)

As long as quarterbackKyler Murray is playing well, Kingsbury isn't going anywhere. The two are inextricably attached. And even though the Cardinals have won only a handful of games, the offensive improvement and progress from last season is what owner Michael Bidwill wanted to see. With a few more pieces on offense, the Cardinals could make a significant jump next season and quickly become an offensive force to be reckoned with. -- Josh Weinfuss

Baltimore Ravens (10-2)

Coach: John Harbaugh (114-74 over 12 seasons)

Harbaugh is enjoying his best regular season one year into his four-year contract extension. There was speculation about Harbaugh's job status in the middle of last season when the Ravens entered the bye at 4-5 with a declining Joe Flaccoat quarterback. But Harbaugh has been reinvigorated with Lamar Jackson, putting himself in position for a long successful run with another young franchise quarterback. -- Jamison Hensley

Buffalo Bills (9-3)

Coach: Sean McDermott (24-20 over three seasons)

The Bills have taken too many steps forward in Sean McDermott's third season to warrant a hot seat. In his third year, McDermott's team is in prime position for its second playoff appearance in three years and could realistically win the AFC East. After securing the franchise's fourth winning season in 20 years, don't expect the Bills to make a coaching change. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Denver Broncos (4-8)

Coach: Vic Fangio (first season)

Yes, the Broncos are 4-8. Yes, they are on their third starting quarterback. Yes, they are near the bottom of the league in total offense and scoring. But Fangio is in his first season. They're still paying Vance Joseph, and it wasn't all that long ago that they were writing checks to Mike Shanahan, Josh McDaniels and John Fox all at the same time. The Broncos have lacked any sort of real continuity in the coaching staff, at quarterback and their approach to the draft over the past five seasons. The last thing they need is another change at head coach. They play hard for Fangio. -- Jeff Legwold

Green Bay Packers (9-3)

Coach: Matt LaFleur (first season)

LaFleur is not only the star of the rookie coaching class of 2019, but he's about to set the Packers' franchise record for wins by a first-year coach. He has already tied Mike Holmgren and Mike Sherman with nine -- but that's where those two finished. And neither made the playoffs. LaFleur should get to double-digit wins and coach in the postseason. He has been just about everything team president Mark Murphy wanted when he hired him. -- Rob Demovsky

Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

Coach: Frank Reich (16-12 over two seasons)

Reich has kept the Colts in the AFC playoff mix despite quarterbackAndrew Luck retiring two weeks before the start of the season and injuries to receivers T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell and Devin Funchess, running back Marlon Mack and tight end Eric Ebron. The Colts have faltered, losing four of their past five games, but they still have a chance to make the playoffs despite all their issues this season. -- Mike Wells

Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)

Coach: Andy Reid (73-35 over seven seasons)

The Chiefs are on the verge of their fourth consecutive AFC West championship under Reid. They had won two division titles in the 15 years prior to his arrival in 2013. Even a lack of playoff success this season won't get him fired. -- Adam Teicher

Los Angeles Rams (7-5)

Coach: Sean McVay (31-13 over three seasons)

There's no doubt it has been a disappointing season. And it remains nearly inexplicable that the Rams went from playing in the Super Bowl last season to playoff outsiders a year later. McVay, however, is in no danger of losing his job because of a single down season, after producing two NFC West titles and a conference championship in his first two seasons. If McVay's offense continues to struggle in 2020, his seat will warm up. -- Lindsey Thiry

Miami Dolphins (3-9)

Coach: Brian Flores (first season)

Flores will return in 2020 -- there will be no one-and-done in Miami. He's completely safe. What he has shown winning three of his past five games with maybe the NFL's least talented roster probably has convinced his bosses that he's the right guy to lead this team more than ever. This might be the most difficult season of Flores' Dolphins coaching career, and he has shown the consistency to keep his team fighting through adversity. -- Cameron Wolfe

New England Patriots (10-2)

Coach: Bill Belichick (235-81 over 20 seasons)

After 20 years as Patriots coach, Belichick has basically purchased his seat as if it were a personal seat license at Gillette Stadium. Better yet, call it his throne. -- Mike Reiss

New Orleans Saints (10-2)

Coach: Sean Payton (128-76 over 14 seasons)

This is an easy choice, because Payton just received a lucrative extension in September and wrapped up his third straight NFC South title by Thanksgiving. He has a shot at Coach of the Year, considering he went 5-0 with a backup quarterback while Drew Brees was hurt. -- Mike Triplett

New York Jets (4-8)

Coach: Adam Gase (first season)

Gase will return in 2020, ownership announced four weeks ago. That quieted the critics, but the noise started again with Sunday's loss to the Bengals. They can complain all they want, but CEO Christopher Johnson made it clear that Gase won't be one-and-done. -- Rich Cimini

Oakland Raiders (6-6)

Coach: Jon Gruden (10-18 over two seasons)

Have you forgotten about Gruden's 10-year contract, which is in its second season? He has the final say on personnel moves and is the face of the franchise as it prepares to move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season. Two weeks ago, with the Raiders 6-4, Gruden was being mentioned as a potential Coach of the Year candidate. He is going nowhere ... unless it's by his own choosing. -- Paul Gutierrez

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)

Coach: Mike Tomlin (131-71-1 over 13 seasons)

Tomlin has earned a ton of respect from his locker room in the middle of his team's 7-5 season. Despite losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2 and winning the past two games with an offensive lineup that looked straight out of a fourth preseason game, Tomlin has fielded a team solidly in the race for a playoff berth. His defensive halftime adjustments against the Browns "saved the game," per one Steelers player. He was on shaky ground after the 0-3 start, but this has turned into one of his best coaching jobs, as he has done more with far, far less. -- Brooke Pryor

San Francisco 49ers (10-2)

Coach: Kyle Shanahan (20-24 over three seasons)

Shanahan signed a six-year deal when he arrived in 2017, and it would have taken a third straight year picking in the top 10 for his seat to even grow warm. Clearly, that hasn't happened, as CEO Jed York's patient approach to rebuilding and belief in Shanahan and general manager John Lynch has paid off in a big way. The Niners are legitimate contenders in the NFC, and Shanahan is a top candidate for Coach of the Year. -- Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks (10-2)

Coach: Pete Carroll (99-56-1 over 10 seasons)

The Seahawks are headed toward what would be their eighth playoff appearance in 10 seasons under Carroll and have already won as many games as some projected. Carroll, whose contract was extended last December through the 2021 season by new owner Jody Allen, is the most successful coach in franchise history and the only one to deliver Seattle a Super Bowl championship. It doesn't seem like a question of how long the Seahawks will want him around but how long the 68-year-old Carroll will keep coaching. -- Brady Henderson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)

Coach: Bruce Arians (first season)

Arians inherited a franchise that has had two winning seasons over the past 10 and an endless carousel of failed coaches. While Bucs fans certainly didn't expect Arians to be floundering well below .500 in his first year, especially when he infamously proclaimed, "We're not rebuilding -- we're reloading," Arians will be given every chance to right this sinking ship. You can see that already with how much control he has assumed over personnel decisions, like the departure of Vernon Hargreaves, a first-round pick in 2016. -- Jenna Laine

Tennessee Titans (7-5)

Coach: Mike Vrabel (16-12 over two seasons)

Vrabel and the Titans turned things around after a rocky start. He and general manager Jon Robinson are joined at the hip, resulting in a team being built with a focus on physical, blue-collar players who love football. The Titans have gone 5-1 with Ryan Tannehill as the starter and now find themselves in the hunt for possibly an AFC South title. -- Turron Davenport

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