It’s that time of the NFL season. Four games into the year, the heartbeat of what teams are — and aren’t — is being rounded out and presented for all to see, and it’s time to make some hard decisions.
Bill O’Brien’s dismissal Monday as head coach and general manager of the Houston Texans was a long time coming, but other coaches in the league are in line for the same fate.
Here are three coaches that are on the hot seat entering Week 5.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn
Quinn is in a tough spot. The Falcons are winless, and his team hasn’t looked too hot in one or both halves through four games.
Entering a time machine and going back to early 2019, the Falcons had just wrapped up the 2018-2019 season, and they had missed expectations with a 7-9 record. That year the team finished second in the NFC South but had been eviscerated with injuries, but the NFL is a results league, so someone had to pay the price for it.
Quinn fired all three of his coordinators at the time to save face, but as we’ve see this season, they were not the problem — the injuries were. In addition to head coaching duties, Quinn took over as defensive coordinator, which turned out to be a huge mistake. At the start of the 2019 season, Atlanta was dead last in sacks, scoring efficiency, and second to last in red-zone efficiency.
Raheem Morris took over as defensive coordinator halfway through the season. The defense played significantly better, but they finished the year 7-9 again.
And so here we are this season, and this team has made an inch in progress from last year. They don’t know what they can do as the kicking team on an onside kick, and their offense and defense have been significantly inconsistent from week to week.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase
Where do I start with Gase?
When he was hired in January 2019, things were looking promising for this franchise for all but a week. Many things happened before Gase ever coached a game.
Let’s start with the abrupt firing of General Manager Mike Maccagnan three weeks after he took oversight of the Jets’ 2019 draft selections. Gase was the first person many blamed after this move was made. Oddly enough, he was able to take over most of the general manager responsibilities after Maccagnan was dismissed.
Rumors began to surface that a rift between Maccagnan began after overpaying for Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley earlier that spring. Gase reportedly wasn’t a fan of those free-agent signings, but he supported his new running back and linebacker when asked about it.
“I think our fans care if we win or lose,” Gase said last year. “If we win games, nobody’s going to remember this. I know that. Our job is to win. Our job is to win. That’s it.”
Four games in, and things are looking very similar to last season. The Jets are one of three winless teams left in the league, and they are in the bottom three teams among most categories on both sides of the ball. For example, they are ranked 30th in points given up per game at 32.8. They are dead last in red-zone scoring.
And yes, this is Gase’s second season with the Jets, but this team under Todd Bowles was not this bad.
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia
Patricia has been given every pass there is. Serving as a defensive coordinator for many years under Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots, he exuded white male coaching privilege when he was hired as the Detroit Lions head coach.
When Patricia was hired in 2018, the Lions were coming off a 9-7 season and, by many accounts, overachieved under head coach Jim Caldwell.
Fast forward to the end of last season; they went 6-10 in 2018 and 3-12-1 in 2019. This season they are 1-3, and a lot of that falls on Matt Patricia, but I also want to throw general manager Bob Quinn in this as well because he set this precedent.
When Quinn fired Jim Caldwell in 2018, his reasoning at the time was, “Not nearly good enough.”
Well, last season you were 3-12-1, so is that good enough?
These are words that came out of Quinn’s mouth. Detroit hired Quinn in 2016, so Caldwell wasn’t his “first choice as coach.” To an extent, it would make sense that he wants to hire “his coach,” but his reasoning at the time didn’t make sense. The way things have played out the last three years doesn’t add up.
When Quinn was asked at the end of last season what has gone wrong with this team, he responded that he doesn’t know. A team he built only won three games last year after going 9-7 two years ago.
Two weeks ago, Quinn and Patricia’s Lions set the record of most consecutive losses in games they were leading at some point by double digits – four.
They started a new streak on Sunday, as they led the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter 14-0 only to lose to them 35-29. After the game, when Matt Patricia was asked why fans should trust that he’s the guy to lead them to higher ground, his response was they had a lot of problems before he got there in 2018.
That is a lie.
They were a better team before he got there, so it’s a matter of time before Quinn and Patricia are asked to leave the building.