By Steve Silverman
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Todd Bowles has a major headache to deal with as head coach of the Jets, but he should have at least two or three years to prove himself.READ MORE: Caught On Video: Carmine's Hostess Attacked After Asking Tourists For Proof Of Vaccination
While there is always pressure to perform in the NFL, the key to a long and substantial career is progress. It doesn’t have to be anything major to remain employed. When you start off coaching a team that was 4-12 a year ago, 6-10 or 7-9 is seen as progress and is good for a coach’s career.
Forget about the battle of the broken jaw for a minute. It’s more about building a cohesive defense and getting enough positive plays out of the offense to get the team going in the right direction. For all of Rex Ryan’s bluster, he had a tough time remembering that job No. 1 was not keeping the cameras directed at himself.
Bowles is certainly qualified to build a defense. He did a brilliant job with the Arizona Cardinals, and he should feel good as he leads the team in training camp with the season around the corner. After all, if Marc Trestman (formerly of the Chicago Bears) can last two seasons as an NFL head coach, there’s no reason why Bowles can’t.
There’s plenty of pressure that goes with coaching in New York, but while the glare from the Klieg lights may be great, he doesn’t face anywhere near the pressure that at least five other coaches face heading into the 2015 season.
1. Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins
This is supposed to be the Dolphins’ year to make a run at the New England Patriots and take the division. When the Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh in the offseason — the second-best defensive lineman behind J.J. Watt — that served notice that the Dolphins were going to play with the big boys. However, how do you think Philbin feels about winning the battle with Bill Belichick?
Even if Tom Brady is out for two, three or four games because his suspension is upheld, it’s just about the same as giving a great jockey aboard the best horse a little more weight to carry.
At a certain point, Philbin is going to have to match wits with Belichick, and that’s not likely to go well. While Philbin has a good offensive scheme, quarterback Ryan Tannehill is not dependable enough. If the Dolphins don’t win the division, it doesn’t look good for Philbin’s future.
He may not be Trestman, but he doesn’t have the kind of strong personality that appears capable of leading the team with any kind of direction for a full 16-game schedule. If the Dolphins flame out as a wild-card team or fail to make the playoffs, Philbin is as good as gone.
2. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Two years ago he was Riverboat Ron, the risk-taking leader who pushed his team to the top of the NFC South and the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Panthers made it back to the playoffs last season, but only because they played in a putrid division. Carolina finished 7-8-1 and even beat the injury-riddled Arizona Cardinals in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Nobody expected them to do any more, but they actually played a decent game in losing 31-17 at Seattle in the divisional playoffs.
Winning the division and a playoff game allowed Rivera to hold onto his job. Owner Jerry Richardson appeared ready to pull the trigger late in the year, but Carolina actually closed the regular season on a four-game winning streak and saved Rivera’s job.READ MORE: Body Cam Video Shows Aftermath Of Argument Between Gabby Petito, Fiancé Weeks Before Her Last Call To Family
Any kind of slow start this year will likely cause Richardson to make a move before the season ends.
3. Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly has a problem. Not only does he want to use his intelligence to figure out a game plan that gives his team an advantage, but he wants everybody to recognize how smart he is.
He has rubbed some of his players the wrong way and he has done the same with many of his peers. Kelly seems to think that he has discovered a better way to coach — and his thoughts about nutrition and rest for his players are positive — and he wants the world to bow down and worship at his alter.
But there’s one little problem. The Eagles have not won a playoff game in either of his first two seasons. While they played well in 2013, they dropped a home playoff game to the New Orleans Saints. Last year they didn’t even make the playoffs.
An empty run in 2015 may be his undoing in Philadelphia.
4. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were everything in 2014 that they had not been in previous seasons. Tony Romo did not throw his team out of games and turn victory into defeat in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys had a strong power running game. Defensively, the Cowboys may not have had overwhelming talent, but Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli got everything possible out of that unit.
The Cowboys won the division and Garrett was outstanding.
Now all he has to do is demonstrate that he can do it again. He won’t have running back DeMarco Murray any longer and the ground game could be a disaster. That means everything will be on Romo’s shoulders, and that has not worked out well in the past.
If the Cowboys backslide for nearly any reason, look for Jerry Jones to hold Garrett responsible.
5. Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins
Gruden got the job as head coach of the Redskins because he demonstrated that he knew what it took to make an NFL offense click. His last name didn’t hurt, either.
But the first rule in running a winning offense in the NFL is that the coach and the quarterback must be on the same page. That’s not the case in Washington, where inconsistent Robert Griffin III and Gruden don’t seem to interact very well.
Gruden does not believe Griffin can get the job done, either as a leader or a passer. Griffin has the backing of owner Daniel Snyder. Unless Snyder comes around to Gruden’s way of thinking — Snyder is not known for changing his mind — it will likely be the end of the line for Gruden, just as it was for Mike Shanahan.MORE NEWS: Parents, Students Disappointed By Sudden Closure Of Elementary School In Westchester County Due To Lack Of Safety Inspections
The Snyder-Gruden-Griffin relationship is a three-headed monster. It’s dysfunctional and the Redskins are not likely to turn things around this year. Look for Gruden to suffer the consequences.