By Steve Silverman
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Ben McAdoo is now just another name on the list of former NFL head coaches. His term with the Giants was incredibly short, especially considering that he led New York to the playoffs in his first year and beat an excellent Dallas Cowboys team twice in 2016.
McAdoo was able to handle the end-of-game situations that Tom Coughlin had struggled with, but his ability to impose discipline and build a sustainable winning atmosphere turned out to be nonexistent.
He is the first NFL coach to get fired this year, and it happened some four weeks before Black Monday, the league’s traditional firing day.
There will be plenty of other coaches who get fired. Here’s a look at the ones who are almost certain to be let go or quit at the end of the season.
Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns
This was the year the Browns were supposed to make something of a move. Cleveland had no aspiration of a winning season or even avoiding 10 losses, but the Browns thought their defensive talent — which includes highly rated rookies Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers — along with a decent running game and a talented rookie quarterback, could help them win some games.
It seemed reasonable to think Cleveland could win at least four games. But heading into Week 14, the Browns are 0-12, and Jackson has to be branded as incompetent thanks to his 1-27 record with Cleveland. He is trying hard, and he has a team that has not quit. But the Browns make the same mistakes over and over, and Jackson will lose his gig by the end of the season.
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Remember this summer when the Buccaneers were the featured team on HBO’s “Hard Knocks”? The combination of Koetter and quarterback Jameis Winston was supposed to lead Tampa Bay to a spot in the NFC playoffs, and possibly win the NFC South title.
The Bucs were not ready to play at the beginning of the season, and their 2-6 start buried them. While there was some brief improvement, Tampa Bay is just 4-8 at this point and in the middle of a disaster.
Koetter has offered few alternatives for his team, and a strong head coach has to figure out different options when Plan A – Winston throwing to Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson – is not working. Koetter seems like he should be coaching in college or possibly serve as an NFL coordinator, but he does not have what it takes to be a winning head coach in the NFL.
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
Pagano is a good head coach who has lacked the weapons to win with over the last two years. His players generally love him, but his message has grown stale since he took over the Colts in 2012.
Indianapolis’ problems start with Andrew Luck’s shoulder injury, which cost the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback the entire season, and continue with a defense that has been awful the last few years.
Pagano is an excellent communicator who has talked his way out of being fired before, and while it’s very unlikely, it could happen again. Unlike Jackson and Koetter, Pagano should get another opportunity to coach in the NFL.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Talk about a stale message. That’s the situation in Cincinnati, where Lewis has been the head coach since 2003.
While he has helped make the Bengals a competitive team, something they were not before he was hired following his run as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator, he has a 0-7 record in the playoffs. And at 5-7, the Bengals are not going to the postseason this year.
Lewis is also in the last year of his contract. Bengals owner Mike Brown does not like to fire employees with time left on their contracts, but Lewis has none, making this call easy.
John Fox, Chicago Bears
The Bears are struggling without any discernible direction. Young general manager Ryan Pace may not be fit for his job, and Fox probably never should have been hired in the first place.
Fox seemed tired and ready to retire when John Elway fired him from the Broncos after the 2014 season despite making the playoffs four consecutive years. Fox has not been able to give the Bears any identity during his three years in Chicago, and his decision making has been brutal on a weekly basis.
The Bears have been favored in seven games during Fox’s tenure, and they are 0-7 in those contests. The Bears are one of the NFL’s flagship franchises, but they have become a joke.
Fox will get fired, and a new coach will be left to inherit the mess
Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals
He is not likely to be fired, but the 65-year-old Arians could leave on his own.
Arians knows the Cardinals are in need of a rebuilding job, as quarterback Carson Palmer is injured and unlikely to return in 2018, and Larry Fitzgerald is the ancient receiver at this point.
A two-time Coach of the Year, Arians has a great mind and is often able to get his team back in a game after falling behind early, and he can reach his players with his emotional outbursts and play calling.
However, he does not belong in a rebuilding atmosphere, and this is likely the end for him in the desert. He has publicly denied reports of leaving, but it’s difficult to see him staying.
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