Around here in Houston, the main storyline among the slate of games this past Sunday, during the Texans bye week, was the how well the results broke for the Texans, all while they did nothing but wakeboard in Jamaica....
...and ride four wheelers in Mexico....
However, one underplayed storyline coming out of Sunday was how the teams of perhaps the three most embattled head coaches all rose up and won a football game. Most folks thought the Falcons would have fired Dan Quinn by now, and certainly nobody thought the 13-point underdog and 1-7 Falcons would rise up and smack the 7-1 Saints by 17 points. That's what happened, though.
The next two hottest seats in the NFL probably belonged to Adam Gase of the Jets and Freddie Kitchens of the Browns. The Jets have looked dead in the water the last few weeks, but they were able to beat the Giants on Sunday, and the Browns kept their season on life support by beating the Bills, 19-16, to move to 3-6 on the season.
Single wins are probably not enough to turn down the heat on any of these head coaches. Make no mistake, their seasons are all still in the toilet, despite Sunday's results. Let's take a look, though, and see what kind of company they have on the potential unemployment line. Here are the Hot Seat Ratings for all 31 remaining head coaches. Obviously, one hot seat has been burnt to a crisp, and that one is:
FIRED (1) — Jay Gruden, WAS
Now, let's get the five circles of coaching hot seat hell, and work our way up temperature-wise, from ice cold to boiling hot, with one comment on each of the 31 head coaches:
1. ICE TUB (16) — These are head coaches who have zero concerns about job security, as they wake up this morning.
Bill Belichick, NE
Maybe the safest employee in any vocation walking planet Earth.
Sean McDermott, BUF
Despite losing to the Browns Sunday, McDermott is still a guy who has done more with less in each of his three seasons in Buffalo. If he ever got a decent quarterback, look the hell out, because his defenses are dynamite.
John Harbaugh, BAL
Drifted into hot seat territory midway through last season, but Lamar Jackson's insertion into the starting lineup saved Harbaugh's job, got him and extension, and probably means he will be around another decade.
Mike Tomlin, PIT
Tomlin has gone 5-2 with a combination of Mason Rudolph and something called a Devlin Hodges at quarterback. This might be Tomlin's best coaching job of his career.
Bill O'Brien, HOU
Another head coach rescued by a young quarterback, and in the short term, reduced by the "win now" moves he's made as the de facto GM.
Frank Reich, IND
The surprise retirement of Andrew Luck, and the way the Colts have handled it since that day, despite losing to Miami on Sunday, are major feathers in Reich's cap.
Andy Reid, KC
Supreme play caller, clock management bungler, you take the good with the bad and hope that the combination of Reid's scheme and Patrick Mahomes wins a Super Bowl. Not sure if it ever happens, but it's sensible bet.
Jon Gruden, OAK
Gruden is in Year 2 of a 10 year, $100 million, fully guaranteed contract. It's probably scary the things he could get away with and still keep his job.
Doug Pederson, PHI
Two years removed from a Super Bowl, there are some insane Philly fans who were getting a little jerky about Pederson when the Eagles got off to a slow start. It would be very Philly to fire him, that's for sure.
Matt LaFleur, GB
Off to an 8-2 start as a rookie head coach, and Aaron Rodgers is happy. Consider all the boxes checked, so far.
Mike Zimmer, MIN
One of the "rocks" of the head coaching fraternity, you know what you get when Zimmer is the head coach (and it's mostly good). Now that Kirk Cousins has gotten over his fear of playing at night, things are looking up even higher.
Ron Rivera, CAR
Another head coach where the handling of the absence of the incumbent starting QB may have extended his window as head coach for another five years. The Panthers have been very competitive with Kyle Allen replacing the shelved-for-the-season Cam Newton.
Sean Payton, NO
Despite losing to the Falcons on Sunday, Payton has been at the top of his game this season, going undefeated for over a month with Teddy Bridgewater starting in place of Drew Brees.
Sean McVay, LAR
Some of the luster is definitely off the Boy Wonder, as the Rams have struggled to a 5-4 start, and more alarmingly, QB Jared Goff has regressed from slightly overrated to decidedly mediocre. That's an issue, considering they're now paying him over $33 million per year.
Pete Carroll, SEA
Carroll is behind perhaps only Belichick in job security.
Kyle Shanahan, SF
Shanahan and John Lynch have constructed a monster in San Francisco, with one of the league's best defenses, and an offense that suits Jimmy Garoppolo perfectly.
2. TEPID BATH (7) — These are coaches who are feeling a bit of heat, but should be given more time, and/or are a win or two away from being back in the ice tub.
Mike Vrabel, TEN
I have no idea what Vrabel is going to be as a head coach. It feels like I've seen more downtrodden Vrabel press conferences than jubilant locker rooms, but he does have a penchant for rising up and getting weird, unexpected wins, like last season's thrashing of the Patriots, and this past Sunday's win over Kansas City.
Vic Fangio, DEN
In retrospect, John Elway probably should have held off on trading for Joe Flacco, and let Fangio roll with either a less egocentric veteran bridge guy, or roll with a rookie at QB. The Denver defense, Fangio's side of the ball, has been very solid.
Anthony Lynn, LAC
Lynn gets graded on a curve because he is essentially coaching 16 road games each season, and because the weird voodoo-type in-game hexes over this franchise predate him. Unfortunately, at some point, someone gets fired. Lynn is probably a year away from that, unless the Chargers feel the need to make a splash moving into the new, MUCH bigger Rams' stadium as their tenant. (NOTE: Season ticket sales have been a MAJOR issue for the Chargers.)
Matt Patricia, DET
Matt Stafford is now out with a broken back. Prior to that, the Lions looked like they'd made progress over last season. Patricia just isn't a guy I ever see winning a Super Bowl, admittedly mostly because he looks like he dresses by pulling clothes out of his hamper.
Matt Nagy, CHI
Nagy won the division last season, but because of his awkward handling of the kicking situation and the regression of Mitchell Trubisky as the franchise QB may ultimately fall on his head.
Bruce Arians, TB
The Buccaneers play a fun brand of football, they just don't win much. Arians is probably safe, and honestly, there's a better chance he says "screw it" and goes back into broadcasting than him getting fired.
Kliff Kingsbury, ARZ
I have to admit, the Cardinals look much better than I thought they would on Kingsbury's watch. He is in a thankless division right now, with two of the best teams in football AND the defending NFC champ, but the Cardinals have competed, and Kyler Murray has been fun to watch.
3. SPA (5) — This level of hot seat is decidedly warmer, with a better than puncher's chance these coaches could be let go after the season.
Brian Flores, MIA
Flores actually has this team fighting, as evidenced by their two game winning streak. You just never know what ownership decides to do in the middle of a rebuild, hence, SPA status.
Zac Taylor, CIN
Ditto what I just said about Flores, except delete the part about his team fighting hard. The Bengals are a train wreck.
Doug Marrone, JAC
Marrone did a nice job with Gardner Minshew (until he didn't anymore, against the Texans in London). Now, it's on Nick Foles to save Marrone's job.
Jason Garrett, DAL
Jerry Jones will say Garrett isn't on the hot seat, but he is working on the last year of his contract, and the Cowboys are farting around with a 5-4 record right now. At some point, Jerry pulls the trigger.
Pat Shurmur, NYG
I have no idea where the Giants stand with Shurmur. Rookie QB Daniel Jones has been probably better than expected, but the team still stinks, and Jones is still a turnover machine.
4. SAUNA (2) — You can only stay in a sauna for so long before you pass out or die. These two coaches are in danger of being locked in the sauna by ownership.
Adam Gase, NYJ
Sam Darnold's overall regression is maybe the biggest black mark on Gase's Jets resume. Come to think of it, name one QB other than Peyton Manning who has flourished with Gase as his head coach or offensive coordinator. I'll wait....
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Freddie Kitchens, CLV
You could have seen this one coming from across Lake Erie. Interim offensive coordinator who's not on any head coaching search radars gets the job because his unhinged rookie QB likes him — wow, how is THIS not working better?
5. BOILING (1) — Firing is imminent.
Dan Quinn, ATL
I'd be shocked if he pulls this thing out of a nosedive. Nobody misses Kyle Shanahan as the team's offensive coordinator more than Quinn, except maybe Matt Ryan.