Sean Pendergast

Rating The Hot Seat Of Every NFL Head Coach — Where Does Bill O'Brien Stand?

Bill O'Brien's seat is not nearly as hot as national pundits think it is.
Bill O'Brien's seat is not nearly as hot as national pundits think it is. Photo by Eric Sauseda
As we outlined in last week's Best Bets, one of the subplots to the actual football game between the Houston Texans and the Atlanta Falcons, a game won by the Texans by a somewhat misleading 53-32 final score, was the Battle of the Embattled Head Coaches. On the betonline,ag odd board last week, Bill O'Brien and Dan Quinn were listed as tied with the second shortest odds to be the first NFL head coach fired, a4 odds of 4/1.

Well, if you bet on either of them, crumple up your ticket. It's not good anymore, because the odds-on, even-money favorite to be the first head coach canned fulfilled that promise on Monday morning, as the Washington Redskins ended the Jay Gruden Era, after an 0-5 start to this season.

We will miss Jay Gruden, who, while extremely dopey, seemed to have a very good sense of humor about the futility of his existence in our nation's capital. Check this out:

That's good stuff! Now, Jay Gruden may be the first NFL head coach fired in 2019, but he is most certainly not the last. Usually, about a quarter of the league's head coaches turn over during or after each season. So, with Gruden off the board, what's the heat level on the "hot seat" of the other 31 head coaches. Let's do a quick run through, with a comment on each of them (in no particular order within each category) ....


Bill Belichick, NE
Gronk retires, Brady is a year older, and the Patriots are still the best team in football. Belichick will still have this job when he's in a wheelchair.

Sean McDermott, BUF
Buffalo is off to a classic Bills-ugly 4-1 start, but Sean McDermott has overachieved with that team since the day he set foot up there in 2017.

John Harbaugh, BAL
Harbaugh has two things going for him — a new contract extension signed within the last year, and a new quarterback that is growing up on his watch. He bought himself another decade.

Frank Reich, IND
Reich is off to a nice 3-2 start despite Andrew Luck's retirement. He is also the hand picked choice of GM Chris Ballard, who is about as entrenched as any GM in the league.

Andy Reid, KC
Patrick Mahomes on track for another MVP award is enough to keep the heat level on Reid at near zero.

Doug Pederson, PHI
He won a Super Bowl two years ago. The end.

Matt LaFleur, GB
Off to a 4-1 start in Green Bay, so for now, there is zero buzz about him being the right hire. Long term, how Aaron Rodgers feels will go a long way to determine LaFleur's stay in Green Bay.

Sean Payton, NO
Made guy in the Big Easy. Payton is fine.

Sean McVay, LAR
Well, considering that every team in the league seems to be wanting to hire anyone that's been in the same room with McVay, it stands to reason that the Rams are never letting him go.

Pete Carroll, SEA
As long as Russell Wilson is there, the Seahawks will never dip to a level where Carroll is even close to "in trouble."

Kyle Shanahan, SF
We are quickly learning who the brains of the operation were in Atlanta when they made their Super Bowl run. (HINT: Not Dan Quinn!)


Adam Gase, NYJ
Ol' Crazy Eyes is probably fine, but it would help if he could get his first win as Jets coach sometime soon.

Mike Tomlin, PIT
The Steelers NEVER fire head coaches, but they also rarely go through a train wreck like they are this season. Honestly, the season ending injury to Ben Roethlisberger probably bought Tomlin another year, especially if the Steelers wind up being competitive with backup QB's.

Freddie Kitchens, CLV
One of the more volatile stocks on this board. If things go sideways over the next month for the Browns, with all those expectations, I could see them chasing Lincoln Riley, Maker Mayfield's college coach.

Bill O'Brien, HOU
Yes, I have O'Brien on a seat at about the heat level of a nice late October evening in Texas.

Jon Gruden, OAK
Gruden's fully guaranteed $100 million contract makes him almost unfire-able.

Anthony Lynn, LAC
Lynn's been pretty solid his first couple seasons with the Chargers, leading the team through a location change, and to a 12-4 record last year. However, if this season goes poorly (they're 2-3 right now), maybe they hire a coach that will fetch them some buzz in LA.

Mike Zimmer, MIN
If Zimmer gets fitted, it'll be Kirk Cousins that is his undoing.

Matt Nagy, CHI
If Nagy gets fitted, it'll be Mitchell Trubisky that is his undoing.

Bruce Arians, TB
Arians has at least made the Buccanneers dangerous and fun offensively, and may ultimately save Jameis Winston's career.


Brian Flores, MIA
Even in your first season, you can never be comfortable as a head coach of a team that's tanking, especially when your area of expertise is defense and not "young quarterback guru."

Zac Taylor, CIN
But hey, Zac Taylor is a "young quarterback guru" (allegedly) and we see how that's working.

Mike Vrabel, TEN
Man, Vrabel is catching some HEAT in Tennessee, after some of his wonky decision making in the Titans' loss to the Bills on Sunday, in particular, his choice to trot out a kicker who'd missed three field goals to try a 54 yarder with the Titans down seven midway through the fourth quarter. (SPOILER ALERT: The kicker, Cairo Santos, missed the 54 yarder.)

Vic Fangio, DEN
Like Flores, another first year, defensive oriented head coach who could be "one and done," if a young, potential QB developer comes available for Drew Lock, who should take over for Joe Flacco next season.

Pat Shurmur, NYG
The early returns on QB Daniel Jones are probably helping Shurmur here.

Matt Patricia, DET
I would fire Matt Patricia just based on his apparent lack of attention to hygiene.

Ron Rivera, CAR
Rivera is a few seasons removed from going 15-1 and losing in the Super Bowl. There are a lot of balls in the air in Carolina right now, with Cam Newton's long term health a concern.

Kliff Kingsbury, ARZ
I'd be shocked if Kingsbury made it more than two seasons in Arizona.


Jason Garrett, DAL
While Jerry Jones claims Garrett isn't on the hot seat, the fact of the matter is that he is working on the final year of his contract with no extension in sight. That feels like a hot seat when things aren't going well, and now that the Cowboys have played a couple REAL teams, things haven't gone well.

Doug Marrone, JAC
This could turn into Jalen Ramsey versus Doug Marrone. If I'm Jacksonville ownership, I choose Ramsey.


Dan Quinn, ATL
After a run to a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl three years ago, it's been steadily downhill for Quinn and the Falcons ever since.

One more time, for old time's sake....

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast