It's time to narrow the focus of our NFL hot seat watch. We're getting started on Week 13, and though we've made it a point to simply discuss bad teams and the (potentially) bad coaches in charge of them, we're now nearing the point where jobs will certainly be coming to an end.
That means taking off some names who were never really in danger short of some major off-the-field issues combined with a totally helpless team. A few weeks into the season, we started talking about Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants and Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Both have been well-regarded coaches, have won Super Bowls and led their teams to winless records through six games this season. But both have rebounded to an extent, and short of totally losing the locker room, they have enough goodwill with the ownership to remain in charge. Pittsburgh isn't fond of firing coaches, regardless.
Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers needed to show that his defense wasn't just all talk, and had to show that the offense could at least produce against bad teams. He's done all that and more, and among all the coaches we had when we started this, his Panthers are in the best position at 8-3 headed into a matchup against the 3-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mike Munchak of the Tennessee Titans is another coach who was on this list initially. After Week 12, the Titans are 5-6, far from being guaranteed a playoff spot, but not doing so poorly that Munchak should be out of a job. The front office is somewhat impatient, but all signs point to Munchak having more time to get things done, so he's off the list as well.
Then there are some coaches who are going to be added to the list. The two main coaches who will be added are Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans and Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins. It's hard to tell if Shanahan is actually on the hot seat, but Daniel Snyder is am impatient man, and the ownership clearly believes in Griffin. They must think that the team should be doing better with Griffin at the helm.
Kubiak has been widely criticized for multiple moves this season. He's always been regarded as a solid coach, but things are crashing around his shoulders at this point, and people have openly talked of him losing his job. The Texans should be much better than this, and his indecisiveness with what to do at quarterback has been an ugly look, to be certain.
There are two other coaches to pay attention to: Gus Bradley with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins. Both are believed to be solid coaches and should get more time to prove themselves, but Philbin has his locker room struggles and the Jaguars are just awful. Neither are officially on the hot seat as per our watch, but they're guys to keep an eye on either way. Bradley should get much more time to sort things out, but you can never presume to know what will happen with the staff of a two-win team.
The full list of coaches on our watch is below:
Dennis Allen (Oakland Raiders), Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys), Rex Ryan (New York Jets), Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings), Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans) and Mike Shanahan (Washington Redskins)
After Week 12
Losers: Ryan, Kubiak, Allen, Shanahan
Ryan and the Jets have been better than expected this season, but Geno Smith has been downright terrible. He's clearly not ready to be the long-term starter, and won't be saving Ryan's job with his play any time soon. Smith led the Jets to just three points against the struggling Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Kubiak and the Texans fell to 2-9 after falling to the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12. They share the same record as the Jaguars now, and actually trail the Buccaneers. The game highlighted just how far the Texans have fallen this season.
Oakland has been a weird team, and Allen's job security is totally up in the air. The Raiders fought hard, but ultimately fell to the Tennessee Titans, 23-19. Matt McGloin is probably the starter going forward, and they're getting Darren McFadden back, so that should be interesting.
Shanahan and the Redskins played decent football in the first half, but Robert Griffin III quickly fell behind and was beat up and down the field against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. It wasn't pretty, and it's a surprise that Griffin wasn't pulled late game to save him from more hits.
Victorious: Schiano, Garrett
Schiano led the Buccaneers to an 0-8 record, but the team has now won its last three. The most surprising win of the streak came in Week 12, when the Buccaneers took advantage of five Detroit turnovers to win, 24-21, despite being out-gained by more than 150 yards on offense.
Garrett has the Cowboys playing much better than expected this season, and the team won an important NFC East tilt against the New York Giants on Sunday, 24-21. That said, Garrett needs to make the playoffs and probably win a game there to save his job. He was expected to lose his job this past offseason.
LOL: Frazier and the Vikings fought gallantly against the Green Bay Packers, who were without Aaron Rodgers. But 16 points allowed in the fourth quarter forced an overtime, at which point both teams kicked field goals ... meaning this game ended in a tie. So in other words, the Vikings and Packers did absolutely nothing in Week 12.
The Raiders and the Cowboys took part in the afternoon game on Thursday, and it wasn't pretty. Oakland held a 21-14 advantage heading into halftime, but were outscored 17-3 in the second half en route to a loss. That brought Garrett and the Cowboys to 7-5 atop the NFC East, and dropped the Raiders to 4-8 with four games to play.
With games against Kansas City and Denver still on the docket, the Raiders will certainly have a tough go at reaching .500 for the season. It seems like Allen is on his way to another losing season. No Raiders head coach has lasted three full seasons since Jon Gruden, who left the team after 2001. Allen is the seventh head coach since then, but Al Davis isn't calling the shots anymore.
Frazier and the Vikings will take on the Chicago Bears in an NFC North matchup, but Minnesota is far out of a playoff spot. They'll be facing a division rival without its starting quarterback once again, but the Bears are fighting to keep the Lions at bay in the division, and it will be a tall order taking down Marc Trestman's Bears.
The Jets will host the Miami Dolphins in an AFC East game that actually has divisional relevance. These two teams are fighting for second place within said division, though neither will compete with the New England Patriots for the lead. Still, the Jets could find themselves in the wildcard talks with a win.
Schiano and the Buccaneers have a three-game winning streak, but the Carolina Panthers, helmed by Ron Rivera, are riding a decent streak of their own. Carolina has won seven consecutive games and its defense has not allowed more than 20 points in any given game over that span. This could get ugly.
Speaking of ugly, Kubiak and the directionless Texans will take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. That game basically speaks for itself at this point. Lastly, we have Shanahan and the Redskins taking on the Giants. Tom Coughlin may not be on our watch any longer, but its not for fielding a competent team by any means. Washington has a solid chance to rebound, but the most important thing is seeing something -- anything -- from Griffin.
Most In Danger: Schiano (3-8)
In Danger: Kubiak (2-9), Allen (4-8), Frazier (2-8-1)
Less Danger: Ryan (5-6), Shanahan (3-8)
Least Danger: Garrett (7-5)