NFL hot seat watch: Jason Garrett gets one more chance

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Out of all the coaches on our hot seat watch, Jason Garrett is the only one who is really fighting for something in Week 17. If the Cowboys make the playoffs, he could save his job.

Before Week 16, we took a look at three NFL head coaches who needed the playoffs to secure their jobs. Those three were Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions, Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys and Rex Ryan of the New York Jets.

Well, the Jets were already eliminated at that point, and Ryan could soon be out of a job because of it. Both the Lions and the Cowboys needed to win in Week 16 to keep their hopes alive and ... one of them did. The other failed, and was eliminated from the playoffs accordingly.

Let's take a quick look at those two coaches below:

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

Garrett and the Cowboys control their own destiny at this point. They controlled it in Week 16, despite having an unremarkable record. What Dallas needed to do was go out and beat the Washington Redskins. Tony Romo may have done what he usually does -- throwing a poor interception at the worst of times -- but he also rebounded and did something he has always been perfectly capable of doing in throwing a late, game-winning touchdown pass.

The Cowboys beat the Redskins, 24-23, and now have the opportunity to play in a win-and-in scenario. Unfortunately, the Cowboys have been in this same situation over the past two seasons: playing an NFC East rival in Week 17 for the division. Dallas fell to the Redskins in this situation last season, and to the New York Giants the season before.

This time, it's the Philadelphia Eagles, who boast a better record currently but would lose the tiebreaker if the Cowboys were to even it up with a victory in Week 17. Will they make it? Garrett's job certainly depends on it. Some thought he was going to be fired before this season even started.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions

Schwartz and the Lions didn't control their own destiny, but they still had hope heading into Week 16. That hope was dashed when they fell to the Giants on Sunday. New York has been bad all season, and losing to the Giants is pretty easy confirmation that the Lions probably would have likely been eliminated in the first round regardless.

At this point, the Lions are impatient. Schwartz took his team to the playoffs once since taking over in 2009, but he's been ineffective in many aspects of his coaching. Losing his temper and yelling at fans didn't help his cause. His team also seems to be incredibly undisciplined, which has been a common complaint for the Lions for years.

The one thing that can save Schwartz at this point would be blaming someone else. The offense struggled and was lethargic, which may not be his fault. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has had a late-season meltdown and has been the opposite of clutch. Maybe Schwartz gets another year on the virtue of those things alone -- or maybe the $12 million still owed to him -- but for now, I'm sticking to my opinion that he needed the playoffs to save his job.

But that doesn't mean he's most in danger of getting fired. There's still Greg Schiano, who should have been gone some time ago, and Leslie Frazier, who is now doing his best to quell talk of potentially losing his job. Our full list of coaches on the hot seat is below:

Dennis Allen (Oakland Raiders), Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys), Rex Ryan (New York Jets), Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings), Mike Munchak (Tennessee Titans), Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay Buccaneers),Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans), Jim Schwartz (Detroit Lions) and Mike Shanahan (Washington Redskins)

After Week 16

Victorious: Ryan, Garrett, Munchak

Ryan and the Jets managed to best the ... Cleveland Browns. The Jets are winning too little, too late at this point. They're already out of the playoffs, and an 11-point victory over the Browns isn't likely to save Ryan's job.

Losers: Frazier, Schiano, Shanahan, Schwartz, Allen

Frazier and Schiano both lost their games and didn't look very competitive. The Vikings were dominated by the Cincinnati Bengals to the tune of 42-14. Tampa Bay lost to the Rams, 23-13. Allen and the Raiders continued to roll over for their opponents with a 26-13 loss to AFC West rival the San Diego Chargers. Allen may get another year, but that's all.

We've already talked about Shanahan and Schwartz's failures.

Looking Ahead

Obviously, the biggest matchup here will be the game between the Cowboys and the Eagles. Garrett needs the game to keep his job, and it will be the Sunday Night Football matchup. Schwartz and the Lions will take on Frazier and the Vikings, which is significant because getting to 8-8 might help Schwartz's chances at keeping his job while Frazier getting absolutely blown out again might lead to his immediate firing.

Shanahan and the Redskins will take on the Giants in a game that is essentially meaningless. Win or lose, the decision to keep or fire Shanahan has probably already been made. The Buccaneers are in much of the same situation with Schiano. How badly the Raiders lose to the Denver Broncos could impact a potential snap decision by the Raiders ownership, but at this point, Allen might be safe for another season.


Most In Danger: Schiano (4-11)
In Danger: Allen (4-11), Schwartz (7-8), Shanahan (3-12), Ryan (7-8), Frazier (4-10-1), Munchak (6-9)
Least Danger: Garrett (8-7)
Fired: Kubiak

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