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The 5 most fireable NFL coaches after Week 11

Will we lose two of the league’s longest-tenured coaches in 2019?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Lewis has been the Bengals’ head coach longer than any other sideline general in the NFL except for Bill Belichick. Mike McCarthy is the league’s third-longest tenured active head coach in the NFL, tied with Sean Payton after nearly 13 years on the job.

But if the Packers and Bengals continue to underachieve, Payton could wind up standing alone at No. 2.

Both Lewis and McCarthy served up a heaping helping of disappointment for onetime contenders in Week 11. Lewis brought Hue Jackson back to the fold only to watch him bring his Browns’ tradition of failure all the way from the other side of the great state of Ohio. McCarthy worked hard to maximize the Seahawks’ opportunities to win a pivotal NFC matchup, which would have been great if he didn’t work for the Packers.

That duo wasn’t alone. Here’s the rest of Week 11’s coaches who are staying toasty as December creeps closer thanks to the increasing radiation of their hot seats.

Marvin Lewis hires a defensive specialist, immediately gets trashed

Hue Jackson’s record as a coordinator is pretty solid — it is, after all, the background that led him to a head coaching job. Browns or not, that’s a validation of past work. It at least sort of made sense for Lewis to bring him back into the fold.

But Jackson’s background was as an offensive specialist, and the Bengals brought him back to work with the club’s defense. That’s a curious decision, but there was room for success, especially after the team fired former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and had Lewis absorb his duties. Besides, with Cincinnati set to face a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start, it looked like it would pay immediate dividends for a Bengals team in desperate need of a win.

It paid zero dividends.

Credit where it’s due; Lamar Jackson looked every bit a Heisman winner Sunday. But the Bengals knew the Ravens were going to run the ball repeatedly, and often with their rookie quarterback. Despite that, Baltimore still churned up 265 rushing yards. The team’s previous season high was 123.

Mike McCarthy is tearing himself down like a Soviet-era monument

2018 has been a strange year for the Packers. Green Bay had a win over the Vikings flipped to a tie because of the league’s since-deemphasized roughing the passer rules and saw a potential win over the Lions crumble into dust when Mason Crosby was briefly possessed by a demon who sucks at football.

But Thursday’s loss can be chalked up to some wretched management. After starting the game with some effective runs and a touchdown from Aaron Jones, McCarthy banished him to the shadow zone, where he and the rest of the Packers rushing offense combined for only 13 carries. One week after gashing the Dolphins for 195 ground yards, Green Bay settled for a season-low 48 in Seattle.

That wasn’t all. McCarthy declined to challenge a 34-yard Seahawks gain that set up the eventual game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

That gave the Packers one last chance to put together a lead-stealing drive, but McCarthy opted to punt the ball away on fourth-and-2 from the Green Bay 33-yard line and 4:20 left on the clock despite having only one timeout to his name. The Pack never saw the ball again, and now they’re 4-5-1 and at risk of turning last year’s non-playoff appearance into a streak.

Dan Quinn gave the Cowboys the extra boost they needed

The Falcons took control of the momentum late in their loss to the Cowboys thanks to a 34-yard touchdown strike from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones. So it made sense when Quinn got aggressive and called a timeout as Dallas faced third-and-5 with 1:38 remaining in a tied game. His next two, however, weren’t quite as easy to explain away.

The Cowboys were content to run the clock down and attempt a game-winning 46-yard field goal when Quinn burned his second timeout, hoping an Ezekiel Elliott fumble could force this game to overtime. That 1 in 171 gamble failed to pay off on second down, so Quinn dug in and called his final timeout on the ensuing play. Elliott didn’t fumble, and suddenly a 46-yard game winner for Brett Maher turned into a 42-yard attempt.

Quinn made things easier for a kicker who had missed three of his last five field goals coming into Sunday’s game. That included a potential game-tying attempt three games earlier against Washington. While Maher has been perfect on field goals Sunday, he had missed an extra point and had plenty of kinks to work out before taking the game-winner in Week 11.

Did it affect the outcome of the game? It sure looks like an extra four yards Quinn enticed Dallas into gaining would have been the difference between a make and a miss.

Vance Joseph beat a 7-2 team, still looked like a doofus in the process

Philip Rivers’ rookie mistake, some 200+ games into his NFL career, gave the Broncos the latitude to come back and earn the biggest win of their season to date. But Joseph still managed to sound like a jerk in the process.

Denver was twice the victim of questionable spots, with one costing the team a first down and another depriving it of two-point conversion that would have given the Broncos a three-point lead early in the fourth quarter:


Fortunately, the NFL has a system in place for this. Coaches can throw their challenge flag, assuming they’ve got a timeout left in the tank, and force a review of the play that can result in the correction of any official errors. On Sunday, that could have been the difference between the Chargers taking the lead with a fourth quarter field goal and merely tying the game.

Joseph, however, rejects the idea of the challenge on principle alone.

This nearly cost the Broncos a win Sunday. When it actually does, it’s going to be amazing to hear John Elway explain how it’s actually an opportunity for Denver.

Dirk Koetter is stirring a quarterback cauldron of sadness

Koetter can’t win. He’s currently saddled with two quarterbacks who are good enough to look like legitimate starters one week and dollar store mannequins the next. Here’s a brief timeline of his year to date:

Weeks 1-3: Ryan Fitzpatrick starts at QB due to Jameis Winston’s three-game league suspension. The Buccaneers deal the Saints their only loss to date while the veteran lights the league on fire with 400+ passing yards per game.

Week 4: Fitzpatrick remains the team’s team quarterback. For two quarters. Then he’s replaced by a returned-from-suspension Winston, who throws two interceptions but still looks good enough to return to his starting role.

Weeks 6-8: Winston claims a share of the league interception lead. He’s played in only 3.5 games.

Weeks 9-10: Fitzpatrick regains his starting role and throws four interceptions in two weeks. The Buccaneers lose by 13+ points in each game.

Week 11: Fitzpatrick hits the point in his season where he does this:

Winston gets thrown back into the lineup as punishment. He finishes the game with only one interception, which seems like progress.

The worst part is that’s it’s tough to understand what Koetter’s right move would have been during any of this. He’s juggled two bad options behind center, neither one of which looks like the team’s future at the position. He’s only swapped out players in cases of demonstrably awful play or hideous behavior, and he’s gotten so much of that he’s had to make four changes in 11 weeks.

That latest shift gave way to one of the biggest ignominies in 2018 sport: allowing the New York Giants to win a game.

That flip-flopping has become Koetter’s trademark, even on the sideline. He gave offensive coordinator Todd Monken playcalling duties this fall, then took them back for a 16-3 loss to Washington, then abandoned them this week in favor of Monken again. No one in the Tampa locker room seems to have noticed.