Almost every NFL coach knows when they’re hired that they will eventually be fired. Judgment day for head coaches is better known as Black Monday, the Monday after Week 17 games when some head coaches are handed their pink slips.
Here’s a look at the coaches with the most to fear as we near the final stretch of the regular season.
Todd Bowles, New York Jets
It’s somewhat surprising that Bowles has held on for this long. Not much was expected of his team this year with a rookie quarterback in Sam Darnold, but the team still has played below expectations at 3-8 through 12 weeks. After going 10-6 in his first season as head coach in 2015, Bowles’ teams went 5-11 in back-to-back years. With Darnold continuing to develop, the Jets will likely want an offensive-minded head coach to lead them next.
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Harbaugh’s fate is still very much up in the air and could be determined by whether the Ravens earn an AFC Wild Card spot. Like in the last two seasons, Baltimore has a shot to make the playoffs but needs to close the deal. The defense sputtered a bit after the team started the season 0-2, but three consecutive wins with rookie Lamar Jackson under center have given fans hope. Harbaugh will be remembered fondly for winning Super Bowl XLVII no matter what happens, but four straight seasons without a playoff appearance would simply be unacceptable.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
In any other organization, Lewis would have been gone after last season, but the Bengals have been especially loyal to him after he brought competitive football back to Cincinnati in the mid-2000s. He has a winning record for his career with the team but is 0-7 in the playoffs, including losses in five straight seasons from 2011-15. On the cusp of their third straight playoff-less season, after losing Andy Dalton to a thumb injury, it’s clearly time for the Bengals to move on.
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
What goes up must come down. The Jaguars lost the AFC Championship to the Patriots in a thriller last season, but they’ve regressed to 3-8 through 11 games this year, finally benching Blake Bortles as a result. There have also been signs that Marrone has lost the team, from the brawl against Buffalo that resulted in a one-game suspension for Leonard Fournette to the seemingly hapless cornerback Jalen Ramsey this year. Marrone already fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and the team certainly will be in the market for a new quarterback this offseason. Whether they’re also in the market for a new head coach remains to be seen.
By Seth Trachtman