National Football League players often say the NFL stands for “Not For Long,” but over the last several years that bit of gallows humor isn’t just relevant for players; it can be used for coaches too.
This year, there are eight coaches in their first year leading their respective teams; five of those eight men are replacing head coaches who were given just three years or less before they were fired.
In all, over half of the teams in the league - 19, to be exact - have hired a new coach since just 2017.
The message: win or we’ll find someone else who we think can.
Here are five coaches who are likely feeling that heat as the regular season begins:
5. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville
The Jaguars went from first to worst last year, winning just five games after making it to the AFC championship game in 2017. Jacksonville’s football czar, Tom Coughlin, knows winning football, and he knows he and the team signed Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million free agent contract that can top $100 million with incentives. It’s far from the richest quarterback deal in the league, but it shows the Jaguars believe they have enough to win and needed a leader to get them back to the postseason. Marrone is just 31-35 (.470) in five seasons as an NFL head coach, two with Buffalo and three with Jacksonville.
4. Matt Patricia, Detroit
Patricia is only in his second season as Lions’ coach, but Detroit fired Jim Caldwell after a 9-7 mark in 2017, and under Patricia last season the team won just six games. He knows success, having been with the New England Patriots for 14 years, but Patricia came into Detroit and installed a lot of rules, tougher practices and even went after one reporter for poor posture after he seemingly didn’t like being questioned about trading away Golden Tate. We have a feeling, though, that if Patricia goes so will general manager Bob Quinn, who fired Caldwell despite taking the perpetually listless Lions to the playoffs in two of his four seasons to hire Patricia, whom he knows from their time with the Patriots.
3. Jay Gruden, Washington
Daniel Snyder has stuck with Gruden longer than he’s stuck with any head coach in his now 20-year tenure as owner, but the fact remains he’s gotten the team to the playoffs once in his first five seasons. Snyder reportedly pushed team president Bruce Allen and Gruden to draft Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick this year, but Gruden has named Case Keenum the starter for Week 1. If Snyder is a Haskins fan and Washington struggles with Keenum, will he push Gruden to play the rookie? If Gruden waits too long, could that spell the end of his time with Washington?
2. Jason Garrett, Dallas
Jerry Jones has built a team that some predict could go to the Super Bowl this year: the offense is strong, and the defense is improved. If Garrett doesn’t get them there, or even close, he may be gone. In eight seasons at the helm, he’s gotten the Cowboys to the playoffs three times, including last year, when Dallas lost in the Divisional round to the Los Angeles Rams.
1. Bill O’Brien, Houston
O’Brien has now forced out two general managers in his five seasons and is the de facto general manager. His first move was to trade away Pro Bowl pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle and two first-round picks to Miami to get left tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills. The Texans certainly need to improve their offensive line so Tunsil is an improvement, but your next two first-round picks for a player that hasn’t even been to a Pro Bowl yet? The Indianapolis Colts will be adjusting after the retirement of Andrew Luck so the AFC South is seemingly ripe for the taking. But his power moves, a weakened division and Cal McNair’s likely desire to put his own stamp on the team he now owns after his father’s passing put O’Brien squarely on the hot seat.