The approach of the 2020 NFL season's final regular-season weekend also means "Black Monday" – practically Black Sunday in more recent years – is drawing inexorably nearer.
The Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans have already hit the reset button, each cutting ties with their head coaches and general managers once their respective campaigns derailed. But league history suggests more houses will be cleaned, each offseason typically bringing a half-dozen sideline openings, give or take. (The 2020 season opened with five teams under new coaching management.)
Here are five more HCs who seem to have varying degrees of heat under their respective seats:
It appears highly likely the Jaguars' Doug Marrone (right) and Jets' Adam Gase will be coaching their final games this weekend. (Photo: Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports)
5. Cooling: Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
December began with Da Bears in the throes of a six-game tailspin and seeking stability under center. It ends with a three-game winning streak and a win-and-in playoff scenario for Week 17. Nagy's offense is in the midst of a stunning scoring outburst not seen in these parts in 55 years, long-embattled QB Mitchell Trubisky playing at a Pro Bowl level.
The Bears have scored 30+ points in 4 straight games for the 1st time since Weeks 4-7 in 1965 when they were led by Hall of Famers George Halas & Gale Sayers
Flawed as this team is and despite the middling-at-best offensive results Nagy has produced in three years – and now the team has an unforeseen Trubisky dilemma as he heads toward free agency – it's hard to argue with a pair of potential playoff births in that span, especially given the coach isn't responsible for roster construction. ESPN reported this week that Bears brass now seems inclined to stick with Nagy … though you never know what a bad Sunday against the hated (NFC North champion) Packers might do.
4. Warming: Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles
You'd think a coach who brought the City of Brotherly Love its first Super Bowl title after a miserable wait exceeding five-plus decades would be the recipient of serious job security. Yet Monday, Pederson sounded like a man advocating for himself – and he has taken Philly to the playoffs three times in five years – noting, "I know exactly how to get things fixed. We’ve won a lot of games around here. … I’ve seen it, I’ve done it. That’s where my confidence lies."
And yet franchise QB Carson Wentz – well, he's paid like a franchise quarterback anyway – seems to be suffering from a crisis of confidence, his regression on the field leading to a disastrous season and benching in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts. Per NFL Network, owner Jeffrey Lurie is none too happy about the state of his team – especially in a year when eight wins would have been sufficient to win the NFC East. The Eagles won't finish with more than five, which may or may not be enough to save Pederson.
3. Warm: Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
He's one of the finer men you'll meet in the game, and his estimable leadership skills were on display last summer during HBO's "Hard Knocks." However, a very capable team – one that went 12-4 under Lynn in 2018 – has underachieved, victimized by bad luck and injuries but also questionable game management from Lynn himself and an inability to close. The Bolts are 11-20 since the start of the 2019 season, 16 of those losses coming by one score.
And yet this team invariably plays hard, and it must be noted Lynn and his staff had first-round QB Justin Herbert ready to play even though the initial plan was to let the No. 6 pick sit and watch. But a sideline medical mishap involving veteran Tyrod Taylor thrust Herbert into the lineup in Week 2, and he's responded with a campaign likely to end in offensive rookie of the year honors. Decidedly mixed results for a 6-9 club, and unclear if they'll convince ownership to give Lynn one more go in hopes he can galvanize a promising team that played without S Derwin James this season and dynamic RB Austin Ekeler for much of it.
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2. Scalding: Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
This group doesn't have many good players – partially by design given starters DE Yannick Ngakoue, RB Leonard Fournette and S Ronnie Harrison were offloaded days before the season started. But as hard as it is to win 14 consecutive games in the parity-imbued NFL, it's nearly as hard to lose 14 straight … yet that's exactly what the Jags have done.
Shad Khan had shown patience atypical of an NFL owner after watching this regime take the once-talented Jags within a quarter of a Super Bowl berth in 2017. But ever since Jacksonville's AFC title game collapse to the Patriots, Khan has sequentially dismantled his front office, firing executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin last December and letting longtime GM Dave Caldwell go last month. With reports already tying prospective coaches to a team that has clinched the No. 1 pick of the 2021 draft – meaning generational passing prospect Trevor Lawrence is almost surely coming to Duval County – everything points to Marrone's imminent ouster.
1. Flaming: Adam Gase, New York Jets
This team has stunningly won two straight after dropping its first 13 games – though those victories have come much to the chagrin of NYJ fans certain their suffering would whisk Lawrence north in 2021. But that's not happening now.
What has happened is rampant dysfunction in Gase's two seasons for a club that too often didn't look prepared on Sunday. That's not to suggest the Jets haven't typically played hard for Gase, their shocking upset of the Rams and Week 16 defeat of the Browns evidence of that. (New York became the first team in league history to beat multiple opponents who had a nine-win advantage at kickoff.)
But Gase has been at odds with some of his best (former) players – namely S Jamal Adams and RB Le'Veon Bell – his own staff (fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) and the media, all while failing to fulfill one of his primary objectives, the cultivation of Sam Darnold as a franchise quarterback. Even Gase seems to know the axe will inevitably fall shortly after Sunday's game at New England.
"(A)t the end of the day it’s about winning, we haven’t done that," Gase said earlier this month. "For (owner and chairman Chris Johnson) not to feel a playoff feel of being competitive in December, it’s disappointing to me that we haven’t been able to do that for him."
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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