Few sports jobs are as difficult as that of a NFL head coach. Between personnel changes, game-planning, play-calling, and managing 53 players, it’s a strenuous gig. And no matter what, almost everyone gets fired eventually. Bill Belichick got fired, Peyton Manning was released, and no matter how great you are, nothing lasts forever in a league that’s always changing. With that in mind, here are a few head coaches that might not return in 2019.
Head Coaches That Won’t Be Back Next Year
This is one of the stranger cases in the NFL. Harbaugh is the best coach in Ravens history. He’s led the team to the playoffs several times, and even won a Super Bowl with the team back in 2012. But even Bill Belichick has been fired. Coaches are hired to be fired, and after a few stagnant seasons where the Ravens have been adequate at best, it’s probably his time. It’s funny, Harbaugh is the only coach on this list who will probably make the playoffs this year, but barring a Super Bowl run, General Manager-elect Eric DeCosta will probably want to bring in his own guy next season.
The long, sad, underwhelming reign of Marvin Lewis as Cincinnati’s head coach must come to an end in 2019. The Bengals have always been competitive under Lewis, but they’ve never been great. The saddest stat attached to Lewis and the Bengals is that he’s taken them to the post-season seven times… and never won. It’s spectacular that he’s had so many shots at the playoffs and he’s never won a single game. Truly legendary. Hopefully the Bengals move on after this year.
The struggles of the New York Jets aren’t entirely the fault of head coach Todd Bowles. It seems like as long as he’s been there, he’s been able to get the best out of his players. Unfortunately, the players he’s had haven’t been very good, and he takes some of the blame for that. He might get one more year because Sam Darnold has had growing pains, as well as literal pains (he’s missed three games with injuries), and so he might be able to get one more year.
Vance Joseph’s Denver Broncos suffered a ton of injuries, and it’s not his fault that John Elway can’t find a quarterback that isn’t already a Hall of Fame, but they’ve had back-to-back losing seasons and someone has to take the fall. Elway considered firing Joseph last season, so after another unsuccessful campaign, he’ll probably lose his job.
That’s a shaky move for Elway and the Broncos, as they’ll have to sell Case Keenum to potential head coaches who are also being recruited by Baker Mayfield’s Cleveland Browns and Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers.
Usually a coach gets at least one season before they’re fired, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Arizona Cardinals keep Steven Wilks around. The Cardinals are atrocious, and if the team wants to protect the young Josh Rosen, they’ve gotta get someone in there that can actually help develop a young quarterback. It’s true that the roster isn’t very good, but Wilks knew that when he took the job. The Raiders have similar talent issues, but Jon Gruden still has them playing hard. These Cardinals are lifeless, hard to watch, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Wilks lost his job.
How do you go from AFC Championship contender to losing eight of their last nine, finishing dead last in what is arguably the AFC’s worst division? Well, failing to improve at quarterback, losing the heart of their defense in Paul Posluszny, and maybe, just maybe, coming back to earth.
The worst thing is, it feels like Marrone has lost his locker room. When players start taking locker room issues to social media (See: Jalen Ramsey), or changing plays on the field (See: Jalen Ramsey), there has to be a change. The inmates can’t run the asylum. They’ll likely target a new coach, especially if they’re planning on drafting a quarterback this year.
This is almost a virtual certainty. The Bucs have been fun at points this year, scoring a ton of points and airing the ball out well, but they just weren’t winning games. They turned the ball over too much, and flip-flopping between Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t help. Three seasons in, zero playoff appearances, and the Bucs will have a vacancy at head coach on Black Monday.