NFL hot seat rankings

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We're beyond the quarter-pole of the NFL season, and tensions are on the rise when it comes to certain coaches, quarterbacks and star players failing to meet expectations.

Some coaches like Jason Garrett and players like Tony Romo are proving their doubters wrong; at 4-1, the pressure is off in Dallas. But Raiders coach Dennis Allen already got the axe, and others may be in store for similar fates.

NFL Hot Seat - 10/06/2014
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NFL hot seat rankings

1. Rex Ryan

The longtime Jets head coach has started off 1-4 to begin the 2014 season, and for the third time in his tenure in New York there is more controversy at the quarterback position. 2013 second-round pick Geno Smith has been largely ineffective in his sophomore season, and the fans who called for Michael Vick last week finally got a glimpse of the veteran quarterback, watching him perform as equally poor as Smith. Combined, the Jets have averaged 5.9 yards per pass attempt.

Sure, neither Vick nor Smith are going to suddenly surface as top-five quarterbacks in the NFL, and that’s because of the lack of help surrounding them. The Jets’ best receiver is Eric Decker, and aside from Jeremy Kerley and Chris Ivory, the offense is a disaster zone. Chris Johnson was a whiff of a free-agent signing, and this offense has been overwhelmingly overmatched through the first five weeks of the season.

Defense is supposed to be the forte of the Jets, but injuries have ravished the secondary, and as a result the 34-year-old Antonio Gates made them look silly in the shutout against San Diego. The Jets’ lone win came as they scraped past Oakland in the opener, then dropped four in a row since. At 2-3 the Jets would at least be on par with the rest of the AFC East, but at 1-4 and in a free fall, general manager John Idzik has to start placing the blame on Ryan.

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

1A. Geno Smith

Speaking of follies, Idzik was the one who drafted Smith in the second round of last year’s draft and inserted him under center right away. Smith showed glimpses of being a capable pro last year and even at times this year. Remember, the Jets were leading Green Bay a few weeks ago before collapsing in the second half. But since, Smith has missed meetings and has been ineffective under center, and as a result the Jets offense is going to be inferior to just about every defense in the league.

Smith faces Denver, New England, Buffalo, Kansas City and Pittsburg before the Week 11 bye week, and all of those defenses will have an edge against the second-year passer. Unless Smith actually performs well in what will probably be losses, the Jets probably have to put Vick in as the starter, cross their fingers and hope they can salvage a win or two.

(Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)

2. Jim Harbaugh

Despite the 49ers being 3-2 and in the thick of the NFC West race, Harbaugh’s job is reportedly very much in jeopardy. The rift between Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers front office reportedly goes back as far as the team’s pursuit of Peyton Manning as a free agent and include the trade of Alex Smith to the Chiefs. FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer suggests even if the 49ers win the Super Bowl, Harbaugh won’t be back on the sidelines in 2015.

Any team in need of a head coach would gladly welcome Harbaugh. I imagine the University of Michigan, Oakland Raiders and perhaps the Jaguars, Jets, Dolphins, Rams and whichever other teams have vacancies this offseason will be blowing up Harbaugh’s phone this summer.

More details will continue to surface about the relationship between Harbaugh and owner Jed York, but I’m sure a resolution will come to fruition. That means one of the best head coaches in the NFL over the past five years may be on the verge of resurrecting a new franchise.

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

3. Jake Locker

Former first-round pick Locker has been decent at times under first-year Titans coachKen Whisenhunt, but the Titans are 1-4 and the future is growing dimmer and dimmer with each passing week, and the rash of injuries that continue to plague the young quarterback can only be frustrating for a front office that pull all their faith in him to be the centerpiece of the franchise.

Charlie Whitehurst may be in line to start Week 6 against the Jags, but no, he is not the future for Tennessee. Zach Mettenberger may get some time to show what he’s capable of toward the end of the season when the playoffs are way out of the realm of possibility. But Whisenhunt is not going anywhere after only one year, and he may have to navigate the free-agent market or use a first-round pick in 2015 on his new quarterback, which inevitably will close the chapter on Locker in Nashville.

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

4. Joe Philbin

At 2-2 after one month, the Dolphins’ coach is safe … for now. But there’s a lot more football that needs to be played. Philbin has already flirted with the notion of benching Ryan Tannehill, and that would say his tenure in Miami is probably over, too.

But the Dolphins remain in the thick of it in the AFC East, and so long that the Dolphins are competitive Philbin’s job will be safe. But if the team, the offense or Tannehill begin to slip, Miami becomes another possible team that’ll be in the market for a head coach this spring.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

5. Jeff Fisher

There are no reports suggesting Fisher’s seat is getting warm, especially because he’s coaching a fairly competitive team despite what their record indicates. Injuries are not the fault of Fisher, but electing not to spend a first-round pick on a quarterback is his fault. And if Austin Davis is not the future of the Rams, then who is?

The Rams have an outstanding front four on defense and a decent cast of characters around them, but offensively there are major question marks about the future. The Rams have one win to this point and in the competitive NFC West I’m not confident .500 is even a realistic goal. So picking in the top 16 yet again probably means Fisher needs to strike gold with his next first-rounder, or it will be Fisher looking for new work.

(Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)


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