5 NFL coaches who could be on the hot seat in 2015

Thomas: Nick Foles Fitting In With Rams

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What puts a coach on the hot seat?

Losses, sure, but that's an easy answer and overly simplistic. If wins and losses were truly the only metric, men like Jim Harbaugh, Mike Smith and Norv Turner would all still have NFL head coaching jobs and John Fox probably would still be back with the Carolina Panthers and certainly wouldn't have been fired by the Denver Broncos.

In reality, there's no real set of rules for when a coach should be fired and for what reasons.

Frankly, even if there ever were a set of rules, the changing landscape and consistently raised stakes of today's NFL would be changing them anyway. Along with quarterbacks and general managers, the head coach is one of the three proverbial desks the buck often stops at in the game of football. Fans can start calling for their heads anytime they please, but each owner has his own set of expectations and unwritten rules as to when the coach is bound to get canned.

Internal strife, public perception and even certain candidates becoming available can all lead to a coach's demise, regardless of the standings.

In 2015, we're seeing an NFL that has had some serious upheaval in recent years, but an NFL that could also use some fresh blood. So, as we examine the hot seat for coaches around the league, we'll be examining not just the teams that could lose a bunch of games, but ultimately those owners who could be pressured to pull the trigger on making some wholesale changes.

5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs)—16 years, 150-105-1, 20-12 with Chiefs

Reid has been about five years behind the times in the NFL for about seven years now, so it's no surprise that the Chiefs offense has sputtered, spat, stopped and otherwise failed in numerous ways. It is damning that Kansas City has won almost solely on the strength of its defense during Reid's tenure. His days of being a renown offensive guru stopped around the time his own brand of the West Coast offense went stale, while just about every football team on the planet adopted West Coast principles into their offense along with WCO-beating Cover 2 principles into their defense.

The Chiefs are a good football team, but they are coached in a lazy and ill-suited manner with offensive schemes that don't work and game management that shoots them in the foot more often than not. At times, Reid has shown to be better than this, and his Chiefs teams have had phenomenal punctuated ingenuity for small moments of his tenure. This points to the ability to get the job done, but the inability to do so consistently.

4. Jeff Fisher (St. Louis Rams)—20 years, 162-147-1, 20-27 with Rams

When I set out to write this column, I didn't anticipate leading off with two guys with a combined 36 years of NFL head coaching experience, but there is something to be said for "change or die" in an ever-evolving landscape. The Rams did a lot of work this offseason doubling down on a Fisheresque (Fishery? Fishy?) offense by adding running back Todd Gurley and a bunch of burly offensive linemen befitting the team of a man with such a burly piece of upper lip accoutrement. They paired this with the addition of defensive tackle Nick Fairley (on a song of a contract) who will likely serve as a rotational and/or subpackage lineman, which is a scary thought for offensive linemen and quarterbacks in the NFC West.

I'm impressed with what the Rams have done, but they've essentially made this the paradigm of Fisher roster management, and have been tinkering with the same for his entire tenure. To borrow from the ol' Bill Parcell's line, he's done the grocery shopping, he's cooked the meal and it still tastes like hot garbage. Now, he's gone back to the store for another round. If the result isn't .500 or above, maybe it's just time to change the head chef...

3. Jay Gruden (Washington)—1 year, 4-12

Sandwiched in between a trio of future Hall of Fame coaches is a younger man whom I firmly believe didn't belong as a head coach in the NFL from Day 1. While I can't begrudge Gruden for being a beneficiary of the system, I can take a hard look at his merits and say his value in moving from where he was to becoming a head coach is far more about his connections than his accomplishments.

None of that, however, means he can't be successful.

As I've written in this space before, Gruden's future as a head coach depends almost solely on Robert Griffin III's future as a quarterback (and vice versa). Both men have the upside to get the job done, and I'm not surprised that Washington believes in both, but each year together adds fuel to the critics' fire. If this ship isn't on the right course this season, it should be time to blow things up and start again.

2. Tom Coughlin (New York Giants)—19 years, 164-140, 102-74 with Giants

Coughlin is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. He's also one of the worst coaches in the NFL today.

Much like Reid and Fisher, it speaks to a league that has changed, a man who has largely failed to keep up and a team willing to stick with what worked a decade ago rather than innovate and seek out what might work tomorrow. The Giants are only a few years removed from a couple of championships, but have drafted poorly, been coached poorly, developed young players poorly and kept players healthy in a manner that is somehow worse than all of those put together.

Coughlin should not be fired, but ownership should make it very clear he needs to go out "on his own terms" at the end of this season, regardless of the win-loss record. Ben McAdoo will make a heckuva head coach and hopefully shake things up rather than just hiring more Giants/Coughlin retreads when things aren't working out.

1. Joe Philbin (Miami Dolphins)—3 years, 23-25

The last guy on the list is the most obvious, most egregious and manages to have elements of all of the above within his own hot seat resume.

Like Reid and Gruden, he's a supposed offensive guru with a team that can't quite seem to get it's offense figured out in a meaningful way. Like Gruden, as well, his resume was better-stacked with who he knew than what he'd done in the NFL and he can easily be considered a fallback candidate when the coach the owner really wanted wasn't available (Jim Harbaugh for Miami, Jay's brother Jon Gruden for Washington). Like Fisher, he's been given numerous attempts at getting "his" team from re-shuffling the offensive line, to adding weapons upon weapons for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Like Coughlin, he's been castigated for being out of touch with his players, and it has cost the franchise.

The Dolphins have a good team and were competitive against other good teams last year. They won some games they shouldn't have won and dropped a few they should've easily handled. Philbin needs to get a handle on this team and consistently put crooked numbers in the win column. If not, owner Stephen Ross has given him all the leash he needs with which to hang himself at the end of the season and plenty of millions with which to lure another head coaching candidate.

Also considered: Gus Bradley (Jacksonville), Jim Caldwell (Detroit), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati), Ken Whisenhunt (Tennessee), Lovie Smith (Tampa Bay).

Turn your fantasy football knowledge into cash! We're hosting a one-week $1 million league on FanDuel in Week 1. It's only $5 to enter and first place walks away with $100,000. Enter now and change your lineup anytime until 9/13 at 1:00pm (ET).

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