With three teams making it known on Friday that their coaches won’t be getting fired after the last game of the season, the list of hot spots is shrinking. But they’re also becoming more glaring, since it would have been easy for other teams to say that they won’t be firing their coaches before Week 17.
So with Washington reportedly keeping Jay Gruden and the Jets extending Todd Bowles and the Bucs telling Dirk Koetter he won’t be supplanted by Jon Gruden (for now), other guys are left to wonder whether they’ll be leading their teams into action for the last time.
Here’s a list of the coaches who remain on the hot seat, with no eleventh-hour effort to give them a reprieve.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis: His contract expires after Week 17. Though he has addressed his future status and plans several times, the Bengals haven’t said a word about whether they want him back.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano: He delivered what was interpreted by some to be a farewell address this week. Ownership has said or done nothing to contradict the widespread belief that Pagano will be out after six years.
Texans coach Bill O’Brien: O’Brien has said he’s not quitting, but the Texans haven’t said they aren’t firing him. There’s a belief that O’Brien will be back without an extension on a contract with one year remaining, as each side waits for the other side to be the one to end a relationship that remains dysfunctional.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey: Some believe that a failure to make it to the playoffs means he won’t be back. The Titans have said nothing to push back against this possibility.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio: Believed as of a week ago to be a 50-50 shot at sticking around, owner Mark Davis has not declared that Del Rio definitely will return in 2018.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph: Eight double-digit losses and four losses by 20 or more points could mean that Joseph will be one and done in Denver. G.M. John Elway has said he’ll wait until after the season before making any final decisions. A day before the finale, Joseph’s fate already may be sealed.
Bears coach John Fox: If Fox weren’t out after three disappointing seasons on the job, someone with the Bears surely would have said so by now.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell: Ownership and G.M. Bob Quinn declined to comment on Caldwell’s status after last week’s postseason-killing loss to the Bengals. Their silence since then has become even more deafening.
Not on this list is Browns coach Hue Jackson, because ownership has said publicly and privately that Jackson will be back. However, a loss on Sunday means an 0-16 season. Which could make it even easier for new G.M. John Dorsey to make a case for change.
That leaves the current list of potential new members of the FFCA at nine. With an asterisk for the surprise firing/resignation/retirement that always seems to happen.