Is any coach in the league sitting on a hotter seat than Mike McCoy?
By Travis Wakeman
Each offseason, the coaching carousel is one of the NFL’s most compelling storylines. It’s nearly inevitable that there will be turnover at the head coaching spot for some teams, usually several teams.
In today’s NFL, a coach only gets two or three seasons to show that he can make his team a contender, or ownership is looking for a new guy. Following the 2015 season, six teams officially replaced their coaches.
San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy wasn’t among them.
However, many fans had to be surprised that the organization chose to keep McCoy around, despite his 22-26 win-loss record in three years with the team, where he’s never led the team to any better than a third-place finish in the AFC West division.
Coming into the 2016 season, there is no doubt that McCoy is on the proverbial hot seat. But we’d argue that no coach in the league may have a shorter leash this year.
Excuses can be made. The offensive line was terrible last year, adding to the problems in the running game. The team lost five games by five points or less. Chargers fans have been saying these things, but the fact remains, the team went 4-12 last year. Good teams find a way to win those close games and in most cases, the Chargers found a way to lose them.
The roster has been revamped as general manager brought in some exciting new toys for both sides of the ball, such as Travis Benjamin, Hunter Henry, Joey Bosa, Brandon Mebane and Casey Hayward. That begs the question, what is McCoy going to have to do to stick around past 2016?
Honestly, anything short of a playoff season and it will be tough to justify keeping him. If the team went 8-8, it would be a four-game improvement from last year. If the team made enough strides together as a unit and the 2017 season looked bright, McCoy might be able to talk ownership into retaining him for one more year. Anything less than that, and he’s almost certainly out.
It’s hard to talk about the coaching “hot seat” before the season even starts, but that goes to show how precarious the position McCoy is in. Here are some other NFL coaches that could also be considered to be on the hot seat.
Rex Ryan, Buffalo: The Bills contended for a playoff spot last year, but they’ve missed the postseason every year since 1999. Someone has to get them over that hump. If Ryan misses again this year, his stay in Buffalo could be a short one.
Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles: Jeff Fisher looked like a wizard back when he coached the Tennessee Titans, guiding the franchise to its only appearance in the Super Bowl. But he’s gone just 27-36-1 in four years with the Rams, and will now be in charge of the team’s move to Los Angeles. He may only get one more chance to turn things around.
Jim Caldwell, Detroit: Talk about a guy with a big challenge in front of him. The Detroit Lions play in a good division (NFC North) and he will have to figure out how to compete without Calvin Johnson, one of the greatest wide receivers of all-time. Good luck with that. The Lions could easily go in another direction come season’s end.
These three guys are the only coaches aside from McCoy that I would put in this spot at this moment. However, McCoy’s seat is easily as hot as any of theirs. It will be critical for McCoy to get his team off to a good start, particularly because three of the Chargers’ first six games will be against AFC West opponents. If the Chargers were to drop all three of those contests, the handwriting could already be on the wall with McCoy’s fate sealed.
This is an important year in San Diego for a variety of reasons. It’s an equally important year for the team’s head coach.