The 2017 NFL season begins in earnest next week and all 32 teams are finalising their preparations for the campaign.
Head coaches are going through the final stages in the process of building their rosters, making key decisions that will define their success.
However, not all 32 men will still be in their positions come the end of the season. Five head coaches that started the 2016 campaign were fired, while Gary Kubiak retired due to health issues.
The turnover highlights the pressure of being a head coach in the NFL, where demand for instant success can be overwhelming.
Several men enter the new season under pressure already and are in need of strong campaigns to retain their job for another year at least.
We’ll now break down who the first firing of the season could be using the latest betting odds.
Bowles faces the biggest challenge of a coach heading into the 2017 campaign. The Jets were extremely poor last season, taking a huge step back from the side that 10-6 the previous term.
New York finished 5-11 and were not competitive in the majority of their defeats. They face the prospect of being even worse this season due to a mass exodus of their best talent.
Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Darrelle Revis, David Harris and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick have all left the club. Before their departures the Jets were on course to challenge for the worst record in the NFL. Their lack of veteran presence seems to have them hurtling towards the unfortunate feat.
Bowles’ men have been backed to 0-16 by some pundits and that could come into play due to their lack of talent.
Josh McCown will start at quarterback – one season removed for playing for the 1-15 Cleveland Browns. The Jets have no talent at their skill positions, especially at wide receiver, which was worsened by Quincy Enunwa’s season-ending injury.
Defensively their line does have quality players, but whether they are good enough to win games on their own remains to be seen. Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson will have to dominate to have an impact as their secondary outside of 2017 first-round pick Jamal Adams has a dearth of talent.
Bowles will have to coach his side up to an extraordinary level to even improve from their 5-11 record last season.
That seems unlikely to happen given his issues last season – therefore back him at odds of +350 with Ladbrokes to be the first coach dismissed.
Fox has been in a head-coaching position for the last 16 seasons. In that time he has coached three teams and taken two of them to the Super Bowl, although he lost both matches.
He enjoyed success in his time with the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, especially in the regular season. However, in two years in Chicago, he has not been able to revive the fortunes of the franchise.
Lovie Smith and Marc Trestman were both fired as they failed to bring out the best in Jay Cutler along with the club’s defense. Fox at least has managed to outlast Cutler as he was released at the end of last season following the Bears’ 3-13 record.
Chicago moved up one spot in the 2017 Draft to selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, but he will not start immediately. The Bears signed Mike Glennon in free agency and the veteran will start the season. He knows he will not have a long leash due to the uncertainty in the upper echelons of the franchise.
The offensive production has not been good enough from the NFC North side since the 2013 term. However, the more pressing concern for Fox is his side’s defense. The Bears are renowned for their prowess on defense – no unit is revered more than the 85 Bears that dominated the NFL.
Over the last two decades their unit has been stout enough, although over the last four seasons their demise has been painful to watch. Fox is a defensive coach, and if he cannot get them firing this time around, he will certainly pay the price.
Therefore back him at odds of +1000 with PaddyPower to be the first coach to be fired his side does not have the talent for a quick remedy.
Pagano has a challenging time with the Colts – not just on the field as he spent his first year with the club battling leukaemia. By the end of the 2012 season he was in remission and returned to the sideline for the 2013 campaign after Bruce Arians had led his team to an 11-5 record.
The success continued under Pagano in 2013 as the Colts won the AFC South. They won a playoff game for the first time since the 2009 term, staging a miraculous comeback to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the New England Patriots destroyed them in the divisional round.
Progress had been made and in 2014 Indianapolis won 11 matches again and they advanced further in the post-season. They defeated the Cincinnati Bengals and the Broncos, although the Patriots loomed large to hammer them in the AFC Championship game.
The fallout from that match, which included the deflategate scandal when the Colts reported the Patriots for purposely under inflating their footballs, has been disastrous for Pagano’s men. Since then Indianpolis have lost their way, while outstanding quarterback Andrew Luck has suffered a spate of injuries.
Years of poor drafting caught up with Ryan Grigson as he was fired following the 2016 season. He and Pagano did not see eye-to-eye, which almost resulted in both men being axed in 2015.
Pagano has been given a chance to redeem himself this term, but with Luck still suffering the affects of shoulder surgery, his fortunes look bleak to say the least. Improvements have been made to the defense, but unless Pagano can spark them into life they will miss the playoffs again.
As a result, back the 56-year-old at odds of +700 with TopBet sportsbook to be fired – perhaps sooner rather than later.
Todd Bowles To Be First Coach Fired
John Fox To Be First Coach Fired
Chuck Pagano To Be First Coach Fired
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