The season hasn't even started yet, and already we are hearing all sorts of discussion about NFL coaches who could be on the hot seat. What a rough way to making a living being a coach must be. Instead of feeling sorry for them, though, our focus here is to understand how hot seats can have a betting impact. Before we look at six guys commonly thought to be on the edge of unemployment, let's look at four factors to consider when figuring out how significant these situations are to bettors:
Has the team been through this before?: A team that has been through many coaching changes will have more people around who are equipped to deal with it than one that has had a lot of stability. It would be tougher for a team like the Giants or Bengals to deal with a change than it would be for the Bills or Browns and their revolving doors.
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Signs of distraction?: This one is obvious - the more signs we can see from a team that the situation is a problem, the more we need to be concerned about it as a handicapper. Is the team playing inconsistently for the coach or not playing for him at all? Are discussions on the sidelines between coach and player less productive and respectful than they used to be? How are players responding to be asked about the coach by the media?
How likely is the departure?: With some teams you just know a change is coming. Maybe they are frequently happy to make a change. Perhaps they aren't going anywhere and need to shake something up. Perhaps the coach and management aren't on the same page, or there is a new owner who will want to put his own stamp on things. Other teams aren't nearly as likely to make a change. They tend to stand the course, or there are extenuating circumstances that make it tough to blame the coach entirely. Or perhaps the coach has a contract that makes him tough to fire financially. Understanding how likely a departure is at some point can make it easier to evaluate what impact this could have on the team in the short term. The impact will obviously be less the less likely it is that a change will be made.
What is the public sentiment?: There are some coaches that the public tends to pull for and hope the best for and others that they want to see fired. Public sentiment obviously is a big factor in evaluating coaches on a hot seat because it can have a huge impact on how teams are bet on. As an example this year, Chuck Pagano has a generally strong reputation, and most casual fans likely respect him and his story and hope for the best for him. On the other hand, Jay Gruden in Washington doesn't have the same reputation at all, and people are just grabbing the popcorn and waiting to watch him crash and burn.
Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins: Philbin has engineered good starts to the last two seasons. Unfortunately, he has also been at the helm for two straight late season collapses. If they can't finish strong this year then Philbin will be done.
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants: Coughlin is an NFL institution. He's also done in New York. I could be wrong, but I have thought that they should have moved on the last two years. The message just isn't working in the same way, and a team that has enjoyed so much success is just spinning their wheels. It's not because he is a bad coach that he needs to go - far from it. It's just time.
Ken Whisenhunt, Tennessee Titans: He was 2-14 last year and didn't exactly tear it up in his final year of his last job in Arizona, either. As a head coach he looks like a better assistant - at least when Kurt Warner isn't his QB. Now the franchise is looking at a new owner who could want his identity put in place, and they have a great asset in Marcus Mariota, who they will want to be sure is getting managed in the best possible way. Without a huge improvement this year, Whisenhunt is in trouble.
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts: There is zero risk that Pagano will not last the season. If he doesn't win multiple playoff games, though, he might not be back. His results have been solid the last three years, but ownership is losing patience - double-digit wins and not much in the playoffs doesn't cut it anymore.
Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins: His quarterback situation is a ridiculous joke. The rest of the team isn't much better. The team was lousy last year, it's hard to imagine them being much better this year, and Daniel Snyder is not afraid to make a change. There is also a new GM in town who could be anxious to get his own guy in charge. Gruden is the strong favorite to be fired first in the props market, and it would be a major upset if he wasn't.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: I have long been negative about Lewis. I think he is a lousy coach who is the worst enemy of his own team. Other than that, though, I'm fine with him. He can't instill toughness, and that shows up consistently when the games matter most. He also has been doggedly loyal to Andy Dalton, so another meltdown on that front would be a big problem for Lewis. You have to imagine that another playoff loss would be fatal for Lewis, but he has made it this long, so who knows what's going on in Cincinnati.
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