NFL Preview Week: Which coach will be the first one fired?

Chicago Bears head coach John Fox watches players warm up before an NFL football preseason game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

One of the few certainties of this NFL season is that some of the 32 coaches won’t return in 2018.

There are always coach firings, and it has become more common in the NFL to fire unsuccessful coaches during the season. With that in mind, some of our Yahoo Sports writers offered a prediction on which NFL coach will be fired first this season, and our four panelists had four different answers:

(Yahoo Sports graphic by Amber Matsumoto)

Shalise Manza Young: This is actually a tough one, because there’s been a lot of turnover already in the coaching ranks the last couple of years, and teams usually wait a couple of years before starting again. But my prediction would be John Fox, mostly because Chicago Bears ownership hasn’t shown a lot of patience in recent years. Fox was 6-10 in his first season, then 3-13 last year as they had to play three starting quarterbacks due to injury. General manager Ryan Pace spent dollars and draft capital at the quarterback position this offseason, signing Mike Glennon and drafting Mitch Trubisky, and you’d think that would buy Fox some time. But in the past six years, the McCaskeys have fired two head coaches and two GMs, so Fox may already be on notice.

(Yahoo Sports graphic by Amber Matsumoto)

Jordan Schultz: Lewis, now 58 years old, has brought stability to an organization that was anything but stable before he arrived. When he took over as the Bengals head coach in 2003, the team had not been to the postseason in 13 years. Meanwhile, since 2003, Cincinnati has rattled off seven postseason trips, including an impressive four AFC North titles. Lewis holds the record for most wins in Bengals history. But there is plenty of bad to go along with the good.

For example, Lewis – who is second only to Bill Belichick as the league’s longest tenured head coaches – has yet to win a single playoff game, a drought that was highlighted by his team’s catastrophic collapse against rival Pittsburgh in a wild-card game two seasons ago.

On the heels of a disappointing 6-9-1 campaign, the pressure has mounted for Lewis to deliver playoff success, even if it’s just a sliver. Ownership and the front office have invested wisely on talent and, whether or not you’re an Andy Dalton believer, there are plenty of teams who wish they had a quarterback like the “Red Rifle.” Another slow start for Cincy in 2017 – especially if the mindless penalties and late-game woes strike again – and it may very well mean Lewis’ job. Remember, owner Mike Brown did not reward his head coach with an extension in the offseason.

(Yahoo Sports graphic by Amber Matsumoto)

Jay Busbee: What the heck is going on in Indy? Nobody knows, and that’s not a good sign for anybody not named Andrew Luck interested in keeping their job. Luck remains sidelined, and so too do the Colts’ hopes of hitting four wins. Chuck Pagano shouldn’t deserve the blame for his QB’s injury and his team’s top-heavy makeup, but if Luck can’t go and the Colts can’t win – or, worse, if Luck comes back healthy and still struggles – Pagano will be first overboard.

(Yahoo Sports graphic by Amber Matsumoto)

Frank Schwab: It’s never a bad idea to pick the coach of the worst team to be fired first. Sorry, Todd Bowles. The New York Jets are going to be bad this season. I don’t totally blame Bowles. He has very little to work with. I still think he’s a smart football mind and I think in a different situation he can be a successful head coach. But it is going to be ugly for the Jets this season. It’s hard to see Bowles surviving the type of season we can all see coming, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s first fired either.

Others potentially on the hot seat: Cleveland’s Hue Jackson, Detroit’s Jim Caldwell, Houston’s Bill O’Brien, Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!