However, you may be surprised to learn that online oddsmakers do not view Joseph’s seat as the hottest. That dubious distinction goes to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, whose decision to punt on 4th-and-1 against the Texans wound up costing Dallas the game. The Cowboys are now 2-3 – putting them above only the lowly Giants in the NFC East – and it’s fair to wonder how much patient owner Jerry Jones will be this year. Jones recently endorsed Garrett by saying that he is the “real deal,” but another questionable loss or two could change his opinion.
When we gauged PFR readers on this topic in July, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was one of the leading vote-getters. Despite some early-season Fitzmagic working in his favor, the rumblings are starting up again after an ugly blowout loss to the Bears. Questions persist about Jameis Winston’s effectiveness and the Bucs’ defense has allowed a league-high 34.8 points to opponents on average this year, so things will have to change radically in order for Koetter to have some sense of stability.
A few short weeks ago, Texans coach Bill O’Brien was a contender to get the first axe, but he did receive an extension in the offseason and his seat looks a lot cooler after consecutive overtime wins. Hue Jackson is also coming off of an OT win and the Browns are hovering near the .500 mark, so he looking a little bit safer than he was at the start of the season. If you were a betting man considering coaches with longer odds to get canned, you might also look at Adam Gase (Dolphins), Dan Quinn (Falcons), Jay Gruden (Redskins), Ron Rivera (Panthers), Sean McDermott (Bills), and Todd Bowles (Jets).
Click below to make your pick for who will be the first to get a pink slip. Then, you can head to the comment section to back up your choice.
October 12th, 2018 at 6:47pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
As the Cardinals have started the season 1-4 and are in the midst of a rebuild, there’s been a lot of trade rumors surrounding the team. Arizona is reportedly shopping former first-rounders Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick, and now a more surprising name has emerged as a potential trade candidate.
Over the course of the week, David Johnson‘s name has been a frequent subject of internet discussion, with many speculating the team could look to deal him as they aren’t in win-now mode. The Eagles, who have also been linked to Le’Veon Bell after Jay Ajayi‘s ACL tear, have been suggested as a possible destination for Johnson.
Johnson has been having a down-year by his standards, and Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has taken a lot of flack for not getting Johnson involved more. Johnson thrived in now-retired coach Bruce Arians’ system, where he was often utilized as a receiver. McCoy’s scheme has turned him into more of a between-the-tackles runner, and it hasn’t been a great fit.
Despite the scheme issues, it would still be shocking if Johnson was dealt. Just last month, the team signed him to a huge three-year extension worth $39MM. As former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry points out, it wouldn’t make much sense for the team to pay Johnson a massive $12MM signing bonus then deal him months later (Twitter link).
It also wouldn’t seem to make much sense for the Cardinals to trade away the offense’s best weapon as they seek to develop Josh Rosen. Trading away Johnson would take away Rosen’s safety blanket and make life much tougher for the promising rookie.
But as long as the Cardinals continue to lose and until McCoy succeeds in getting Johnson more involved, rumors will likely continue to swirl. It’s likely the Cardinals would seek high draft picks if they did decide to flip him, and it’s unclear if any team would even be willing to play the necessary price.
What do you think? With the team not winning anything this year, should the Cardinals at least listen to offers on Johnson? Vote in the poll below and weigh in down in the comments!
October 11th, 2018 at 6:55pm CST by Dallas Robinson
With nearly a third of the 2018 regular season in the books, it’s fair to start looking ahead to the 2019 draft, especially if you’re a fan of a team that’s not looking like a playoff team this year. Using Football Outsiders’ DVOA On the Clock report, let’s take a look at a few teams who could secure the No. 1 overall selection in 2019:
Arizona Cardinals (19.6% chance of No. 1 pick, 61.5% chance of top-five pick)
The Cardinals allowed the Sam Bradford experiment to last for the better part of three games before turning things over to rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, who has appeared competent thus far. David Johnson is an All-Pro talent at running back, but Arizona hasn’t been very creative in its use of him, and he’s faced eight or more defenders in the box on 33.78% of his attempts, 10th-most in the league. The Cardinals are still as a top-10 defense in terms of DVOA (meaning they’re efficient) despite ranking as a bottom-10 unit in both yards allowed and scoring, so continued success on that side of the ball could move Arizona away from the top overall pick.
San Francisco 49ers (18.6%, 59.8%)
The 49ers’ top quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo), running back (Jerick McKinnon) and wide receiver (Marquise Goodwin) have all been injured this year, and each health issue helped push the 49ers’ chances of earning the No. 1 pick upward. With C.J. Beathard now leading San Francisco’s offense, and Alfred Morris taking over in the backfield for the time being while Matt Breida deals with an ankle injury, it’s unclear how many points the 49ers will be able to muster the rest of the way. Pair those offensive problems with a defense that ranks just 26th in adjusted sack rate, and San Francisco could be in the market for a top-five selection in 2019.
It’s a good thing Jon Gruden landed a 10-year contract because his first season with the Raiders isn’t going as planned. Oakland’s defense is the slowest in the NFL (which perhaps isn’t a surprise given that the Raiders are fielding the league’s oldest roster), and the club’s offense has been hit-or-miss. After trading superstar Khalil Mack, Oakland ranks dead last in sacks and second-to-last in adjusted sack rate. And, as a bonus, the Raiders get to face Patrick Mahomes twice a year for the next decade.
New York Giants (8.1%, 37.1%)
The Giants are the only team in the NFL that has at least a 5% chance of securing the No. 1 overall pick and at least a 10% chance of making the postseason, per Football Outsiders. That’s largely due to the lackluster quality of the NFC East, where no team is over the .500 mark, and New York’s remaining schedule, which ranks as the easiest in the league. On the other hand, FiveThirtyEight currently projects the Giants to finish with the NFL’s worst record, so until the NFC East clarifies itself, New York’s outlook is ¯_(ツ)_/¯.
Atlanta Falcons (8%, 35.3%)
The one team on this list that would have been a complete surprise coming into 2018, the Falcons have been decimated on the defensive side of the ball. Starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, plus linebacker Deion Jones, are all out for the season after suffering injuries, and Atlanta’s defense has responded in kind, giving up the second-most points in the league on a per-game basis. Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons’ offense can still win shootouts, but Atlanta could be in line to pick within the top-five for the first time since 2008.
So, what do you think? Will one of these teams land the No. 1 overall pick in 2019? Vote below!
September 21st, 2018 at 4:36pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
In a relatively short 16 game season, a slow start can be a death blow. Around 90% of teams who start the season 0-2 end up missing the playoffs. Some teams can put it behind them and turn their season around, but not many. The 2007 Giants started off 0-2 and ended up winning the Super Bowl, as did the 2001 Patriots.
There are currently seven teams sitting at 0-2, and none of their prospects look particularly bright. Several of them have solid franchise quarterbacks and recent playoff success, and none of them are giving up. So which, if any, has the best chance of turning around their disappointing campaigns?
Two teams in the NFC West are 0-2. The Seahawks have lost a pair of close games, both of which they had opportunities to win in the first quarter. The Cardinals on the other hand have been blown out twice, and have scored just six total points. The Seahawks have the clear advantage at quarterback, the Cardinals have David Johnson, and neither has much of an offensive line. The Cardinals have plenty of theoretical talent and a strong defense, while Russell Wilson has shown he’s capable of carrying a team in the past. Both teams will be returning home for do-or-die games in Week 3. The Cardinals get the Bears,while the Seahawks host the Cowboys.
The other two winless teams in the NFC are the Lions and Giants. Both teams have new head coaches and Matt Patricia and Pat Shurmur have both gotten off to terrible starts. The Lions’ defense has been a mess while Eli Manning has looked like he has very little left in the tank. Like Wilson, Stafford has carried successful teams in the past while the Giants have plenty of playmakers around Manning in Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Odell Beckham. The Lions will host Patricia’s old team, the Patriots, on Sunday Night Football, while the Giants will face off against another winless team, the Texans.
The Texans have failed to meet expectations as Deshaun Watson returned from the torn ACL that cut his phenomenal 2017 season short. They understandably dropped a road opener to the Patriots, but lost a head-scratcher last week to the Titans in a game where Blaine Gabbert took all the snaps. They’ve got Watson and a slew of other big name players, but if they lose to the Giants on Sunday it will be awfully hard to rebound.
The last two 0-2 teams in the AFC are the Raiders and the Bills. Jon Gruden took a lot of heat for tradingKhalil Mack, and hasn’t been able to deliver through two weeks. His team hung tough against the Rams in Week 1, then blew a late lead against the Broncos last week. The Bills have potentially the worst outlook of any of these teams. In the midst of a full blown rebuild, Buffalo was forced to bench Nathan Peterman after just one start. Josh Allen will be under center the rest of the way, and the season will be more focused on his development rather than winning games. The Raiders will travel to Miami in Week 3 to take on the Dolphins, while the Bills will head to Minnesota to face the Vikings.
Which of these teams do you think has the best chance of rebounding and turning the season around? Will we see the next ’07 Giants rise up from this crop of 0-2 teams? Vote in the poll below and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!
While the Rams and Aaron Donald continue to engage in dialogue toward an extension the interior defender’s sought for nearly two years, extension talks between the Raiders and Khalil Mack aren’t believed to be progressing.
As of late July, the Raiders reportedly hadn’t made Mack an offer, which is rather odd given the 2016 defensive player of the year’s importance to the franchise. While Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required) the team did make an offer in the spring, one Mack rejected, he adds these talks have unfolded at a “glacial” pace. However, Tafur writes neither Mark Davis nor Reggie McKenzie has made it known the Raiders plan to collect the $2MM-plus in fines Mack’s incurred for missing every mandatory Raiders activity this offseason. That would be a step toward the sides salvaging their relationship.
This standoff has dragged on to the point Las Vegas oddsmakers set the odds against Mack being on the Raiders after the midseason trade deadline. Is that the way the 27-year-old defender’s Raiders chapter will end?
Teams are calling the Raiders, some making repeat inquiries, about Mack’s trade availability. The edge rusher-desperate Jets are one of them. Vegas places the Packers — who hold two 2019 first-round picks — as a better bet to employ Mack by November than the Raiders, with the Bears and Jets listed as the other top destinations. A Mack trade would net the Raiders a surely substantial haul, but this franchise for years struggled to find players of Mack’s caliber in the first place.
With Mack being one of the best defenders in Raiders history, an Oakland exit would be seismic. It could signal the Raiders either may not be fully committed to paying for top talent, but the 2016 free agency period featured plenty of Raiders money going into free agents’ bank accounts and the ’17 offseason saw Davis authorize extensions for Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson.
Gruden made comments early this offseason about the Raiders previously a poor defensive team with Mack. While that isn’t inaccurate, given recent Raider editions struggling defensively, removing Mack from this unit would pose a problem for the team’s ability to pressure quarterbacks.
The Raiders guaranteed Carr $70MM, and Tafur notes it is probably going to take more to secure a long-term commitment from Mack. Von Miller received $70MM guaranteed from the Broncos in 2016, but with the salary cap sitting $22MM north of where it was then, it should be expected Mack and Donald are aiming higher. The Raiders’ potential lack of wherewithal to pay Mack that kind of guarantee has surfaced, but nothing concrete’s been reported on that front. But that would raise another set of questions for a franchise that recently accepted a record $750MM in public money to relocate to Vegas.
McKenzie doesn’t expect Mack to report without a contract, but the fifth-year veteran’s tied to $13.8MM fifth-year option. The Raiders have leverage here. And the franchise tag option for 2019 and ’20 exists if the Silver and Black wanted to play this that way, though considering Mack’s held out this long, that may not be a viable path. Considering how bad the Raiders have been for most of the past 15 years, sending off their best player just as the team prepares to leave its original market for a second time would not create the best atmosphere as the Jon Gruden 2.0 era begins.
So, how will this end? Will the Raiders get this deal done? Will Mack cave at the prospect of missing out on a sizable chunk of his 2018 salary? Or, is a divorce inevitable? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts (and possible trade destinations) in the comments section.
The Bills started A.J. McCarron at quarterback Friday night in Cleveland after giving Nathan Peterman the initial start of the preseason. For a playoff team, Buffalo’s proceeded in interesting fashion and has three unique choices to start going into the regular season.
In trading the quarterback who helped them snap major North American sports’ longest playoff drought, the Bills look to be less equipped to make a playoff run this season. Tyrod Taylor had his share of detractors, and the new Bills regime was obviously not sold he was anything more than a stopgap, but his three years’ worth of starter experience represented a higher floor than any of the team’s current options.
So, Buffalo appears to be in a worse spot at sports’ premier job entering the 2018 season. The Bills, who have Las Vegas’ second-worst odds to win Super Bowl LIII, appear to have willingly taken a step back in hopes of reloading for the future.
They signed McCarron to seemingly be the bridge to whatever quarterback they chose in Round 1, which turned out to be Josh Allen. But the fifth-year passer has yet to seize the role. McCarron is still competing with Peterman, the latter having looked better than the higher-paid ex-Bengal during several junctures of the offseason. But McCarron signed a two-year, $8.1MM contract. Peterman has three years left on his rookie deal.
While the 2017 fifth-round pick endured last season’s most disastrous start, his five-interception outing in Los Angeles, he’s clearly shown more as an NFL sophomore. But can the Bills turn back to him after that start and having made two bigger investments at QB?
So, should the Bills open the season with McCarron, finally giving Andy Dalton’s longtime backup a real chance to prove he’s an NFL starter? Or should Peterman’s improved offseason grant him a second chance? Should the Bills throw a curveball and begin the Allen era now? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!
The Browns’ internal conflict is understandable as Bryant’s star has faded considerably in recent years. After averaging 91 catches for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns between 2012 and 2014, his averages plummeted to 50 catches for 678 yards and 6 TDs over the last three years. He also missed ten games due to injury between 2015 and 2016, and some say he wasn’t giving 100% towards the end of his run in Dallas.
Will Bryant be motivated by his release from the Cowboys? It stands to reason that he will, but one can’t help but wonder how Bryant would react to a sharp decrease in targets. Bryant would be in line for plenty of looks if Josh Gordon misses time, but the Browns are hopeful that the troubled star will be ready to go in Week 1. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Bryant is relegated to being the third wide receiver behind Landry and Gordon, and there’s also a group of talented young receivers to consider, including rookie Antonio Callaway.
With reservations and interest on both sides, we want to know what you think. Should the Browns sign Bryant? Click below to cast your vote.
Washington holds $13MM-plus in cap space, so funding won’t be an issue here given the timing of this injury and the host of proven backs on the market. Of the players available, Orleans Darkwa has generated the most interest this offseason. The Giants’ 2017 rushing leader met with the Patriots in April, before undergoing surgery, and since recovering has met with the Bills, Jets and Colts. Each team passed, but Darkwa has just 276 carries on his NFL odometer. And he averaged 4.4 yards per tote despite running behind an injury-ravaged Giants offensive front.
Alfred Morris led the Redskins in rushing for four straight seasons, and he averaged 4.8 yards per handoff last season as the Cowboys’ primary starter during Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension. The former sixth-round Washington find is 29 and hasn’t generated much interest since his Cowboys contract expired, although he did visit the Jets recently.
Eddie Lacy‘s also fairly young, at 28, but he’s coming off a brutal Seahawks season. After providing per-carry averages north of 4.0 in each of his four Packers seasons, Lacy averaged just 2.6 yards per run for the Seahawks. Branden Oliver has not been as successful on a per-rush basis, holding a career average of 3.4, but he totaled 853 yards from scrimmage as a seven-game starter as a rookie in 2014. Oliver also drew interest from the Bills this summer.
What about the market’s old guard? Adrian Peterson is obviously the first name that comes to mind, and the future Hall of Famer maintains he would like to play a 12th season. Peterson said he’s now healthy and has recovered from the neck injury that ended his 2017 season. While the three-time rushing champion’s best days are behind him, he amassed two 130-plus-yard games with the Cardinals, doing so despite being a midseason acquisition.
Jamaal Charles, 31, made it through last season healthy after extensive knee trouble plagued him in 2015 and 2016, but the Broncos took him out of their rotation. Nevertheless, the two-time All-Pro led Denver backs by averaging 4.3 yards per carry (albeit on just 69 handoffs). DeMarco Murray retired, but he made it clear shortly before that announcement he was interested in playing this season. Could this situation lure the 2014 offensive player of the year out of retirement?
However, the Redskins also have former Broncos backup Kapri Bibbs and third-year UDFA Byron Marshall. Should they bypass the market and go with a cast fronted by Kelley and Perine?
Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section!
In 2017, four first-place teams from the previous season did not earn postseason berths. Those clubs — the Texans, Cowboys, Packers, and Seahawks — all missed the playoffs for different reasons. Injuries, poor luck, off-field issues, and plain old regression to the mean all contributed in certain instances, and 2018 doesn’t figure to be any different for the 2017 first-place teams.
With Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in tow, the Patriots have won at least 12 games for eight consecutive seasons, and earned playoff berths in 14 of the past 15 years. Despite some roster turnover, that streak doesn’t figure to end in 2018. Not only is the AFC weak overall, but the AFC East in particular isn’t going to offer much competition for New England. New faces such as running back Sony Michel, offensive tackles Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown, defensive lineman Danny Shelton and Adrian Clayborn, and cornerback Jason McCourty should help keep the Patriots’ postseason streak alive.
The Steelers are rolling it back, as the club won’t have many changes on either offense or defense. The only new factor on the offensive side of the ball figures to be rookie wideout James Washington, who will replace Martavis Bryant as Pittsburgh’s deep threat. On defense, linebacker Jon Bostic takes over for the injured Ryan Shazier, while Morgan Burnett and Terrell Edmunds will form an all-new safety tandem. Competition from within the AFC North might be improved, especially if the Browns don’t play like a winless team again in 2018.
Over the course of the 2017 season, the Jaguars posted the second-highest DVOA variance of any NFL club, meaning their performance wasn’t consistent from week-to-week. Now that they’ve brought back quarterback Blake Bortles, that doesn’t figure to change. In a passing league, Jacksonville will commit to winning via the run game and defensive dominance, and those two areas of the game aren’t nearly as correlated to win as passing offense.
Unlike a postmortem, which helps explain why things happened after the fact, a premortem examines potential crises before they actually occur. Let’s take a premortem approach to a hypothetically-flawed 2018 Eagles roster: Carson Wentz doesn’t recover quickly from his ACL tear and his replacement, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, looks more like the Rams version of himself. Philadelphia’s defensive line ages quickly and can’t match its 2017 dominance, and the Eagles’ defensive back depth chart — which is relying on young players like Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas — can’t hold up. And head coach Doug Pederson‘s aggressiveness, which led him to go for it on fourth downs a league-leading 29 times in 2017, backfires.
Two words: Aaron Rodgers. Sure, the Vikings were among the most complete teams in the league last season, and have since added both Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson to an already-stacked roster. But the return of Rodgers from injury surely strikes fear in the hearts of Minnesota fans, and we haven’t even mentioned the improvements made by the NFC North’s other two clubs, the Bears and Lions.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints undoubtedly have a lot going for them in 2018: a future Hall of Famer in quarterback Drew Brees, dynamic rushing and receiving weapons, and an up-and-coming defense that will add veterans Kurt Coleman and Demario Davis in addition to rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport. The real problem for New Orleans is the strength of the NFC South. Both the Falcons and Panthers made the playoffs in 2017 and figure to be in contention again, so there’s always a chance the Saints slip out of the postseason picture due to their intra-division competition.
Los Angeles Rams
For all the offseason hype regarding the Rams, there are still quite a few questions about the club’s roster construction? Will LA’s offensive line — fronted by aging veterans Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan — hold up? How long will All-World defender Aaron Donald continue his holdout? Can Brandin Cooks improve upon Sammy Watkins‘ performance as the Rams’ X receiver? And who exactly will be rushing the passer from outside linebacker in Wade Phillips‘ 3-4 scheme?
So, what do you think? Which 2017 first place team is likeliest to miss the playoffs in 2018? Vote below!
Five quarterbacks — Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson — were selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, but each signal-caller will have different outlooks for his rookie campaign. Team status, the presence of other options under center, and each quarterback’s own development will play a role in when exactly he starts his first game.
So which rookie passer will start the most contests in 2018? Let’s take a look at each individually:
None of the first-round quarterbacks are guaranteed to open as a Week 1 starter, and Mayfield especially may face an uphill battle to overtake his club’s presumptive starter. Cleveland management has been adamant that Tyrod Taylor will be under center to begin the season, and there’s no reason (at present) to think that will change. However, Mayfield could certainly change minds during training camp and the preseason, and if the Browns get off to a slow start, Taylor could conceivably be benched in favor of the No. 1 overall pick.
Mayfield only needs to overtake Taylor in order to become the Browns’ starter, but Darnold might need to beat out two veterans: Josh McCown, who started 13 games for the Jets in 2017, and Teddy Bridgewater, who reportedly impressed during organized team activities. Darnold is the future of the New York franchise, of course, but that doesn’t mean the Jets are interested in throwing him on the field behind a porous offensive line and with limited offensive weapons.
Like Darnold, Allen may also be competing against two other quaterbacks, as Buffalo signed former Bengal A.J. McCarron this offseason while 2017 draft pick Nathan Peterman is also still in the fold. Additionally, Allen was viewed as a raw prospect coming out of Wyoming, and the Bills will field one of the league’s worst offensive lines during the upcoming season. Buffalo’s wide receiver depth chart is a terrifying sight, while the club’s best offensive player — running back LeSean McCoy — could face discipline if domestic violence accusations prove true. The Bills may want to hold Allen on the bench for awhile, allowing either McCarron or Peterman more reps.
Another rookie quarterback facing a battle with two other options? Sounds familiar. Although in Rosen’s case, it’s unclear if Mike Glennon is a serious obstacle. Sam Bradford is the favorite to act as the Cardinals’ starter in Week 1, but Rosen is viewed as the most pro-ready signal-caller of the rookie bunch, so he could get on the field sooner rather than later. Arizona faces a stiff schedule to open the 2018 campaign, and if the club struggles, the Cards’ staff may choose to turn to Rosen.
Jackson might be the first-round quarterback who sees the field first in 2018, but it may not be under center. The Ravens are reportedly interested in deploying Jackson as an “offensive weapon,” and could line him up on the field with starting quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco has produced poor performances in recent seasons, so Jackson is a reasonable candidate to see starts later in the year, especially if Baltimore falls out of the playoff picture.
So what do you think? Which first-round quarterback will make the most starts in 2018? Vote below!