NFL Hot Seat: Odds to be the First Coach Fired in 2018 Season

Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns
Hue Jackson and the Cleveland Browns had every reason to be upset after their dismal 0-16 record in 2017. Will it be his last full season with the team? Photo by: Erik Drost (Wiki Commons) [CC License]
  • Who will be the First NFL Head Coach to be Fired in 2018? Get odds on the 12 most likely candidates
  • Which of these coaches will be aided by an easy schedule ahead of them?
  • Who offers the most value to be shown the door?

The NFL season is still months away, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t betting opportunities out there. Bookmaker has just released an NFL prop bet on who will be the “First NFL Coach Fired.”

Here are the candidates listed by one of our top online betting sites:

NFL Head Coach Odds to be Fired in 2018
Hue Jackson  (Browns) +366
 Dirk Koetter (Buccaneers) +474
Vance Joseph (Broncos) +531
 Adam Gase (Dolphins) +640
 Todd Bowles (Jets) +925
Jay Gruden (Redskins) +1104
Marvin Lewis (Bengals) +1104
John Harbaugh (Ravens) +1729
Bill O’Brien (Texans) +1729
Pete Carroll (Seahawks) +1927
Jason Garrett (Cowboys) +3572
Ron Rivera (Panthers) +4500
No Coach Fired +403
The Field +750

Coaches Saved by “Strength” of Schedules

There are many ways to break this down but let’s start with looking at some of these team’s strength of schedules (SOS).

Your most standard way of looking at this would be to look at every team’s record from the past year and then transfer those records to this year’s schedules. But, this doesn’t factor in injuries, special situations and many other angles. Take for instance Green Bay and Dallas. Are they true 7-9 and 9-7 teams, respectively, given the fact they were missing star players Aaron Rodgers and Ezekiel Elliott for large portions of the season?

That’s why a better way to look at this is through season win totals based on where professional bookmakers think teams will finish this year. Two of the names on this list actually face the first and second easiest schedules this year (based on opening projected season win totals). Bill O’Brien of the Texans and John Harbaugh of the Ravens will face teams estimated to win 120.5 and 121.5 games respectively—the lowest totals in the league.

John Harbaugh is the fourth most winningest coach in the NFL since 2008

O’Brien should have star QB Deshaun Watson back from injury and the Ravens brought in WRs Josh Brown and Michael Crabtree to give QB Joe Flacco some new targets. Harbaugh can also point to the fact that since 2008 he is the fourth-winningest coach in the league.

Underdogs You Shouldn’t Chase

There’s good reason for the huge plus-money on some of these guys such as Pete Carroll and Ron Rivera. The changing of the guard is real in the NFC West and the Seahawks have lost a few pieces this offseason. But Carroll has had too much success for too long not to make it through the year.

As for Rivera at 45-1, this is a team that tied for the division lead last year. It would take a massive drop off to see him get the pink slip early.

Jason Garrett has always been like Teflon with Jerry Jones despite some very mediocre results. That being said Garrett is only one year removed from being Coach of the Year in 2016 and is under contract through 2019. The Cowboys took a step back last year finishing 9-7 but were without the services of Elliott due to suspension for six games.

While Zeke is back in 2018, the team has parted ways with WR Dez Bryant and the ever-reliable TE Jason Witten has retired. Who QB Dak Prescott throws the ball to is anyone’s guess and that could lead to a tough season the Cowboys.

However, Jones does not see Garrett as the problem saying, “It’s not even a thought for me…I think we’re in a good spot with Jason.”

It’s not even a thought for me…I think we’re in a good spot with Jason. ~Cowboys’ Owner Jerry Jones

Marvin Lewis may have steadied the ship in Cincinnati after years of the franchise being a laughing stock, but his 0-7 playoff record has become a defining statistic of his coaching tenure. After 15 years in Cincy, Lewis may have been thinking of moving on, but given his new two-year contract signed in January that now seems unlikely.

There’s no Value in the Favorite

Coach Record With Team 2017 Team Record Year Entering with Team
Hue Jackson 1-31 0-16 3
Dirk Koetter 14-18 5-11 3
Vance Joseph 5-11 5-11 2
Adam Gase 16-16 6-10 3
Todd Bowles 20-28 5-11 4
Jay Gruden 28-35-1 7-9 5

Hue Jackson in Cleveland is just too easy a target and the favorite which is just no fun. In any normal profession, if you were only successful 3% of the time, you would’ve been axed long ago. Yet Hue just keeps marching on and collecting a paycheck.

It’s hard to comprehend, but then again, this is the Browns.

Who has the Most Value to be Fired First?

Let’s look at the Washington Redskins’ head coach, Jay Gruden. Priced at just over 11-1 odds, he offers strong value to be the first coach axed in 2018.

After going 4-12 in his first season in Washington in 2014, Gruden went 9-7 in 2015, before 8-7-1 and 7-9 records the past two seasons. Gruden is the eighth head coach for the Skins in the past 15 years so he’s basically already playing with house money as the average tenure for a HC under owner Dan Snyder has been approximately 2.5 years.

Jay Gruden - First NFL to be Fired
Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins enter the post-Kirk Cousins era looking to improve on last year’s 7-9 record. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]

Despite Kirk Cousins often single-handedly winning games for Washington over the past six seasons, he was not retained. The 29-year-old was signed by the Minnesota Vikings and replaced by 34-year-old ex-Chiefs QB Alex Smith. Is this an upgrade? I’m not convinced.

Washington is scheduled to play the second toughest schedule based on projected 2018 season wins at 135.5.

If we go back to SOS, it’s worth noting that Washington is scheduled to play the second toughest schedule based on projected 2018 season wins at 135.5. They will play 13 teams expected to win at least seven games, only three that are expected to win less than seven – all three of those teams come before Week 11.

If Gruden has held on that long, he may be hard-pressed to finish out the year with four of the Skins’ last six games on the road, and two of the six against the Super Bowl champion Eagles.

PICK: Jay Gruden +1104