2014 NFL preview: Coaches on the hot seat

MIKE SMITH

Record: 60–36 overall in six seasons with Falcons

Why the heat? If last year was a fluke, fine. No harm done. Consider it a hiccup. If the Falcons miss the playoffs again or fail to compete in the NFC South, then that should be it for Smith. The Falcons have a ton of talent. There’s no excuse to not to be in the mix this year. So, if that happens, Smith’s record in Atlanta won’t save him when heads begin to roll. And they will roll if the Falcons disappoint again.

JOE PHILBIN

Record: 15-17 overall in two seasons with Dolphins

Why the heat? The Dolphins have believed for a few seasons they were on the cusp of challenging the Patriots in the AFC East. That hasn’t happened. Instead, Miami was embroiled in last year’s bullying scandal and Philbin came out of it looking like he was clueless as to what was happening in his locker room. It’s hard to fathom Philbin surviving another losing season. In the end, he might be best serving as an offensive coordinator.

JASON GARRETT

Record: 29-17 overall in four seasons with Cowboys

Why the heat? Garrett has been the definition of mediocre since taking as Dallas’ head coach four years ago, barely above .500. With a weak defense and some other questions, the Cowboys could finish below .500 this season. He’s going to need to make sure that doesn’t happen, lead Dallas to the playoffs for the first time in his tenure, and possibly win a game once there to keep his job. If not, this could be it.

REX RYAN

Record: 42-38 overall in five seasons with Jets

Why the heat? This one isn’t a secret. Everyone already knows Ryan is holding on by a thread and likely would already be out of a job if his team hadn’t rallied to save his job last season. The Jets will to have to keep that momentum going and get to the playoffs to save Ryan this time. He’s made a few deep playoff runs with Mark Sanchez as his quarterback, but that all happened too long ago to matter now.

MARVIN LEWIS

Record: 90-85-1 overall in 11 seasons with Bengals

Why the heat? It’s somewhat amazing that Lewis has managed to stick with the Bengals for 11 seasons without winning a playoff game. The Bengals have far too much talent to settle for mediocrity. At some point, someone is going to get sick of just being in the mix. When that happens — or if it happens — Lewis could find himself out of a job. Will it be this year? History says no, but it probably should be if he falls short.