As the coaching carousel spins faster, coaches begin to fall and get sent tumbling to the dirt. With two weeks remaining in the 2018 regular season, pressure mounts on both players and coaches. Last week we took a look at the coaches who have likely lost their seats for the 2019 season. Today we take a look at the coaches who have likely saved their jobs over the last few weeks.
The Clapper, as he’s known by many, coaches the current NFC East leaders. Since taking over interim duties in 2010, Garrett has a .560 win percentage heading into Week 16 of the 2018 season. Dallas sits at 8-5 with a two game lead on the rest of the decision. The Cowboys have won five in a row following a 3-5 start to the season. Dallas has looked like a different team since acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper in a trade with the Raiders. Adding the talented receiver has added a new dimension to the Cowboys offense and taken the pressure off the run game. Dallas’ defense has also turned the corner and is now one of the league’s best.
Garrett’s future in Dallas looked in question by the midpoint of the season. The current winning streak has all but secured his presence as head coach of the Cowboys. Both sides of the football are playing well and the Cowboys are riding high after a shocking victory over the New Orleans Saints at the end of November. Dallas laid an egg on the road against the Colts but remain atop the NFC East. Their last two regular season games are home against Tampa Bay and in New York to face the rival Giants. Barring a major collapse, Dallas will win the division and host a playoff game. At that point all bets are off. However, as it stands, Garrett’s future with the Cowboys looks bright.
An exciting victory over the hated Patriots is a hell of a way to save your job. Adam Gase did just that when Kenyan Drake took a lateral and weaved his way down the field and past Rob Gronkowski for the game winning score. While the Dolphins struggled in their subsequent visit to Minnesota, the Dolphins remain in playoff contention with a 7-7 record. Miami’s offense has battled injuries at the skill position with two starting receivers, two starting offensive linemen, and two tight ends on injured reserve. As a result the offense has lacked consistency from week to week.
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Gase is in his third season in South Beach and has a .500 win percentage. His first season in 2016 ended with a 10-6 regular season and a first round exit in the playoffs. Last season the Dolphins struggled at quarterback and went 6-10. In 2018 the struggles have remained at the position but the ground game has allowed the offense to contend in most games. Gase is likely safe as he has kept the Dolphins in contention for most of the season and there are not many attractive candidates likely available. Throw in the promise of an upgrade at quarterback and it is easy to see a 2019 with Gase leading the Dolphins on the sideline.
Gruden lost his starting quarterback, Alex Smith, to a gruesome injury. Washington then lost Colt McCoy and thrust Mark Sanchez into the starting role. After the expected struggles by the former USC quarterback, Gruden turned to Josh Johnson, a quarterback who last threw a pass in the NFL during the first term of the Obama administration. Washington seemed to be in a free fall after losing four in a row, while also losing the lead in the NFC East. Then came a tough game on the road against the Jaguars. Johnson did just enough to lead Washington for their first victory in a month, and the first of his NFL career.
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Gruden is part of a dysfunctional organization and serves as the public face of a franchise which made the league’s only waiver claim on linebacker Reuben Foster. The former 49ers linebacker had been released the previous weekend after his arrest for a domestic disturbance incident at the team’s hotel. Foster may never play another down in the league and Washington received a heavy dose of criticism over the move. However, Gruden still has his team lurking in the playoff race and wins in the final two weeks of the season coupled with losses by either the Vikings or Eagles would allow the team to sneak into the sixth spot. Given the injuries on the field and the front office circus off it, Gruden guiding this team to the playoffs should be more than enough to return next season.
At the end of the year teams make confounding decisions regarding their rosters and coaching staff. Garrett, Gase, and Gruden all sit firmly on the hot seat but all have teams in contention for the playoffs. In the case of Gase and Gruden, injury issues have created an opening to point to, which could be the one thing keeping either coach from being unemployed. The regular season holds two weeks left, and possibly the playoffs for the three coaches. All three men are only as good as their last game. If things go just right, all three coaches can stake their claim to return in 2019.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Cardinals. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada