Continuing a tradition that we began two years ago, we've taken a data-driven look at which NFL head coaches are sitting on the hottest seats entering the 2019 season.
We're not predicting which coaches will be fired; that involves two separate factors in how hot each seat is, and the fortunes of each team in 2019. Instead, we isolated the first factor -- the heat under all 32 seats -- by assuming they will all have the same losing season. Specifically, we presupposed every team would finish the year 4-12, and then asked our analytical model to make a projection on the fate of each coach.
Just as before, we trained our model using Pro Football Reference's data on all NFL coaching tenures since 1979. Unsurprisingly, the most important factor is the team's record from the present season, but there are a number of other factors that interact with each other within the model. Click here to read more about our methodology.
We've tested the model against every season for the past 40 years, and it's correct 80 percent of the time when using a cutoff of more than 50% predicting a firing and less than 50% predicting retention. At the end of last season, the model was accurate on four of the five most likely coaches to be replaced. Time ran out for Todd Bowles (73%) with the New York Jets after three straight losing seasons. Steve Wilks (61%) was let go after a single two-win campaign for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. After defying the model's predictions for years, Marvin Lewis (60%) saw his long tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals finally come to a close after three straight losing seasons. Dirk Koetter (54%) was replaced by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following two down years. Only the San Francisco 49ers' Kyle Shanahan (54%) survived among the model's top five. Much of the blame for 2019's weak record could be blamed on the injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The other coaches replaced after last season were Adam Gase (39%) with the Miami Dolphins and Vance Joseph (38%) with the Denver Broncos. Gase's seven-win 2018 season wasn't enough to save his job, and Joseph's one-win improvement over 2017 ended his tenure after two seasons.
These are the hottest seats entering 2019, assuming a four-win season:
1. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
Chances of being fired: 73%