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NFL hot seat rankings: Colts’ Chuck Pagano leads list of coaches who could be in trouble

(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports / AP)    —    The NFL season is now a week old, but we all know it’s not unheard of for teams to make coaching changes as early as September. Will the axe fall somewhere this month? Probably not. But will the proverbial coaching hot seats warm up as the autumn temperatures cool? Inevitably.

Here’s this season’s initial installment of our weekly hot seat rankings:

1. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts: His team didn’t look capable of beating the Los Angeles Rams even if Andrew Luck had been fully healthy and at the top of his game. Luck’s health is obviously a major key to Indy’s fortunes, but this club has been in steady decline since blowing the whistle on Deflategate, going 16-17 since the 2014 AFC Championship Game. That’s not entirely Pagano’s fault, but former GM Ryan Grigson has already been ousted. And showings like Sunday’s 46-9 stinker certainly won’t endear Pagano to first-year GM Chris Ballard, who may eventually decide he needs his own guy on the sideline.

2. John Fox, Chicago Bears: The rumor mill would have you believe that Fox and GM Ryan Pace do not see eye to eye, and it hit overdrive after Pace’s stunning move to acquire the No. 2 selection of this year’s draft to get QB Mitchell Trubisky. But there’s no sidestepping Fox’s 9-24 record in Chicago, either, even if the Bears gave the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons all they could handle Sunday. Unless the Bears turn the corner with veteran QB Mike Glennon, it’s hard to envision Trubisky being the guy who can salvage Fox’s tenure.

3. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: His deal expires after this season. He’s never won a playoff game in 14 seasons and didn’t even reach postseason last year. And, most concerning, his club laid a Week 1 goose egg for their lame duck coach. Not a good way to get another contract, even for a guy who’s enjoyed owner Mike Brown’s loyalty since 2003.

4. Todd Bowles, New York Jets: His roster doesn’t have 53 NFL-caliber talents on it, seemingly by design. The real questions seem to be 1) Will Bowles want to hang around after this slog of a season? and/or 2) Do the Jets see him at the helm as they embark on what appears to be a lengthy rebuild?

5. Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns: His team gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a spirited battle Sunday, further evidence Jackson has the Browns finally pointed in the right direction. But it’s worth wondering if a franchise not known for patience will let him see his long-term vision through.

6. Ben McAdoo, New York Giants: He had a strong maiden voyage in 2016, leading New York back to the playoffs. But the weather can change quickly in New York, and McAdoo’s offense, which lacked injured WR Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday night, was still shockingly inept against a middling Dallas Cowboys D. The Giants better improve quickly, or the tabloids will be calling for McAdoo’s newly coiffed head soon enough.

7. Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans: He’s guided a flawed roster to three consecutive 9-7 finishes, the last two good enough for AFC South crowns. But this team’s obvious weakness is the quarterback position, and O’Brien hasn’t been able to fix it — which was apparent again Sunday. He’s earned time to develop rookie Deshaun Watson, who seems to be the best hope O’Brien’s had for a solution. But if the Texans crater, and Watson doesn’t make strides over the course of the season, O’Brien might find himself in jeopardy.

***

NEW YORK (AP) — After the opening week of the NFL season, it’s so easy to overreact, given such a small sample.

That’s not an issue for the Green Bay Packers. They started the season last week at No. 2 in the first AP Pro32 poll and opened with a 17-9 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

And after the defending champion New England Patriots were routed in their opener, the Packers took advantage.

Green Bay grabbed the top spot in the latest AP Pro32 poll , which was released on Tuesday, receiving seven of 12 first-place votes for 376 points in balloting by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

“The Packers take the top spot because in Week 1, they looked like they finally have the championship-level defense to match their QB,” said Jenny Vrentas of The Monday Morning Quarterback. “A big test will be to see if they can keep it up this week against Atlanta.”

In all, six teams received a first-place vote.

The Kansas City Chiefs earned one of those first-place votes to reach 367 points, jumping five places to No. 2 in the poll after opening the season with a 42-27 win against the Patriots.

“That’s the best game of Alex Smith’s career, as the veteran quarterback shuts down any thoughts of anointing rookie Patrick Mahomes as the Chiefs’ starter,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said. “Smith obliterated Bill Belichick’s defense and made it clear Kansas City will be a major player in the AFC.”

Coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs will host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Reid coached the Eagles for 14 seasons and reached the playoffs nine times.

The Dallas Cowboys also earned a first-place vote and finished with 331 points, moving up five places to No. 3 after a 19-3 win over the rival New York Giants.

The Patriots fell from No. 1 to No. 4 and will look to rebound in New Orleans on Sunday against Drew Brees and the Saints.

“The soft Saints face a hard truth — they are catching an enraged Tom Brady on the rebound,” Ira Kaufman of SB Nation Radio said.

New England also received a first-place vote and trails Dallas by only two points.

The Atlanta Falcons stayed at No. 5 and will open their new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium when they host the Packers on Sunday night in a rematch of the NFC championship game.

The Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers were tied at No. 6. Both received a first-place vote and have 327 points, trailing Atlanta by one.

Seattle, which lost to the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, dropped five spots to No. 8.

The Minnesota Vikings moved up six spots to No. 9 after opening with a win against the Saints. Minnesota faces a test this week when it goes on the road to take on the Steelers.

The Carolina Panthers gained three spots to round out the top 10.

___

(###) Number of first place votes
 
1
Record: 1-0
PV Rank

2

Points

376

2
Record: 1-0
7
367
3
Record: 1-0
8
331
4
Record: 0-1
1
329
5
Record: 1-0
5
328
6
Record: 1-0
4
327
6
Record: 1-0
6
327
8
Record: 0-1
3
297
9
Record: 1-0
15
282
10
Record: 1-0
13
267
11
Record: 1-0
17
261
12
Record: 1-0
22
248
13
Record: 1-0
19
244
14
Record: 1-0
18
243
15
Record: 0-0
12
210
16
Record: 0-1
10
187
17
Record: 0-1
9
184
18
Record: 0-0
16
180
19
Record: 1-0
27
177
20
Record: 1-0
30
153
21
Record: 0-1
24
134
22
Record: 0-1
14
131
23
Record: 0-1
21
125
24
Record: 0-1
11
121
25
Record: 1-0
28
111
26
Record: 0-1
23
89
27
Record: 0-1
20
82
28
Record: 0-1
29
80
29
Record: 0-1
31
59
30
Record: 0-1
26
37
31
Record: 0-1
25
28
32
Record: 0-1
32
21

Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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