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 ESPN Insider, Mar 8, 2017, NFL front-office stability index: Ranking most, least desperate teams

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PostSubject: ESPN Insider, Mar 8, 2017, NFL front-office stability index: Ranking most, least desperate teams   Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:51 pm

ESPN Insider

Mar 8, 2017

NFL front-office stability index: Ranking most, least desperate teams

Forecasting which NFL teams could be looking for new head coaches and/or general managers becomes easier in November, but there is no need to wait that long. Coaching staffs and front offices already know where they stand more than six months before the 2017 season kicks off.

With that in mind, and in consultation with league insiders, I've placed all 32 teams into buckets based on the likelihood each team could change its head coach and/or GM following the 2017 season.
No. 1: Change is in the air

These teams appear most likely to make a significant change.
1. Chicago Bears

The Bears have a third-year coach and third-year GM coming off a 3-13 season following a 6-10 season. They could be starting over at quarterback without any assurances they'll improve at the position right away. Taking another step backward in the standings would be tough for ownership to stomach, even if the team made more progress with its roster.

2. New York Jets

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The Jets, like the Bears, also have a third-year coach and third-year GM coming off a losing season. They are beginning a roster overhaul this offseason, so ownership should not expect immediate results. What ownership should expect, however, is not necessarily what ownership will expect. This is a tough spot to be in without an obvious answer at quarterback.
3. Washington Redskins

The Redskins just gave coach Jay Gruden a contract extension, but mystery continues to surround GM Scot McCloughan. His absence from the combine and the team's confusing statements about his status have fueled speculation Washington could have a new GM in place sooner rather than later.

"If I'm Gruden, I don't do a new deal unless I know what is going on with Scot," a longtime team executive said. "This means, 'We have it covered, we will promote someone, you will have a little more power.'"
4. Buffalo Bills

This looks like a no-win situation for GM Doug Whaley. The Bills have a new coach who figures to get the credit if the team makes strides, but if things go poorly out of the gates, Whaley takes the blame. How much longer does he have in an organization that has changed just about everything else around him? Could there be a change before the season?

The Bills have won 24 games over the past three seasons, their highest three-year total since they won 29 under Wade Phillips from 1998-2000. But they have finished better than third in the AFC East just once during Whaley's five-year run as GM.
No. 2: A different kind of pressure

The next three teams need to make the playoffs and probably win a playoff game to maintain continuity. One or two might get it done.
5. Cincinnati Bengals

Marvin Lewis has been the Bengals' coach since 2003, gaining power in recent seasons as owner Mike Brown has scaled back his involvement. Lewis, 118-103-3 (.533) in the regular season and 0-7 in the playoffs, survived three losing seasons in a four-year run from 2007-10. He is 58-36-2 since then, but that includes 6-9-1 last season following five consecutive one-and-done postseasons.
6. Houston Texans

The Texans are coming off three successive 9-7 seasons under Bill O'Brien and could need to get creative at quarterback to break through. Landing Tony Romo could serve as a breath mint for the bad taste left by Brock Osweiler's contract, but if the Texans fall off, look out.
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"They have become stagnant and there is frustration they cannot get out of their 9-7 rut," a former GM said. "Cincinnati, Houston and Baltimore are all good franchises with winning head coaches who expect more and are stuck, which means something could happen."
7. Baltimore Ravens

Coach John Harbaugh had five straight winning seasons and a Super Bowl title in his first five years on the job. He has one winning season in his last four and is 31-33 over that span. The dip coincides with the top-of-market money Baltimore paid to keep quarterback Joe Flacco, who will be on his fifth offensive coordinator in the past six seasons.
No. 3: A 50-50 chance for a big change

There's enough uncertainty around these teams to raise questions about their immediate futures. Some have head coaches and GMs working on different timelines based on when they were hired.
8. Minnesota Vikings

This feels high for Minnesota to rank after three moderately successful seasons under coach Mike Zimmer. Then again, Brad Childress went 6-10, 8-8, 10-6 and 12-4 in his first four seasons with Minnesota, only to lose his job following a chaotic 3-7 start to his fifth season. Last season was chaotic for the Vikings. A regression in 2017 could be costly.
9. Indianapolis Colts

Owner Jim Irsay investigated his options in the head-coaching market this offseason before sticking with Chuck Pagano. While new GM Chris Ballard will certainly get multiple seasons to fortify Indy's roster, Irsay's commitment to Pagano appears tenuous.
10. Cleveland Browns

The Browns' leadership is playing the long, long, long game. How long will owner Jimmy Haslam wait if they do not make big strides in the standings? He has had four GMs, four head coaches, four offensive coordinators and four defensive coordinators since 2012.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay has gone from 2-14 to 6-10 to 9-7 over the past three seasons, with Jameis Winston's arrival driving some of the improvement. Bucs ownership has been quick to fire head coaches in the recent past, however, so an unanticipated stumble could cause alarm.
12. Tennessee Titans

GM Jon Robinson retained Mike Mularkey in a bit of a surprise last offseason. The team then tripled its win total to finish 9-7, fueling expectations to levels that could be unrealistic. What happens if Marcus Mariota keeps getting hurt and the Titans lose some of the close games? They were 4-0 in games decided by three or fewer points in 2016.
13. Detroit Lions

The Lions rank 11th in win percentage (27-21, .563) since hiring Jim Caldwell as head coach. They hired a new GM in Bob Quinn last offseason, however, and the team faded down the stretch amid injuries in 2016.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars

Vice president Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone figure to have multiple seasons after assuming their current roles this year. Where does that leave fifth-year GM Dave Caldwell for the long term?
15. New York Giants

GM Jerry Reese completed one of the all-time Hail Mary passes in free agency last offseason, supplying the talent for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to field a top-five defense. Was this a one-year bump or the start of something sustainable?
No. 4: Greater chance nothing big happens

These teams appear more likely to stay the course despite some question marks.
16. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have shaken up their front office and coaching staffs more than once in recent seasons. The current group should have at least another season together after the Eagles went 7-9 with a rookie quarterback and rookie coach in 2016.
17. Denver Broncos

GM John Elway has shown he'll shake up the coaching staff even when the team is winning. The odds favor new coach Vance Joseph getting more than one season, however.
18. New Orleans Saints

Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis appear to be made men as long as Tom Benson owns the team. Benson, who turns 90 this year, has arranged for wife Gayle to succeed him as owner.
19. Los Angeles Chargers

There is some thought that the Chargers will keep their current leadership in place while relocating to a temporary stadium in Los Angeles for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. "I don't see them wanting to make more changes while they are moving," an exec said.
20. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams showed patience with previous coach Jeff Fisher and will surely give new coach Sean McVay, 31, a chance to grow into the role. GM Les Snead is entering his sixth year on the job and seems to be on solid footing.
21. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers went 15-1 on their way to the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. They were 6-10 last season, however, and have been below .500 four times in six seasons under coach Ron Rivera, who is signed through 2018. Owner Jerry Richardson has made surprising moves in the past. It's best not to take anything for granted with him.
22. Miami Dolphins

Going 10-6 against expectations should buy time for second-year coach Adam Gase, even if the team takes a step backward in the standings this season.
23. Dallas Cowboys

The good life is even better for owner Jerry Jones now that he's in the Hall of Fame and printing money in the palace that doubles as the Cowboys' stadium. He has a good thing going with coach Jason Garrett and could be reluctant to change.
24. Arizona Cardinals

GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians have built up equity while going 41-22-1 during four seasons together. Arians' health could remain a concern and some have speculated that he would retire before enduring a rebuild if Carson Palmer retired, but those rumors remain just that -- rumors.
25. San Francisco 49ers

Six-year deals for GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan suggest the 49ers will give both at least a couple seasons to get things in order.
26. Green Bay Packers

GM Ted Thompson turns 65 after the season and there has been talk he could retire in the not-too-distant future. That is the only reason Green Bay sits outside the next bucket.
No. 5: Very little chance for big changes

This group features some of the NFL's most stable and consistent teams, plus a couple whose recent successes should help lay a stable foundation.
27. Oakland Raiders

GM Reggie McKenzie signed a four-year extension last offseason. Coach Jack Del Rio signed one last month. It's tough to imagine owner Mark Davis paying them to go away anytime soon.
28. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons' Super Bowl season should buy time for all the team's decision-makers. That includes GM Thomas Dimitroff, whose deal runs through 2019.
29. Kansas City Chiefs

Coach Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey are 43-21 in four seasons together. The Chiefs were 23-41 over the previous four-year period.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have had three coaches over the past 48 seasons and shouldn't be in the market for the next one anytime soon. Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert are signed through 2018 and have a good thing going.
31. Seattle Seahawks

GM John Schneider's deal runs through 2021. Coach Pete Carroll is signed through 2019, as is quarterback Russell Wilson. That is a recipe for no change.
32. New England Patriots

The Patriots finally rank last in something: the likelihood for change. Bill Belichick has a 201-71 record as the team's coach, and he is 25-9 in the playoffs. The Patriots have nearly as many regular-season victories over the past four seasons (50) as the Titans, Browns and Jaguars have combined (51).
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ESPN Insider, Mar 8, 2017, NFL front-office stability index: Ranking most, least desperate teams

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