Who will be the first head coach fired this season? It pretty much always happens that at least one goes during the season. Your favorite for 2015? Washington's Jay Gruden at +165 at Ladbrokes.
Garrett Was 2014 Favorite
You have to take these first coach fired lists with a grain of salt. For example, the Cowboys' Jason Garrett was the favorite this time last year at +300. And that made sense with the Dallas Cowboys coming off three straight 8-8 seasons. So what happened? Dallas went 12-4 to win the NFC East -- thanks in large part to a crazy 8-0 road record -- and Garrett got a five-year, $30 million extension from owner (and general manager) Jerry Jones. This season, Garrett will pass Jimmy Johnson as the second-longest tenured Cowboys coach in history behind Hall of Famer Tom Landry. From nearly fired to the penthouse.
Entering last season, the guy I liked to be fired first was Oakland's Dennis Allen, and he was the second betting favorite. The Oakland Raiders dumped Allen after an 0-4 start -- that's pretty early. But you saw that coming in a way as Oakland had lost 10 straight games overall, was coming off an ugly 38-14 loss in Miami and headed for the bye week when he was canned. A team's bye week is always a great time to project a possible firing since it gives the new guy extra time to settle in.
Either Gruden Or RGIII In 2016?
I can't say I'm surprised that Washington's Gruden is the 2015 favorite. The Redskins were a 4-12 mess last season in Gruden's first year; he was previously Cincinnati's offensive coordinator. Gruden also publicly called out quarterback Robert Griffin III and you just don't do that. If you have a problem with your QB, you deal with it in private, not with the media. Redskins owner Dan Snyder isn't exactly the most patient guy and if Washington has a similar 2015 season to last, then either Gruden or Griffin III will not be back in 2016. For what it's worth, the team has picked up RGIII's fifth-year option worth $16.1 million, meaning the Skins retain his rights through the '16 season. The salary is only fully guaranteed for injury, however. The team hired Gruden because it thought he would improve RGIII, but it seemed more like Griffin regressed even further last year (and of course got hurt again).
The second-favorite at +450 NFL odds is Cleveland's Mike Pettine. Again, this makes sense because the Browns are the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL right now. There's the whole Johnny Manziel mess, the general manager being suspended four games for texting during games to the sideline, and the owner in some legal hot water with the Feds. Other than that. But the team did improve from 4-12 in 2013 under Rob Chudzinski (his only season as coach) to 7-9 last year.
Next is Tennessee's Ken Whisenhunt at +700. The guy is highly regarded as an offensive mind, but the Tennessee Titans were just 2-14 last season in his first year and they look like the worst team in the league in 2015. Whisenhunt is the best example that a coach is only as good as his quarterback. When he had Kurt Warner in Arizona, the Cardinals made the playoffs (and a Super Bowl). When he didn't, they didn't. I think Whisenhunt will be judged less on wins and losses this year than the development of No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota at quarterback. If Mariota has a Blake Bortles-type rookie season, then Whisenhunt goes.
The only other coach under +1000 is New Orleans' Sean Payton at +800. I really don't see any way he gets fired as Payton is considered one of the best offensive play-callers in the NFL. He would be snapped up immediately if the New Orleans Saints dumped him. Ladbrokes actually lists odds on every coach. You can get the Patriots' Bill Belichick at a cool +25000. Probably not money wisely spent.
NFL Free Pick: I believe the best value is Miami's Joe Philbin at +1600. I don't know why owner Stephen Ross kept him on after last season. Well, I do: Because Ross, a big-time Michigan booster, knew he couldn't get Jim Harbaugh. Philbin is 100 percent gone if Miami doesn't make the playoffs, especially after the team shelled out huge money to get Ndamukong Suh. Miami's first four games before the bye: at Washington, at Jacksonville, vs. Buffalo, vs. Jets. If the team starts 0-4 or even 1-3, I could see a change being made.