Hue Jackson shakes hands with Todd Bowles after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

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Silverman: Jackson, Harbaugh, Bowles On Hot Seat In NFL

Steve Silverman
June 14, 2018 - 3:12 pm
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This is the quiet time in the NFL.

The weeks before the start of training camp used to be when teams hung out the “Gone Fishing” signs while coaches, players and executives tried to think about anything else besides football.

That has not been the case for quite a while, at least for the coaches and executives. There are some players that will enjoy the last few weeks of an extended vacation, but coaches and general managers are going over what they saw in OTAs and minicamps to get a feel for the kind of talent they have on hand in 2018.

The front-office executives have done the large majority of their offseason work by bringing in free agents, drafting rookies and signing undrafted rookies. They should know the makeup of 80-90 percent of their roster at this point, with the remaining positions to be determined by training-camp performance and the waiver wire.

One team’s rejected player may turn out to be another team’s solid contributor. It has happened in the past and it will happen in the future.

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Since the game’s key decision makers have made most of their decisions, they can come up with realistic expectations for their respective teams. From that point, it’s up to the coaches to mold those clubs and deliver a team that meets or exceeds expectations for the 2018 season.

Those that can’t live up to those expectations will find themselves on the firing line.

Here’s a look at the coaches that will find themselves under the most pressure in 2018.

Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns

It’s quite amazing that Jackson survived either the 2016 or 2017 seasons, let alone both of them in which he put together a record of 1-31.

Nevertheless, new general manager John Dorsey has seen fit to give him another opportunity to right the ship as the Baker Mayfield era begins. The Browns have gained some respect for the way they have attempted to retool (additions of QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Jarvis Landry, S Damarious Randall), and the finger of blame for past failures have been pointed at former general manager Sashi Brown.

The belief is that Jackson will have to avoid a double-digit loss season and win seven games or more if he is going to survive the 2018 season. That does not seem likely.

Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs went into the 2017 season as the team many believed were ready to make a run at a playoff spot and possibly challenge for the NFC South title.

However, Tampa Bay never had a chance at either the division title or a wild-card spot. QB Jameis Winston had made progress in 2016, but he struggled to find his game last year.

It didn’t appear that head coach Dirk Koetter was able to reach Winston, and that’s not going to help the head coach’s status. He came into the position with a reputation as an offensive innovator and someone who could speak a quarterback’s language.

Instead, Koetter and Winston were unable to find any common ground, and unless there’s a spectacular turnaround in this area, neither the quarterback nor the coach will be on solid ground for the future. We’re not speculating on Winston’s future at this point, but Koetter has not shown enough competence to hold onto his position past 2018.

Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins

The 2017 season was a brutal one for the Redskins, as they entered the year with high hopes of making a run at the division title. Washington went into the season with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, and the argument could be made that he was the best quarterback in the NFC East.

Additionally, while the Cowboys were the favorites last year in the NFC East, there was little to separate the Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.

It seemed that any of those teams could have had the season that the Eagles ended up having. The fact that it was not the Redskins does not help Gruden’s status with high-pressure owner Dan Snyder.

Washington parted company with Cousins, and he could deliver the Vikings to a spectacular season. The Redskins are going to try to compete with Alex Smith at quarterback, and while he doesn’t make many mistakes, he may not be able to attack the way Gruden wants.

This could be his last year as head coach of the Redskins.

John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

By all measurements, Harbaugh is one of the top coaches in the NFL. He has won a Super Bowl and he has built a team that has regularly caused problems when it reaches the playoffs.

He has largely had a strong locker room where players hold each other accountable and get the most out of their ability.

However, Harbaugh is about to begin his 11th season with the Ravens and they have failed to make the playoffs each of the past three years.

Harbaugh may grade out well, but this is a results business, and he has not been producing lately. Harbaugh must make the playoffs or owner Steve Bisciotti is likely to remove him from the head coaching position.

Todd Bowles, New York Jets

The Jets and Mike Maccagnan have been quite patient with Bowles, who has not shown any consistency with the Jets.

Bowles started his head-coaching career with an unexpected 10-6 season, but that 2015 team failed to produce down the stretch and the Jets did not make the playoffs when it looked quite clear that it would.

Bowles followed that with consecutive 5-11 campaigns, and the team has backslid in most areas, including defense. That’s supposed to be Bowles’ strength as a leader.

Now his staff must develop QB Sam Darnold into a true leader. If that doesn’t happen quickly and the Jets don’t produce in 2018, it’s difficult to see Bowles getting another opportunity.

Follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy