Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
How could Rivera, or "Riverboat Ron," be on the hot seat after a 12-4 season? It isn't so much about last year, when a famously conservative coach started taking a number of chances which played off big time many a time, but about can they sustain that year? The NFC South should be much stronger and Carolina had an awful offseason. With greater performances come greater expectations but Rivera may not have the horses to meet them.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Lewis's situation is not all that dissimilar to Rivera's. Lewis has been the most successful coach of the Bengals in ages, getting them to three straight playoff appearances for the first time ever, but the team has largely sputtered every time they have gotten to the postseason. Heck, he has never won a playoff in five chances. Bengals fans are not all that happy with just making the playoffs considering the talent of the teams he has had, and if they don't make the playoffs altogether, Lewis could be in trouble. Of course, Mike Brown doesn't like to fire coaches but that doesn't mean Lewis's seat could be getting a tad warm.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Considering how mediocre the Cowboys have been under Garrett, never better than 8-8, and how restless owner Jerry Jones can be (he did fire Chan Gailey after making the playoffs both years he coached in Dallas), it is a relative surprise that Garrett still has himself a job. But this may just be the end of the line as the Cowboys look awful defensively. Garrett isn't totally to blame considering Jones has not done a good job as the team's GM, but he also isn't a very good in-game coach either by any stretch. If the Cowboys fall apart, he's gone.
Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins
Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Wait, didn't Ryan sign a three-year contract extension in January? Yes he did, but you have to read the fine print: it is only guaranteed in full until 2015 and if the Jets do not win a playoff game before 2016, the Jets can opt out. Now Ryan did lead the Jets to back-to-back AFC title game appearances in 2009-10, the club has also been quite mediocre as Ryan's shortcomings as a coach, particularly on the offensive side of the ball where he is a mess, have become more apparent. The Jets have spent a nice amount of green this offseason with the mindset being playoff contention. If they fall apart, Ryan will be axed.
Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders
Now I don't think it is fair that Allen is on the ropes in Oakland given that the Raiders have been undergoing a major rebuilding process, and I actually think he can be a good coach. But there is no question that Allen's job is in jeopardy as owner Mark Davis doesn't appear to be showing much patience for a team that has gone 8-24 in two years and it looks like they need a playoff appearance or at least playoff contention for Allen to stick around. However, even after signing a number of veterans in free agency, this team is still not close to the playoffs, meaning Allen is in trouble.