Rhule’s status at No. 1 is no surprise. In fact, it’s something of a miracle Rhule is heading into his third season with the Panthers. Owner David Tepper is the NFL’s richest leader and probably could have just about any coach he wants.
Tepper, who made billions managing hedge funds and was part of sustained success when he was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, isn’t known for his patience. Some officials in the Carolina organization were almost certain Rhule would be fired after last season.
Tepper decided to stick with Rhule, perhaps dissuaded by the specter of another rebuild with a new regime.
Did anybody really think Sam Darnold was the answer at quarterback? Not even the Panthers. That’s why they went out and brought in Baker Mayfield, a move that comes with its own risk.
Hot in Big D
McCarthy is in something of a different spot than Rhule. Even so, the odds are not in his favor. McCarthy and the Cowboys are coming off a 12-5 season, which featured a sweep of the NFC East.
Apparently, now all Jones wants is nothing short of a Super Bowl appearance and maybe nothing short of a Super Bowl championship.
Let’s face the facts. Jones is 79 and will turn 80 on Oct. 13. Time is getting short and Jones is likely to resort to the same impulsive tactics he showed early in his tenure, when he canned Jimmy Johnson during a run of championships.
And let’s throw a wild idea at you that may not be all that far-fetched. Sean Payton, who once was a Dallas assistant and was particularly close to Jones, walked away from the New Orleans Saints after last season.
But Payton wouldn’t rule out the possibility of coaching again. Payton remains under contract with New Orleans and any team interested in getting him would have to compensate the Saints.
Landing Payton could be a last hurrah, of sorts, for Jones.
Speaking of Payton, let’s forget that wild report last week that he could end up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if first-year coach Todd Bowles' (+10000) charges start slowly. That’s not happening. The Bucs have traded for a coach (Jon Gruden) before, but not this time.
Saints vice president and general manager Mickey Loomis knows Payton’s value as a coach better than anyone. There’s no way Loomis would allow Payton to end up with an NFC South opponent.
Out of the top-10, best-selling NFL jerseys over the first six months of the year, eight are of quarterbacks and two are new to their teams.
More coaches under fire
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, may have outlasted Russell Wilson, but maybe not by all that much. Carroll is +600 to be the first coach out the door this season. Carroll will turn 71 on Sept. 15 and he doesn’t have a quarterback. It might be time for the Seahawks to start all over.
If you’re looking for a longer shot, try the Atlanta’ Falcons' Arthur Smith (+1400).
He has only had one season, but this team is starting from scratch after parting ways with longtime quarterback Matt Ryan and replacing him with Marcus Mariota.
Much like Jones, Atlanta owner Arthur Blank has a biological clock that’s ticking. Blank will turn 80 on Sept. 27. Blank has run off Mike Smith and Dan Quinn, and he has high expectations for a rapid rebuild.
The Indianapolis Colts are expected to be in the playoffs -- owner Jim Irsay made this abundantly clear in a principal’s office type of meeting last January when the team plane returned from a loss to the league's worst team. The lowly Jacksonville Jaguars beat Indianapolis, keeping them from the postseason and triggering another QB switch.
If Frank Reich gets off to a slow start, his +700 odds will shrink quickly.
The same is likely true for Rivera with the Commanders. Another year with another quarterback, Washington is giving Carson Wentz a spin after failed runs with the Philadelphia Eagles and Colts. He’s +800 to be the first fired and in a highly combustible situation from the top-down.
Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell might be willing to run through a wall for grins, but that’s not getting this team into contention. The Lions are built for a run in 2023 or 2024. If Campbell keeps losing in multiples of five, he will be watching Detroit succeed under a new regime.