When it comes to hot seats in the AFC East, everyone can look to one of the coldest venues to find it -- Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium, where Rex Ryan enters a pivotal second season as head coach.
There are others to consider as well, such as Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He’s not necessarily on the hot seat for his job, but this is a critical time in his career from this standpoint: If he doesn’t continue to progress under noted quarterbacks guru/first-year head coach Adam Gase, what would that say about his future?
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has done a solid job entering his second season, but if the team doesn’t resolve a contract stalemate with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense sputters, his seat could warm up.
And how about Jimmy Garoppolo in New England? That seat could be pretty hot for the first four games of the season if he has to play in place of Tom Brady.
Here are ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters Mike Rodak (Bills), James Walker (Dolphins), Rich Cimini (Jets) and Mike Reiss (Patriots) to discuss.
Mike Rodak, Bills: Rex Ryan's job security has been discussed a little bit this offseason. OK, it's been talked about a lot. And for good reason -- Ryan came to Buffalo with big promises about the playoffs and his defense, and the Bills were one of the NFL's bigger disappointments last season. Credit Ryan for trying to raise the bar around an organization that hasn't been in the postseason since 1999, but he still needs to get his group to deliver. If the Bills stumble again this season, Ryan could be the latest victim of the growing pressure created by the team's ongoing 16-year playoff drought.
James Walker, Dolphins: It’s a close choice between Bills head coach Rex Ryan and Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the AFC East. Both have plenty to prove in 2016, but I think Ryan gets more of a pass here because he is entering just his second season in Buffalo. But Tannehill is entering Year 5 and it’s time to end the excuses. Yes, Tannehill is the most sacked quarterback (184) since 2012. Yes, Tannehill is on his third offensive coordinator in the past four seasons. But at some point the finger-pointing has to stop, and it’s on Tannehill to take responsibility for the failure or success of Miami’s offense. New Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is a bright offensive mind who knows how to get the most out of quarterbacks. Gase also is giving Tannehill the kind of freedom in the offense and audible ability that he’s craved. Add in the fact Miami has four former first-round picks on the offensive line, including 2016 rookie Laremy Tunsil, and Tannehill is set up for success.
Rich Cimini, Jets: Come on, this is a no-brainer -- Rex Ryan. It looks like playoffs-or-bust for the brash Bills coach, who has no excuses in Year 2. In most cases, a head coach gets more than two years to establish his program, but Ryan changed the dynamic by predicting big things for the moribund Bills. It’s all-or-nothing, and he knows it. If he gets the Bills to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, he’ll be a Buffalo icon. If not, he might be working for ESPN next year. I’d put Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill a distant second on the hot-seat list.
Mike Reiss, Patriots: When Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly says Rex Ryan is coaching for his job and must make the playoffs to stick, what else needs to be said? Kelly knows the Bills, and has his finger on the pulse of Western New York as much as anyone.