Today's question: Who is on the hottest seat in the division?
Tania Ganguli, Houston Texans: I think there’s urgency in a few places. I think the personnel side and the coaching side in Tennessee bought themselves at least a little time by drafting a quarterback second overall. They’ve probably got two years between the need to allow Marcus Mariota to develop and the unsettled nature of their ownership situation. I don’t sense the Texans or Jaguars decision-makers on hot seats. The better the team is, the higher the expectations are, so you could make a strong argument that Colts coach Chuck Pagano is on the hottest seat in the division. He has a terrific young quarterback, but the Colts have only ever reached the AFC Championship Game once with him, and were thoroughly dominated once they got there. Pagano is also in the final year of his contract, which adds some heat to the seat on which he sits.
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts: As crazy as it sounds, it’s Colts coach Pagano. Pagano has led the Colts a step further in the playoffs in each of his three seasons. They’re coming off back-to-back undefeated seasons in the division and they played in the AFC Championship Game last season. But Pagano is entering next season as a lame duck coach with his contract. Owner Jim Irsay hasn’t shut the door on an extension for Pagano, but you have to wonder if it’ll truly get done after talks broke down earlier in the offseason. Simply getting to the playoffs won’t save Pagano’s job. The Colts, who have their best overall team since Pagano, GM Ryan Grigson and QB Andrew Luck came on board in 2012, have to at least reach the AFC Championship Game again. And they may have to get to the Super Bowl if they end up with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Mike DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars: It seems weird to say it considering how successful the franchise has been lately, but it’s Indianapolis Colts GM Grigson because of his surprising decision to not try to work out a contract extension with Pagano before the season began. That’s a decision I just don’t understand. Indianapolis has progressed further in the playoffs each season and reached the AFC title game last season. Granted, they were blown out by the Patriots (again) but they did go into Denver and beat Peyton Manning. I guess the thinking is because Pagano missed most of the 2012 season while fighting cancer Colts management has only had two seasons to evaluate Pagano. The Colts added Frank Gore and Andre Johnson and drafted receiver Phillip Dorsett with their first-round pick despite needing help along the offensive line, and that seems to put a Super Bowl-or-bust element to Pagano’s 2015 season.
Paul Kuharsky, Tennessee Titans: I think Jaguars general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley are good football men and good guys. But the team went 4-12 in their first year and 3-13 in their second. They undertook a huge rebuild and they suffered an enormous loss when the No. 3 pick in the draft, Dante Fowler Jr., tore his ACL at his very first practice. There are all sorts of improvements they can talk of, but it’s time for them to start showing up in the form of wins. I can’t see owner Shad Khan making a change after this season barring some sort of outright disaster. But Caldwell and Bradley need the culture change and the roster change to start to turn into results change in their third year.