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Four coaches made a real good case for losing their jobs in Week 9. The NFL’s firing season officially began on October 29 when Hue Jackson’s 3-36-1 record finally and mercifully got him canned in Cleveland. That took the name with the shortest odds off bookmakers’ “first head coach fired in 2018” lists, and the race to take his place in the hearts and minds of bettors ramped up in Week 9. Jackson’s absence pushed the spotlight to a handful of regrettable coaching decisions throughout the league. Vance Joseph decided to play the Texans in hard mode in a two-point loss. Sean McDermott was forced to start human white flag Nathan Peterman, then watched him throw three interceptions in a game that was over midway through the second quarter. Jason Garrett added more fuel to the debate over whether Marcus Mariota is good or not. So who made the decisions that lit the brightest flame under these head coaches’ seats? Let’s take a look at this week’s candidates. Vance Joseph made everything so much harder on himself Just playing the AFC South leading Texans wasn’t enough for Joseph. He needed to make things a little tougher to truly amp up the challenge. First, he and general manager John Elway completed Demaryius Thomas’s exile from Denver by shipping him to Houston, ending what was apparently a months-long campaign of phasing him out of the team’s culture. Demaryius Thomas said the Broncos made him feel as if he was the guy holding the young WRs, Courtland Sutton and DaeSeaon Hamilton, back. pic.twitter.com/v4CyFIqkHZ— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) November 6, 2018 Thomas came back to Mile High Stadium with a three-catch, 61-yard performance, all in the first quarter. But that wasn’t Joseph’s true folly Sunday. Neither was the 62-yard field goal attempt he took with 22 seconds left in the second quarter that wound up handing the Texans three points and led Bill O’Brien to say, well, something about his attempts to ice Houston kicker Kai’mi Fairbairn minutes later. Any lip readers out there able to decipher what Bill O'Brien says after Vance Joseph's icing attempt fails and the Texans get 3 points before half? pic.twitter.com/MzvoHmz5Kj— Brody Logan (@BrodyLogan) November 5, 2018 No, his true mistake was driving all the way to the Houston 32 with roughly 40 seconds left to play in a 19-17 game and then just ...stopping. Joseph let the clock run down to 13 seconds before calling a run play to Philip Lindsay, lost a yard in the process, and then burned his final timeout. That brought Brandon McManus, misser of the aforementioned 62-yard kick, onto the field for a 51-yard attempt. He missed wide right, and the Broncos whiffed on their opportunity to remain on the periphery of the playoff race. Was that enough to put Joseph on Elway’s hot seat? Nope! John Elway, on @orangeblue760: "At this point in time, we're going to stay the course. I think there's enough good things that are going on as far as us & the way that we're playing … I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year."— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 5, 2018 Todd Bowles cannot win and is inexplicably blaming his defense for it Bowles is stuck in a tough spot. First-round quarterback Sam Darnold is the future of the Jets, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, the rookie turnover machine is also smashing the team’s present into dust, forcing other players who are the future of the franchise — namely Jamal Adams and Robby Anderson — to lash out about the team’s horrible offense. Bowles could throw veteran Josh McCown into the lineup for a potential boost — the 39-year old was the catalyst behind the team’s surprising five-win season last fall — but that could have an adverse effect on Darnold’s development. It’s not in the cards anyway. He could lean on Isaiah Crowell more, but he’s averaged just 2.9 yards per carry since his breakout 219-yard performance in Week 5. There’s no real quick fix for what’s ailing a Jets’ offense that’s averaged 11 points per game in a three-week losing streak. So what did Bowles chalk his latest embarrassment up to after a 13-6 defeat to the Dolphins where the game’s only touchdown came on a Darnold pick-six? A lack of big plays on the defensive side of the ball. Today, we are all Bart Scott. .@BartScott57 going OFF on Todd Bowles pic.twitter.com/0EcMm48gb8— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) November 4, 2018 Sean McDermott was reduced to technically true praise about his starting quarterback Look, McDermott knows Peterman may be the worst starting quarterback of the modern era. He watches this every Sunday. He knows that a three-interception performance in Week 9 actually raised Peterman’s career efficiency. Nathan Peterman’s 12/19, 75 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs at halftimeThat’s good enough to raise his career passer rating from 31.4 to 31.5 — Adam Stites (@AdamStites_) November 4, 2018 But he can’t say that, at least not while Peterman’s on the roster and waiting to take over for whichever quarterback gets injured in front of him. So coming into Week 9, he had to tell the press he was confident in his out-of-options starting quarterback. And after a 41-9 defeat against the Bears, he had to discuss Peterman in the most diplomatic terms possible: Is Peterman an NFL quarterback? “I believe he is,” Bills coach Sean McDermott. That is a technically correct statement! Peterman is in the league. He has started four NFL games. He earns game checks. He is 6’2. Any of these would have been similarly accurate praise. McDermott was also asked whether or not his team had the personnel to win games, to which he replied: “I believe we do.” That’s a much less reasonable answer. His offensive line relied on Jeremiah Sirles and Wyatt Teller for meaningful stretches Sunday. His receiving corps is led by an impressively checked-out Kelvin Benjamin and, starting in Week 9, Jets castoff Terrelle Pryor — whose major contribution Sunday was this interception: Da SCOOP by @SmashAmos38 and our second takeaway of the day!#CHIvsBUF | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/b8aDnVxO6m— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 4, 2018 It’s as though the Bills are trying to create the least fun NFL Blitz lineup ever. Jason Garrett lost to the weirdo Titans after the Cowboys bet big on a revival Jerry Jones made a splash before Dallas’ bye week, freeing Amari Cooper from Oakland’s clutches in exchange for a first-round draft pick. It was a bold move that signaled the franchise’s intention to take over a disheveled NFC East. And it was immediately negated by Garrett’s home loss Monday night. The Cowboys couldn’t score a single second-half point in primetime, even with Cooper in the lineup, to seal off a 28-14 loss to a Tennessee Titans club that had lost three straight games before Week 9. The former Raider performed well as the team’s top target (five catches on eight targets for 58 yards and a touchdown), but the idea a single player could rescue the Dallas offense from the increasing gravity of its own mediocrity failed to pan out. And Garrett’s a part of that. He’s been unable to turn Dak Prescott’s lightning-in-a-bottle rookie campaign into any kind of meaningful development. On Monday, his two turnovers erased one Cowboys red zone possession and led to 14 Tennessee points. That’s bad news for Garrett, though Jones has no interest in making any major moves during the season: #Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones tells me he does not anticipate any coaching changes. Not a head coach change, not an offensive coordinator change in season.— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) November 6, 2018 It’s great news for the Raiders, however. They’re in line to get the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft from the Cowboys, along with their own top five pick and the Bears’ first-round selection next spring.