Coaches under the most pressure in 2015

We're still two months away from real games, but it's never too early to examine the hot seat.

Every NFL head coach is under pressure to succeed, but a short list of hired hands face particularly tough scenarios. Here's our pick of men already staring down the barrel in July:

Jim Tomsula has massive shoes to fill

No team has endured a rockier offseason than the San Francisco 49ers. A rash of player retirements, the loss of Frank Gore, a weakened offensive line and a very public breakup with former coach Jim Harbaugh has left the team spiraling in the NFC West.

Ownership opted to raise up in-house favorite Jim Tomsula to steer the ship, but keeping the Niners afloat won't be easy. Facing a rugged intra-division schedule and games against the AFC North, San Francisco is a candidate to fall off a cliff this autumn. Fans, media and players want to see instant proof that Tomsula has the requisite tools to guide an NFL team after an offseason of bizarre press conferences and questionable roster moves.

The good news is that people who know Tomsula swear by him. The bad news? None of that matters if the Niners stage a massive implosion. I can't think of an uglier situation for a coach facing huge expectations from an antsy and agitated fan base. Good luck, sir. -- Marc Sessler

Improvement at QB key for Jay Gruden

Gruden's first year as head coach spun violently off a cliff. His handling of Robert Griffin III seemed erratic -- with his public criticisms of the starting quarterback unheard of in the NFL, even if true. Playing quarterback roulette helped no one and kept his offense out of synch all season. The defense was even worse, allowing receivers to jaunt unimpeded across the secondary.

In Year 2, Gruden must show management some semblance of progress. Owner Daniel Snyder is not shy about firing coaches, and new general manager Scot McCloughan didn't hire Gruden -- never a good thing for a coach. Whether he sticks with RGIII or moves to Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy, Gruden must find a quarterback who can run his offense this year as he likely won't have another whirl if his spin fails in 2015.

McCloughan spent the offseason beefing up the trenches, so Gruden and his staff -- including new defensive coordinator Joe Barry -- must show progress in building a tough program. Gruden must also display that he's matured in his second year on the job, keeping some of the laundry from being aired publicly.

Most important, the Redskins must climb out of the cellar of the NFC East. A third straight year at the bottom will spell doom for Gruden's future. -- Kevin Patra

It's time for Tom Coughlin to win

At some point, Tom Coughlin is going to have to show again he can coach in the regular season. He has coached as many 10-win teams since 2009 as Brad Childress. The Giants don't want to ever fire Coughlin, but it's hard to imagine that he wouldn't have to retire if the Giants fail to produce a winning season. Re-hiring Steve Spagnuolo sounds like a good idea, but also sounds like a last gasp for an organization trying to recapture what made them great eight years ago. If Spags can't work his magic, Eli Manning will likely be playing for a new head coach in 2016 for the first time in his career. *-- Gregg Rosenthal *

Ken Whisenhunt's fate linked to Marcus Mariota

When you draft a hopeful franchise quarterback like Ken Whisenhunt just did, the clock immediately starts ticking. No, he will not be let go after one season if the Marcus Mariota experiment doesn't work out. But he will be under an incredibly powerful magnifying lens that can often alter the tenure of a head coach relatively new to the city.

If Mariota's first year is subpar, the offense will be blamed. Then the receivers, the line and the backs. The personnel department will take a hit for not surrounding Mariota with power spread players and, before you know it, everyone is clamoring for someone to come in that has experience with guys like Mariota. It's a doomsday scenario, of course, but one can bet Whisenhunt knew what he was getting himself into when he helped turn in the draft card. -- Conor Orr

Teflon Joe needs results

Sometimes I forget that Joe Philbin still has a job. Most coaches in the NFL get a pink slip if they can't crack the postseason in three seasons on the job, and yet there he is. Teflon Joe is a survivor. In 2015, he'll take the reins of a Dolphins team with real expectations after signing Ryan Tannehill to a fat new extension and handing Ndamukong Suh the most guaranteed money ever for a defensive free agent. The Dolphins should be competitive in an increasingly feisty AFC East, and Philbin is unlikely to continue to receive the benefit of the doubt if Miami again bobs at the .500 mark. -- Dan Hanzus

*The latest Around The NFL Podcast features the triumphant return of Dan Hanzus and discusses the biggest mysteries heading into training camp. *

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