5 NFL Coaches Who Enter the 2012 Season on the Hot Seat
No matter what happens during the 2012 NFL season, one thing is certain: Head coaches will be fired.
The NFL is built on parody with nearly a 50 percent turnover on playoff teams each year. Therefore, most teams will seriously consider change after two non-playoff seasons. For teams that are constantly losing like the Buffalo Bills or Cleveland Browns, that number may go up to three seasons.
But these coaches are not just the ones that fail to make the playoffs. This list includes coaches who have made the playoffs and even several that have played in conference championships. But they have not delivered lately and this leaves their franchise's owners very unsatisfied.
Here are the coaches that I think are on the hot seat in 2012. They will need to at least lead their teams to a playoff berth, perhaps even a deep playoff run to maintain their jobs. If not, we can expect them to go and their teams to start all over with new coaches.
Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
After 13 years of coaching in the NFL, Andy Reid is currently the longest tenured coach in the NFL. He has created one of the most successful eras in Philadelphia Eagles history with nine playoff appearances in 13 years. The Eagles have played in five conference championships during that span and even one Super Bowl.
Yet Reid's seat is still as hot as it's ever been entering the 2012 season. The 2011 season was such a massive disappointment as the Eagles failed to live up to lofty Super Bowl aspirations and instead finished with a middling 8-8 record.
The only reason Reid is still here is because of owner Jeffrey Lurie's loyalty to Reid and the success that he's brought to the program. It's really hard to have that kind of consistency in the NFL which is why it's understandable that Lurie would be reluctant to let him go.
But seriously, five NFC Championship appearances and Philly still can't win just one Super Bowl? Like it or not, that's an indictment on Reid and it even brings up the possibility that Reid is the weak link holding back the Eagles.
The Eagles are predictably stacked again as they enter the 2012 season and they should contend for a division title or at least a wild-card spot. If Reid doesn't get them to the playoffs this season, he will almost certainly be fired. Given the frustration in Philly, it might even have to be a deep playoff run for Reid to stay.
Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
It's amazing to think that somehow Norv Turner has coached his team to consecutive non-playoff seasons yet he still has a job with them. When the Chargers were eliminated from playoff contention last December, it seemed all but certain that both Turner and GM A.J. Smith would be shown the door.
Yet, for whatever reason, they're both still here. Chargers fans as a whole seemed to turn against him, although to be fair, his team still seems to love him and play hard for him. They could have quit after a six-game losing streak, but instead the Chargers came back to finish out the year 4-1 for an 8-8 record.
Of course, one more win would have gotten them the AFC West title. And with the fact that the AFC West is consistently one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, it looks really bad that the Chargers have failed twice in a row to win the division title.
Every year in the Turner era has been completely predictable. The Chargers come out to a slow start, usually with some last-minute losses that should have been wins. They then storm back in December either to fall just short of the playoffs or to get there and suffer an excruciating postseason loss.
Really there can be no excuses made to keep Turner should the Chargers fail to make the playoffs again this year. And the AFC West does figure to be tougher with Peyton Manning in Denver and the Kansas City Chiefs getting back some young superstars who contributed to their division title in 2010.
So if the Chargers get the predictable slow start from Turner, he could be gone as soon as their Week 7 bye week.
Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
When you make the AFC Championship Game your first two seasons, the bar has been set very high. So that's why one 8-8 season later, Rex Ryan's tenure coaching with the New York Jets could be on the verge of ending.
It's not just the end result, it's how the Jets got there. One week after boasting they weren't the Giants' "little brother," the Jets lose to their in-city rivals and even allow a record-tying 99-yard touchdown from Victor Cruz. Then the next week in Miami, the Jets lose a must-win and see team captain Santonio Holmes visibly quit on the field.
Ryan seems to understand the pressure of playing in New York, a place where failure is never tolerated for long. This could explain the move to acquire Tim Tebow which now leaves Mark Sanchez with almost no margin for era as the starting quarterback.
I don't think Ryan cares which quarterback succeeds, as long as one of them can win games for them. Sanchez has gotten that done in past seasons thanks in large part to help from a strong running game and a stout defense. Not coincidentally, those two things helped to create Tebow Time in Denver last year so Tebow could be the starting quarterback sooner rather than later.
It's very unlikely that the Jets pass the New England Patriots this season, given the latter's status as the defending AFC champions. But second place in the AFC East is absolutely reasonable to expect and so is the wild-card spot the Jets got in 2009 and 2010.
Anything less than that and Ryan will leave New York with exactly zero guaranteed Super Bowl titles won.
Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Chicago Bears have been one of those teams that seem to flip-flop from year to year. They went from an NFC Championship loss in 2010 all the way down to 8-8 this year.
However, unlike other 8-8 teams such as the Eagles and Jets, the Bears had a pretty valid reason. Jay Cutler missed the final month of the season and it soon became abundantly clear that the Bears did not have a legitimate backup behind him. Matt Forte also missed extended time and you simply can't replace an elite running back like him.
Still it's very disconcerting that the Bears finished out 2011 with an 1-5 record. Some of that blame should extend to coach Lovie Smith who is quite possibly the nicest coach in the NFL. His first name of Lovie is completely accurate as Smith doesn't yell and he always has a very calm demeanor on game days.
He has had some highs during his tenure in Chicago with two NFC Championship appearances, one of which resulted in a trip to the Super Bowl. But take away the three playoff seasons and you've got four mediocre non-playoff seasons in the last five. The records those years were 7-9, 9-7, 7-9 and 8-8.
Without the 11-5 season in 2010, Smith would be gone already. Now that the Bears are on the rise and thinking playoffs thanks to a healthy Cutler and free-agent arrival Brandon Marshall, anything less would be disastrous. Even with the NFC North being a difficult division, Smith needs to probably coach his team to a division title or a close second to stay in Chicago any longer.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Al Bello/Getty Images
Another constant in the NFL is the meddling ways of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. You just know that every year he's going to show he's in charge by making some kind of move. And if recent history is any indication, it'll be a dumb one.
Jones just seems unable to accept the fact that he is an awful owner. Instead, he blames the coaches who are almost like puppets under his control. So this is why I think Jason Garrett could be out after only two full seasons in Dallas.
Garrett took over midway through the nightmarish 2010 season and he quickly got the NFL's attention when he turned a struggling 1-7 bunch into a formidable 6-10 team with some high-quality upsets. This led to inflated expectations for 2011 with the Cowboys again looking for a division title and their first deep playoff run since the 1990s.
Of course, we all know what happened as the Cowboys essentially fell flat on their faces. After blowing multiple close games, the Cowboys finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs despite holding the lead in the NFC East for much of the season. It got even worse when the New York Giants won the Super Bowl after eliminating the Cowboys during the final week of the regular season.
Jones is obviously angry about their recent failures and his recent comments indicate that he believes their window is closing. Therefore if Garrett leads them to a third straight non-playoff season, there's good reason to believe he'll be gone. It's even possible that Dallas could blow things up and get rid of quarterback Tony Romo as well.
After all, if there's one thing we know, it's not to underestimate Jones' craziness.