Checking Every NFL Coach's Hot Seat Temperature Heading into Camp

Alen DumonjicContributor IIJuly 16, 2012

Checking Every NFL Coach's Hot Seat Temperature Heading into Camp

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    The NFL is a cutthroat business as much as it is a game. 

    There are a lot of lavish investments made in coaches and players that have to pay off. If they don't, the team not only loses on the field but off of it, where it takes a hit financially.

    Because of this, there's a lot of pressure on coaches, specifically, to succeed and avoid the pink slip on Monday morning.

    This season, there will be six new coaches entering the fray, and next season, there could be just as many, if not more, gone. 

    Who is on the hot seat, and who can avoid unemployment another year?

    Join me as I evaluate the status of the coaches from zero to 100. Zero is the lowest possible, implying that they are off the hot seat this season, 25 is cool, 50 represents warming up, 75 means they're close to the hot seat and 100 is the make-or-break hot seat temperature.

Arizona Cardinals — Ken Whisenhunt

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    Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt has done well since taking over the team in 2007. 

    A team that simply wasn't good under predecessor Dennis Green, Whisenhunt has had only one losing record and has been to the playoffs twice, including once to the Super Bowl—the first in franchise history—despite having a rather stingy owner by his side.

    Although he has had two .500 seasons, he has finished first or second in the division every year aside from 2010, which is more than the team had accomplished in previous years.

    Because of his quality work thus far, he's unlikely to be on the hot seat and will at least work to the end of his contract, which concludes after the 2013 season.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 25 DEGREES

Atlanta Falcons — Mike Smith

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    Mike Smith of the Falcons has had quite a time in Atlanta since taking over for Bobby Petrino. 

    He's won 43 of 64 games, which equates to a .672 percentage, and he has won over 60 percent of his games in all but one season. However, he's only won the division once (tough division) and hasn't won a playoff game to date. 

    Weird, isn't it?

    The numbers indicate that he'd be a shoo-in as the head coach next season, but if he fails to win a playoff game, he might not be back despite the quality work he's put in and the extension signed last January.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 50 DEGREES

Baltimore Ravens — John Harbaugh

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    Coaching in arguably the league's toughest division, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has his work cut out for him year in and year out.

    Fortunately, he's been up to the task, as he's been exceptional in leading the franchise to a near-70 percent winning percentage and five playoff wins.

    Harbaugh's been to two AFC divisional games and conference championships, only falling short to some of the league's best in rival Pittsburgh Steelers and the Bill Belichick-led New England Patriots.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Buffalo Bills — Chan Gailey

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    Lacking talent and any form of consistency, Chan Gailey hasn't been one of the league's best in terms of winning percentage. 

    With the Bills, it sits at a paltry 31 percent, but the few talents that his team has have been hamstrung with injury (i.e. Fred Jackson).

    Because of this, Gailey needs to have a good season (or at least a promising one) to further his coaching career in Buffalo, unless he's fortunate enough to be given yet another chance in 2013. Otherwise, he's likely to be out on the streets for a brief amount of time before he's hired as an offensive coordinator elsewhere. 

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 75 DEGREES

Carolina Panthers — Ron Rivera

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    Ron Rivera was hired only a year ago, which automatically makes him safe unless he's shockingly (and unlikely) given the boot.

    Rivera took over a team that is relatively young, featuring a quality stable of backs and a rookie phenom at quarterback. Coaches' fates are tied to that of the quarterbacks, and thus far, Rivera looks like he'll have quite a bit of time to work with quarterback Cam Newton if the passer continues to put up performances like he did last season. 

    On the defensive side of the ball, where Rivera has done his best work in the past, the team struggled. However, this came to no surprise, as the team really lacked talent in some areas.

    Despite this, he will be given the chance to improve the team, as owner Jerry Richardson seems to be reasonable and patient. 

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Chicago Bears — Lovie Smith

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    Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith has had an interesting coaching career at Halas Hall.

    With the exception of his first season, which didn't go all that well and doesn't really count because most coaches struggle early on, he's had brief periods of very good and very average teams. 

    In his second and third seasons, he won 11 and 13 games, respectively. In the former, he lost the divisional playoff game, while in the latter, he went to the Super Bowl, where he also lost.

    From 2007 to 2009, he bounced between seven- and nine-win seasons, finishing fourth, second and third in the NFC North. This was prior to his 11-win season in 2010 and another average eight-win season in 2011. 

    So what's next?

    We don't really know; either a very good or very average season is likely, and that brings the question if he'll be back. His contract runs through the 2013 season, and I expect him to work through it, which makes him safe this season but still on a seat that's warming up.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 50 DEGREES

Cincinnati Bengals — Marvin Lewis

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    Marvin Lewis' future in Cincinnati is in question: Will he get a contract that extends his present deal, which concludes at the end of the 2012 season?

    If NFL owner Mike Brown is being fair and smart, he'll give Lewis an extension. Lewis has done quite the job since coming to Cincinnati despite being stuck with a difficult owner that won't invest into a full scouting department. 

    Like the Falcons' Mike Smith, Lewis doesn't have a playoff victory despite nine seasons with the team. However, as noted, the situations are different. Smith doesn't have to work with Mike Brown; he works with a friendly Arthur Blank.

    Unfortunately, we never really know what to expect with Brown, and that means Lewis is placed squarely on the hot seat because contract discussions are not going so well.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 75 DEGREES

Cleveland Browns — Pat Shurmur

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    Pat Shurmur was 4-12 in his first season with a team that hasn't had a whole lot of luck since re-entering the NFL. 

    He's said to be penciled in as the coach for a "long time," per President Mike Holmgren, which makes sense considering it was his first hire. 

    Besides the obvious ties to Holmgren, Shurmur deserves some time to work with the young talent on the roster, which has now added quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Trent Richardson and wide receiver Josh Gordon.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Dallas Cowboys — Jason Garrett

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    Life as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys is tough.

    It's the West Coast version of New York: pressure to win at all times, media criticizing every decision. And of course, some already feel that he should be fired despite finishing with a .500 record in what was essentially his first season. 

    This means that Jerry Jones will be pressured to make a decision if the season starts slow, consequently placing Garrett on the hot seat (if he isn't already). 

    If all was right in Dallas, Garrett would get another couple of years to assemble the team the way he wants it, but things don't always work that way because of pressure from the media and control from the higher-ups. 

    I place Garrett's hot seat temperature at 50 degrees because Jerry Jones appears committed to him, and it's still early on in his Cowboys coaching career. However, the constant pressure makes it tough to drop it below this temperature.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 50 DEGREES

Denver Broncos — John Fox

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    Only in the AFC West does John Fox's team win eight games and the division with an option offense. 

    This makes the evaluation of Fox a bit confusing. Last season, when things were bad, they were really bad; when things were good, they were magical.

    2012 is going to be a bit different philosophically, as he's going back to a strong passing offense with ex-Colts quarterback Peyton Manning running the show. This, combined with an oddly successful 2011, puts his hot seat temperature at zero degrees.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Detroit Lions — Jim Schwartz

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    Leading the NFL's bad boys can be a tough job, but if there's anyone who is cut out for it, it's Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions.

    Schwartz is a tough, hard-nosed coach that has turned around one of the league's worst franchises into a respectable team that seems to only be getting better (if they don't self-destruct, that is).

    Because of the work he's done, Schwartz received a two-year contract extension last month, which cements him as the head coach of the Lions, at least temporarily.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Green Bay Packers — Mike McCarthy

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    I don't have to say a whole lot, do I?

    He's won 65 percent of his games, is a year removed from a Super Bowl, won 15 games last season and made the playoffs. He also received a contract extension last year. It's safe to say he's not going anywhere anytime soon. 

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Houston Texans — Gary Kubiak

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    The Houston Texans have gone through tough times since entering the league in 2001 as an expansion team. In 2006, Gary Kubiak was hired to change the way things were being done, and after some time, he's done just that thanks to the patience of owner Bob McNair.

    In 2011, Kubiak reached a new high when he won the AFC South with the Houston Texans for their first time ever. He also helped the team win their first playoff game versus the Cincinnati Bengals with a third-string quarterback before falling to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional game. 

    After the strong season, Kubiak was given a contract extension that will keep him around for a long time.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Indianapolis Colts — Chuck Pagano

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    After years of Bill Polian and Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts made a big move by cleaning the franchise of all its past.

    Manning, Polian, head coach Jim Caldwell and the majority of his staff were let go and replaced by head coach Chuck Pagano, general manager Ryan Grigson and quarterback Andrew Luck.

    Pagano brings a fiery attitude and an aggressive 3-4 defense to the franchise that it previously lacked. He will have a long time to make his mark in Indianapolis, meaning he has little pressure on him at the moment.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Jacksonville Jaguars — Mike Mularkey

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    New Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey has a tough task: right a young but once-proud franchise and figure out how to make Blaine Gabbert a quality quarterback.

    That's not easy, and there's pressure to succeed early on. His general manager, Gene Smith, is in doubt, despite receiving a contract extension last season.

    Mularkey will have a lot of work to do this season in attempting to figure out how to fix the Jaguars' passing game without one of the centerpieces of the offense, Maurice Jones-Drew.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 25 DEGREES

Kansas City Chiefs — Romeo Crennel

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    Romeo Crennel was hired as the Kansas City Chiefs head coach following a 2-1 finish to the season as the interim coach. 

    Crennel takes over the Chiefs at the right time, in my estimation. The team brings back a lot of talented, young stars such as running back Jamaal Charles, tight end Tony Moeaki and free safety Eric Berry—all of whom were lost to injuries last season.

    He's also got some pressure early on to succeed, partly because of the questionable status of general manager Scott Pioli. Pioli had a rough season last year, which makes some (including me) wonder where he stands in the organization.

    Because of this, Crennel may be on a short leash as the head coach. It's unfair, but it's the nature of the game.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 50 DEGREES

Miami Dolphins — Joe Philbin

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    The Miami Dolphins haven't had the best of times recently. Perhaps former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin can change their fortunes and get them back to winning ways. 

    Philbin inherits a very talented team that has been plagued by poor coaching and quarterback play for years, but all signs point to that changing, as Philbin has been praised for the work he's done, including in Green Bay, where he didn't call plays

    The pressure on Philbin is still relatively high. However, because he was handpicked, 2012 will not make or break his coaching career.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Minnesota Vikings — Leslie Frazier

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    2011 was one of the Minnesota Vikings' worst seasons in the last 20 years. They finished the season 3-13, but it's not entirely Leslie Frazier's fault.

    As the head coach, he receives majority of the blame, but he had a rookie quarterback starting and a team that just wasn't very good. 

    Unfortunately, he still is on the hot seat in 2012, and he'll either prolong his stay in Minnesota by competing in a tough division or end it quickly with struggles early into the season. 

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 100 DEGREES

New England Patriots — Bill Belichick

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    Bill Belichick is a mastermind, a legendary coach and a future Hall of Fame inductee. In a few words, he is the New England Patriots.  

    The only way he is leaving the Patriots facilities is if he quits, which isn't happening any time soon because he loves the game too much, as he's stated numerous times throughout his career. 

    After another appearance at the Super Bowl, albeit a loss, he has zero pressure on him.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

New Orleans Saints — Sean Payton

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    It has been a rough offseason for Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints, to say the least.

    He's been suspended by the league for an entire season after the bounty scandal (which he didn't put a stop to), and one has to wonder where he stands in the organization. 

    His coaching has been superb since he took over the Saints in 2006, but he's in hot water now, and I can't help but wonder if Tom Benson would consider parting ways with Payton because of the bad publicity.

    Combined with the suspension, Payton better come back with a vengeance in 2013, or else his status will be up for discussion. 

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 75 DEGREES

New York Giants — Tom Coughlin

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    If you ask the New York media, Tom Coughlin is always on the hot seat. Even when he's doing well, there are critics, and when he's struggling, it seems the entire northeast is against him. 

    However, Coughlin's done a good job of drowning out the noise and focusing on the task at hand, which enabled him to lead his team to another Super Bowl win versus the New England Patriots. 

    Because of his success, he's not on the hot seat any longer. He was given a contract extension in June that runs through 2014.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

New York Jets — Rex Ryan

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    One of my favorite coaches in the league, Rex Ryan comes back to the New York Jets for a fourth season and looks to take the team to the promised land once and for all. 

    He's attempting to do this with a great amount of pressure on his shoulders. After several Super Bowl guarantees but none reached, Ryan may have to deliver this season to keep his job, or he may be a free-agent coach. 

    This pressure comes despite coaching the team to winning records in two of the three seasons, including two shots at the AFC Championship Game. 

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 75 DEGREES

Oakland Raiders — Dennis Allen

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    Former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen was hired to be the Oakland Raiders head coach this season and will have loads of work ahead of him to improve a talented but very undisciplined team from last year.

    Allen will have plenty of time to work with the team, as he was selected by new general manager Reggie McKenzie, who was also just hired. 

    Without the late Al Davis hovering over his shoulder, Allen has little pressure early in his head-coaching career.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Philadelphia Eagles — Andy Reid

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    The City of Brotherly Love hasn't shown much love to Andy Reid as of late.

    Last season, he was just about fired by everyone but owner Jeffrey Lurie, who said the longtime coach would return for the 2012 season. The upcoming season is going to be his 14th, and he's got a lot of pressure on him.

    Reid's team failed to make the playoffs and was just average last season. Further, Reid's failed to win a playoff game in the last three seasons after reaching the NFC Championship Game in 2008.

    This season, Reid will have to get back in the playoffs and win a game, or else he may be on the unemployment line.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 75 DEGREES

Pittsburgh Steelers — Mike Tomlin

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers don't make a whole lot of changes; they've only had 16 head coaches in their history, so it's unlikely that Mike Tomlin will go anywhere. 

    Tomlin and his team come off a shocking defeat to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wild Card Game, but the team is still a very strong one that has been injected with some young talent. And he still has complete control of the locker room.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

San Diego Chargers — Norv Turner

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    Norv Turner has had quite a ride in San Diego, but it nearly came to an end this offseason before Chargers president Dean Spanos stated that he would return for another season.

    The truth is, Turner's lucky to be back. He didn't win the division for a second straight year and missed the playoffs once again. He's never really been viewed as a great leader, and many feel that his teams have underachieved despite their immense talent.

    This season will have to be a very good one for Turner to keep his job. If it goes south, he'll be jobless.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 100 DEGREES

San Francisco 49ers — Jim Harbaugh

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    The passionate Jim Harbaugh revived the San Francisco 49ers, won the division, was moments away from the Super Bowl in his first season and won the AP Coach Of The Year award.

    Need I say more?

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Seattle Seahawks — Pete Carroll

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    Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is in an interesting situation. 

    In his first year, he won seven games, won the division, beat a favored New Orleans Saints team in the Wild Card Round and made the NFC Divisional Game.

    The following season, he won seven games, finished third in the division and didn't make the playoffs. 

    Odd how that works.

    He's back for a third season with potentially a new quarterback—be it Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson—a strong running game and a quality defense. He will look to build on his first two seasons, even if they consisted of below-average records.

    If he puts together a 7-9 season once again and misses the playoffs, his hot seat temperature will increase going into next season. But for now, it sits at a cool 25 degrees.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 25 DEGREES

St. Louis Rams — Jeff Fisher

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    Longtime Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is now in St. Louis, where he'll look to turn around a franchise that's been in misery for quite a while. 

    He caught some flak for his choice at defensive coordinator this offseason—the suspended Gregg Williams—but for the most part, it's been smooth sailing, as he's added several pieces to improve the defense. 

    At the moment, the temperature is very low, as he'll have plenty of time to improve the roster.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Greg Schiano

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    Like Jeff Fisher, new Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano enters the facilities with a lot of time to improve the team, which struggled last season but is not lacking in talent.

    The Buccaneers were simply far too undisciplined last season, and it cost them big time in several games.

    Schiano will look to change that by holding players accountable for their actions, as he did early into the regime by singling out running back LeGarrette Blount for his fumbling.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: ZERO DEGREES

Tennessee Titans — Mike Munchak

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    In the process of winning nine games last season, Titans head coach Mike Munchak debated whether he should leave Tennessee for Happy Valley, where he'd be in charge of his alma mater, Penn State.

    However, he chose to stay with Tennessee, and it worked out quite well.

    He's now back (for good) for a second season and doesn't have much pressure on him. He has a young quarterback and other young talent, most notably first-round draft pick Kendall Wright. 

    HOT SEAT PRESSURE: ZERO DEGREES

Washington Redskins — Mike Shanahan

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    If it wasn't for the acquisition of former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III in April's draft, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan's job would have been on the line this season. His hot seat temperature would have been at 100 degrees, but the arrival of "RG3" changes that.

    Shanahan has now bought himself some time as he attempts to work his magic on RG3 in the upcoming season. Despite this, the pressure is still on for him to succeed, even with a rookie quarterback.

    HOT SEAT TEMPERATURE: 75 DEGREES