After only four games, Jim Schwartz unexpectedly finds himself on the hot seat, as the Detroit Lions have been atrocious in every phase of the game and have compiled a 1-3 record.
As Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey tweeted:
Punting in the maroon zone? Jim Schwartz needs to be on the hot seat.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) September 30, 2012
Schwartz isn't the only coach or player who—to the surprise of many—finds himself in peril of losing his job, either.
The following players and coaches were seen as legitimate difference-makers for their respective teams before the season began, but after four weeks of misery, they find themselves staring unemployment right in the face.
Ryan Mathews was taken by the San Diego Chargers with the No. 12 overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft. The Chargers were attempting to draft the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson, but so far, things haven't worked out as planned.
In fact, According to Chargers.com, the team has replaced Mathews with Jackie Battle as its starting running back.
Since joining the team in 2010, Mathews has only made 24 starts, and in those 24 starts, he's lost six fumbles. Furthermore, Mathews has proven to be injury prone—not something that usually works out well for running backs in the NFL.
If something doesn't change for Mathews, the Chargers may just decide to cut their losses and start over again.
Many experts around the league picked the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC West in 2012.
For good reason, too.
This team is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and its defense was supposed to be awesome this season (key words "supposed to be").
Crennel is the team's defensive coordinator, as well as the head coach, and from what I can tell, the double-duty isn't going over so well.
I'm not the only one who sees it this way, either. ESPN's Bill Williamson writes:
Kansas City Chiefs coach and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is being put on the hot seat...My thoughts? Crennel is a proven defensive coach. He didn’t forget how to coach defense. The Chiefs’ defensive woes are not all on him. But it is on him to correct it.
Williamson wrote that after Week 2.
Since then, the Chiefs have beaten the New Orleans Saints (but who hasn't) and lost to the San Diego Chargers at home in one of the most embarrassing first halves we've seen this year from any NFL team.
Tony Romo puts up elite numbers, but he doesn't make enough elite plays when his team needs them the most.
The Dallas Cowboys have only won a single playoff game with Romo at the helm. It's not all his fault, but Romo isn't going to win in Dallas. Period.
For whatever reason, Romo has an amazing capacity to blow it at the worst possible moment, and it's only a matter of time before Jerry Jones comes to the sinking realization that he needs to make a change before it's too late.
Former quarterback and current analyst Joe Theismann talked about Romo in a recent interview on the Brady & Lang in the Morning show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan, via ESPNDallas.com:
I think you have a couple issues in Dallas. No. 1, I think you have a team, they think they're pretty good. They're not. No. 2, their quarterback thinks he's pretty good. He's really not. No. 3, their owner is their general manager and he doesn't make good decisions from a personnel standpoint.
I agree with Theismann for the most part here, though I'm not sold on Romo being a bad quarterback. Given a change of scenery, Romo might find renewed life.
I remember listening to ESPN Radio before this season began and hearing football guys with connections around the league say that New Orleans Saints interim head coach Aaron Kromer was auditioning for a head-coaching gig next season.
That was a good thought—in theory.
But now the Saints are 0-4, and CBSSports.com's Clark Judge had this to say when asked which head coach will be fired first this season: "Aaron Kromer, Saints. Guaranteed, he doesn't last more than six games."
While that outcome would certainly seem harsh, it's hard to argue with Judge's statement, especially considering that Kromer was originally hired to be the team's offensive line coach.
I know what you're all thinking here.
How can I put Johnson on the hot seat after his breakout game in Week 4?
It's simple, really. Running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL, and in the seasons following Johnson's massive 2009 campaign, which earned him the moniker "CJ2K", he's been downright average.
Since the start of 2010, Johnson has carried the ball 636 times for 2,597 yards (average of 4.08 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.
Furthermore, he's gotten progressively worse since holding out for a massive six-year, $55.26 million contract with $30 million guaranteed.
If Johnson resumes his struggles, the Titans will not hesitate to cut their losses and move on.
Note: Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com.
Behind those incredibly cool sunglasses are the eyes of a disturbed man, capable of bringing hope to a fanbase in Detroit—a group that had given up all hope until a few years ago—and then destroying that hope like it was a varmint carrying a pestilent virus.
Alright, perhaps I'm overstating it a bit, but still, there's no doubt that the Detroit Lions have fallen further and faster than any team this year besides the New Orleans Saints—and we can kind of understand why the Saints are terrible.
The Lions troubles started to reveal themselves early last season, in the now-infamous clash between Jim Schwartz and San Francisco 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh. Schwartz came completely unglued, setting a terrible example for his impressionable team.
Then, this past offseason, the team experienced multiple embarrassing off-field incidents involving drugs and general misbehavior—an ominous sign of things to come.
ESPN.com's Jeff Chadiha caught up with Schwartz, who said this about the epidemic:
If you look at all the incidents that happened, not one involved a player who was actually in Detroit at the time. Every guy was in another place. That speaks to the accountability they have to the team while they're here. And while it's something you have to address, we also know we have six months with them before they leave again.
Accountability is accountability, as far as I'm concerned. The players have to be accountable to one another both in season and out.
Accountability starts at the top.
It's clear from the way the Lions have played so far this season that Schwartz doesn't have his team focused or disciplined, and if things continue the way they've been going so far, Schwartz can kiss his job goodbye.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78