Norv Turner and 10 Coaches Squarely on the Hot Seat
San Diego's Monday night collapse was cataclysmic, but if you ask any Chargers fan, it wasn't unexpected.
Such is the life of having to cheer for a Norv Turner-led team. The Chargers now stand at 3-3, tied for first in the AFC West. The worst part of it, though, is the fact that Denver now holds the tiebreaker between the two teams, with another meeting in Denver coming just one month from now.
But Turner isn't the only embattled head coach in the NFL, by my count, there's at least 10 NFL head coaches who might want to consider updating their resumes. Some of these coaches have the chance to turn their seasons around. In fact, three of them are tied for first in their divisions, and if they can stay atop and get to the postseason, they will likely save their jobs.
But for the most part, when these teams fail, it's likely they will change course at the top.
Romeo Crennel—Kansas City Chiefs
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The Kansas City Chiefs may have one win this season, but they've held the lead for exactly zero minutes and zero seconds in 2012.
To go six games without ever holding the lead, save for the end of overtime, is just incredible. It's a feat that not even the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the 2008 Detroit Lions could achieve.
Why is Kansas City so inept? The quarterback position has a lot to do with it. There's a drive in Kansas City to relieve general manager Scott Pioli of his duties among Chiefs fans, and Crennel is another target due to his history with Pioli. Of course, when your quarterback options are between Matt Schaub and Brady Quinn, it might hamstring a coach.
But even with Kansas City's problems at quarterback, there's still enough talent to somewhat compensate for that, especially considering the weaknesses in the AFC.
However Kansas City hasn't been able to exploit that with their running game, despite the fact that they rank third in the league in running the ball. That's partially due to Kansas City's porous defense, which is currently ranked 20th in yards allowed as it allows, on average, 349.5 yards per game.
In points, Kansas City is ranked 29th, as they're allowing 30.5 points per game.
This would be unacceptable to anyone, but it's even worse knowing that Crennel's specialty is on defense.
Crennel's seat is currently hotter than Kansas City in the summer—and actually should be hotter than that.
Rex Ryan—New York Jets
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Rex Ryan's seat has cooled off considerably since their 27-0 drubbing against the 49ers, but Ryan is still feeling the heat, despite the fact that his Jets are tied for first in the AFC East (and own every important tiebreaker, so far, as they are undefeated in the division).
Despite New York's current standing, the Jets are still a struggling team. They're still the third-worst offensive team in the NFL when it comes to points scored and are ranked 20th in yards gained.
Their defense hasn't fared much better, save for their pass defense, which still ranks fifth in the league, despite Darrelle Revis being lost for the season.
Stopping the run on the other hand has been a challenge for the Jets, as they've allowed an average of 150.5 rushing yards per game and an average of 4.7 yards per carry. For a team that emphasizes stopping the run like the Jets, this is an abomination.
Ryan's seat has cooled off considerably in the last two weeks, thanks in part to a great performance in a loss to the Texans, followed by a blowout victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Jets have two more division games prior to their bye week, a road trip to New England, followed by the Jets hosting the Dolphins. Wins in those two games would put the Jets in the AFC East drivers' seat, as they would move to 4-0 within the division and a earn a key sweep of the Dolphins.
That would cool off Ryan's seat as swiftly as his seat was heated only two weeks ago.
Mike Mularkey—Jacksonville Jaguars
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Here's some good news for Jaguars fans: They didn't lose this week.
Now for the bad news: They didn't play a game to lose, while Mike Mularkey and Blaine Gabbert are still your coach and quarterback.
For an offensive guru, it's pretty embarrassing to only score 13 points per game, which is the Jaguars' average. That's last place in the league at this juncture.
Gaining only 241.2 yards per game is also very embarrassing and also last in the league.
Jacksonville's saving grace (if there is such a thing), has been its defense. That's even being nice, though, as they are allowing 424 yards per game while the opposing team has scored 27.6 points per game.
Take back what I said about saving grace, there isn't any in Jacksonville—well, I will give you Jaguars' owner Shad Khan's glorious mustache.
But not even that can save Jacksonville's season, not when fans start thinking "maybe we ought to give Chad Henne a shot at quarterback." Jaguars fans, that's the cue for knowing that your team is in pretty bad shape, and it starts with the head coach.
Chan Gailey—Buffalo Bills
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The Buffalo Bills are lucky to play in an AFC East where the teams seem to take two steps back after taking one step forward. Due to New England's issues closing out games, Miami's issues with Dan Carpenter and the Jets' offensive issues, the Bills and their issues are caught up in a four-way tie for first place.
But unlike the Patriots (who have the talent to run away with the AFC East), Jets (who hold every key tiebreaker within the division) or Dolphins (who continue to improve in every game), Buffalo seems merely stuck in neutral.
They have the worst division record at 0-2, with losses against the Jets and Patriots. Even worse than those losses is the fact that they were outscored 100-56 in those games.
Buffalo's defense was supposed to be the lynch pin, thanks mainly in part to the money they dedicated to that side of the ball during the offseason.
Their return on investment has been horrible, though, as the Bills rank 31st in average yards allowed and in points allowed per game.
Their offense has had bright spots in their running game, led by C.J. Spiller. The Bills are fifth in rushing, gaining 147.7 yards per game. But stopping the run has been a problem for Buffalo, where they rank last, allowing 173.5 yards per game.
Their passing game on offense isn't much better than their defense, as the Bills rank 29th in the league in passing.
Buffalo's specialty this season has been beating the teams they are supposed to beat. They have notched wins over the Browns and Chiefs, then managed to get an overtime victory over Arizona, which was somewhat of an upset.
But beating the Jets and Patriots is the main goal, and thus far, the Bills haven't done that, nor shown the ability to do so. With the high expectations hoisted upon the Bills this season, anything short of the playoffs would be a letdown, and they're already far behind the eight ball in that aspect.
Expect Gailey gone if the Bills aren't able to sneak into the postseason.
Mike Munchak—Tennssee Titans
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The Titans came into their Thursday night game against Pittsburgh with their backs against the wall. They came out of it with a win, and in an anemic AFC, moving up to 2-4 could save their season, considering that they beat the Steelers.
But 2-4 is still a long way from the playoffs, even in the AFC. While the Titans aren't the worst team in their division, they're still miles away from the Texans. They're even apart from the Indianapolis Colts, who are only a half game up on the Titans in the loss column.
The reasons for this are many, as the Titans haven't done a good job running the ball, where they are ranked last in the league. Their defense has been abhorrent, as they're allowing 421.8 yards per game, which is fifth worst in the NFL.
Part of the reason for this failure has been their line play, which is described eloquently by Grantland.com's Bill Barnwell:
Don't be fooled by the way they looked against a group of backups and hobbled linemen at home against the Steelers last night; this defensive line is still very, very bad. And while Johnson was able to make some hay for the second time this season, the shocking number of 13-carry, 16-yard games he's had over the past two seasons isn't entirely a product of his new contract and some supposed lack of desire; it's simply really hard to gain a lot of yardage when you're desperately searching for space in your own backfield. Tennessee's offensive line ranked dead last in Adjusted Line Yards last season and was all the way up to 31st before the Steelers game this year; they've turned into one of the league's most dismal units, especially on the interior.
A lot of that does fall on the coach, and the Titans will likely look to clean house this offseason after the steady decline they've had from being a consistent contender in the AFC to an also-ran.
Ron Rivera—Carolina Panthers
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This was supposed to be the season that Carolina's defense caught up with its offense, when Cam Newton made the leap from superstar rookie to definite superstar, when the Panthers were supposed to contend.
Instead, it has become a season of one victory, a massive egg laid on national television, missed opportunities and disappointment.
It is only Rivera's second year, but he has made some questionable decisions. It's always questionable when you give the Atlanta Falcons time to stage a comeback. When the Raiders did it, it was due to an interception, but when the Panthers did it, it was because of chicken play-calling by deciding to punt on 4th-and-1 instead of trying to run it in.
Because it's not like the Panthers have Newton at quarterback and DeAngelo Williams at running back.
But bad defense and questionable play-calling isn't Carolina's only problem. The offense has taken some steps back, too. Part of this is the typical sophomore slum that some people did anticipate from Newton, but the production on offense across the board from the Panthers has gone down from last season.
Every problem this team seems to have is on coaching. Carolina is undisciplined, despite the skills. Issues like that start at the top; they start with coach Rivera.
Pat Shurmur—Cleveland Browns
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Blaming Pat Shurmur for the Browns' problems obscures the real reason why they've struggled in the last two seasons—the lack of talent.
Shurmur, by no means, is a terrible head coach and could still be a good one. His teams play hard in every game. Every team that Cleveland has played this season knew it was in for a fight, and the Browns have played beyond themselves, putting up good outings against the Giants, Bengals, Ravens and Eagles.
But, they still only have one win to show for this season, and with the decade of ineptitude that the Browns have had, that's still unacceptable.
Odds are Mike Holmgren won't be back after this season, and since Shurmur was his choice for head coach, he will likely be gone too. But keep this in mind, unlike some other teams, this Browns team still fights every Sunday and has a good attitude and mentality when it hits the field.
Andy Reid—Philadelphia Eagles
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Andy Reid serves as Norv Turner's East Coast equivalent. Season after season, Reid manages to underachieve with great teams.
Whether it's his adventures in clock management or his offense's habit of turning the ball over, the Eagles struggles are widely known. Currently, they rank 31st in the league in points scored and have a point differential of -22.
Prior to the season, the assumption was if Philadelphia underachieved again, Reid would be out of the City of Brotherly Love. The way this season is looking, Reid's firing is imminent.
Then again, how often have we thought that was the case?
Jason Garrett—Dallas Cowboys
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When you blow a game that you have won, and no one is shocked about it, it might be time to consider putting your head coach on the hot seat.
The seat of the coach of the Dallas Cowboys is always hot, but standing at 2-3, it's considerably warmer for Jason Garrett after Dallas' last two games than it was before.
After starting off the season with an impressive victory over the New York Giants, the Cowboys have struggled to score, as the offense has ranked 24th in that department averaging 18.8 points per game. Turnovers have been the problem, as the Cowboys have given the ball away 12 times this season.
Their defense hasn't forced any turnovers, though, as they only have four takeaways all season. Tony Romo had five turnovers in one game alone, for comparison's sake.
Dallas—much like Philadelphia—still has a fighting chance in the NFC East, but they are also like Philly in the sense that if they fail to reach the playoffs, Garrett's job security could be in jeopardy.
Norv Turner—San Diego Chargers
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I don't know if we keep statistics like this, but Norv Turner has probably appeared in more "NFL Hot Seat" slideshows on Bleacher Report than any other head coach. I'm convinced that it's actually against Bleacher Report's policy to write a piece like this without mentioning Norv Turner.
Wait, I just saw the constitution of the United States; apparently every news and sports site has to mention Turner when mentioning NFL coaches on the hot seat. There's a good reason for that, as we saw illustrated in San Diego's last two games against New Orleans and Denver.
Turner's San Diego teams have been the alpha-dog example of NFL disappointments. They have missed the playoffs in the last two seasons, and after their loss to Denver, it's looking like a third straight miss. Turner is one of the worst late-game coaches around, and his time management and play-calling can best be described as "mediocre."
Yet, why is Turner still employed? Why was he even offered the Chargers job to begin with, considering his failures in Washington and Oakland? Could Turner become the main reason why Philip Rivers winds up without a Super Bowl ring? (That's of course if Rivers never wins a ring.)
Turner brings up so many questions, and definitely, so many emotions in Chargers fans. After starting the season 3-1, they now stand at 3-3, and are behind the eight ball in the AFC West.
The fact that they lost when up 24-0 makes it even more embarrassing and turns the thermostat on Turner's hot seat up to Miami in August-type proportions.