NFL General Managers on the Hot Seat

Paul Thelen@@ThePaulLenContributor IIOctober 30, 2012

NFL General Managers on the Hot Seat

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    There is very little patience exercised by owners in today's NFL. Last year, six teams (Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Oakland, Denver and Tennessee) chose to bring in new general managers after the conclusion of the season. Eight weeks into the 2012 NFL season, frustrations are ripe amongst certain owners and fan bases, indicating more changes are going to come.

    When teams are not meeting expectations, changes are sure to come. Typically, said changes begin small with minor personal changes. Teams that continue may choose to change quarterbacks or fire coaches. In more serious situations, when a team really wants to revamp their losing culture, the general manager is sent packing. This was the case in Carolina last week, when the Panthers fired longstanding general manager Matt Hurney after only six games.  

    During the process of reviewing the performance of a general manager, all offseason transactions are evaluated from free agent acquisitions to draft selections. The grace period general managers once had  for rebuilding a franchise has dissipated in recent years based on the increased impact of rookie players, especially at the quarterback position. Now more than ever, general managers feel the pressure exerted by owners and fans to win immediately. 

    Due to these increased expectations, the trend of fluctuation at the general manager position will continue during and after this season. After eight weeks, here are the general managers who find themselves on the proverbial hot seat.

Cleveland Browns: Tom Heckert

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    The Cleveland Browns are cleaning house. When new owner Jimmy Haslam was approved by the NFL last week, Mike Holmgren announced he would be resigning as team president. Expect general manager Tom Heckert to be joining Holmgren in the unemployment line.

    Heckert's short tenure in Cleveland has not been flattering. Since he became the GM in 2010, the Browns are just 6-17. However, Heckert has built a young roster that has shown signs of promise this season. This is a team that started seven rookies last week in a win against San Diego.

    If Heckert is removed, it will likely have more to do with the team's new owner, then the roster he has assembled.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gene Smith

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    At 1-6, the Jaguars seem to be a long way from playoff contention in 2012. 

    Since being hired in 2009, Gene Smith has struggled to bring talent to Jacksonville. The Jaguars have failed to end a season over .500 under Smith, and have been a dismal 6-18 over the span of the last two seasons.

    Smith cut David Garrard before the 2011 season, which resulted in the team turning to Smith's first round draft selection Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert has struggled significantly as a starter. As a rookie in 2011, Gabbert's QBR was a dismal 20.6, rising only slightly this year to 43.3.

    As stated earlier, the new time frame for a young quarterback to prove himself is thin. If a first round quarterback flops, the guy that drafted him has to answer for the failure. 

    Don't expect Smith to be given another year in Jacksonville.

New York Jets: Mike Tannenbaum

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    The Jets are an organization that expects to be in Super Bowl contention each season. 

    Mike Tannenbaum was hired as the Jets general manager in 2006. After constructing teams that made consecutive AFC championship games, both the Jet's record and personnel have diminished. Their offense struggles week-to-week and recorded the only scoreless result in 2012. Their defense, ranked first in points allowed in 2009, find themselves now ranked 24th. That's certainly not the caliber of a team that expects to contend for the Super Bowl. 

    To make matters worse, Tannenbaum brought the Tim Tebow circus to New York without implementing a strategy to use him. With an offense that struggles to score points, Tannebaum's ability to acquire talent is being called into question.

    Owner Woody Johnson has voiced support of both head coach Rex Ryan and back-up quarterback Tim Tebow. If the Jets continue to struggle, look for both Tannenbaum and Sanchez to be scapegoated and shown the door.

San Diego Chargers: A.J. Smith

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    The Chargers patience with general manager A.J. Smith is bewildering. Smith's tenure in San Diego (he was hired in 2004) initially was met with widespread approval. But recently, not so much.

    The Chargers have not been in the playoffs since 2009, and 2012 is looking quite grim, after an embarrassing 7-6 loss to the Browns. However, the Chargers decrease in wins is not the only indictment of A.J. Smith's ineptitude as a general manager.

    Smith's misguided faith in head coach Norv Turner has been widely criticized. Turner has failed to develop the players Smith has entrusted to him. Phillip Rivers has regressed substantially over the past couple seasons. 

    Using Bill Parcell's famous analogy: Norv Turner left Smith's groceries out to rot. 

    Smith survived last year, but unless a seismic change occurs in San Diego's productivity in the second half of this season, Smith's faith in Norv Turner will get him cooked.

Kansas City: Scott Pioli

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    Any general manager whose team's starting quarterback is Brady Quinn is doomed.

    Scott Pioli's plan of transitioning Kansas City into the "New, New England" hasn't quite worked out. Hired in 2009, Pioli experienced quick success, as the Chiefs made the playoffs in 2010.

    It has been all downhill since.

    Last year, after starting 5-8, Pioli fired head coach Tom Haley. Interim coach Romeo Crennel was given the job in a full-time capacity in 2012, and that hasn't worked any better. 

    The Chiefs are 1-6 and rank 29th in both points scored and points allowed. The Chiefs benched QB Matt Cassel, who Pioli signed to a $62 million contract in 2009. That does not bode well for Pioli's future. 

    Despite being in the playoffs two years ago, Pioli will be fortunate to make it through the rest of the season as the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs.