NFL Hot Seat Update: Ranking the Head Coaches Currently Under Fire After Week 15

Ryan Riddle@@Ryan_RiddleCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2012

NFL Hot Seat Update: Ranking the Head Coaches Currently Under Fire After Week 15

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    Heading into the final weeks of the season, we switch gears a bit in this weekly edition of NFL Hot Seat Update.

    We added a new severity level for the coaches all but fired already: "Burnt to a Crisp." This is followed by "On Fire," "Hot" and finally "Warm."

    Another change following Week 15 is only the coaches with a status of "Warm" or greater will be listed. Perhaps to the surprise of many, almost half of the league's head coaches are not fairing so well in their job security at this point.

    But this makes sense considering the average tenure of an NFL head coach is only about 3.25 years. This makes for a constantly evolving coaching carousel of new and old faces changing teams each year.

    One interesting note this year is we have yet to see a single head coach get fired so far. I cannot remember the last time, if ever, no head coaches have been fired by this point in a season.

    There are 14 coaches at least somewhat in danger of losing their jobs on this list.

Lovie Smith: Warm

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    Last Week: Room Temperature

    The first half of the season for the Bears almost certainly had Lovie Smith thinking contract extension and pay raise after a 7-1 record. But then the injuries and questionable coaching became the norm in the Windy City as they lost five of their last six games.

    It would be a major shock for the Bears to part ways with Smith after all he's done in Chicago, including three playoff appearances and a Super Bowl berth.

    First-year GM Phil Emery will have a difficult decision to make regarding Smith if the Bears fail to make the playoffs after such a strong start.

    One thing is for sure: Should Coach Smith happen to be fired, he will certainly land on his feet with another head coaching opportunity. But if Emery and the Bears are smart, they'll realize replacing Smith may not offer up a true upgrade at the position.

Dennis Allen: Warm

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    Last Week: Hot

    Sure, this is Dennis Allen's first year with the Raiders, not to mention the first year for the man who hired him, general manager Reggie McKenzie. But having a debut season like the one Allen's having has put the youngest head coach in the NFL in trouble.

    The most alarming part of Coach Allen's inaugural season has been how uncompetitive the team has looked at times. It's the blowout losses that have the new GM and fans worried.

    Sunday's shutout win against the Chiefs snapped a six-game losing streak and may be just what the team needs heading into their final games of the season.

    For the GM's sake, McKenzie may need to stick with Allen for at least another season.

Pat Shurmur: Warm

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    Last Week: Room Temperature

    The Browns have shown improvement over the last few weeks despite the loss Sunday against the RG3-less Redskins. Winning three of their last four games is the only reason Pat Shurmur is not "Hot" or "On Fire" at this point. 

    In two seasons as head coach in Cleveland, Shurmur has won only nine games. These final two games of the season might be the most important contests of Shurmur's career.

    If the Browns finish strong, he may be able to convince new ownership to retain his services for at least another year. But should Cleveland lay down, give up and go home, Shurmur's fate will almost certainly be sealed with the Browns.

    Leaving on a positive note, Shurmur and the Browns have already won one more game (five) than they did all of last season (four).

Jim Schwartz: Hot

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    Last Week: Hot

    Right around this time last year, fans were singing the praises of Jim Schwartz as he edged closer to guiding the Lions to their first playoff appearance since 1999. Nowadays, things are looking dramatically different for the fourth-year head coach who currently sits at 4-10.

    Schwartz's first three seasons as head coach were promising; he improved each season up until this year.

    His overall coaching record is only .361, which happens to be the second-worst percentage of all active head coaches behind only Kansas City's Romeo Crennel (minimum 50 career games).

    This unimpressive record was less glaring as long as Schwartz was able to show growth.

    Schwartz is likely all set to return next season, but he should do so on a short leash and immediately on the "Hot Seat" in Week 1.

Ken Whisenhunt: Hot

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Arizona snapped a nine-game losing streak by blowing out the Detroit Lions 38-10 Sunday.

    Fans and media have begun to cry for Ken Whisenhunt's head following the worst loss in franchise history, which happened to be against a rookie quarterback no less.

    Now sitting at 5-9 despite starting the season off 4-0, Whisenhunt and his Cardinals have actually been a pretty solid defense. There real problem has been having the worst offense line in recent memory.

    The sad part of this whole situation is that Whisenhunt's actually one of the better head coaches in the NFL. In fact, many are quick to forget that he guided Arizona to a Super Bowl in the 2008 season, only his second as head coach.

    Now, nearly four years later, Whisenhunt is in a battle for his job. But with Arizona scoring the fewest points in the NFC, it reflects poorly on the the offensive-minded coach and his abilities to lead this team back to the promised land.

Jason Garrett: Hot

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Dallas has won five of its last six games. That has finally cooled Jason Garrett's seat off just a bit from "On Fire" to "Hot."

    It appears the Cowboys are beginning to acquire that one thing they've lacked for the last few years: mental toughness.

    But as far as Garrett is concerned, this could be a sign of too little, too late for owner Jerry Jones.

    Jones places high expectations on his football team, and he firmly believes the current roster is talented enough to win a Super Bowl. This points the blame squarely on the shoulders of Garrett, who may actually be too soft-spoken for this type of franchise.

    If they miss the playoff this year, it will certainly lead to a one-way ticket out of Dallas. In fact, even making the playoffs and losing the first contest could spell the end for Garrett in Dallas.

Mike Munchak: Hot

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Before the game I wrote this in the original publish  'Depending on Monday night's outcome, Mike Munchak could improve his status to "Hot" with a positive performance under the lights on prime-time television."

    With the win against the Jets, the Titans improve to 5-9 this season under Munchak, which is a regression from his debut season of 9-7. But the good news for Munchak is that his seat just became a bit cooler.

    Surprisingly, Munchak has won 50 percent of his career games as head coach.

    Last season actually demonstrated some impressive skills as a coach. This year, however, has clouded most anything positive for this franchise and current state of affairs.

    The Titans are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak and need to show up big against the Jets on Monday in a game to save their head coach.

Mike Mularkey: On Fire

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Although this is Mike Mularkey's first season, he still has to answer for fielding perhaps the worst team in the NFL.

    Jacksonville is 2-12 and nearly dead last in every single significant team category. However, this team needs much more than a head coach—it needs a complete reboot.

    Jacksonville was nearly shut out against the Dolphins on Sunday. This was just more of the same for what's turning out to be a disastrous year for all members of the franchise.

    If by some chance the Jaguars retain the services of Mularkey heading into next season, they'd have to demonstrate an ability to win early on or risk being sent home before the midway point.

Rex Ryan: On Fire

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Rex Ryan has made himself a household name thanks to his Super Bowl predictions and personality.

    As likable as he may be to some, he has created a bit of a sideshow in New York. His drive to be the center of attention has actually worked, but it has placed an unnecessary target on his back. 

    The Jets looked inept in several areas throughout Monday night's game. The preparation seemed lacking, along with overall effort, decision making and the ongoing debacle of in-house QB management. Ryan's firing may not be 100 percent imminent, but at this point, he's hanging on by a thread. 

    When you cater to the media the way Ryan does, you end up cornering yourself with unrealistic expectations and outlandish predictions. This is the biggest reason for his job to be in jeopardy after two conference championship appearances.

    In the end, however, general manager Mike Tannenbaum will likely need a fall guy for the disappointing season. When that ends up being the case, expect Coach Ryan to be on his way out.

Ron Rivera: On Fire

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Have the Panthers finally figured something out with back-to-back victories over the Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers? Perhaps they finally woke up and tapped into their potential.

    This late-season surge may be too little, too late to save Ron Rivera's job, though. Carolina already fired its general manager, and his replacement may go with a handpicked head coach.

    Coach Rivera failed to improve upon a relatively positive showing his first year, but Cam Newton has been impressive as of late, and the defense finally seems to be acting more like a cohesive unit.

    After winning two in a row, it seems as though there is a slight chance Rivera returns to fight another year.

    However, his fate may already have been decided. Going 11-19 over two years is not a recipe for success.

Chan Gailey: Burnt to a Crisp

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    Last Week: On Fire

    In three years as the head coach of the Bills, Chan Gailey has only won 15 games. Many believed this was Buffalo's year to finally make real strides, but it wasn't to be.

    For the most part, the Bills have looked like a team without an identity on offense and overtly passive on defense. Giving up 50 points to the Seahawks in their latest contest was only more of the same.

    Gailey has been an NFL head coach in 77 games so far in his career and has yet to win a single playoff game. He may be a dead man walking in Buffalo.

Romeo Crennel: Burnt to a Crisp

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Including last year, Romeo Crennel has gone 4-13 as head coach in Kansas City.

    Many critics would argue the Chiefs have been the worst team in the NFL this year. True or not, there is no question that they've been a major disappointment; many expected them to compete with the Broncos for the division.

    General Manager Scott Pioli has also come under fire as the man who built this team of underachievers. For Kansas City, the only thing left to do will be to clean house and start from scratch.

    Coach Crennel is as good as gone following their last game of the year.

Andy Reid: Burnt to a Crisp

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Andy Reid is a highly respected head coach. He has managed to collect six division titles, 10 playoff wins and five conference championship appearances with a regular-season win percentage of almost 59 percent.

    This doesn't sound much like the resume of a man playing out his final days with the franchise he helped make relevant. In the end, all it took was missing the playoffs two years in a row for him to be replaceable.

    Reid will likely be the head coach of another team next year where a fresh start could be just what he needs.

    Let us not forget that it was only last summer that he tragically lost his son just before the start of the season. This terrible event could have been effecting Reid all season long.

    Whoever Reid is with next season will have a great leader and an even greater man.

Norv Turner: Burnt to a Crisp

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    Last Week: On Fire

    Norv Turner has been operating on borrowed time for well over a year now. He has routinely fallen short in the playoffs despite having several teams without a perceived weakness.

    I have a personal connection to Turner considering he was the head coach who drafted me out of college and was the first person I spoke with on the phone on draft day.

    But putting personal biases aside, he just isn't a very good head coach. He is a remarkable coordinator and a football genius with a gift for teaching his systems to players, but he's not a capable leader.

    Turner lacks the ability to inspire his players or provide an emotional spark at halftime when the chips are down. His approach to the game is purely analytical and systematic without any regard to the human/emotional element of the game.

    Having been a head coach for so long, he has only managed to win four career playoff games. No coach in the NFL has a hotter seat than Turner.