NFL Rumors: Coaches on the Hot Seat
All of you NFL schadenfreudians will want to keep an eye on the news today.
It's the day after the final Sunday of the regular season, which means it's Black Monday. Or pink slip day. Or head-rolling day.
Whatever you call it, this is the day that coaches whose teams drastically underperformed or haven't met long-term expectations pay the price.
Some coaches are being rumored to be among the unlucky. Others basically coached their final months as dead men walking, fired in the realms of public opinion.
For 12 teams around the league, the season isn't over. If anything, it's just getting started. But for others with far more losses than wins, today might as well be the first day of next year, and it's never too soon to get the stench of 2012 out of the organization.
Here are coaches who may have coached their final games with their current teams (if they're current of this writing, that is.)
Andy Reid, Philadelphia
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It's a shame. Andy Reid took over the Eagles in 1999 and has since led them to nine winning seasons and playoff appearances, five NFC championship games and a Super Bowl.
But he presided over one highly-priced and highly-touted meltdown, and for that, the successes of yesteryear become overshadowed.
Reid is all but done in Philly, as one of the franchise's most decorated head coaches won't be able to survive the mess that developed the last two years as a supposed "Dream Team" instead went 12-20 thanks to injuries, underperforming players, poor chemistry and (perhaps) a little too much pressure.
The move makes sense, as it's hard to bring a coach back to a situation that completely escaped him, but it's not without its issues. Reid was very popular among players, and was never thrown under the bus by anyone in the organization while things went south.
But no sports city in the country is hungrier for results than Philadelphia, so when the longtime answer stops working, the team has shown it's quick to find a new one.
Rex Ryan, New York Jets
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Fun fact: It's impossible to win the Super Bowl and earn the ninth overall pick.
But that's where the Jets are. New York, one man's pick to win it all every year, is instead slotted for ninth in the draft, thanks to a 6-10 finish that capped off what's been a three-year drop from moderate heights that, for the Jets, might as well have been Everest.
Now, that one man could be out of a job. Rex Ryan was successful in conjuring up a winning attitude with New York's other team, and was even able to translate some of that bravado into results, as the Jets made back-to-back AFC championship games.
But now the act has gone stale. Ryan used the term "same old Jets" often as they returned to the AFC title game in 2010, but the phrase has had more of a place with this team, which has gone back to the same mistake-ridden ways of its past.
The quarterback is a lost mess. A backup quarterback is the most talked-about player on the team. The offensive line stinks. The receivers aren't good. And I'm not sure, but I think half the team just found another player to blame for most of the team's problems. Anonymously, of course.
Part of New York's problems were injuries (losing Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes close together crippled the team, understandably), but Ryan's inability to develop a functional quarterback and offense in four years reflects badly on him.
He might be given another chance, but with the Jets spiraling out of control in the later part of this year, it wouldn't be a shock to see him leave.
Romeo Crennel, Kansas City
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Romeo Crennel has a 2-14 record to show for his first season in charge in Kansas City, and while injuries and bad quarterback play hurt his chances at leading a winner, the NFL is a bottom-line league, and seeing the Chiefs look helpless for much of the year appears to be enough for ownership to make a change.
Crennel might not be alone. General manager Scott Pioli's had a tough time in his transition from New England to Kansas City, but he'll apparently stick around and be the one calling the Chiefs' selection with the first pick of April's draft.
Pat Shurmur, Cleveland
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In another one from the "looks like a done deal" group, Pat Shurmur's likely coached his last game in Cleveland.
It's only been two years since he was hired, and Cleveland seemed to be putting things together during a three-game winning streak late in the season, but Browns ownership appears to be ready to continue its search for the coach who will finally make things click.
The move, which would also see general manager Tom Heckert head out, would be the latest in a housecleaning project that's taken place since it was announced Mike Holmgren wouldn't return as team president.
Mike Mularkey, Jacksonville
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The league's other 2-14 team doesn't appear as eager to make a coaching change as the Chiefs are. General manager Gene Smith is out, but coach Mike Mularkey is still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The team's hesitance to cut ties with Mularkey makes sense, as he was just hired this year and he inherited a team with glaring holes and perilously thin talent and depth at quarterback. More finishes like this year's, however, and his time with the team will be short-lived.
Ron Rivera, Carolina
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Ron Rivera appeared as sure a pick to be fired as any early in the season, but now the Panthers coach's seat seems to be cooling.
It makes sense for the team's opinion of Rivera to be rising. After a dreadful 1-6 start in which franchise quarterback Cam Newton seemed locked in a sophomore jinx, the Panthers righted themselves in time to salvage a 7-9 record by finishing up as one of the hottest teams around.
Now, Newton again is putting up good numbers, and the Panthers are looking like that team no one wants to play. In other words, it's the same as the end of last year. Rivera should get a second chance with this opportunity to prove he can turn it into a playoff run.
Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona
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That run to the Super Bowl feels so long ago now.
Ken Whisenhunt presided over the Cardinals' transformation from NFL laughingstock to feared playoff team, but unfortunately, he's seen it relapse back as well.
Whisenhunt has been unable to find a competent quarterback since Kurt Warner retired after 2009, which has resulted in a statistical drop-off for all-world receiver Larry Fitzgerald and poor record after poor record for the Cardinals.
The final straw may have been Arizona's losing streak this year, which reached nine games and took the Cardinals out of the postseason running after a 4-0 start to the year.
Norv Turner, San Diego
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If Norv Turner doesn't lose his job in San Diego, we'll know there's a conspiracy going on.
With Turner at the helm, the Chargers have gone from being a super-talented squad to being one with some good players, but that can't avoid making mistakes at the end of the game.
Turner's stint in San Diego got off to a good start with early playoff wins, but that enthusiasm has long since diminished.
Instead, the questions now revolve around why Turner can't get a team with skilled pieces to play the kind of football it's capable of for a full 16-game slate.
At first, Turner's Chargers were notorious for starting slow before getting hot late to sneak into the playoffs. Now, they don't even catch that late flourish. The past two years, the Chargers have been nothing but a disappointment.
San Diego's now at a crossroads, where it can either go for a new approach or keep chasing that elusive Super Bowl with the ingredients at hand. Either way, Turner isn't the coach to carry the Chargers forward.