NFL Hot-Seat Watch Heading into Preseason Week 3
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL preseason has made its way through the second week, and we're now ready to begin Week 3. We are that much closer to the Sept. 5 season opener between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, but we've already learned a lot from the preseason.
Much like in Week 1, some players and coaches had solid performances, while others struggled. Instead of looking at who played well, we're going to focus on players and coaches who had their difficulties in Week 2.
The following group of individuals are finding out that their seat is getting a little warm. Here's our NFL hot-seat watch heading into Week 3 of the preseason.
Tim Tebow, Quarterback, New England Patriots
Tebow was absolutely horrific in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finishing the game 1-of-7 with minus-one passing yards and an interception. Even his 0.0 quarterback rating doesn't fully show just how poorly he played.
Now Tebow is fighting for his life to have a roster spot on the New England Patriots for the upcoming season. Another performance like this one, and you can guarantee he'll be watching the 2013 season from home.
Jason Tarver, Defensive Coordinator, Oakland Raiders
So, the Oakland Raiders probably won't be very good this year.
This week against the New Orleans Saints, the Raiders got manhandled. Don't let the final score of 28-20 fool you, as it was nowhere near that close of a game.
The biggest issue for the Raiders appears to be on the defensive side of the ball. Drew Brees and Co. put together five straight scoring drives within the first 27 minutes of the game. The Saints finished the game with 369 yards of total offense by doing damage through the air and on the ground.
If Oakland can't improve its defense quick, we could see coordinator Jason Tarver let go early in the season.
Jay Cutler, Quarterback, Chicago Bears
It may seem a little odd to have Jay Cutler on the hot seat, but last week's outing against the San Diego Chargers showed a big problem with his game.
His name is Brandon Marshall.
Cutler only threw five passes on Thursday against the Chargers. Marshall was the target on all five of those passes. While he caught four of them for 38 yards and a touchdown, Cutler's lone interception was a ball thrown Marshall's way.
Simply put, Cutler needs to stop locking in on his favorite wide receiver and learn to spread the ball around. Considering the weapons he has at his disposal—wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte—this shouldn't be an issue at all.
However, it has been an issue so far, which is why Cutler is currently on the hot seat until he can fix it.
Jim Schwartz, Head Coach, Detroit Lions
Those who have watched the Detroit Lions this preseason have seen a team that is struggling mightily. Things aren't going well on offense or on defense.
On offense, the Lions have only scored one offensive touchdown through the first two games. To make matters worse, that offensive touchdown came off a drive orchestrated by backup quarterback Shaun Hill.
On defense, the Lions seem to have the same issues that have plagued them in recent seasons. They can't seem to make plays, as evidenced by getting easily handled by the Cleveland Browns in Week 2.
With both sides of the ball failing to play productive football, the blame needs to fall on head coach Jim Schwartz. He was already on thin ice after going 4-12 last year, and all signs point to his seat getting warmer and warmer unless the Lions can make a drastic change.
Jonathan Baldwin, Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers
Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin hasn't exactly lived up to lofty expectations for the Kansas City Chiefs. That's probably why the Chiefs decided to clean their slate and trade him to the San Francisco 49ers for fellow receiver A.J. Jenkins.
Baldwin falls into an ideal situation since the 49ers have such a need for depth at the receiver position. However, he'll need to prove that the problem was the environment in Kansas City and not the fact that he's an untalented receiver.
The best scenario for Baldwin is to step in right away and make a big impact in San Francisco. If he can do that, he could see some major playing time rather quickly.
Of course, if he struggles like he did with the Chiefs, he may find himself looking for a new team yet again.
A.J. Jenkins, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
Just like Jonathan Baldwin, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins gets a new start with the Kansas City Chiefs. And just like Baldwin, Jenkins won't have much time to prove that the location was the problem for his inability to make an impact.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs don't have a huge need at receiver like the San Francisco 49ers do. With Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster, Jenkins will be the fourth receiver on the depth chart at best to start the season.
The most important thing for him to do is make plays. Even if it's just one or two, it'd be far better than anything he did in San Francisco.
A fresh start could be all that Jenkins needs, but until he performs like a first-round pick, his seat will be extremely hot.
Christian Ponder, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
The 2013 season is most definitely a make-or-break year for third-year quarterback Christian Ponder.
He's lived off the success of running back Adrian Peterson so far in his career, but the Minnesota Vikings need him to step up if they want to be truly competitive this year. Unfortunately, Ponder has failed to show that ability through the first two games of the preseason.
In Week 1, Ponder went 1-of-2 for 15 yards and an interception. He followed that performance by going 5-of-12 with 53 yards against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2.
With a capable backup quarterback in Matt Cassel, the Vikings may have a rather short leash on Ponder this year. In fact, another two games with struggles like they had could cause the coaching staff to think rather hard about starting Cassel in the regular season.
Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons
If there is one thing that could ultimately hold back the Atlanta Falcons this year, it's the play of their secondary.
On offense, the Falcons should boast one of the most explosive units in the league. This team has so many playmakers on that side of the ball that it's not a stretch at all to think they could lead the league in scoring this year.
Unfortunately, it won't matter how many points they can score if they can't stop anyone else from scoring. The player with the most pressure on them to perform early is first-round pick Desmond Trufant, and he has struggled through the first two games.
Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has Trufant graded as the ninth-worst cornerback in the preseason through two games. Should Trufant continue this poor play for the final two games, he may find himself in a decreased role once the regular season starts.