Hot Seat Watch for NFL Players, Coaches After Week 16
Black Monday looms. Winter is coming for some players and coaches.
This coming Monday will see an ignoble tradition repeated in the NFL. The day after Week 17 is over is typically when we find out who is getting pink slips.
It's coming a bit early this year—usually we see this in January—and there are certainly some names on the hot seat. For players, these decisions will take a little longer.
Here is a look at the hot seat around the league.
Joe Philbin, Head Coach, Miami Dolphins
The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga hit like an unexpected hurricane in South Florida earlier this season. It threatened to rip the team to shreds and get the front office and coaching staff fired. Then Miami went on a run.
Just one scant week ago, Joe Philbin was being touted as a potential Coach of the Year candidate, weathering the firestorm with aplomb. Today Philbin and his coaching staff find themselves under fire once more.
The Dolphins traveled to Buffalo with their playoff fate in their own hands. How did Philbin prepare his team for such an occasion?
That is a serious question—what did Philbin do to get his team ready for the game? Miami was flat out embarrassed, a 19-0 debacle that saw listless play on both sides of the ball and a pervasive stench all around.
Fortunately for Philbin and his team, Miami got a lot of help. The Dolphins could have been eliminated from contention, but the Ravens lost and Chargers won. This means that a team that was actually in seventh place a week ago slid up to the No. 6 seed despite being shut out.
A win at home against the Jets with a little more help will get Philbin and Co. into the playoffs. A loss will turn up the temperature on his chair.
Dennis Allen, Head Coach, Oakland Raiders
Dennis Allen didn't have much of a chance in Oakland.
The 41-year-old took on quite the challenge when he was hired to coach the lowly Raiders two years ago. The team was going to be gutted because of salary cap woes, and it was going to be tough sledding in the meantime.
Oakland fans have trudged through seven coaches over the past 10 years, including Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable. Would it kill the Raiders brass to stick with someone for more than a couple of doomed seasons?
Apparently not, per NFL.com's Mike Silver:
While second-year Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is likely safe for 2013, coach Dennis Allen is very much on the hot seat. Going into Sunday's game against Kansas City, a source familiar with the mindset of ownership said that the season's final few games will be crucial toward determining the coach's fate.
Well, losses to the Chiefs and Chargers since then haven't done much to help the situation, though the Raiders were somewhat competitive in those games.
So what now? Give Allen a chance after the roster gets an enema this offseason?
General manager Reggie McKenzie has a boatload of cap space and yet another high draft pick to give the team a fighting chance after years of cap hell.
Jason Garrett, Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys
We might be approaching the end times in Dallas, at least for Jason Garrett.
The embattled Cowboys coach is on the brink of his third consecutive 8-8 season. It's a wonder Jerry Jones has been so gracious with him, though the bombastic owner hand-picked Garrett for the job. Even a couple of weeks ago, Jones stood behind his coach (via Carlos Mendez of Star-Telegram.com):
Asked for clarification on how firm he was about Garrett being the coach next year, Jones said, “I was firm for one night at that time and that doesn’t call for me having to be firm every morning I get up. So I was real firm then, so take that to the bank. Just take that to the bank. I’m not going to sit here and every time I see you guys, ask whether I’m firm or not. We can all play that game.”
Aside from that quote being rather amusing out of context, it also seems ridiculous given Garrett has been running on a treadmill for three seasons now.
Garrett's hopes might lie with quarterback Kyle Orton if reports from ESPN's Adam Schefter that Tony Romo has been knocked out of the season with a back injury are true. Even if the Cowboys pull a miracle against the Eagles this week and win the NFC East, could you blame Jones for firing Garrett?
Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Let's be real, Aaron Rodgers isn't on any sort of logical hot seat. In the land of the insane, however, fans have a bone to pick with the Packers quarterback.
The "systems quarterback" has been out with a broken collarbone for seven weeks now, even though he has been able to practice in recent weeks. Every week he sits, a growing contingent of angry Packers fans cries foul.
But, really, Rodgers is only on a hot seat if he needs to warm up after a practice in the brisk Wisconsin weather. Let the man heal from his injury.
Jim Schwartz, Head Coach, Detroit Lions
Jim Schwartz is a dead man walking in Detroit at this point.
The man widely credited with turning the team around a couple of years ago has fallen far from grace, wasting some incredible talent on that roster along the way.
The Lions have turned into a pumpkin as quickly as Scwhartz turned an 0-16 abomination into a 10-6 playoff team. Discipline problems plague the team, and Schwartz has been the clock striking midnight.
Perhaps no better example of Schwartz's failures comes in the form of enigmatic quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The 25-year-old possesses arguably the best arm talent in the league, but you wouldn't know it with how awful he has looked over the past month. Stafford's mechanics and decision-making have come into question, but he appears to spend more time defending Stafford's mechanics than correcting them.
From Stafford to receiver Calvin Johnson or defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the Lions are littered with talented players. The team has simply not been able to live up to potential under Schwartz the past couple of seasons.
There is little reason to think Schwartz will find himself employed after Black Monday.
Mike Shanahan, Head Coach, Washington
The luster is gone. Mike Shanahan needs to go.
At least that's what many Washington fans might tell you, it seems. Shanahan's shenanigans have earned him the ire of fans in the nation's capital, who have been growing impatient with his four-year rebuild that has come full circle.
Washington is no better than when he started, even though the team made the playoffs just a year ago. At 3-11, fans can't even take solace in a top draft pick because it belongs to the Rams, given up in the deal to draft Robert Griffin III.
Rex Ryan, Head Coach, New York Jets
Now how can Rex Ryan be on the hot seat?
After all, the Jets were much maligned this past offseason, touted as one of the league's worst teams. Yet here they are, heading into Week 17 with a chance to get to .500 and end the season tied with the AFC's No. 6 seed, though tiebreakers would prevent them from moving on to the postseason.
If you ask Ryan, though, this is going to be his last hurrah in New Jersey (via Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News):
Fortunately, the Sominex script was juiced—radically. On Fox’s pregame it was flipped when Jay Glazer reported that Ryan, in a team meeting Saturday night, told the Jets: “Guys, word on the street (is) I’m getting fired. I’m not coming back. I’ve got two weeks left.” Even if Ryan’s “confession” was designed to inspire inconsistent players, it set the stage for the coach making what could be his last stand in Jersey.
Meaningless turned into meaningful. Without naming Glazer or crediting Fox, Albert acknowledged the report early in the telecast. CBS’ cameras stayed glued to Ryan. Rex staring at his list of defensive plays. Rex wigging on an official after Geno Smith was recipient of a late hit out of bounds. Rex running down the sideline after Smith clinched the 24-13 win with a touchdown run.
If the Jets really do fire Ryan—a coach who has weathered media storms that blew in the Darrell Revis saga, the Tim Tebow circus and Mark Sanchez, among other things—they will be worse for the wear. For all his bluster, Ryan has led his teams to overachieve, for much of his tenure.
Greg Schiano, Head Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The cacophony surrounding Greg Schiano was almost deafening in Tampa Bay earlier this season.
The Buccaneers got off to a horrendous start, punctuated by the Josh Freeman debacle and MRSA outbreak. Schiano was skating on thin ice halfway through the year, and it was a bit of a surprise to see owner Malcom Gladwell give Schiano a vote of confidence.
Then the Buccaneers won a couple of games and Miami's bullying scandal stole the media frenzy. But what of Schiano?
It's not as if Tampa Bay is any good, despite a few victories.
Rumors have surfaced that Schiano might be interested, per David Jones of Penn Live, in the Penn State coaching job. If so, it would probably best for all parties to see him get back to the college ranks. Chalk another one up for "failed college coach."
Tom Coughlin, Head Coach, New York Giants
Winning two championships buys you a lot of leash. But the rope is running out for Tom Coughlin and the Giants.
New York started 0-6 and has only managed to stay out of the NFC East cellar because Mike Shanahan's squad is worse. Quarterback Eli Manning appears to be having the life force sucked out of him by his older brother, Peyton, who is having the best season of any quarterback's career at age 37.
At 67 years old, Coughlin might be thinking about retirement. Who could blame him? It would be a win-win for him and the Giants—nobody gets fired, New York can honor a champion and the drama would be minimized.
Jay Cutler, Quarterback, Chicago Bears
The Bears control their own destiny in the NFC North. Then again, they controlled it last week when they were shellacked 54-11 by the Eagles.
Jay Cutler's return from a groin injury has had mixed results. He led a comeback victory against lowly Cleveland in Week 15, but he looked downright awful in Philadelphia.
That two-week run is a microcosm of Cutler's career, which has been defined by inconsistency and failed expectations. He has an incredible arm and flashes his potential to be great, but he has not been able to live up to those talents throughout his career.
Now the Bears are faced with a hard decision—let a flawed franchise quarterback hit free agency with no guarantee of finding another or give him a big contract.
Cutler's performance this week could go a long way toward determining his fate in the Windy City.