2009 is going to be an important season for more than a few people. If these coaches or players don't succeed, they could see themselves out of a job by 2010.
Not all of them are on the axe list because of the their performance, but of because of their circumstances.
Jim Zorn, Head Coach, Washington Redskins
This one is beyond me. Jim Zorn has only been a head coach for a year, and posted an 8-8 record last year. Sure it's not great, but it could be worse. How could a young coach possibly be in position to be canned?
Well the reality is that he works for Dan Snyder. And Dan Snyder burns through more head coaches faster than Bowflex supposedly burns fat. From 2000-2008, he has hired then fired six coaches.
Most infamously, he fired Norv Turner mid-season, who went on to become the head coach of the Chargers, and found much more success there.
The Bottom Line: If Zorn doesn't perform to Snyder's ridiculously high standards, he'll be out of a job, and someone else will step into the hot seat.
David Garrard, Quarterback, Jacksonville Jaguars
I'm alone in this it seems, but I think Garrard is a good QB. He has a good arm, and he has a scrambling and rushing skill comparable to Michael Vick in his prime.
The only knock on him is his decision making, which led to a few boneheaded picks late in the season. And that is enough to upset the fans and put him in the hotseat.
The Bottom Line: Garrard's success lies in the team as much as him. If the Jags can reverse their 5-11 record, it won't really matter how he plays. If the Jags post the same record or worse, Garrard better put up some good numbers, or he'll be on the bench or out of work.
Tom Cable, Head Coach, Oakland Raiders
Like Jim Zorn this isn't necessarily about his skill, but about his boss. Tom Cable hasn't served a full season as a head coach but is already in the hot seat.
Al Davis is like Dan Snyder, just not as extreme. He burns through so many coaches you could have a full coaching staff filled with the people he canned. He posted a 4-8 record as interim head coach, as many wins as his predecessor in a full season.
The Bottom Line: Cable looks OK, for now. If he doesn't perform to the Absolute Dictator's liking, he'll join Norv Turner, Bill Callahan, Art Shell, and Lane Kiffin as former Raider coaches.
Jason Campbell, Quarterback, Washington Redskins
Jason Campbell may well be entering his last year as a Redskin. Jim Zorn seems committed to him, and I don't blame him. He threw 16 touchdowns in 2008 and only six interceptions.
But fans feel that he is the reason for the 'Skins late-season collapse that forced them into an 8-8 record and last in their division.
The Bottom Line: If Campbell and the Redskins can't perform well this year, Campbell will most likely be blamed. Being nailed to the cross by the fans and players could likely mean his benching or firing.
JaMarcus Russell, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders
JaMarcus Russell came into Oakland with high expectations. As of now, he has shown some flashes of brilliance, but only flashes. The pressure is on Russell now since the addition of veteran Jeff Garcia.
Garcia has a long track record, playing for five different teams before the Raiders. Not only that, he is a four-time Pro Bowler and posted a passer rating of 90.4 last year in 12 games.
The Bottom Line: If JaMarcus Russell can't have a breakout year or perform to Al Davis's standards, then Jeff Garcia will take his spot, and Russell will be on the bench.
Wade Phillips, Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys
People wanted Phillips to be fired at the disastrous end of the Cowboys' 2008 campaign. Phillips and the Cowboys topped the NFC in 2007 with a 13-3 record, only to fall in the Divisional Round to the Giants.
To be honest, the only reason that I can think of is that Phillips would be fired is his ignorance in press conferences. Every answer is either "I don't know" or "I can't answer that question."
The Bottom Line: Jerry Jones has given Wade Phillips one last chance as a head coach, and if Phillips doesn't return the favor, he'll be out of chances and out of a job.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back, San Diego Chargers
How could a running back the caliber of LT be on this list? Well, the reality is that many believe that Tomlinson is running out of gas. After an injury-plagued season and barely scraping 1,000 yards, people thought Tomlinson was going to be traded or released.
People believe that Darren Sproles is the future of the Chargers, and that LT is a shell of his former self. Add that he hit the terrible age of 30 (for RB's), he could be backing Sproles up.
The Bottom Line: Tomlinson can't risk an injury, or a poor season. If he doesn't do any of those, Darren "Lightning Bug" Sproles will be the starting running back for San Diego.
Jamal Lewis, Running Back, Cleveland Browns
Lewis gained 1,002 yards rushing last year, a career low since his 2,000-yard performance for the Ravens in 2004. While Lewis has no one behind him to worry about, there is the possibility that he will be released.
Like LT, people think that Jamal Lewis is running out of gas, and that someone younger and faster has to take his place. Lewis needs to disprove that.
The Bottom Line: Lewis needs to improve his numbers greatly, and needs to help the Browns to a better record, or he will be retired or on a different team.
Brad Childress, Head Coach, Minnesota Vikings
This one beats the hell out of me. The Vikings have only been improving since Childress arrived. He posted, 6-10, 8-8, 10-6, with third, second and first divisional rankings. Childress also took the Vikings to a division title, and a home playoff game.
Yet, fans were still chanting for Childress's firing at games. Now, he is on a short leash from the owners, and he has to perform well to keep his job.
The Bottom Line: Childress needs to lead the Vikings to another playoff spot, and a playoff win in order to save his team and his job.
Dick Jauron, Head Coach, Buffalo Bills
Three straight 7-9 seasons do not look good on a resume. And Jauron's resume isn't too good. Despite starting the year 4-0, the Buffalo Bills collapsed mid season, and only won three more games.
For some unknown reason, Jauron was given a last chance to coach the Bills, when everyone thought he was going to be canned.
The Bottom Line: If Jauron can't put up a winning record, he is gone for sure. However, even with the additions they made in the offseason, the Bills are still a year away from competing with their division, and Dick Jauron doesn't have until next year.
Marvin Lewis, Head Coach, Cincinnatti Bengals
Lewis is in trouble. He has had one good season in his tenure, and he needs to repeat or Mike Brown will find someone else. The Bengals were 4-11-1 last year, and having the first tie in the NFL since 2002.
Lewis's future may be bright. The Bengals have vastly improved, on offense, and more importantly on defense. They gave up 22 points a game last year, and were victims of several blowouts.
The Bottom Line: Lewis must capitalize on the teams improvements, if he is to remain with the Bengals. However, they may be in the same situation as the Bills, needed one more year to compete. Unfortunately, Marvin Lewis doesn't have another year.
If these players and coaches can't do the job, you'll see some new backup players and assistant coaches come the 2010 season.