Week three is when this list starts to move. Two coaches moved themselves out of jeopardy, while others are back on the hot seat. But, only one coach has moved himself to the very bottom. That honor belongs to Jim Zorn. The Lions may look better than last year, that does not give you the right to lose to them. Remember, just because a coach has one or two good weeks, it does not mean that he gets catapulted to the top. This is a marathon not a sprint.
ALREADY OWN KEYS TO THE CITY
1. Tom Coughlin—GIANTS (Last Week: 1) Wow, what a clinic put on by Tom Coughlin’s G-Men. That is how you win a game on the road against a team you should beat. They will get to repeat that effort this Sunday in Kansas City.
2. Bill Belichick—PATRIOTS (Last Week: 2) Although the Patriots were not wearing throwback uniforms on Sunday, the way that the team ran the ball and played defense made you feel like it was 2003 or 2004. The Pats held Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez to 72 yards combined.
3. Mike Tomlin—STEELERS (Last Week: 3) This team is two plays from being 3-0, but they are also one play from being 0-3. It is tough to judge whether the champs are having a post-Super Bowl hangover or just missing Troy Polamalu too much? Sunday night at home against the Chargers, the Steelers will try not to fall to 1-3.
HIS KEYS TO THE CITY FELL OUT OF HIS POCKET
4. Jeff Fisher—TITANS (Last Week: 4) The Titans have lost three games by a combined 17 points. Last week was the first loss you could truly hang on Jeff Fisher. How he could have Ryan Mouton field another kick in the Jets game after he fumbled a kickoff earlier that cost them a touchdown? It just did not make sense. It was a rare coaching mistake from Fisher, but a very costly one. If the Titans cannot win at Jacksonville, this team could be 0-6 with Indianapolis and New England the following two weeks.
OWNERS, NOT RENTERS
5. John Harbaugh—RAVENS (Last Week: 7) Doing exactly what you are supposed to do. Beat up a weaker opponent and do not make the game interesting. The Ravens have looked great on offense the first two weeks, last week they also looked great on defense. The revival of Kelley Washington as a receiver has been fun to watch. He was used primarily as a special teams guy in New England, which is where Baltimore goes to in week four and that should be a great test for this team.
6. Andy Reid—EAGLES (Last Week: 6) Good move by not playing McNabb or Westbrook against the Chiefs. Kolb was rock solid and LeSean McCoy played well and did not turn the ball over on Sunday. But, the key to their win was the defense. The Chiefs went 0-for-11 on third down. You do that; you win. The Eagles have a much-needed bye week and then another possible bye week as they are home to Tampa Bay.
7. Mike Smith—FALCONS (Last Week: 5) This team has to play better on the road if it wants to truly contend in the NFC. The Falcons allowed the Patriots to control the game and the Falcon offense really could not get going. The defense has to do a better job of getting off the field. The Falcons only had 20 minutes of time of possession. The Falcons have a bye and then travel to San Francisco.
8. Ken Whisenhunt—CARDINALS (Last Week: 8) You cannot turn the football over three times to Peyton Manning and expect to win. Tim Hightower’s fumble in the red zone led to a 14-point swing that the Cardinals never were able to recover from in the game. Kurt Warner has 863 yards in three games, but only four touchdowns. That number may double this week as the Cards host the Texans.
ON THE ELEVATOR UP WITH GEORGE AND WEEZY
9. Sean Payton—SAINTS (Last Week: 9) It was not that easy for the Saints up in Buffalo last Sunday. The Bills did a nice job keeping Drew Brees and the passing offense down. The Saints found their running game in the fourth quarter and got the road victory. This week they are home to the Jets who have a better defense than the Bills. If Brees and the offense struggle like they did in Buffalo, I would expect them to fall.
10. Brad Childress—VIKINGS (Last Week: 10) I am sure Tarvaris Jackson would have made that last second pass to Greg Lewis for the game winner as well. The Vikings were very fortunate to escape at home against a good 49er club. On Monday night it will Brett Favre Bowl against the Packers. The Vikings need to remember it is a team game and they have the best player on the field, not Favre, but Adrian Peterson.
THAT NEW COACH SMELL HAS A REALLY PLEASANT AROMA
11. Rex Ryan—JETS (Last Week: 13) The Jets almost fell right into that trap game. They came off an emotional win over the Patriots, and then they jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Titans. Just when they believed the hype, they fell behind. Thanks to a couple of special teams fumbles, the Jets got the victory and are now 3-0. They head to New Orleans where we will find out if a great defense is better than a great offense?
12. Jim Caldwell—COLTS (Last Week: 14) Yes, this team has a defense as well. Caldwell has already won one more game this year with Colts than he did in his final season as head coach at Wake Forest. The Colts will play a regular Sunday day game at home against the Seahawks as they look to go to 4-0.
IT’S WHAT YOU DO THIS WEEK THAT REALLY COUNTS
13. Mike McCarthy—PACKERS (Last Week: 12) The Packers could not erase their loss to the Bengals in week two, but they did not let that losing feeling fester. They were able to finish off the Rams with two fourth quarter touchdowns. Now, they can concentrate on some guy named Favre on Monday night.
THE DOWN BUTTON IS STUCK ON HIS ELEVATOR
14. Tony Sparano—DOLPHINS (Last Week: 11) It is more like oh no and three. Losing to the Chargers was bad; losing Chad Pennington for the season may be just too much to overcome. Now, we get to see the possible future of the Miami quarterback position. Will it be Chad Henne, Pat White, Tyler Thigpen or a combination of all three? One thing I will tell you is that the Dolphins have a chance at home against the Bills with any of the three.
I AM WARMING UP TO THAT GUY
15. Mike Singletary—49ERS (Last Week: 15) There are no moral victories in the NFL. There are certainly no moral victories when you go 0-for-11 in third down conversions. But, give the 49ers credit. Frank Gore goes out in the first five minutes of the game and the team was just one pass deflection from pulling off their biggest win in years. Greg Lewis made a great catch, but there is no way he should have a chance at the ball with two defenders in the area. At the least, if the defender had interfered with Lewis the ball would have been at the one yard line for one final play. I am sure coach Singletary explained this after the game and the 49ers will learn from this heartbreaking defeat.
16. Josh McDaniels—BRONCOS (Last Week: 16) McDaniels has passed the opening true-false test of the schedule with flying colors. Three wins, no defeats against teams that they should beat. Elvis Dumervil is becoming a defensive star in the NFL. He has six sacks in three games in this league. I think he can pick up at least one on Sunday against the Cowboys, barring Flozell Adams does not kick him to the curb. If the Broncos beat the Cowboys at home, they will certainly be considered a team more than just an easy schedule tease.
COULD BE LOOKING AT A LIFETIME CONTRACT
17. Jim Schwartz—LIONS (Last Week: 17) The parade is coming. Congrats to Jim Schwartz and the Lions for finally getting the franchise to taste a victory. I do not think they are done winning in 2009. Their winning streak may end in Chicago on Sunday, but the fans never have to see a zero in their team’s win column for the next 13 weeks.
HE IS STILL HANGING ON TO THAT NEW COACH SMELL
18. Jim Mora, Jr.—SEAHAWKS (Last Week: 19) Since when does Olindo Mare play defense? He may have made a better effort of tackling Devin Hester on the Bears final drive than the defenders for Seattle did. Possibly, Mare’s leg was too tired from kicking four field goals and kicking off all of those times. If the Seahawks got a touchdown instead of a field goal, Mare may not have been the goat.
HE TOOK DOWN THE FOR SALE SIGN
19. Marvin Lewis—BENGALS (Last Week: 30) Holy Ochocino, Batman, Marvin’s alive! Did anyone think that the Bengals could pull that one out? Congrats to Marvin and the Bengals on their biggest win in years. The key for this team is not falling into a trap as they head to Cleveland to take on the struggling Browns. If the Bengals are not 3-1 after Sunday, last week’s win won’t mean all that much.
20. Lovie Smith—BEARS (Last Week: 27) For the second straight week the opposing field goal kicker played a big role in a Bears victory. This time Jay Cutler played a bigger role. Cutler was great when he had to be and Devin Hester made the play of the year for the Bears. With a win at home against the Lions on Sunday, the Bears go to 3-1 and Chicago starts to fall back in love with Lovie.
I HAVE AS MANY NFL WINS AS THIS GUY
21. Steve Spagnuolo—RAMS (Last Week: 18) The Rams offense played its best game all season and looked better with Kyle Boller under center than it did with Marc Bulger. The team reached double figures in points for the first time all season. The Rams only trailed the Packers by six in the fourth quarter, but the defense did not have an answer for the Packers passing attack when it mattered most. The Rams will travel to San Francisco on Sunday and catch a break with Frank Gore being out of the lineup.
22. Todd Haley—CHIEFS (Last Week: 20) On the positive front, Matt Cassel had a quarterback rating of 124.5. Now to reality, he only threw for 90 yards the entire day. The Chiefs were 0-for-11 on third down, and Larry Johnson averaged two yards per carry. A quarterback making his second career start, and a running back making his first career start shredded the Chief defense. It gets no easier for KC as the Giants come to town on Sunday.
23. Raheem Morris—BUCCANNEERS (Last Week: 21) My goodness, what a disastrous game they played on Sunday. The score may have only been 24-0, but it must have felt like a hundred to nothing on that sideline. No first downs in the first half, 28 rushing yards, 58 passing yards, 0-for-9 on third downs, a high school team may have fared better. I am not sure why Josh Johnson is going to start over first-round pick Josh Freeman, because if he is not ready to play in that lack of an offense, who is?
HIS RESUME WENT BACK ON MONSTER
24. Tom Cable—RAIDERS (Last Week: 22) JaMarcus Russell threw for 109 yards in week two. Last week, he threw for 48 fewer yards. His quarterback rating fell from 46 to 22.6. First-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey has caught one pass this season. The Raiders might want to think to just keep the defense on the field for the entire 60 minutes. In other Raider news, they only drew 45,000 fans at home last Sunday. The game was blacked out which was good for fans who remember when the Raiders could actually play offensive at a high level.
I THINK I SAW HIS RESUME ON MONSTER
25. Wade Phillips—COWBOYS (Last Week: 24) Was it just me or did it look like Jerry Jones was actually coaching the team on Monday night? On fourth down, ESPN showed Jones in the owner’s box saying that the Cowboys were going to go for it, well before it looked like Phillips made his decision. Jones, oops, I mean Phillips and the ‘Boys travel to Denver for a chance to go 3-1.
26. Norv Turner—CHARGERS (Last Week: 31) The Chargers defense showed up on Sunday against the Dolphins. They were able to hold the Dolphins to field goals twice inside their own 10-yard line. The offense did just enough to get the Chargers to 2-1. The offense will need produce more points on Sunday night in Pittsburgh as the Chargers look for a little revenge from last year’s two losses at Heinz Field.
THAT NEW COACH SMELL NOW SMELLS LIKE LAKE ERIE
27. Eric Mangini—BROWNS (Last Week: 26) I am wondering if Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson draw straws to not be the starting quarterback. This team is in shambles. The stat of the year is that they have scored only one offensive touchdown in the last nine games. That is a streak of 540 minutes! I think they will get at least one this Sunday at home to the Bengals. If they can win the game, Mangini is off the hot seat for a little while, but if they lose then you will hear even more rumblings and he could be one-and-done.
DO YOU HAVE THAT REAL ESTATE AGENT’S NUMBER HANDY?
28. John Fox—PANTHERS (Last Week: 25) Eleven carries for DeAngelo Williams is not nearly enough. That did match the number of Delhomme’s incomplete passes, and the number of plays where Julius Peppers looked like he wanted to be there. This team has a much-needed bye and strangely can get back into this race if they can knock off the Redskins, Bucs, and Bills in the next three games. It is possible, but this team has to show more and has to limit Delhomme’s mistakes.
BACK ON THE HOT SEAT
29. Dick Jauron—BILLS (Last Week: 29) If you would have told me that Drew Brees did not have a touchdown pass in the game, I would have said the Bills either won the game or lost by less than a touchdown. But, that just did not happen as the Bills offense produced zero points in the game against one of the NFL’s lower-ranked defensive units. The Bills had a beauty of a call on the fake field goal for a score, but the offense never found the red zone. The Bills went 2-for-14 on third downs and their defense finally wore out as the Saints won 27-7. Six of the Bills next ten opponents are currently 0-3, this includes their trip on Sunday to Miami.
30. Gary Kubiak—TEXANS (Last Week: 28) Gary Kubiak went fishing last Sunday and when he pulled in his catch he found nothing but a lure as this one was the one that got away. Chris Brown’s fumble at the two-yard line with just two minutes play cost the Texans a shot at a comeback victory, but this game was lost in more ways than one. The run defense is the worst in the league. If this team cannot put it together at home against Oakland on Sunday, than Kubiak’s days as coach will be expedited closer to zero.
IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN THAT TO GET YOU OFF THE HOT SEAT
31. Jack Del Rio—JAGUARS (Last week: 32) The defense made the play of the game on Sunday by recovering a fumble at the two-yard line to seal their first victory. It was nice to see Maurice Jones-Drew have one those fantasy lovers dream games with three scores. Del Rio is far being out of the hot seat, but if they can pull an upset at home against the Titans, he could find his way to cooler waters.
MR. SNYDER WOULD LIKE A WORD WITH YOU
32. Jim Zorn—REDSKINS (Last Week: 23) The nadir. Well, maybe not yet. A loss to the Bucs at home would be the nadir. This loss to the Lions could not have sat well. Jason Campbell and Santana Moss both had great days, but the Redskin defense could not stop the Lions. Jim Zorn did show some fight, but his best fight may have been with former Redskin Sunny Jurgensen on the radio.