NFL Head Coaching Carousel: Who is on the Hot-Seat?
Even before the 2009 season began, we saw two teams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills) fire their offensive coordinators, and have since seen the Bills let go of their head coach, Dick Jauron.
We've also watched as the Redskins were constantly grilled on Jim Zorn's future, and just today learned that GM Vinny Cerrato would step down, that Bruce Allen was stepping in, and now Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan are front-runners to come in and help turn Daniel Snyder's Redskins around.
There has also been news about Mike Holmgren visiting Cleveland, raising concern in the Eric Mangini household, and there have also been rumors about a Bill Cowher return to coaching.
With several pathetic NFL teams this year, and others not meeting expectations, it's not just a coincidence that we keep hearing about all these high-profile names thinking about a return.
While several rookie head coaches have struggled, this particular article will give them the benefit of the doubt, as their franchises likely will, although we may not be so generous with Mangini and his lowly Browns.
Here's a look at the top five coaches who are very close to being on their way out, and who we might expect to replace them.
Wild Card: Jon Fox (Carolina Panthers)
Jon Fox may not be the strongest candidate to get canned this year, mostly because his teams are always competitive, and he's never had a team finish below 7-9.
However, that run may end this year, and it could be in large thanks to his inability to realize that Jake Delhomme should have been replaced in the offseason after his six-turnover debacle against the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs.
To makes matters worse, it took Fox seven losses and an finger injury to Delhomme to finally make a change at quarterback.
In Fox's time in Carolina, the Panthers have been an elite team every other year, but have struggled with consistency, and haven't been a real threat through the air in the past three seasons.
He's not guaranteed to go, but if the Panthers organization wants a fresh start, they may want to cut Fox loose and let Delhomme go with him.
Possible Replacement: Bill Cowher.
Other coaches who should be mildly concerned, but did not make this list, are:
Tom Cable (Oakland Raiders)
Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans)
Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles)
Mike McCarthy (Green Bay Packers)
5. Perry Fewell (Buffalo Bills)
The Bills are actually playing with more fire and heart for Fewell than they had been when Dick Jauron was still coach, but the results are still unspectacular.
We can't really blame Fewell for that, and we're not trying to, but we just can't see the interim coach coming back and gaining the confidence he needs to run this team.
His team is in shambles, anyway, so it's likely the organization starts over from top to bottom.
The Bills clearly have issues at quarterback, don't know who their franchise running back is, and just as soon as they landed Terrell Owens, they're probably about to say goodbye to him in free agency.
Fewell doesn't deserve to be let go necessarily, but if the bigger names bite, the Bills will start over again.
Possible Replacements: Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher.
4. Wade Phillips (Dallas Cowboys)
2009 Record: 8-5
The husky John Lithgow is about to go, folks.
Aside from the Cowboy's impressive 2007 campaign, nothing Phillips has done in Dallas warrants a vote of confidence.
The Cowboys dropped to 9-7 last season with one of the most talented rosters in the league, were one-and-done in the 2007 postseason, and are once again struggling to keep it together late in the season.
Owner Jerry Jones has been very open about the fact that how the Cowboys finish this season will weigh heavily in the direction the team goes. Needless to say, if the Cowboys don't win a playoff game, Phillips is as good as gone.
Possible Replacements: Jason Garrett, Jon Fox, Bill Cowher.
3. Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears)
2009 Record: 5-8
Outside of reaching the Super Bowl in 2006, Lovie Smith hasn't done a whole lot to guarantee his spot being safe for next season.
The Bears' once proud defense has widdled away with the loss of Brian Urlacher to injury, Mike Brown to free agency, as well as weakened play from their front-line.
On offense, their offensive line has continued to be among the weakest in the league, and their over-hyped transaction in the offseason, Jay Cutler, is quietly killing their season.
While all the blame cannot go on one person, and certainly not completely on Smith, he will inevitably be the one to take the fall.
If he doesn't get fired, the Bears will certainly make changes on their coaching staff, particularly on the offense.
Possible Replacements: Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher.
2. Jim Zorn (Washington Redskins)
2009 Record: 4-9
Other than Eric Mangini, Zorn is the other "no-brainer" fire on this list. While his Redskins offense has taken flight in recent weeks and got fans talking "extension" it should be noted that he lost the offensive play-calling duties weeks ago, and has been demoted to more of a "team-manager," rather than the guy that really calls the shots during the game.
With former Redskins GM Vinny Cerrato resigning, the door is wide open for Bruce Allen's favorite candidates, and almost certainly closing quickly on Jim Zorn.
Possible Replacements: Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden.
1. Eric Mangini (Cleveland Browns)
2009 Record: 2-11
After a terrible slide in New York with the Jets last season, Mangini has continued his baffling decision-making, and is close to getting fired for the second season in a row.
The Browns stand at 2-11, and while they've made some small strides with the changes on offense that Mangini has made, they were placed in this hole by the horrible calls he made earlier in the year.
As nice as it is to see him and the team rebound a bit, who is to say he doesn't dig the same hole again next season?
With the Browns doing a complete overhaul in their front office and largely rumored to be bringing Mike Holmgren in to oversee all operations, Mangini's days are undoubtedly numbered.
Possile Replacements: Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci, Mike Sherman.
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