It's a testy time in the NFL, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to be a player or coach in the modern era of football. Trigger happy owners are firing head coaches at will, and players are being dangled into the large pond of free agents that seems endless at this point in time.
In what seems to be a rather negative rather than positive time in the league, head coaches are pinning their future not only on their so called "coaching abilities", but on the simple and 50/50 fact that their future may depend on just who they draft come April.
It's little over a month away yet, but the speculation is enormous. The 2010 NFL Combine has been plagued with talent like no other year, and teams are facing the tough and long task of deciphering what their team needs really are in the upcoming season.
For head coaches that are hanging on by a thread, this Draft couldn't be more important. Here's a look at the Top 5 head coaches that need to draft wisely, in order to keep their beloved jobs.
5. Jack Del Rio - Jacksonville Jaguars
Jack has been around long enough to know how important every decision is when running a football team. You'd think with that in mind though, his struggling 7-9 Jaguars of 2009 would have a more positive mindset heading into the offseason.
Fortunately for Jack, fans seem to be forgetting about him. 'Slipping under the radar', if you will, Jack Del Rio has only suffered a small amount of scrutiny compared to others of his profession.
Still, that doesn't take away from the importance that this years draft brings. The Jaguars capped off a dismal 2009 in a fairly unfashionable like way. Jacksonville (faithfuls?) questioning Jack Del Rio, and the overall talent that his team possesses. With the quarterback position looking moderately stable, the slightest rock in the boat could set the Jaguars askew once again.
Therefore, the importance of a stable player is the most important in this situation. With a range of positions needing attention, none is more needy than the defensive line. Ranked 19th in the NFL in overall defensive rush yards, the Jaguars struggled in nearly every game to contain the run. Jack had better get the gears moving, as his slow and un- opportunistic attitude may cost him his job in three months time.
4. Marvin Lewis - Cincinnati Bengals
It comes to a surprise to me that this man hasn't already been fired, or at the very least booed out of town. In my honest opinion, I used to think highly of Marvin Lewis. The problems in Cincinnati seemed to stem from more of a "bad luck" type cause, rather than poor coaching.
Nowadays though, I can no longer stick up for him. Poor call after poor call lands Marvin Lewis at the number four spot on this list, and it is no wonder that the Bengal fans are loud and proud about voicing their opinions.
10-6 doesn't seem all that bad for an AFC team that suffered through the worst, but came out in the end. The only problem is, a choked away playoff game to the New York Jets, and a far too many mistakes lands not only Marvin Lewis in hot water, but the entire Bengals side.
Talent wise, the Bengals aren't lacking too much. Despite criticism, faith is still to be had in quarterback Carson Palmer and the wide receiver duo of Chad Ochocinco and Laveranues Coles seems to be clicking.
No, the bigger problem is on the offensive line. With a passing, running and catching game as good as the Bengals have, it is a wonder that Cincinnati is ranked 22nd in points scored. Much of this has to do with the pressure being applied on quarterback Carson Palmer. Every snap comes with an air of doubt to it, and if things don't change thanks to a wise draft pick, then sorry Bengal fans, it may be another long regular season.
3. Pete Carroll - Seattle Seahawks
Yes, Pete hasn't even experienced his first game as head coach just yet, but the pressure is on from the get go in Seattle. Embarrassing is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of the Seahawks, and unfortunately a lot of the blame has to go on once superb quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Half throws and loose balls were significant all season long for the Seahawks, and after watching the Seattle vs. Green Bay game, I was concived that the Seahawks could do with a young backup quarterback that could be moulded over time, and act as a replacement should the going get tough.
Jimmy Clausen or perhaps Jevan Snead could be a likely option as their quick throwing ways would fit in with the Seattle stly of offense. Pete Carroll is barely on the hot seat just yet, but Seattle fans are picky. They want success, and they want it now. Lolly gagging won't be tolerated from the newly appointed man.
2. Lovie Smith - Chicago Bears
Lovie's head coaching career has been up and down. First a Super Bowl appearance, and now a fair share of turmoil. I'll give credit where credit is due though, Bear fans have kept faithful to the man that got them so close to the promiseland.
Unfortunately though, at the end of the day things need to be done to save the once feared team in the NFC North. With Jay Cutler finding his feet after a long and rollercoaster like 2009 season, the Bears are now looking at other issues on the field.
The first that pops to mind is the corner back position. Lacking depth and talent, the Bears defense cost them big time in the dire straits many times last season. Right from Week 1 after Aaron Rodgers burned the Bears' secondary late in the fourth quarter to steal the win, was their obvious signs of trouble in the backfield.
Fortunately, the pickings are strong in this year's draft, and Tennessee Volunteer safety Eric Berry may just be the answer the Bears are looking for. Unfortunately for the Bears, they don't have a pick until the third round of the draft, costing Chicago immensely. Lovie Smith may just be feeling the heat now, but I assure you after April, it will be scolding by the time the Bear fans are done.
1. Tom Coughlin - New York Giants
He's a questionable guy at times. Red cheeked, mumbling Tom Coughlin set the stage in 2009 for the ultimate disappointment. In what started out to be another promising season, the Giants fell to a new low of 8-8. To top it all off, their beloved home of Giants Stadium was demolished, and everything old about the Giants quickly but subtly flew out the window.
Fortunately, there is no big issues in the land of big blue. But there are ones that can cause for a bit of concern. Offensively, the Giants are solid. Eli Manning is sure to be 100% in 2010, and young wide receivers Mario Manningham, Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith have set the bar for excellence in New York.
However, the problem lies on defense, particularly the fundamentals. On paper, the Giants defense looks like it could pack a punch, but in reality they are ranked 30th in points allowed. Fitting for a team that turned in an 8-8 season.
The Draft isn't looking like it will be all that promising for the Giants, as their first round pick is well behind top contenders such as the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions. Fortunately though for the Giants, the likelihood of a player slipping through is positive, and that may be what makes or breaks Tom Coughlin's future.