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Reigniting the Flame: The Top 10 NFL Head Coaches on the Hot Seat This Season

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2010

Reigniting The Flame: The Top 10 NFL Head Coaches On The Hot Seat This Season

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    With the bye week now on the horizon for a select number of teams heading into Week 4, tensions and pressure continue to mount for head coaches who have failed to live up to expectations so far this season.

    By performing a quick check over the league, many head coaches are under the gun right now. 

    Poor records, lack of skill, and an overall disappointing start to the year is plaguing many teams, and although for some, these problems flow on from the 2009 season, it is obvious their head coaches are expected to cop the full flame of the torch.

    Week 4 is now upon us, and with it comes more and more tribulation.  So which head coaches are facing a hot seat at this point in the season?

    Some are more obvious than others, but the following list should clearly state who has a target on their back four weeks into the year.

10. Jim Caldwell

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 2-1

    Let's face it, it has been well established that the Indianapolis Colts are a powerhouse team in the AFC.  However, since the departure of Tony Dungy in 2008, not every Colts fan has been content with Jim Caldwell's effort toward the team.

    First and foremost, many Indianapolis faithful were disappointed with how the Colts season ended.  Although a Super Bowl appearance was very much appreciated, criticism came following Jim Caldwell's questionable coaching styles, as he seemed unmotivated at times.

    To put the icing on the cake and the gas in the torch, Jim Caldwell's Super Bowl hangover seemed to stem into the early weeks of the 2010 season, as the Colts fell to a strong Houston Texans team, even though quarterback Peyton Manning was superb as usual.

    For the record, Jim Caldwell is far from the most controversial coach right now. 

    Chances are he will remain in Indianapolis for a number of years, yet at the same time, expectations will always be high as the Colts leading man, considering that Caldwell's team features the best quarterback in the game today.

    Perhaps a Super Bowl loss is nothing major, but some of the Colts fan base isn't overly happy with the way Caldwell has kicked off his coaching career.

9. Chan Gailey

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 0-3

    It's tough to criticize Chan Gailey just yet, considering that this is only his first year at the helm in Buffalo. 

    Given that just about everybody realizes that a person would have to be Superman to revive the struggling Bills franchise, it is also important to realize that Chan Gailey hasn't been the greatest motivator on the sidelines for Buffalo after an 0-3 start.

    Prior to season kick off, the league saw an influx of new coaches stepping into their roles with a bang. 

    To name a perfect example, former USC coach Pete Carroll made his presence known in Seattle, after he not only drafted highly successfully, he also has managed to turn the Seahawks around in more ways than one.

    So can the same be said about Chan Gailey right now?

    Probably not.  Sure, the task in Buffalo is long and hard; however, the lack of decision-making has affected Gailey's reputation a little. 

    And what decision-making are we talking about here?

    Well seeing as though Marshawn Lynch continues to be featured on the trading block, and the Bills quarterback dilemma now flows on with the release of Trent Edwards and his replacement by Ryan Fitzpatrick, perhaps Chan Gailey has dug himself a deeper hole already this season.

    For the most part, it isn't time to hit the panic button, as it is only early days in the Gailey era. 

    Still, the Bills need to start showing some promising signs in the near future, as even the weakest of teams in the NFL today are looking half decent heading into the next five years of football.

    A mammoth task always awaited Gailey, but he hasn't had the most ideal start just yet.

8. Ken Whisenhunt

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 2-1

    A year ago, Ken Whisenhunt never would have made this list.  Not only were the Cardinals strong contenders in the NFC West, Arizona also had the luxury of Kurt Warner, something that Whisenhunt and his coaching crew valued strongly.

    Yet, like everything in life, this luxury quickly changed, and now Arizona face the issues and struggles of an inexperienced quarterback in Derek Anderson, who still has a ways to go when it comes to developing into a worthy starter.

    Luckily for the Cardinals, their record still looks good.  Arizona sits at 2-1 on the year, and so far have managed to at least beat two of the weaker teams in the league in St. Louis and Oakland.

    But what is the most concerning point for the Arizona Cardinals right now, is their Week 2 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.  It was a 41-7 blowout that saw Derek Anderson throw two interceptions in a very disappointing loss.

    So what does that say about the future?

    A whole lot.  It now appears that Arizona are destined to struggle with the league's top teams, and not only does this spell trouble for the Cardinals' record, it may also spell trouble for Ken Whisenhunt.

    His team has fallen from hero to almost zero in a very short space of time.

    To be perfectly honest, it isn't doubtful that Ken Whisenhunt will be fired anytime soon.  It's important to keep in mind that this was the man that guided Arizona to a Super Bowl in 2008, and that he can only do as much as his team allows him.

    Still, if Arizona fail to live up on the stat sheet, and continue to lose in unimpressive fashion, things will only get harder for Whisenhunt as the games go on.

7. Wade Phillips

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 1-2

    It has become well known that anything short of Super Bowl success this season could be labeled as an utter failure for the Dallas Cowboys in 2010. 

    As of late, Wade Phillips has been a constant member of hotseat lists. 

    It seems that anything he does in Dallas results in some form of criticism, and even though he managed to hand the Cowboys their first victory in the postseason for a number of years, Phillips still stands in the firing line in Big D.

    By looking over the history of the Cowboys coaching, this is nothing new.  Similar to Philadelphia, fans expect the very best from their team in every game, and quite frankly, the Cowboys have let most of their fans down in the early games of this season.

    When the Cowboys fell to the Washington Redskins in Week 1, most people knew that some criticism awaited Wade Phillips and the entire roster. 

    Unfortunately though, the turmoil didn't stop there, and after a loss to the Chicago Bears the very next week, the Cowboys now find themselves at the very bottom of the NFC East division.

    In all reality, Wade Phillips will always be on a hot seat in Dallas.  For America's Team to start out so poorly will always draw some criticism, and you can bet that if the Cowboys fail to made the big dance this season, Phillips could be as good as gone.

    A 1-2 record to start the year certainly isn't ideal for Dallas, but they have at least picked up a very meaningful win over the Houston Texans in Week 3. 

    The bye week now awaits the Cowboys, so let's see if Wade Phillips and his crew can ride that momentum into Week 5 against Tennessee.

6. Jack Del Rio

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 1-2

    For all of Jack Del Rio's controversies following last year's severe disappointment, the Jaguars started their 2010 campaign with a bang, upsetting the Denver Broncos 24-17.

    Unfortunately, the good news seems to have stopped there, and the Jaguars now find themselves sitting at 1-2, following losses to the San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles, both of which were severe blowouts.

    The one positive thing to come from Jacksonville as of now is David Garrard's performance.  Currently, Garrard has passed for 448 yards on the year, and has accumulated 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

    Realistically Garrard's pick ratio could serve to be reduced a little, yet it appears his offseason work plan has paid dividends so far.

    Aside from David Garrard, though, head coach Jack Del Rio is still suffering immensely. 

    It is somewhat of a surprise that Del Rio wasn't given the sack following last season, but it appears the Jaguars coaching staff was willing to give him a second chance.

    Similar to many other struggling teams in the league, Jack Del Rio isn't expected to perform wonders.  However, with that in mind, he is expected to have his team fit and ready for competition, something has strayed a little in the past two weeks.

    Finally, the stats tell the story for how the Jaguars season has unfolded so far.  Jacksonville currently ranks 30th in points, 30th in yards and 27th on defensive pass yards, something that is unacceptable even for this team's handicaps.

    Maybe we will see this story change over time, but it seems to be an ongoing problem.  Jack Del Rio needs to work some magic quickly, or the hot seat will only intensify in the future.

5. Norv Turner

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 1-2

    The San Diego Chargers have been flooded by expectations this season.  Just about everybody expected to find out who they really were, and following yet another severely poor start to the season, it seems that we may all be in for another replica year.

    In terms of coaching, San Diego has been well off recently.  Norv Turner has given San Diego many good years as the leading man, and even though he is under the gun a little now, he can still look back fondly over what he has accomplished.

    However, unfortunately for Norv Turner, much has changed this season.  Aside from the obvious factor that the Chargers sit at 1-2, San Diego has disappointed many people, especially when it comes to how they have started the season.

    Firstly, running back Ryan Matthews hasn't hit the ground running.  With 104 yards and zero touchdowns to his name, this type of effort is far from what we expected, and now that Mike Tolbert is the starter, things look rough for the rookie.

    Secondly, the Chargers experience and talent should have been enough to allow them to start the season on the right foot.

    Quarterback Philip Rivers is well developed, and with Antonio Gates and Darren Sproles on the team, Norv Turner's men should be far better than 1-2 right now.

    It's quite fair to say that the Chargers have a few kinks to iron out.  Their season is far from over yet, and if history proves to be noteworthy, San Diego will rise from the bottom to the top very shortly.

    But how much longer are we going to allow for these below-average starts?

    Not only are they growing tiresome, they simply look bad for the coaching staff and Norv Turner once again.

4. Josh McDaniels

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 1-2

    For the most part, the Denver Broncos record doesn't do the team justice. 

    Although Josh McDaniels has managed just only one win over the Seattle Seahawks this year, his team has looked impressive, especially at the quarterback position.

    What continues to haunt Josh McDaniels though is his past.  Denver Broncos fans are still unforgiving for last season's disappointment, and once again the Broncos find themselves as a potential playoff team, if they can only start winning some games.

    As for the Broncos as a team, Josh McDaniels has done reasonably well to transform them into a good looking side.

    Sure, drafting Tim Tebow may have acted as some kind of a power trip, but Kyle Orton's underrated performance the past three weeks has certainly been commendable.

    It appears as of now that Denver is giving Josh McDaniels his final chance.  Bronco fans were utterly disappointed with last season's result, and like many other teams, anything short of a playoff appearance would be labeled a failure.

    This will be easier said than done in the AFC West division, but it is doable with this team's talent.

3. Tom Coughlin

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 1-2

    As much as everybody loves the red-cheeked Tom Coughlin coaching style, it's arguable to say that his days are becoming numbered at the helm of the New York Giants.

    When it comes to looking over Coughlin's history, he has had a great career.  Sure, he may not be joining the likes of Tony Dungy or Mike Tomlin, but his Super Bowl victory in 2007 has been labeled as one of the greatest moments of the past decade.

    Unfortunately for Tom, what holds him back is his inability to remain consistent. 

    Prior to the Giants' Super Bowl success, New York fans endured many years of wildcard berths and missed playoff opportunities, as the Giants continued to be hot and cold on and off the playing field.

    Once again, history is repeating itself this year, with the Giants sitting at 1-2.

    Let's face it, it would be a sad story to see Tom Coughlin leave New York.  He is becoming a little long in the tooth, but he has been the face of this franchise for a very long time, and has always been one of the few lovable coaches in the league.

    But like all NFC East teams, expectations will always hurt a coach, and the Giants have looked flat in the past two weeks. 

    Currently New York ranks 20th in points scored, and that stat simply isn't good enough for a team that has a developed quarterback with Eli Manning, and a very decent and capable receiving corps.

    To predict Coughlin's exit this season remains to be seen, but it's slowly becoming that way as the losses pile up.

2. John Fox

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 0-3

    It's easy to say that the Carolina Panthers are in some serious strife right now. 

    An 0-3 record isn't the biggest surprise to come out of the year so far, but the team's lack of overall motivation and quarterback play has struck some major concerns for the heart of this team.

    Looking back to the Panthers 2008 success, it seemed almost unimaginable that the Panthers would be where they are today. 

    But here we stand though, with a struggling team that has failed to live up to expectations in every way possible.

    Since the benching of quarterback Matt Moore following Week 1, Carolina's season has become the ultimate guess. 

    Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen hasn't been overly fantastic, but he has shown signs of potential for coming weeks.

    But as for head coach John Fox, he is now walking a very fine line in Panther Nation. 

    Although we don't hear from him that often, Carolina simply has too much talent in Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams to continue this saga on for much longer.

    As mentioned, 0-3 wasn't a huge surprise considering the changes this team had to endure.  Yet, no one expected to see Carolina fall to teams in blowout fashion in three consecutive weeks.

    Big changes are due for the Panthers, and that may come at a cost for John Fox.  If Carolina only muster 3 or less wins this season, expect for him to be as good as gone by this time next year.

1. Mike Singletary

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Current Record This Season: 0-3

    People always love to talk about Mike Singletary as a player.  He was dominant, outspoken, and simply the ultimate joy to watch. 

    As expected, this type of mentality spilled over into Singletary's coaching career in San Francisco, as the main man about town has been said to have even built a hill on the 49ers practice field.

    But what stands in Mike Singletary's way right now is far from just a mild hill. 

    No, what stands in front of Mike Singletary is a mountain, along with a mammoth task of turning his current 0-3 San Francisco 49ers back around in enough time for them to still be able to make the playoffs.

    If you'd told most people when the season began that the 49ers would be 0-3, most probably would have laughed. 

    Here was a team that gained two of the nation's most promising lineman in the NFL Draft, along with having one of the most feared running backs in Frank Gore, and of course the unforgotten man, Patrick Willis.

    For all of the 49ers' talent though, nothing has happened as a result.  The team has notably struggled with weaker opponents, and just when we saw the 49ers rally against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, San Francisco disappointed everyone in the Bay Area by losing in unconvincing fashion to the Kansas City Chiefs.

    What is perhaps more unconvincing though is the fact that the 49ers take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4 at the Georgia Dome. 

    Not only is Atlanta red hot, this may be the final game that extinguishes the 49ers' hope, and means the difference between the postseason and a below-.500 record.

    As for head coach Mike Singletary, some tough times await.  Everybody does love him, but that isn't enough to keep him the main role. 

    Mike Singeltary is a man of faith, and it would be fair to say that he is placing his belief in the Lord right now. 

    That may be the only thing the 49ers have going for them, and with the schedule not getting any easier, Mike Singletary could be looking at his last days in San Francisco very shortly.

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