NFL Coach Hot Seat Rankings, Week 5: Mike Singletary Rises To the Top

Nick DeWittAnalyst IOctober 5, 2010

NFL Coach Hot Seat Rankings, Week 5: Mike Singletary Rises to The Top

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    We've reached the end of the first quarter of the NFL's 2010 season and, while some coaches who initially were on thin ice have vastly improved the temperatures of the seats they occupy, some have gone straight to the cellar along with their teams.

    As we close out the first four weeks of NFL action, here's a look at who's on the hottest seats before Week 5's games.

Cooling Off: Who's Feeling Safer This Week?

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    Most of the coaches from last week's rankings found ways to grab a victory on Sunday. Here's a look at who improved their job security ever so slightly with good performances this week.

     

    Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns

    Mangini finally found a way to get the Browns a victory. For a team that lost each of its first three contests by one score, that's an excellent way to lower the temperature. Cleveland also managed to top a rival both within the division and within the state, a sure way to win some fan support.

    It wasn't all pretty for the Browns, however, but for now, Mangini won't have to worry about being fired for, oh, at least a week or so.

     

    Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars

    While he's by no means safe, beating the vaunted Indianapolis Colts will go a long way toward making the climate much cooler in Del Rio's office. His team still doesn't look coherent or consistent, but they made enough big plays to stop the Colts on Sunday afternoon.

    Del Rio needs to continue to get this team back on track, if he wants to stay in the headset, however. Failing to do so will, as usual, be fatal.

     

    And now, here's a look at your five most-endangered coaches heading into Week 5's action...

5a. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants

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    What Just Happened?

    Coughlin should be feeling a little safer too after beating the previously undefeated Chicago Bears handily in prime time on Sunday night, but he certainly still has work to be done.

    The Giants' defense was dominant, sacking Jay Cutler and two backups a total of 10 times. They also forced three turnovers, and generally made yardage pricey.

    The offense did just enough to win, with Eli Manning still looking somewhat uncomfortable. Ahmad Bradshaw provided a nice game with 129 yards and a score.

     

    Problems

    Coughlin isn't safe yet. He still has to deal with a locker room that includes malcontent Brandon Jacobs. He also still hasn't got this team completely under control as six penalties on Sunday night shows.

    Eli Manning looks like he's regressed some, which is a bad sign for any coach with playoff aspirations.

    In short, Coughlin's Giants looked better on Sunday, but there's still work to be done in the Big Apple.

     

    What's Next?

    The Giants get another test when they head to Houston this week to face a Texans team, that finally looks to be making a run at the AFC South title and their first ever playoff berth.

    The Bears' offense is largely one dimensional, which won't be so with Houston, who sports a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback in Matt Schaub and a budding star at running back in Arian Foster. It likely won't be nearly as easy to slow down the Texans, who have one of the league's top offenses so far in 2010.

     

    Chances of Being Fired

    Coughlin's win on Sunday probably has bought him a chunk of time, although he's still not the safest coach in the league. A big game looms in Week 7 with Dallas, so Coughlin is probably at least safe until then.

5b. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    What Just Happened?

    Del Rio's Jaguars finally got back in the win column with a good effort Sunday against Indianapolis, but they needed a last-second 59-yard field goal by Josh Scobee to make good.

    The offense was finally on track with David Garrard throwing for two scores, and ran for one and Maurice Jones-Drew finally making a guest appearance with 105 yards and a touchdown. Garrard did a great job spreading the ball around and the offense kept Indianapolis' defense guessing.

     

    Problems

    Their best offensive performance of the season came against the Colts. That's not exactly the best measuring stick for a team's ability to move the football. They'll need to repeat that in their next games.

    The biggest problem, however, is the defense. Peyton Manning torched the Jaguars for 352 yards and two scores, and almost led the Colts from behind after they'd trailed most of the game. They did force two turnovers, but allowing the Colts to get back in the game was not a good move.

    Another problem continues to be penalties with seven more committed on Sunday.

     

    What's Next?

    Jacksonville absolutely must win its next game. Why? Because it is facing the lowly Buffalo Bills, who haven't really given anyone but rival New England a game this season.

    If the Jaguars can't thrash the Bills, then Del Rio will skyrocket up this list. He also will lose a lot of the confidence he's built up from this week's big victory.

     

    Chances of Being Fired

    Del Rio is safe after Sunday's big win, but he must keep his foot on the gas. After this week, the Jaguars get tougher tests against Tennessee and Kansas City. Beating one or both of them would put him in even better standing. Losing, especially to a division foe like the Titans, would put him in a very poor position.

4. John Fox, Carolina Panthers

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    What Just Happened?

    They hung with the champs for most of the game and even held a lead, but in the end it was another disappointing loss for the Carolina Panthers and cardboard cutout John Fox.

    Jimmy Clausen made strides in his second start and netted his first career scoring pass. The running game continues to be spotty, but it was better against the Saints than it has been.

    It was a step forward in some ways, but yet another loss puts Carolina firmly at the bottom of what looks like a tough division.

     

    Problems

    For Fox, the biggest problem is that the losses continue to mount week after week. Four straight to open the season is no way to keep a job.

    The other problem is that Carolina is wildly inconsistent. They can and then can't run the ball, they can and then can't give Clausen time to find receivers who can and then can't catch the ball. The defense is good, and then bad, and then mediocre.

    This is a mediocre team overall, but they are better than 0-4.

     

    What's Next

    It gets no easier. Before their bye in two weeks, the Panthers have to face the Chicago Bears. The Bears, coming off a loss to the New York Giants, will be ready to avenge that loss on a Panthers team that can't move the ball with any consistency.

     

    Chances of Being Fired

    As always, it seems that Fox will be allowed to finish out the season, but I have a hard time believing that if they don't win at least one game in their first eight, that he will be allowed to continue on the sidelines. To do so would be to advertise to the fans that the owners don't care about this season.

3. Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns

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    What Just Happened?

    We finally get to turn the heat down on Mangini after his Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 on Sunday. The Battle of Ohio serves to give Mangini some more time to try to get his team on the right track.

    The offense looked much better in Seneca Wallace's second start for the Browns. Unheralded Peyton Hillis had another effective game on the ground, gaining 102 yards and rushing for a score. The defense struggled mightily with Terrell Owens, who gained 222 yards.

     

    Problems

    They looked pretty good against the Bengals, save for Owens' big day and Carson Palmer's 371 yards passing.

    If anything, Mangini's biggest problem is that he only has one win. But, now that he has it, he should be able to hold onto his job for a few weeks. Another win against a rival or a contender would go a long, long way to putting the Browns' front office at ease with Mangini.

     

    What's Next

    Maybe the biggest problem for Cleveland is the schedule, where they are slated to face Atlanta, then Pittsburgh, and then New Orleans. Pittsburgh and New Orleans are road games as well, with both opponents usually enjoying a major advantage on their home turf.

    While Mangini no longer must beat Atlanta, they might be the easiest out of the next three. A win there would put the Browns in good position to make an improvement over last year.

    Beating Pittsburgh would be even better, although the Steelers will have Ben Roethlisberger back, and will be looking to avenge last year's awful performances against the Browns.

     

    Chances of Being Fired

    If Mike Holmgren and company look at the schedule and realize what he's up against, he won't be fired during the team's bye week. If they don't take the schedule into account and Mangini's Browns go into a three-game slide, it's probably over for him in Cleveland.

2. Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders

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    What Just Happened?

    The Raiders made a game of it with Houston, but in the end they couldn't put themselves in the win column. That should move Cable up the list, but another coach's situation is even more dire.

    Cable's Raiders look to be improving with Bruce Gradkowski under center. The running game is starting to open up some, and the receivers look much more comfortable with his quarterbacking.

    The defense is still questionable, but it hasn't exactly lost Oakland a game yet.

     

    Problems

    Improved or not, Oakland just isn't that good. They still commit too many mistakes with penalties and turnovers, and they are still undisciplined. Those qualities don't win many football games.

    The Raiders are at best mediocre in the talent department, so Cable may be doing the best he can with what he has, but the biggest problem of all is that his employer, Al Davis, doesn't take into account anything other than wins and losses.

     

    What's Next

    San Diego, San Francisco, and Denver loom on the schedule. All three will be hard-fought contests. Two are division games. Cable needs to start winning regardless of the opponent, but this is certainly not the best stretch of schedule for finding victories.

    Beating San Diego this week is important. A division win would put the Raiders back in the conversation of dark horse teams since the AFC West is so weak. It would also help Cable improve his stock with Davis.

     

    Chances of Being Fired

    If anyone is going to get the hook soon, it will probably be Cable. That doesn't mean he's on the hottest seat. At least his team has one victory. That's something our next coach can't say.

    Cable's team is getting better each week. That should keep him in charge for at least another game or two.

1. Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers

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    What Just Happened?

    We've finally reached the top (or bottom?) of the league. They aren't the worst team (Buffalo outclasses them there). But, when you are expected to make the playoffs, win the division, and then make a deep run and you go 0-4 to start the season, no one is safe.

    It turns out that firing Jimmy Raye did little to ignite the offense, which scored only once on Sunday. Instead, it even looked like the 49ers took another step backward instead of moving forward.

    The defense turned in a solid effort, holding Atlanta to only one touchdown and three field goals. It also forced a turnover in the end zone, netting it a touchdown of its own. Unfortunately, Alex Smith and the offense still are the immovable object.

     

    Problems

    Offense, offense, and more offense. This is becoming a lousy, repetitive tune for Mike Singetary's team.

    The 49ers can't score, they can't gain yards, they can't keep their defense on the bench. They can't really do much of anything. They can do nothing with any great consistency. It's a recipe for disaster every time they take the ball.

    The defense has put forth solid efforts in every game, but they've continually been wasted by the 49ers.

     

    What's Next

    There seems to be a chance the Singletary will be gone in the next two weeks. They'll be facing a Philadelphia team without dangerous Michael Vick under center, before facing a mediocre Raiders team that's scuffling as much as they are.

     

    Chances of Being Fired

    It's time. Singletary is a great guy who will probably be back someday and win big, but right now, with this team, it needs to be over. They 49ers haven't taken any steps forward this year. Hitching his wagon to Alex Smith turned out to be a terrible choice. Now, he can't even really bench him without putting himself on thinner ice.

    For the 49ers, it's truly time for a change.