NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Which Coaches Are Earning Their Paycheck?

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2010

NFL Power Rankings Week 5: Which Coaches Are Earning Their Paycheck?

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    Week 5 of the NFL regular season saw some shift in the hot-seat dynamics of the league. 

    For some, their seat got a lot warmer; others saw their seats cool down noticeably with strong performances.

    In Jacksonville, head coach Jack del Rio managed to hold off the pink slip brigade quite well, as the Jaguars got a big win over Indianapolis.  

    But for every del Rio who got himself out of trouble, there are two coaches who managed to dig themselves deeper into it with losses this week. Who earned their paycheck?  Who is dreading their next visit to the general manager's office? A good power ranking should tell us just who's doing his job.

The Dregs: 32-26

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    32. Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders: Cable’s Raiders have struggled to find the win column in 2010. With so many near-misses, he needs to get this team over the hump, or Al Davis will find someone who will. 

    31. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills: Gailey's team is getting more competitive, but they still don't have a victory in 2010. They hung with New England, but the Jets waxed them in Week 4. Gailey needs to get his act together, or face the wrath of ownership.

    30. Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers: When your team looks as bad as San Fran did Weeks 1 through 3, you’re going to wind up on the hot seat. 

    29. John Fox, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers still can’t win in the first half of the season. Surely the fans are clamoring for a change in Carolina.

    28. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions: It’s not fair, because the Lions have been competitive in three of their four games this season. But 0-4 means you need Teflon pants.

    27. Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns: One win does not save you from the bottom of the barrel, Eric. You’re still in trouble in Cleveland. 

    26. Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys: Don’t let the win over Houston fool you; this team, and its coach, are still in serious trouble. If they can’t get it together, Phillips will be looking for a job. 

Not Completely Useless: 25-21

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    25. Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings: He needs to keep the momentum from the Week 3 win going now that the bye’s over, if he wants to keep his job.

    24. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals: Whisenhunt’s team hasn’t even put up a fight in their two losses, and the two wins are by a combined five points. He’s in more trouble than you think.

    23. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants: Now that they’ve showed they can win, they have to keep doing it. 

    22. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers: If San Diego could win on the road, Turner would be in the top 20. 

    21. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts: This team is too good to be 2-2 right now. Caldwell’s seat is getting warmer by the day. 

20. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Del Rio and the Jags knocked off Indianapolis on Sunday, and Maurice Jones-Drew finally got going. They’re 2-2 and in a three-way tie for second in the AFC South. 

     

    How He Could Blow It

    If the Jags play as they did in Weeks 2 and 3 again this season, del Rio will be as good as gone in Jacksonville. 

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 6 through 10 are going to be the test for this team.

19. Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Carroll’s got this team playing extremely well at home. They look better than they did last year, which is a testament to the head coach. 

     

    How He Could Blow It

    Unfortunately, they stink out loud on the road. Carroll needs to get his team ready to go when they’re traveling.

     

    Potential Potholes

    Week 6 at Chicago will be the next road test for Seattle.

18. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Sparano’s team looked strong in Weeks 1 and 2, and sit a game out of first in the AFC East.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    The Dolphins need to fix their defense and special teams in a big hurry. They’ve looked terrible the past two weeks, and the offense isn’t built to play in shootouts. 

     

    Potential Potholes

    The Dolphins’ next six games don’t get any easier, as they face the Packers, Steelers, Bengals, Ravens, Titans, and Bears. 

17. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Reid has guided the Eagles to a 2-2 record at the quarter pole of 2010, beating the teams he was supposed to beat. The Eagles were competitive Sunday in a loss to Washington.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    This team needs to beat someone of consequence. Jacksonville and Detroit aren’t going to cut it if Reid wants to stay in Philly.

     

    Potential Potholes

    The schedule gets incredibly difficult from here on out. This is when we find out just how good the Eagles are. 

16. Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    The Broncos offense is firing on all cylinders through four weeks, and the Broncos snagged a big road win over Tennessee on Sunday. 

     

    How He Could Blow It

    If the run game doesn’t return when starter Knowshon Moreno does, or Denver’s defense can’t figure out how to stop the pass, it’ll be a long season at Mile High Stadium. 

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 5 and 6 pose serious threats to Denver. 

15. Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Fisher's gotten the Titans defensive unit back on track in 2010, making them a tough team for anyone to beat. His team has played every opponent close.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    If Fisher can't figure out how to jump-start the Titans offense, 8-8 is a definite possibility. 

     

    Potential Potholes

    Week 5 against Dallas, Week 7 against Philadelphia, Week 8 against San Diego. 

14. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Lewis finally got the offense to click in a competitive game, as both running back Cedric Benson and quarterback Carson Palmer had strong performances in Sunday's loss to Cleveland.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    He lost to the Browns! That's how he could blow it!

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 7 through 10 are going to be brutal. 

13. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    The Redskins got a huge win over a division rival to move to 2-0 in the NFC East. 

     

    How He Could Blow It

    That defense is atrocious. Fix it quick, or it'll be a long season. 

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 5 through 7 pit the 'Skins against some elite foes. We'll know whether Shanahan deserves his paycheck after that. 

12. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    The Rams are in first in the NFC West. Who saw that coming?

     

    How He Could Blow It

    Now that they're here, Spagnuolo has to keep his team on top of the heap.

     

    Potential Potholes

    San Diego in Week 6. 

11. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Morris has the Bucs at 2-1, which no one saw coming.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    If Tampa plays the way they did against Pittsburgh again, they're in trouble.

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 5 and 6 could be serious trouble. 

10. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Kubiak got the Texans ready to play against the Raiders, and Houston got the good bounce-back win.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    Does he even know what defense is?

     

    Potential Potholes

    Week 5 against the Giants and Week 8 against the Colts will be stern tests for Kubiak. 

9. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Why He's Earned his Paycheck

    Holy crap! The Chiefs are 3-0!

     

    How He Could Blow It

    Kansas City has to win on the road, against a good team, before I'm convinced.

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 5 and 6 will tell us if the Chiefs are for real. 

8. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    A big win and a strong defensive showing mean Belichick's back!

     

    How He Could Blow It

    The Pats defense can't make that beat-down a one-time thing. 

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 6 through 8 will be tough for Belichick and the Pats. 

7. Rex Ryan, New York Jets

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Huh, I guess the Jets do have an offense. 

     

    How He Could Blow It

    If it turns out the last three weeks' offensive explosion was a fluke, Ryan's back to square one. 

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 5, 6, and 8 are going to be brutal for New York. 

6. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    The Bears lost two quarterbacks Sunday night, but didn't get blown out by New York.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    If Jay Cutler's out for an extended period of time, Smith's in hot water.

     

    Potential Potholes

    Not much until Week 10. 

5. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    The Packers won this week, and the offense looked better than it had all season.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    Isn't this team going to the Super Bowl? Sure didn't look like it on Sunday.

     

    Potential Potholes

    The season gets a lot tougher from here on out. The Packers need a strong effort the rest of the way. 

4. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    Hey, 3-1 without your franchise quarterback's not too shabby!

     

    How He Could Blow It

    If Pittsburgh struggles when Big Ben returns. 

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 7 through 10 are tough. 

3. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    A good bounce-back win over Carolina in Week 4 helps the Saints keep pace with the Falcons.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    The Saints need to get the offense in gear because the defense can't do it alone.

     

    Potential Potholes

    Week 8 against Pittsburgh. 

2. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    An impressive win over a tough Pittsburgh team moves the Ravens into first in the AFC North.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    That offense still hasn't convinced me it can succeed.

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 5 and 6 will prove challenging to the Ravens. 

1. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck

    A pair of gritty wins and a blowout win have the Falcons in first place in the NFC South. Smith is a big reason why.

     

    How He Could Blow It

    The defense is shaky.

     

    Potential Potholes

    Weeks 6, 7, and 9 will be tests of the Falcons' mettle.