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NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Which Coaches Are Earning Their Paycheck?

David SolarCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2010

NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Which Coaches Are Earning Their Paycheck?

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    It's Week 7 in the NFL, and once again it's time to examine which coaches are earning their paychecks.

    While some coaches find themselves on the hot seat after frustrating starts, others have shocked fans and experts alike to become unlikely playoff competitors.

    So whose job is safe and who may find themselves watching the games from their couch shortly? Here's a look at the Week 7 coaching power rankings to shed some light on the issue.

The Worst of the Worst

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    32. Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
    After losing the "Panic Bowl," the Cowboys are dwelling in the NFC East cellar at 1-4. Dallas is tied for first in penalties at 9.8 per game, and their undisciplined ways have held back an extremely talented team. That lack of discipline can be directly blamed on Wade Phillips, who may not have a job much longer.


    31. John Fox, Carolina Panthers
    Despite highly capable running backs in DeAngelo WIlliams and Jonathan Stewart, the Panthers have managed a league-worst 51 points through five games. Their offense also averages a league-worst 236 yards per game while rookie QB Jimmy Claussen is completing a paltry 47 percent of his passes. Carolina may not have the most talented team, but these low levels of production are unacceptable.

    30. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
    The Bills give up the fourth-most yardage of any team in football while they record only 251 yards per game (third worst in the NFL). This is a no-name team in a rebuilding phase, but it will be interesting to see if Gailey is around to see the finished product.

    29. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
    Before the season Turner said that this was his most talented team yet, even with the loss of LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie. If he was being honest, then this season's results are just embarrassing. With losses to KC, Seattle, Oakland and St. Louis it would be shocking to see Turner still coaching at the end of the season.

Could Be Looking for Work Next Season

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    28. Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers
    The Niners got off the schnide with a 17-9 win over the Raiders, but that certainly hasn't moved Singletary off the hot seat. With a dynamic defense and offensive playmakers like Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, there is no excuse for a 1-5 mark. A loss this week to 0-5 Carolina and Singletary is as good as gone.

    27. Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns
    Before the season began, rumors were swirling that Colt McCoy would get cut before playing a single game. Six weeks in and he is the starter for this struggling Cleveland offense. The Browns sport the league's second-worst scoring offense, so don't be surprised if Mike Holmgren decides to pull double duty as both the team's president and head coach.

    26. Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders
    With an eight-point loss to the previously winless 49ers, the Raiders dropped to 2-4. Add to that a possible meniscus tear for Jason Campbell and a sprained shoulder for Bruce Gradkowski, and Oakland will be desperate for a new signal caller. If Tom Cable's job comes down to the production of third string QB Kyle Boller, Oakland might find themselves with a new head coach sooner rather than later.

    25. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
    A week after silencing the Rams 44-6, the Lions put up a valiant effort in a loss to the Giants. On the season Detroit has lost their five games by a total of 32 points, but it will be interesting to see if that keeps up once Matthew Stafford returns and the surprisingly effective Shaun Hill goes back to the bench.

On the Hot Seat

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    24. Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings
    The Vikings may have held off the Cowboys, but the team doesn't look good. Favre isn't healthy as evidence by his paltry 118 yards passing on Sunday. The 2-3 Vikings may be the most talented team in the NFL, so their season thus far has been entirely dumbfounding.

    23. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
    The Bengals received their bye last week, and the timing couldn't have been better. After a 24-21 home loss to Tampa Bay, Lewis must have been furious at QB Carson Palmer who threw three interceptions including a pick six early in the second quarter. Other than a Week 4 loss to Cleveland, Palmer has looked terrible this season. If Lewis wants to keep his job, he may have to replace his franchise QB.

    22. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
    The Jaguars looked terrible in Monday night's home loss to the Titans. And with Trent Edwards filling in for an injured David Garrard, the outlook isn't great in Jacksonville.

    21. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
    After knocking off the Saints in a shocking upset, the Cardinals were likely disappointed to see their momentum stopped by a bye week. It will be intriguing to see if Mr. Mo is still on their side when they take on fellow overachiever and division rival Seattle this Sunday.

20. Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    Only a questionable late-game pass interference call kept Denver from defeating the Jets this weekend. The Broncos passing game has been phenomenal all year, and Kyle Orton has looked like one of the league's most improved players.


    How He Could Blow It
    The Broncos still haven't developed a ground game and their defense has struggled against the run.

    Potential Potholes
    The Broncos remaining schedule is remarkably easy. The most telling games will be their two matchups with underachieving division foe San Diego in Weeks 11 and 17.

19. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    Shanahan has the Redskins right in the thick of things with a 3-3 record and almost staged an incredible late-game comeback against the Colts.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    The 'Skins have the league's worst-ranked defense and could certainly use a contribution from Albert Haynesworth—the unit's highest paid player.

     

    Potential Potholes

    Washington will have their hands full this weekend when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears. They also have difficult games scheduled with trips to New York, Dallas and Tennessee.

18. Pete Carroll. Seattle Seahawks

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    The Seahawks are one of the biggest surprises in football. Matt Hasselback and Justin Forsett may be one of the league's worst QB/RB duos, yet after Sunday's shocking win in Chicago, the 'Hawks are 3-2.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Seattle has the sixth-worst offense in football in terms of moving the ball. Their 292.4 yards per game is worse than four teams' passing offense alone. The Hawks may be in an easy division, but in order to make the playoffs, they will need to make adjustments offensively.

     

    Potential Potholes
    A home game against the Giants and a visit to New Orleans are the toughest remaining challenges on Seattle's schedule, but a Week 17 matchup against St. Louis could prove to be the most crucial game of the season.

17. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    After winning three games in the past two years combined, Spagnuolo has led the Rams to three wins in their first six games. Rookie QB Sam Bradford has looked like a polished veteran and that has allowed Steven Jackson to be more effective running the ball.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    This is the same team that lost in Detroit 44-6. The Rams are 0-2 on the road and 3-1 at home. If St. Louis wants respect, they will have to prove it with a nice road win. Sunday's game at Tampa Bay would be a nice place to start.

     

    Potential Potholes
    Other than away games against New Orleans and Denver, St. Louis has a pretty easy schedule. I guess that's one of the benefits of playing in the NFC West.

16. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    I'm not sure McCarthy has earned his paycheck. The Packers came into the season with high aspirations but have been somewhat disappointing at 3-3. Aaron Rodgers has been phenomenal this season, even as the starting running back and tight end suffered season-ending injuries.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    In close games this season the Packers have struggled. They lost over the weekend in overtime and have lost their three games by a combined nine points. If the Packers hope to challenge for the NFC throne, they will need to fair better in tight games.

     

    Potential Potholes
    The Packers' next five games are inordinately challenging and could define the season. In order, the Pack will play: Minnesota, at NY Jets, Dallas, Bye, at Minnesota and at Atlanta.

    Five games against the most talented teams in the NFC could potentially knock GB out of playoff contention. On the flip side, a 3-2 or 4-1 record against these teams would prove that the Packers are a threat to be taken seriously.

15. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    In nail-biting fashion, the Dolphins beat the Packers in overtime 23-20 on a Dan Carpenter 44-yard field goal. The Fins' lone losses came against powerhouse division foes in the Patriots and the Jets. The defense is ranked amongst the top 10 in the league, and Brandon Marshall has the offense looking more two-dimensional than it has in past years.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Chad Henne has been utterly unpredictable. The third-year pro out of Michigan torched the Jets for 363 yards and two touchdowns, but was benched a week later in a loss to the Patriots after throwing three interceptions. Henne has a cannon for an arm and solid receivers with Davone Bess and Marshall, but until he develops more consistency the Dolphins will find themselves in the "also-ran" category.

     

    Potential Potholes
    The Dolphins play the Steelers this week and have road games scheduled against both New England and New York.  

14. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    At 4-2, Houston finds themselves in a three-way tie atop the AFC South standings. In last weekend's win over Kansas City, the Texans scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to secure a dramatic comeback. Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster are all looking like pro-bowlers and Brian Cushing looks back to form after a four week layoff.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Houston's passing defense is beyond atrocious. The Texans are allowing a whopping 306 yards per game through the air while surrendering 14 passing touchdowns. The blame for this lies equally between the secondary and the D-line. We expected the Texans secondary to struggle after losing Dunta Robinson, but Houston's 10 sacks this year tie them for eighth-worst in the league.

     

    Potential Potholes
    After their bye week, Houston will visit the Colts with first place on the line. After an impressive 34-24 win in Week 1, Houston could make a statement with a big road victory.

13. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    After a surprising Week 4 loss at Jacksonville, Indy has won two straight going into their bye week. As always, Peyton Manning and the passing offense look terrific and Indianapolis is tied for first place in the AFC South.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    The Colts rushing defense is still an area for concern as they surrender 137.3 yards per game on the ground. Fellow AFC front runners like the NY Jets, Ravens and Steelers can all pound the football, so Indy better fix that hole and fast.

     

    Potential Potholes
    The Colts travel to Philly Week 9 and New England Week 11, but their biggest game might be Week 8 after their bye. Indy hosts the Texans in a Monday night game and will look to even the score after a 34-24 opening game loss.

12. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    At 3-2, the Bucs have been one of the league's biggest surprises. Their offense is led by a raw, second-year QB in Josh Freeman, and their running game has been almost nonexistent behind Cadillac Williams and his 2.5 yards per carry average. However, the Bucs defense has been exceptional and is reminiscent of the old Tampa 2 defenses.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    So far the Bucs wins have come over the lowly Cleveland, Carolina and Cincinnati. If Tampa wants to prove their merit, they will have to win at least one game against playoff caliber competition.

     

    Potential Potholes
    Two games with Atlanta and road games against New Orleans and Baltimore leave Tampa with a difficult schedule from here on out.

11. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    The Bears have been unpredictable this season, as last week's home loss to Seattle indicates. Still, Lovie Smith has the Bears enjoying a 4-2 record and a spot atop the NFC North.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    The offensive line has been simply horrid this season as exemplified by their 10-sack outing against the Giants. Mike Martz offense requires that the receivers time to run their routes, but with the offensive line play his system is utterly useless.

     

    Potential Potholes
    The Bears end the season with a rough four game tilt. They face New England, Minnesota, NY Jets and Green Bay. Their two division games come on the road, while they host their AFC counterparts. These four games will be filled with playoff implications for every team involved.

10. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    The Chiefs looked to have their first signature win of the season, but allowed 21 fourth-quarter points to the Texans and ended up losing 35-31. Still, the offense looked phenomenal in the near win. Matt Cassell threw for three TD's, and the running game recorded 228 yards.      

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Another late game showing like this and I might stop drinking the KC Kool Aid. The Chiefs blew a 31-21 lead with only seven minutes left. Their biggest problem? The league's sixth-worst passing defense.

     

    Potential Potholes
    KC has an incredibly easy schedule from here on out. Of their remaining games only three teams have winning records (Arizona, Seattle, Tennessee), meaning a playoff birth isn't out of the questions for this up and coming team.

9. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    Atlanta has assembled a well-balanced team, even if they didn't look sharp in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia. With Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner, the Falcons have no shortage of offensive weapons. The Falcons are 4-2, but look like one of the better teams right now in the NFC.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    After giving up 326 yards to Kevin Kolb, many questions arose about this Falcons team. They had already gotten lucky in wins over New Orleans and San Fran, meaning they could easily be 2-4 this season.

     

    Potential Potholes
    The Falcons have two tough challenges with Baltimore Week 10 and New Orleans Week 16. Luckily both of those games will be played in the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome.

8. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    A 31-6 demolition of Tampa Bay showed that the Saints hadn't lost a step. A week after struggling against Arizona, Drew Brees threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns in a decent Tampa secondary.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    The Saints had been less than impressive in their first five games, including a mere two-point win over the pathetic Panthers. New Orleans lacks a running game and won't be a true threat until Pierre Thomas and/or Reggie Bush return.

     

    Potential Potholes
    Week 8 against Pittsburgh, Week 12 at Dallas, Week 15 at Baltimore and Week 16 at Atlanta.

7. Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    The Titans cruised to victory 30-3 in a Monday night victory in Jacksonville. Once again Chris Johnson was impressive, running for 111 yards and a score, while the defense recorded three interceptions and held the Jags to only 249 total yards.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Vince Young sprained his left knee and injured his ankle in Monday's win, although reportedly he could have returned if needed. Still, Young has a terrific win-loss record as a starting QB, and if he was forced to miss any prolonged stretch, the Titans could suffer.

     

    Potential Potholes
    Two games against the Colts and Texans are tough, as is this week's matchup with the Eagles.  

6. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    Michael VIck? Kevin Kolb? Doesn't matter who starts for the Eagles, they find a way to win. Kolb threw for 326 yards and three TD in Sunday's win, but will still be relegated to backup status when Vick returns. Whoever starts, opposing teams will have to prepare two game plans as these terrific QB's each bring something different to the table.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Eventually Vick will return, and Reid will have a difficult decision. Do you start Kolb if he continues his recent hot streak, or does Vick regain the reigns after his superb play earlier this season? Whatever the decision, Reid has to stick to it. You don't want to create uncertainty and doubt in the locker room by wavering back and forth between signal callers on a weekly basis.

     

    Potential Potholes
    Philly has a tough game against the Titans this weekend and it doesn't get much easier from here. In order the Eagles play: Indy, Washington, NY Giants, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, NY Giants, Minnesota and Dallas. Not exactly an easy schedule.

5. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    After a shaky start, the Giants are looking like the team to beat in the NFL. The two-headed running back tandem of Jacobs and Bradshaw. The superb play of young receivers Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. The unbelievable pressure applied by the defensive line. The Giants look like a well-rounded team capable of making a deep playoff run.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Eli Manning may already have a Super Bowl ring, but I don't necessarily trust him. Through six games, Manning had thrown eight picks and lost four fumbles. If he continues to turn the ball over at this rate, the Giants will be unable to realize their full potential.

     

    Potential Potholes
    Aside from their difficult divisional games, New York plays at Minnesota Week 14 and at Green Bay Week 16.

4. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    Baltimore blew a ten-point fourth quarter lead to lose in overtime, but still looked like a championship-caliber team in the process. With the addition of Anquan Boldin, Joe Flacco has looked like an entirely different quarterback and tore up the Pats for 285 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens top ranked pass defense will improve even more when star safety Ed Reed returns to their lineup—possibly even this week.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Harbaugh doesn't have to worry about his defense. That much we know. With Flacco's improvement, he also shouldn't worry too much about the passing game. What should worry the head coach is the drop off by running back Ray Rice. The 5'8" back from Rutgers is averaging just 3.9 YPC this year after averaging 5.3 a year ago. This is a team that thrives in low-scoring, grind-it-out games. If Rice can't return to his 2009 form, the Ravens are a different team. And that's not a good thing.

     

    Potential Potholes
    There are a few good games on the docket for Baltimore but the best comes Week 13 against the Steelers. The Ravens defeated Pittsburgh in Week 4, but with Roethlisberger back, the Week 13 matchup could decide home field advantage.

3. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    Randy Who? Deion Branch grabbed nine balls for 98 yards in a huge win over the Ravens. The Pats offense was based around three-step drops and quick reads like the Super Bowl winning teams of the early 2000's, and the results were impressive. There are still a lot of question marks on the defensive side of the ball, but at least we know the offense didn't miss a beat.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    While Devin McCourty looks like a future star, the rest of New England's secondary has been atrocious. Kyle Arrington looked lost on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, and Darius Butler has been beaten like an old rug. Belichick may want to consider using more nickel defenses to cover up the flaws of these Patriots cornerbacks.

     

    Potential Potholes
    December 6th. Monday night. New York Jets. 'Nough said.

2. Rex Ryan, New York Jets

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    Ryan has this Jets team clicking on all cylinders. Mark Sanchez has improved by leaps and bounds. LaDainian Tomlinson has had a career resurrection. As for the defense? It's been absolutely impenetrable. Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie have helped silence great QB's like Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco and most recently Kyle Orton.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    The Jets are a running team. When LT and Shonn Greene combine for 30-40 carries, the Jets are able to control the clock, tire opposing defenses and set up the play action for Mark Sanchez. Truth be told, Sanchez is not as good as analysts have made him out to be. This is still essentially the same QB who threw 12 TD and 20 interceptions a year ago. In fact, he's only completing 55 percent of his passes this season and has often been bailed out by great catches from his receivers. If the Jets forget their identity and start airing it out, their postseason aspirations could be quickly dashed.

     

    Potential Potholes
    As stated before, the Week 13 game at New England could decide not only the division, but the entire AFC playoff picture.

1. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Why He Earned His Paycheck
    Mike "Omar Epps" Tomlin has done a simply phenomenal job with the Steelers this season. In the absence of Ben Roethlisberger, the passing game slipped to last in the NFL. Yet even still, the Steelers managed a 3-1 record in that time. Now with Roethlisberger back and their defense ranking first in football, Pittsburgh is once again looking poised for a deep playoff run.

     

    How He Could Blow It
    Can he? The Steelers have a good running game with Rashard Mendenhall. A pro-bowl quarterback in Big Ben. A superb secondary and front seven. The biggest question mark concerns their receivers, and even that isn't a pressing issue. Mike Wallace has stepped in for Santonio Holmes extremely well, and has actually proven to be a better deep threat than the former Ohio State Buckeye.

     

    Potential Potholes
    Three key games could decide whether Pittsburgh lands home field advantage this season. Week 10 vs. New England. Week 13 @ Baltimore. Week 15 against the Jets. Those conference games against elite AFC competition will have great impact upon playoff seeding.

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