It's time to split up our list a little bit. There are some coaches who are in danger of being fired. They are on the hot seat. There are other coaches who are simply on the "watch" list. They aren't in imminent danger, but they are persons of interest when coaching changes are discussed. Here's a list of those men:
Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers
"Samurai Mike" has been on and off this list since the beginning, but he's starting to head back toward trouble. The team's blanking on Sunday by Tampa Bay featured several disturbing statistics (six sacks to a team that only had eight prior to the game), no running game and questionable defense. Singletary is one of the coaches that seems to be in a "playoffs or bust" situation. At this point, he's on the extreme outside looking in.
Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
He's in the classic "playoffs or bust" scenario, but he's also making significant headway toward locking that spot up. A 16-0 shutout of Miami on national television was nice, but it doesn't solve everything. The Bears still haven't really beaten anyone of significance and the game against Miami featured the Dolphins' third-string quarterback and a serious lack of running plays. He's coaching his way to safety, but I'm still not sold on him as a long term pick.
Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders
I've actually come to respect Cable a great deal as a coach this season. He's turned Oakland back into a respectable team. That's no easy task. But any more beatings like the one the Raiders took from the Steelers is going to seriously dent his candidacy. Al Davis is the league's most incontinent owner. He won't stand for mediocrity or losing. If Cable makes the playoffs, he's safe for another offseason (you never can tell during the year how it'll go). But if he doesn't, Davis may decide he wants someone else.
Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns
He's come a long way from being at the top of the list. He was even the coach I predicted would be fired first. Now he's likely safe. His big job will be getting playmakers during the offseason. He's not going to get a long-term deal until he shows some more results. If the Browns fall apart, he may still even be let go. For now, he's safe.