NFL Coach Hot Seat Rankings, Week 13: Josh McDaniels, Marvin Lewis on Fire
Twelve weeks in the books, two coaches down, and at least a couple more on the way out. That's how it looks in the NFL as we prepare for Week 13.
This week we'll check in on our replacement coaches to see how they're doing, examine three coaches who could be on their way out and look at the watch list of coaches who could be in trouble if things don't start going well or continue going well.
It's all ahead in the Hot Seat Rankings.
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Here's a look at how Jason Garrett in Dallas and Leslie Frazier in Minnesota are handling being mid-season replacements.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Garrett's Cowboys played another inspired game on Thanksgiving, at least for three quarters. Dallas couldn't close out a dominant and then suddenly over-matched New Orleans Saints squad that has been the epitome of inconsistency all season long.
Garrett has brought discipline to Dallas in three weeks on the job, but in some ways the Cowboys slid backwards last Thursday. Penalties were rampant, especially early, which gave New Orleans most of its early openings. Then Dallas looked like the Cowboys of the past two weeks, roaring back to lead the defending champions before quietly fading.
Whether or not Garrett keeps this job is anybody's guess. To his credit, his team came back against a tough opponent on a very short week. However, he must get the Cowboys playing more disciplined football for the entirety of games or Dallas will spend too much time attempting to dig out of holes it created.
Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Frazier's Vikings went back to the winning formula of establishing a dominant rushing attack and using the pass to set up running plays. When you have a 40-year old quarterback who can't dominate games and who is turnover prone, that's the best way to win.
Nothing about Minnesota's win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday will be remembered as particularly dominant, but it was a victory either way. One thing was clear: Frazier has more of the players' confidence than Brad Childress probably ever did.
Every player, including the enigmatic Brett Favre, seems to have bought into Frazier's message. It was obvious that players had long-since soured on Childress. Frazier, for one week at least, has brought some stability to the top of the ladder and he has the Vikings playing a much more sound brand of football.
The Watch List
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Here's a list of coaches to keep an eye on as the season winds down. They or their teams are in some kind of trouble and these men could be looking for work if things don't start going right for their organizations.
Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans
I know. He's the longest-tenured coach in the league. He's one of the most respected men in the business. He's also headed for a confrontation with Titans' owner Bud Adams over the retention of ridiculously immature quarterback Vince Young. Adams loves Young. Fisher is through with him. In this battle, the owner usually gets what he wants, which means either Fisher puts up with a head case at quarterback or he packs up and leaves town. Fisher may not even have to be fired. He may be fed up enough to resign if Young is retained again.
Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are coming off a big victory over Arizona that may have saved their season. They can afford no more losses, however, if they hope to be a serious playoff team. Singletary has been on and off the hot seat all season, and it is likely that his job status is closely tied to the team's performance the rest of the way. A playoff miss, which is likely with St. Louis and Seattle playing more consistent football, and he's likely out of work.
Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
He got an inspired win by the Dolphins against the previously heralded Raiders, a team that has now laid eggs in two straight games. That doesn't get Sparano out of trouble quite yet. His team was primed for a playoff run this season, but it has been beset by ineffectiveness at quarterback and now injuries. Sparano is likely the safest of the men listed here, but he's by no means out of the woods if Bill Parcells' protege Ben Ireland decides the team is better suited to different leadership.
Also Keep An Eye On: Jim Schwartz, Ken Whisenhunt, and Tom Cable
On Their Way Out? Here's The Hot Seat
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Here it is! The hot seat list for this week:
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
That was a nice win over division rival Tennessee, but the Titans are undermanned and in turmoil. The fight between Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan also takes a great deal of shine off this victory. Kubiak isn't out of trouble until his team makes the playoffs. Anything is possible in the suddenly wide-open AFC South, but this team has no consistency and Johnson's outburst calls into question Kubiak's control over his team's emotions. That's dangerous ground to be treading.
Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos
He had gone to the watch list and even the safe list after righting the ship a little and having the confidence of his owner behind him. Then the allegations over whether or not team personnel videotaped a 49ers practice in London put him in question. Getting beat by a rookie quarterback at home on Sunday didn't help much either.
McDaniels is in trouble. People are questioning his leadership ability, his maturity, and his coaching. If Denver continues to spiral the way it has since its 6-0 start in 2009, look for Pat Bowlen to go shopping.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
It almost hurts to put Lewis here every week. Like Wade Phillips, he's one of the true good guys in the NFL and he's one of the brighter, more talented coaches in the game. He just has never found a way to make the Bengals a consistent contender from year to year. Their Thanksgiving loss ensured Lewis' team a losing season and all but seals his fate as coach. The Bengals were bad before injuries started to pile up and have continued to fall to pieces as the season has progressed. They've lost eight straight and it's almost sure Mike Brown will pull the plug on Lewis sometime in the next week or two.
What To Watch This Week
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Here's some games of interest for anyone tracking head coaches who are in danger:
Houston @ Philadelphia
Kubiak gets a big chance to silence doubters on Thursday night as a win against the NFC East-leading Eagles would be a good measuring stick of the Texans' chances come playoff time.
Cleveland @ Miami
Previously troubled Eric Mangini takes his suddenly-tough Browns to Miami to visit the possibly-troubled Tony Sparano and the Dolphins in a matchup that will decide the fate of Miami's faint Wild Card hopes.
Denver @ Kansas City
McDaniels is in trouble. Losing again to a division foe like Kansas City, even on the road in one of the league's most difficult stadiums, would be nothing but another nail in his coffin.
New Orleans @ Cincinnati
Is it lights out for the Bengals' Marvin Lewis? This could be his last game. It certainly will be no easy task to break a losing streak against the league's defending champs.