2011 NFL Predictions: Marvin Lewis and 15 Coaches Who May Not Last the Season
With a verdict to the long-lasting NFL lockout looming in the near future, maybe even as soon as the end of the week, head coaches are going to be allowed to actually start coaching.
Heading into the 2011 season, with maybe the most attention a NFL year has ever received, many teams' play-callers are going to be under the spotlight and in the hot seat.
Whether it's a head coach like Marvin Lewis, who hasn't shown a lot of promise over the past few years, or one like Tom Coughlin, who seemingly lost his locker room toward the end of last season and is currently in the last year of his contract, 2011 is going to be a last-ditch effort for many coaches and coordinators included.
With that said, presuming everything works out accordingly with the lockout, here are the top 15 coaches who could be fired by season's end.
15. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings HC
On the field, it's a different scene.
After Brad Childress' four and half year tenure, winning 39 games and making it to the 2009 NFC Championship game only to lose to the New Orleans Saints, the Vikings have handed the reins over to Leslie Frazier.
Frazier produced a 3-3 record over the final six games of 2010, showing on-field consistency and an off-field coaching facade.
With so many big-market names out there perhaps ready to take over as head coaches—such as Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and even Mike Holmgren—the Vikings and their talented players need a consistent play-caller, and they need it now.
The Green Bay Packers are going to be perennial title contenders, and the Detroit Lions (yes, the Lions), are only getting better, so Minnesota needs to buckle down and decide if Frazier is going to get it done for the next five years.
14. Ken Wisenhunt, Arizone Cardinals HC
Like Leslie Frazier, Ken Whisenhunt is relatively safe.
After coaching the team out of the Kurt Warner-Anquan Boldin era, Whisenhunt has done his best job to successfully win with a nearly nonexistent quarterback.
Arizona finished the 2010 season at 5-11, making them a serious bounce-back candidate heading into this year.
With that said, that elusive comeback campaign in the NFC West is going to hinder on the chances of the Cardinals landing Kevin Kolb.
As it stands right now, the team is holding their breath for quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Max Hall or John Skelton to make something happen early in the season.
Remember, Arizona arguably has the best wide receiver in the league with Larry Fitzgerald, and their defensive secondary isn't too shabby, so a consistent quarterback could make them prominent players in the NFC and even prolong Whisenhunt's tenure.
13. Mike Martz, Chicago Bears OC
So you're telling me Mike Martz is supposed to be an offensive genius, right?
Well how does the third-worst offense in the NFL warrant praise?
It doesn't make sense and neither do some of the Chicago Bears' past decisions.
I figured I'd leave head coach Lovie Smith off this list since the Bears made it to the NFC Championship game last year, but I can't let Martz slide that easily.
Granted it was his first season as the offensive coordinator, but Martz's opening year didn't go as some had planned.
He failed to successfully use Matt Forte's talents on the ground, he hasn't transferred Jay Cutler into a more conservative and ball-protecting quarterback, and in no way deserves to be a lock to run the offense in the coming years.
If I were Smith and was looking to make the best out of my team, I'd pay close attention to how my offense is ran over the first few games.
12. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams HC
I love Steve Spagnuolo.
He's a young coach, a defensive mastermind and has a lot of promise going forward.
With that said, the St. Louis Rams are a fragile franchise that needs a consistent head coach.
It's yet to be determined if Spags can be that guy.
Quarterback Sam Bradford needs a complementary play-caller, so 2011 could be the deciding season for Spagnuolo's future as the Rams' go-to guy.
The one thing Spagnuolo has going for him is the fact that he won seven games last year compared to only one in 2009.
11. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills HC
There's really not much to say about head coach Chan Gailey as the Buffalo Bills head into the 2011 season.
Gailey's inexperienced as a NFL head coach. Coming off a 4-12 record in 2010, his team plays in one of the hardest divisions in the league and doesn't have a lot of talent to change those weaknesses.
It seems as if the Bills are simply letting Gailey do his thing until the team can go out and sign a more prominent head coach—maybe Bill Cowher, Brad Childress or Jon Gruden.
Regardless, it hardly feels like Gailey is a safe bet to finish the season in Buffalo and could end up back in college football by 2012.
10. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans HC
It seems that no matter what Gary Kubiak does and how often he overcomes injuries to top players, he simply cannot get the Houston Texans into the playoffs.
After posting a 37-43 record over the past five seasons, including zero postseason appearances, Kubiak's future hangs in the balance.
After winning nine games in 2009, Houston looked ready to take on the elite teams in the NFL and make something happen in January. As it happened to work out though, they ended up winning only six games in 2010.
Hardly the progression you want to see your head coach make.
There's no doubt in my mind that Kubiak has what it takes to be a very successful head coach, especially after serving as the man behind the curtain for the Denver Broncos and their two super bowl victories in 1997 and 1998.
Heading into 2011, Kubiak needs to keep his players healthy, rely on Arian Foster/Andre Johnson to make plays and let all the chips fall.
9. Gus Bradley, Seattle Seahawks DC
Not to say I was searching for another defensive coordinator to throw into the fire, but I just so happened to stumble across Casey "Gus" Bradley and his lack of success over the years.
I've always liked the Seattle Seahawks' defense and players alike, but they've simply been underachieving over the last two seasons.
Seattle's defense ranked 27th in 2010 and 24th the year before.
Considering the team was 15th in the NFL back in 2007, it's easy to see that Bradley hasn't done much to change the team's misfortune.
Going forward, with a second-year head coach in Pete Carroll who has to look out for himself, there's no way Bradley's job is secure.
8. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins HC
Is it just me, or is Tony Sparano one of the most overrated head coaches in the league?
Sorry, Miami fans.
Sparano hasn't been awful, compiling a 25-23 record over three seasons, but the only time he finished with a .500 or better record was the year Tom Brady didn't play.
Ironic, isn't it?
With a questionable quarterback situation, Ronnie Brown possibly taking the first flight out of Miami and other possible replacements looming in the background (do I dare say Bill Parcels), Sparano is on a very short leash.
Let's hope the team lands Reggie Bush and makes a run for the AFC East title.
7. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers HC
Season after season, the San Diego Chargers come up short.
Whether it's barely missing the playoffs or getting knocked out in dramatic fashion, Norv Turner and company have had some bad luck over the years.
While Turner and the Chargers have yet to record a season below .500 since he took over in 2007, their lack of Super Bowl success has hindered the team's overall achievements.
After missing the playoffs for the first time during Turner's reign last season, the Chargers need to play extremely well early to keep their head coach around.
6. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars HC
It's been speculated that Jack Del Rio has been on the Jacksonville Jaguars' chopping block for some time now, making this season a true test for the hard-nosed coach.
Del Rio has posted a 65-63 record since becoming Jacksonville's coach in 2003, carrying the team to only two playoff appearances and one postseason win.
With a new quarterback in Blaine Gabbert, management could end up deciding to let go of Del Rio and bring in someone fresh.
If Gabbert struggles early or the Jaguars again decide to try to win with David Garrard at the helm, Del Rio could be out of a job by midseason.
5. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants HC
There's two reasons why the New York Giants could decide to part ways with head coach Tom Coughlin before the end of the season.
One being the fact that the Giants endured one of the biggest collapses in franchise history toward the end of last year, and the other being that this year is the last season Coughlin is under contract.
Both are very good reasons to watch your head coach with a close eye and are also reasons why a veteran coach like Coughlin will rebound and lead the Giants back into the playoffs.
But that could just be my love for New York talking.
Regardless of what I think and even what Coughlin says he can still do for the team in 2011, New York's management is the deciding factor.
Even with an easy early-season schedule, any sort of hiccup over the first two months could spark speculation for a Coughlin firing.
I almost forgot, it's been heard through the grapevine that the Giants would love to hire Bill Cowher as their future play-caller, so keep an eye out for that media frenzy.
4. Sean McDermott, Carolina Panthers DC
This may be a stretch, but I truly think a defensive-minded head coach like Ron Rivera isn't going to sit around and watch his defense underperform the whole season.
However, it is Sean McDermott's first season as the Carolina Panthers' defensive coordinator, so I guess we have to give him a chance.
Under McDermott's control, the Philadelphia Eagles' defense ranked 12th in the NFL last year, but let's be honest, after losing Julius Peppers, the Panthers are nowhere near the talent level of the Eagles'.
Beyond all the talent levels and potential, the fact remains that it's also Ron Rivera's first season as Carolina's primary play-caller, so he himself is going to be on the hot seat.
And I really don't see him standing by as McDermott runs his defense into the ground.
If McDermott can improve the Panthers' 19th-ranked defense from last year, he might stand a chance.
3. Hue Jackson, Oakland Raiders HC
Oakland has seen four head coaches in the last seven years, turning in an awful overall record of 33-79.
Now the Raiders have hired Hue Jackson as their fifth coach since 2004, making it evident that their usual ways should continue to ruin their once-prestigious reputation.
With that said, I honestly don't know a lot about Jackson to discredit his value as a future NFL head coach, but any guy who comes in under Davis, not to mention the Raiders' lack of promise from past seasons, has to be considered a potential hot seat candidate.
2. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins HC
It's no secret that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is an Al Davis in training, so you can imagine the ridicule head coach Mike Shanahan could be in for if he doesn't perform early and often.
Besides the fact that a lot of people have speculated as to whether Shanahan is truly a head coaching genius or just a product of running a team led by John Elway and Terrell Davis, he still has enough left in the tank to consistently win.
With that said, we haven't really seen that in his first year as the Redskins' play-caller, finishing the season with a 6-10 record.
That may be good enough in the NFC West, but in the East, Washington and Shanahan don't stand a chance among some of the toughest teams in the league.
Pair that lack of success with the public confrontations involving veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb, and you have yourself a coach who's currently sitting in one of the hottest seats in the NFL.
Don't let the name fool you, Shanahan could be on his way out sooner than later.
1. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals HC
Just look at this picture.
It's one of the most recent photos of Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, and he looks absolutely exhausted.
Can you blame him?
Despite trying to juggle the tandem egos of Chad Ochocinco and Terrel Owens last year, Lewis has kept chugging along.
But at this point in 2011, after posting a 25-38 record with one postseason appearance over the past four seasons, an early September skid could end up being the straw that breaks the camel's back.
How many more seasons can Lewis try to pretend his team his capable of making a serious playoff run?
How many times can Bengals ownership look the other way?
He's chased Carson Palmer out of town, hasn't really had a consistent running game in nearly forever and is simply losing his gusto.
Bottom line, don't be surprised if Lewis is out of a job by mid-October.