2011 NFL Predictions: Setting the Hot Seat Meter for Every NFL Head Coach

Caleb GarlingCorrespondent IAugust 11, 2011

2011 NFL Predictions: Setting the Hot Seat Meter for Every NFL Head Coach

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    I’ve always found the typical hot seat ratings for NFL coaches a little strange.

    For a game that’s predicated on inches, an encyclopedia of statistics and complex gameplay analysis, rating a coach's job security with temperature adjectives seems a bit out of sorts. When one coach’s seat is “hot” and another is “red hot," what am I watching for?

    Seems like they should get their act together, either way.

    So we’re going to make the same analysis, but we’re going to use actual numbers: needed wins. Weird idea, right?

    We’ll look at two groupings of wins:

     

    1. Needed wins at the 10-game mark

    2. Needed wins at the end of the season

     

    Think about it like, "If [coach] doesn't hit [x number of needed wins], he's on the first train out of town."

    Obviously not hitting the first means the second is moot.

    The bottom line is, the higher the number, the hotter the seat.

    Lastly, though no one likes excuses, they will buy a head coach an extra game or two. Coaches may qualify for one of the following excuses. For each one that qualifies, add a win to their total:

     

    1. Injuries. Only qualifies if the quarterback goes down or at least four other starters go down.

    2. Game-deciding blown call. Getting a bum pass interference call in the first quarter doesn’t count, but getting one with two minutes left in the fourth that ultimately costs the game does.

    3. Off-field drama. This has to be Mike Vick or Plaxico Burress level drama, not Albert Haynesworth (“I’m just a lazy jerk”) level drama.

     

    Any of those will get you an extra win in the leniency department. I purposefully left out strength of schedule (i.e. “We’ve just been playing really good teams!”). The notion is far too subjective, and often we get to the end of the season and say, “Wow, that team that rolled over us actually wasn’t that good. Our coach was that bad!”

    To the Hot Statistics…

Oakland Raiders: Hue Jackson

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    Jackson is a rookie head coach taking over a team that fared well last year—on paper.

    The Raiders went 8-8, but if you look between the numbers, they racked up two of those wins against the Rams and Seahawks (please don’t call the Seahawks a “playoff team”), and two more against the sorry Broncos. Oakland gave up 38 points to the (6-10) Titans and 33 points to the (7-9) Dolphins.

    This was a four or five-win team getting a few free passes with a soft schedule. The result will be higher (and unfair) expectations for Jackson.

    Raider Nation thinks they had a good team last year. Click around Bleacher Report, and you’ll see a surprising number of Oakland fans who believe they are going to be good this year. If Jackson falters, even though he just took over the team, that leash will be shorter.

    Plus, Al Davis.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Three

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Five

Cleveland Browns: Pat Shurmur

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    Shurmur takes over a pretty pathetic team and a pretty traumatized fanbase. Cleveland, for all their passion and love for football, deserves better than what they’ve gotten over the last three decades.

    Shurmur is going to be given an extra friendly leash as he further breaks in Colt McCoy. Browns fans are so placated to awful quarterbacking at this point that any signs of life from the young McCoy will be seen as a positive.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: One

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Two

Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera

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    Rivera is taking over a team that has almost nowhere to go but up.

    If you’d like a tutorial in being a terrible team, just look up the Panthers’ numbers from last year; they only scored 196 points in 2011. That’s not even a touchdown and two field goals each game. Ouch.

    So Ron Rivera will have a very long leash, and with continuity needed for (supposed) franchise quarterback Cam Newton, Rivera will even get further leniency.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Zero

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: One

Tennessee Titans: Mike Munchak

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    Dating back to 1982, Mike Munchak has been with the Oilers/Titans his entire NFL career.

    Yes, you read that right.

    He went to nine Pro Bowls and had 10 All-Pro selections in 11 seasons as a guard for the Oilers, then was hired as an assistant when he retired and never looked back, slowly working his way to offensive line coach in 1997 and keeping the job until this past year.

    All that is going to give Munchak an uncommonly long leash as a rookie head coach. The only factor working against him is a seven-win season last year (the team he’s inheriting isn’t that bad) and a weapon named Chris Johnson.

    All that said though, I think he can flail most of the year and still be back for 2012. Blood runs deep.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Zero

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: One

San Francisco 49ers: Jim Harbaugh

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    Niner Nation hasn’t been this excited about a new head coach since, well, I don’t know when the last time could be.

    Maybe George Siefert.

    Either way, the parallels between Harbaugh and the legend of Bill Walsh are too much to resist, and any diligent Niner fan knows Walsh’s first season was a dreary two-win campaign.

    The translation here is that Harbaugh is going to have plenty of leash to work with. In addition to all of the history, Alex Smith provides a built-in excuse. It would take quite a while for anyone to catch on (if it were the case) that the bad breaks were more Harbaugh’s fault than Smith’s. All of the Bay Area is programmed to blame the Niners' downfalls on Smith.

    Harbaugh will have some time to get his feet under him at the helm.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: One

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Two

Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett

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    Jason Garrett doesn’t quite get the excuse of a “first full season.” He did coach the ‘Boys to a 5-3 record after taking over for the ever-bumbling-and-fumbling Wade Phillips’ 1-7 start and has been the offensive architect since 2007.

    He’ll have the task of proving that not only can he piece together prolific offenses, but also if he can right a defense that gave up a league-worst 27.3 PPG last year. If the offense sputters, Jerry Jones will have a couple choice press conferences that start to raise questions.

    That said, Garrett is only the eighth coach in Cowboys history. Jones is too smart to plunge the Cowboys into a head coach carousel before really letting Garrett have a season at the helm.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Two

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Four

Minnesota Vikings: Leslie Frazier

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    Frazier has been the coordinator behind the stifling Vikings run defenses over the past four seasons. Luckily he can turn that top squad over to Mike Singletary (a great defensive coordinator, a terrible head coach) and focus on rebuilding a defunct passing offense. The running game, with a guy named Adrian Peterson, should be pretty solid again too.

    To me, the real x-factor is the Vikings' fanbase.

    What do you expect out of them if the Vikings falter? They are a poor, battered ex who is just trying to get back on her feet after a long and terrible relationship (talking about the weird Favre years, in case that’s unclear).

    Does a slow start just signify his aftereffects? Or is the fanbase willing to look forward and immediately shoulder the coach with blame for a disjointed offense?

    The testimonial Frazier will most probably need, should the Vikings have another crappy season, is going to be Christian Ponder’s. If Ponder tells the press that relations with he and coach are strange in any way, that’ll shorten Frazier’s leash even more.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Three

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Four

Denver Broncos: John Fox

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    Unlike the other “new” head coaches, Fox has a nice long resume at the position.

    Over his nine seasons with the Panthers as head coach, Fox had three seasons with at least 11 wins (and was a field goal shy of a Super Bowl ring); the other six seasons, the Panthers flailed at .500 or below—though much of that should be attributed to Jake Delhomme’s bi-polar production.

    Fox’s taking over a Broncos team that spent a season playing matador to running backs and wide receivers alike (Denver gave up the most points in NFL), and barely showed signs of life on offense (19th in PPG).

    Also, Fox primarily coached a 4-3 defensive scheme with the Panthers; the Broncos have played with a 3-4. This could be one of those situations where the lockout and the lack of coach-player communication really hurts.

    That said, the Broncos are confident they “got their man” this time and will likely give Fox a decent amount of leeway in 2011.

    Plus, Denver fans are football-savvy enough to know that a terrible team doesn’t turn around in a year.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: One

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Two

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Tomlin

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    Like the rookie or new head coaches previously listed, Mike Tomlin sits on a similarly cold seat—but because of his history, not lack of it.

    The Steelers are 43-21 with two Super Bowl appearances and a ring under Tomlin’s tenure. It would take an absolute catastrophe for Pittsburgh not to give him a little leniency and demand his head.

    In addition, his reputation as a delegator would probably help him, believe it or not, should the team falter. If the defense isn’t playing well, everyone knows to look at Dick LeBeau, not Tomlin. The buck, of course, stops at Tomlin’s desk, but no one would think anyone but LeBeau is running that Steeler defense.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: One

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Two

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jack Del Rio

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    Jack Del Rio has been the Jags coach for eight seasons. Eight.

    I discovered this a couple weeks ago and was floored.

    I knew he’d been the coach for a while, but almost a decade? That is a long time for having one playoff win, and the team hasn’t broken .500 since 2007.

    Del Rio has to show some signs of life this year, or he’s going to be on his way out; nine years without a legitimate team is too long.

    The only mitigating factor is working in Blaine Gabbert. He’ll get reps as a starter this year, and the “Well, they were starting a rookie,” excuse will be in play for Del Rio’s hot seat.

    My guess is Jacksonville is happy to give Del Rio one more year as Gabbert gets used to the NFL level. If he doesn’t get along with Del Rio or the Jags are bad, they always have, “Tough first season, kid. But don’t worry, now that you’ve had a season, we’re going to get you a real coach who really knows how to pass the ball.”

    Jacksonville hasn’t had a respectable offense since 2007.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Five

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Nine

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis

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    Marvin Lewis has taken the Bengals to the playoffs exactly two times in eight seasons and netted exactly ZERO playoff wins. Last season was a complete disaster in about every sense of the word.

    This is your hottest seat in the NFL, everyone.

    Like Del Rio and Gabbert, Lewis does have a rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, to ease into the NFL game. My hunch is Cincinnati will give themselves much the same option as Jacksonville: If Lewis and Dalton work well, we can keep them paired up; if not, we can fire Lewis.

    Marvin Lewis is apparently a phenomenally nice guy—too bad he can’t finish last again.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Five

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Nine

Buffalo Bills: Chan Gailey

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    The Bills are a tough team to gauge, only because in the last decade they’ve gone through five different head coaches and haven’t sniffed a 10-win season.

    Are they rebuilding now? Or hoping to contend?

    Since Marv Levy took off the headset, they’ve simply trod in place, often taking painful gulps of seawater.

    Is Chan Gailey their coach of the future?

    I don’t think so. And I don’t think the Bills or Bills fans do either.

    Gailey is a lot like Norv Turner, one of these guys who bounces around football as a coordinator or a head coach and never really does that good of a job. He is a better coordinator; you just watch the guy on the sidelines and think, “Nah, not an NFL coach.”

    I think Gailey’s leash will be a medium-sized one, even though the Bills really haven’t given him many tools to be successful.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Four

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Six

New York Jets: Rex Ryan

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    Rex Ryan, for his talking, bedtime adventures and overall “character,” is a pretty good coach. The Jets were a fourth-quarter stop short of going to the Super Bowl, and in each of Ryan’s two seasons, the Jets have played with one of the league’s best defenses.

    And Mark Sanchez is a built-in excuse, should the offense falter.

    Provided some sort of dividing destruction isn’t visited upon the locker room due to a Ryan press conference (he is smarter than that), his two strong seasons and upward trends on both sides of the ball translate to a decent amount of forgiveness should the Jets get into trouble early or at all this season.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Two

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Three

Baltimore Ravens: John Harbaugh

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    Last year, John Harbaugh was in a similar position to Rex Ryan this year:

    "You’ve shown great improvements, keep it up. Just beat the damn Steelers, please."

    (For Ryan it’s the Patriots.)

    Harbaugh kept up half the bargain. The team got much better, but the Steelers eventually did them in.

    Working against him, Ray Lewis’ clock is nearly striking 12, and Ed Reed, with his unfortunate neck injuries and potential early retirement, is causing a certain “feel good” urgency about this team.

    Because of the team’s obvious improvements, Harbaugh will have a little more leeway should the Ravens falter early, but this is a team and a fanbase that’s not interested in playing second banana in the AFC North for much longer.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Three

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Four

Green Bay Packers: Mike McCarthy

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    In five seasons with Green Bay, McCarthy is 48-32 with seven playoff wins, one Super Bowl ring and a successful vanquishing of Brett Favre’s ghost.

    The Packers are so poised to be the heavyweight of the NFC for the next five years, that any rough starts would be attributed to cosmic interference, karma and God’s wrath for at least a season before eyes really turned on McCarthy.

    McCarthy brought Wisconsin a ring. That gives any coach at least a season with a very, very cold hot seat—literally, I guess.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Zero

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: One

New York Giants: Tom Coughlin

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    I mentioned this in an earlier column, but over 15 years as the Giants and the Jaguars head coach, Tom Coughlin has seven 10-plus-win seasons and eight playoff victories. Save his first and last seasons with the Jags, his offenses are always roaming around the top of the league in terms of production. Even though he looks like your crotchety old neighbor when something doesn’t go his way, Coughlin is apparently a good coach.

    Though the Giants do have a rather shiny ring under his tenure (extra shine for stopping an undefeated Patriots juggernaut), that was in 2007.

    This is a league—and more importantly, a fanbase—constantly asking, “What have you done for me lately?”

    Not that Coughlin has been bad. The Giants have been a standing force in the NFC East since then, but not overly imposing. Whether or not they were all his fault, Eli Manning did turn the ball over 30 times last year. Much of that is on Eli, but a fair amount comes to the head coach though.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Two

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Four

Atlanta Falcons: Mike Smith

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    You may have heard, but the Falcons went all in on building a Super Bowl team for 2011 and the next few seasons. To not make the NFC Championship will likely be considered a failure.

    Every component except a good pass-defense (where I thought the Falcons should have focused in the draft) is in place for a ticket to the Big Dance. They run, they pass, they stop the run, they have great home-field advantage in a deafening dome—that’s your recipe for success in January.

    That all obviously translates to high expectations for Mike Smith. You can’t get invited to a party at the Playboy mansion, have impressive rumors circulate about your manhood and bank account, and not score. Few excuses are available when you’ve got all the chips—or are at least perceived to have all the chips.

    The one factor of mitigation is that Smith and Matt Ryan have a strong relationship and work well together. When that’s in place, it’s tough to kick a coach to the curb after one bad season.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Four

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Seven

Kansas City Chiefs: Todd Haley

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    Todd Haley may have heightened expectations on him in 2011; after all, the Chiefs did go from 4-12 to 10-6 in 2010. That’s a nice upward trend, and the team hasn’t experienced any losses catastrophic enough to figure anything should change that much.

    However, those may be unfair expectations.

    Last year was a bit of an aberration in how good the Chiefs actually were. They won games against the Browns, 49ers, Jaguars, Bills, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks and Broncos—none of which sniffed respectability or .500 last year. Flip half of those bumbling squads to competent teams, and last year starts to look more like a realistic 6-10.

    The Patriots, Colts, Packers, Steelers and Jets are all on the menu in 2011. That will probably be a bit of a reality check.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Three

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Six

St. Louis Rams: Steve Spagnulo

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    Like Todd Haley of the Chiefs, Steve Spagnulo may have unfair expectations on him. This is a team that looks, on the shoulders of young Sam Bradford, as if it’s trending very much up and to the right.

    But here were the Rams' wins in 2010: Redskins, Seahawks, Chargers, Panthers, Broncos, Cardinals and 49ers.

    Except the Chargers, those were bad football teams.

    The Rams probably have more work to do than the expectations allow for, especially considering St Louis plays in such a weak NFC West.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Three

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Five

Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll

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    On the one hand, Pete Carroll made the playoffs last year. But that’s a little like when someone shakes the President’s hand in a greeting line and says, “Yeah, I’ve met Barack Obama.”

    I mean, no you didn’t.

    The Seahawks were a playoff team last year—but no, they weren’t.

    Other factors to add to the murk: They’ve severely downgraded their quarterback situation, but severely improved their receiving corps. And they play in the NFC West, a patty-cake division.

    In actuality, the Seahawks were a bad football team during a rebuilding year, and their little playoff run was a fortuitous, feel-good bonus.

    I do think Seattle fans know this. Carroll should have reasonable expectations, especially considering the aura of USC’s success that he carries.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Two

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Four

Miami Dolphins: Tony Sparano

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    Luckily the Dolphins play pretty good defense; Tony Sparano has already decided to handicap his offense for the season by going with Chad Henne.

    Hopefully Mike Pouncey can step in at center and provide Henne with more time in the pocket, but enough time has shown that, bottom line, Henne is an erratic and undependable quarterback.

    Not to mention that the running back situation has taken a significant nosedive after Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown left town. Hopefully Daniel Thomas steps up as this year’s rookie breakout because Reggie Bush—as he has proven over the years—is not a great NFL tailback.

    Phenomenal athlete? For sure.

    NFL tailback? No.

    Expectations are always tempered in Miami, considering the road goes through New England.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Two

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Four

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Raheem Morris

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    Morris’s 10 wins in 2010 came against the Browns, Panthers, Bengals, Rams, Cardinals, Panthers again, 49ers, Redskins, Seahawks and Saints.

    I probably don’t have to tell you, but only New Orleans had a winning record last year.

    This puts him in the heightened, but perhaps unreasonable, expectations camp.

    Josh Freeman captured hearts last year by being a bolt of lightning for the second half of the season; Morris will need to show he can take Freeman to that next level. Lucky for both of them (except games against the Colts, Packers and the Falcons twice), the Bucs don’t seem to have an overly difficult schedule in 2011 either.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Three

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Four

Arizona Cardinals: Ken Wisenhunt

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    Wisenhunt had a good reason for the Cardinals’ putrid offense in 2010: no quarterback.

    Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall and Richard Bartel were throwing the ball, but that excuse is now gone with Kevin Kolb’s arrival.

    Expectations are up, and playing in the NFC means there is always a chance to sneak into the playoffs. When he had Kurt Warner, a proven quarterback, Wisenhunt had a great deal of success. His job largely hinges on the question, “Is Kevin Kolb actually good, or was he just an over-hyped piece of trade bait?”

    (My instincts are toward the latter.)

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Three

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Five

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick

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    The concept of a hot seat does not apply to Bill Belichick; the Patriots could lose every game, and Belichick would still be the play-caller in 2012.

    The Boston press would figure out a way to blame Tom Brady ("Too much time tending to his hair this offseason?") before they pinned it on Belichick. The man is a God in New England, and his resume says the deification is not unfounded.

    The funny part is that if the Patriots were losing badly, for some weird reason, Belichick would likely resign before he let anyone fire him.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: N/A

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: N/A

New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton

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    Payton probably has another season of hot seat immunity due to a Super Bowl ring in 2009. The Saints would really have to be atrocious and disjointed for anyone to talk about him losing his job.

    By all accounts, Payton gets along well with the team and still synergizes with Drew Brees (proof is in the pudding there), so it would take a catastrophe to think Payton won’t be coaching the Saints next season.

    It is worth noting, however, that under Payton’s five-year tenure (except their Super Bowl season) the Saints have exactly one playoff win.

    That’s one of those “I’m just sayin’, ” stats, but it is worth remembering when judging Payton’s overall success.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Two

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Five

Chicago Bears: Lovie Smith

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    Most people consider Lovie Smith a great coach; ESPN’s coach approval rating, as voted on by fans, has him at 71 percent at the end of 2010.

    Over his tenure, Smith’s had to deal with Chad Hutchinson, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Brian Griese and now Jay Cutler at quarterback. Those are not exactly impressive names.

    And though the Bears have always had good, grind-it-out running backs, they’ve never provided Smith with many imposing weapons on offense.

    Yet, Smith is 63-49 with six playoff wins and a (albeit, rather poor) Super Bowl appearance. Not bad. That alone garners him a little leeway in the Midway.

    But he has been in Chicago since 2004. The Windy City loves Da Bears and can only allow them to be a good-but-not-great team for so long. Smith probably still has a decent-sized leash, but it isn’t infinite by any means.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Two

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Five

Detroit Lions: Jim Schwartz

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    Schwartz has done a fairly good job so far, considering his feeble quarterback troika finished the season with 26 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and an overall rating of 82. Any coach who can draw that kind of production out of Drew friggin’ Stanton, Shaun friggin’ Hill and sophomore Matt Stafford deserves a little leash.

    Leeway for coaches always tends to be shorter in markets where teams miss “the old days” and develop short fuses for sub-500 seasons (looking at you, Oakland).

    The Lions have never experienced success. Ever. They are zombies to success. Detroit flares up as a semi-threat once a decade, but the words, “Crap, we’re playing the Lions this week,” have never been uttered until this very moment.

    The bottom line is that I think even with a regression, Detroit will stick with Schwartz. If it ain’t (extremely) broke, don’t fix it.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: One

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Three

Philadelphia Eagles: Andy Reid

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    Probably the hottest of hot seats. I recently compared Andy Reid to that friend of yours who is always dating hot chicks, but never lands one who is actually cool and fun to hang out with.

    Reid had Donovan McNabb. He had Brian Westbrook. He had Terrell Owens. He had strings of Pro Bowl offensive linemen.

    He had Brian Dawkins, Hugh Douglas and Jeremiah Trotter.

    He has a 12th man, a stadium with some of the most passionate fans in sports.

    Now he has Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson.

    (Two ___Seans?!)

    And all Philly ever gets is a 10-plus-win season and an infuriating playoff exit.

    Now they’ve gone to the bank and then some with free agents.

    This is a coach out of excuses.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Five

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: 10

Washington Redskins: Mike Shanahan

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    Shanahan is going to be given super leeway, considering the team he’s adjusting to and his impressive resume. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and D.C. will give Shanahan at least another season before calling for his head.

    Though it’s worth remembering that coaches with equally as strong a resume—Steve Spurrier, Marty Schottenheimer and Joe Gibbs—have all coached the Redskins with zero success.

    The guy everyone wishes was on a hot seat—and by hot, I mean scalding—is Dan Snyder.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Two

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Four

Houston Texans: Gary Kubiak

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    The Texans often trick people into thinking they are a good team because they have such sexy fantasy options; Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster will all be off the board before the third round of your draft this year.

    But believe it or not, Gary Kubiak, for all his offensive prowess, has never been a head coach in the postseason.

    The reason is that the Texans play terrible, terrible defense. The highest they’ve been ranked by points allowed is 17th. If Kubiak can’t show any improvement there, he’s likely to find himself shopping a resume, because six seasons without a playoff appearance, much less a win, is not acceptable by any standards.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Four

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Nine

San Diego Chargers: Norv Turner

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    I have said this before, but I think of coaches like Norv Turner as rebound coaches. You never want to have them run your team in the long term, but they’re a decent holdover until you locate a suitable fit.  

    Turner has coached eight NFL teams and spent 205 games as head coach, more than just about anyone in the league—and he’s got a lifetime winning percentage of .485 and only four playoff appearances.

    To think of that differently—assuming you can’t win a fraction of a game—he’s good for a 7-9 season.

    So what does that make him? Another fall guy.

    The Chargers play in a weak division, and barring a suspect situation at running back (not a Ryan Mathews fan here), they have the tools to be a great contender. The one excuse that may help Turner’s cause, should the defense play poorly, is that they’re still figuring out their schemes after losing Ron Rivera.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Four

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Eight

Indianapolis Colts: Jim Caldwell

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    I’ve often wondered if Jim Caldwell is actually alive and not some sort of voodoo mannequin propped up on the sideline that blinks every now and then. I’m actually not sure if I’ve ever seen him walking on the sidelines; every time they show him, he’s just staring out at the field a little blankly.

    The Colts’ offensive coordinator wears No. 18 and could thread a football down a length of PVC pipe if he wanted. That’s who runs the offense.

    And the defense? The defense plays just well enough not to be huge liability, but just crappy enough where you’re not sure if they always have 11 guys on the field.

    So where does that leave Caldwell? Yup, as the fall guy should the Colts have a tough year—and maybe rightfully so.

     

    Needed Wins at the 10-game Mark: Four

    Needed Wins at the End of the Season: Eight