NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Who's Already Feeling the Heat in 2011?

Caleb GarlingCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2011

NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Who's Already Feeling the Heat in 2011?

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    Hot-seat ratings are a little weird. I’ve said this before, but for a game that’s predicated on inches, an encyclopedia of statistics and complex game-play analysis, rating a coach's job security with temperature adjectives seems a bit out of sorts. I’ve never been sure what to watch for when one coach’s seat is “hot” and another is “red hot.” Seems like they should get their act together either way.

    So we’re going to look at: needed wins at the 10-game mark and needed wins at the end of the season.

    If a coach doesn’t hit either mark, it means he's probably on the first train out of town. The bottom line is that the higher the number, the hotter that hot seat.

    Note: These numbers have a little give to them, depending on mitigating factors like injuries or blown calls that decide games.

Mike Smith, Falcons

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    Smith is on sort of a “success" hot seat. Or more accurately, a “don’t screw this up, pal” hot seat. Smith should be fine this season, but if the Falcons don’t at least win a couple playoff games, he will come under some very intense pressure, very quickly.

    You may have heard, but the Falcons went all in on building a Super Bowl team for 2011 and the next few seasons.

    Every component, except a good pass defense (which is 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 homefield advantage in a deafening dome. That’s your recipe for success in January.

    Needed wins at the 10-game mark: five

    Needed wins at the end of the season: eight

Andy Reid, Eagles

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    Same deal as Smith. Reid needs to win big this year—or it’s a failure. The Eagles have invested too much and raised Philadelphia’s fans' expectations too high for anything less than an NFC title game to be acceptable.

    He 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: six

    Needed wins at the end of the season: 10

Tom Coughlin, Giants

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    To those outside of New York, hearing Coughlin is on a hottish seat may be a surprise; the Giants won a Super Bowl a few years back with everyone's favorite crotchety old neighbor at the helm.

    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 they were all his fault, Eli Manning did turn the ball over 30  times last year. Much of that is on Eli; a fair amount comes to the head coach though.

    Needed wins at the 10-game mark: six

    Needed wins at the end of the season: nine

Ken Wisenhunt, Cardinals

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    Wisenhunt has a Super Bowl appearance to his credit, but otherwise in his tenure, the Cardinals have not made much noise. That lack of success is certainly magnified when you consider Arizona is in the NFC West.

    Wisenhunt had a good excuse for the Cardinals’ putrid offense in 2010: no quarterback. Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall and Richard Bartel were throwing the ball.

    That excuse is now gone with Kevin Kolb’s arrival. Expectations are up and playing in the NFC West means there is always a chance to sneak into the playoffs. Wisenhunt’s job largely hinges on the question, “Is Kevin Kolb actually good, or was he just an overhyped piece of trade bait?”

    (My instincts are towards the latter.)

    Needed wins at the 10-game mark: four

    Needed wins at the end of the season: seven

Jack Del Rio, Jaguars

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    Jack Del Rio has been the Jags coach for eight seasons. Eight. This blew my mind. Almost a decade and he has…one playoff win. The team hasn’t broken .500 since 2007. Del Rio has to show some signs of life this year or he’ll be on his way out. Nine years without a legitimate team is too long.

    And Jacksonville hasn’t had a respectable offense since 2007.

    My guess is that the Jags front office is happy to allow one more year as Gabbert gets used to the NFL level and they quietly search for a head coach in the background. If their first-round pick doesn’t get along with Del Rio or the Jags are bad or they need a fall guy for any reason, they always have, “Tough first season, Blaine. But don’t worry, we’re going to get you a real coach that really knows how to pass the ball.”

    Needed wins at the 10-game mark: five

    Needed wins at the end of the season: eight

Gary Kubiak, Texans

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    Believe it or not, for all the noise the Texans offense makes, Gary Kubiak has never been a head coach in the postseason. Yup, never made the playoffs with the lead headphones on. The Texans often trick people into thinking they are a good team because Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster will all be off the board before the third round of your fantasy draft this year.

    But they play terrible defense. Terrible. 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 win, is not acceptable by any standards, especially in Texas.

    Needed wins at the 10-game mark: five

    Needed wins at the end of the season: nine

Marvin Lewis, Bengals

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    Last season was a complete disaster in about every sense of the word. But way more importantly, Marvin Lewis ZERO playoff wins as the Bengals head coach. Zero. He’s been to the playoffs only twice in eight seasons leading the Paper Tigers.

    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 that Cincinnati will give themselves much the same option as Jacksonville. If Lewis and Dalton work well, we can keep them paired up; if not, fire Lewis.

    Needed wins at the 10-game mark: six

    Needed wins at the end of the season: nine

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