2011: 5 NFL Head Coaches Already on the Hot Seat
When teams start losing, the fans start calling for the jobs of one of two people: either the starting quarterback or the head coach. There were eight head coaching changes this past year! That's a quarter of the league. You have to imagine there will be at least four head coaching changes this year either during the regular season or during the offseason.
It's never too early to start looking at who is on the coaching hot seat and going to be fighting for their job this season.
Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yes, I know the Jacksonville Jaguars won this week. They also won against a Tennessee Titans team that isn't all that good. Matt Hasselbeck is well past his prime, Chris Johnson is just getting back in football shape and the defense is not what it was under Jim Schwartz or even Chuck Cecil for that matter. So let's not pretend the Jags beat the New England Patriots.
The Jaguars, with Luke McCown under center, will go as far as Maurice Jones-Drew can take them. He is the biggest weapon the Jaguars have and is absolutely dynamic. However, if MJD goes down, there goes the season. It sounds dramatic but it's true.
Del Rio has had eight years as head coach to get it done and if he doesn't keep this team on the winning path, he will find himself unemployed.
Prediction: If the Jaguars don't finish 9-7 or better Del Rio will be fired.
Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
Again, I understand that the Chargers won. However, you have to look again at the quality of team. The Vikings are on the decline with Donovan McNabb at the helm and the defense suffering without the Williams Wall. It took far too long to get going against a mediocre at best Vikings team.
Percy Harvin's 106-yard kickoff return touchdown was one of the worst possible things that could happen considering special teams errors and poor performance was what killed the Chargers playoff hopes. The Chargers fired their special teams coordinator from 2010, Steve Crosby, and brought in Rich Bisaccia to take charge of the unit. Apparently, Crosby wasn't the Chargers problem, Norv Turner is.
This team has too many weapons on the offensive side and too many strong defenders on that side of the ball to perform at a low level. It's too early to say Norv Turner is a goner but I still think he remains on the hot seat.
Prediction: If Turner doesn't get this team to win a playoff game, he's out the door.
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Who didn't see this one coming? Coughlin has been on the hot seat for years and usually seems to escape the chopping block. It's going to be hard to escape this year as this season could be the last straw.
In all fairness to Tom Coughlin, the Giants have had some tough breaks. Injuries to the secondary and defensive line are killing the defense. Losing Steve Smith and Kevin Boss to free agency has taken away two of Eli Manning's greatest weapons in the passing game.
Losing a tough game to a division rival is not a nail in the coffin for Coughlin but it's a start. Coughlin has to rally the Giants and get their winning attitude and swagger back but he is going to have a tough time of it with lackluster leader Eli Manning commanding the huddle. Coughlin is starting to look much more like the 2006 version of himself than the Super Bowl winning 2007 version.
Prediction: If the Giants can't secure at least a wild card spot in the NFC, Coughlin is going to be looking for a new job.
Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
In all honesty, the Dolphins performed admirably against the Patriots, but they still lost. Chad Henne looks like he's improving and the run game was decent but not excellent. The defense got destroyed on the ground and in the air but that happens when you play Tom Brady. None of this should be an indictment that Tony Sparano can't get it done.
Despite all that, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has proved that he has limited faith in Sparano when he was trying to lure Jim Harbaugh to Miami. Ross is a new owner and seems very impatient. Ross' high expectations and the highly competitive nature of the AFC East and really the entire AFC puts Sparano on the hot seat once again.
I still think the Dolphins are the No. 2 team in the AFC East but getting even a wild card spot considering the ridiculous amount of teams that will be in the running.
Prediction: With big names like Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher that will likely be in the head coaching market, Ross will fire Sparano if the Dolphins aren't in the playoffs.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Even though Garrett is entering his first year starting off as head coach, the expectations are high nonetheless. Owner Jerry Jones is expecting nothing less than a playoff victory so Garrett better deliver. Jones kept Garrett on as head coach to keep continuity and avoid blowing up the whole Cowboys team.
Garrett's future is hinging on two key things: Tony Romo's performance and Rob Ryan's defense. Tony Romo performed well until the end of the game when he made the fatal mistake of throwing right into Revis Island and when he put the ball on the ground. Rob Ryan's defense created some key turnovers but was scored on too easily. Those are two risky things to stake your job on.
Similar to Sparano's situation, Garrett is going to be battling to keep his job most of the season unless the Cowboys get hot.
Prediction: If the Cowboys don't win a playoff game, look for Garrett to be out and Cowher or Gruden to be in.