NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat, Week 5 Edition

Robert HoffmanCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2011

NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat, Week 5 Edition

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    Welcome to the Week 5 edition of NFL head coaches on the hotseat.

    A quarter of the season is gone and there are several NFL teams already gone too in terms of any realistic shot at making the playoffs.

    Yes, you heard right. Just four games into the season and some teams are all but done because a turn around is impossible given the team's dire circumstances, which include a lack of talent, key injuries and no clear plan on offense or defense.

    There are a few other teams who are on "life support" and will need dramatic turnarounds just to stay in the mix for the postseason.

    As you might imagine, the coaches of these teams are on the hot seat and in some cases have already been getting burned.

    But, whose seat is the hottest?

    And which coach might be getting warm without you realizing it?

    Here are the five coaches on the hotseat right now, starting with "least warm" at five to number one who is "it's not 'if' they get fired, but likely 'when.'"

    Losing one's job is not a pleasant experience for anyone and not something to look forward to even as a frustrated fan looking for someone to blame.

    But, in reality, it's part of the business and sometimes a change in leadership is absolutely necessary if the franchise is ever going to take a next step—whatever that step might be. 

    Let's take a look.

No. 5: Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles, Hot Seat Temp: 85 and Humid

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    This has to come as a shock to some people, but it shouldn't. The "dream team" is 1-3 and several problems have emerged to put Reid's job in jeopardy.

    The number one problem right now is that the "Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator experiment" has been a disaster so far.

    The former offensive line coach seems to have a defense that lacks any identity or cohesion despite a wealth of individual talent. The unit doesn't tackle well and seems to struggle anytime they don't receive a pass rush from defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole.

    It was bad enough for Eagles fans to watch the New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz embarrass prized free agent pick-up Nnamdi Asomugha a week ago, but when Alex Smith, Kendall Hunter and a banged up Frank Gore carve up your defense you have long-term problems.

    On offense, Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson had a huge day on Sunday (six catches for 171 yards) but he has looked disinterested for much of the season without a new contract in hand. Quarterback Michael Vick has taken a beating this year and you have to wonder how long until he goes on the shelf for good.

    Perhaps, most importantly, the decisions this team makes at crucial times are maddening to an impatient fan base that chanted "Let's go Phillies" very loudly at the end of yesterday's game.

    For example, having running back Ronnie Brown plow to the goal line and then try to pass as he is falling to the ground from the two foot line defies the actual physics of the game.

    Reid has had a number of accomplishments during his 12 years as the Eagles head coach and is currently the longest tenured head coach in the NFL. But, he has never won a Super Bowl, and if he fails to make a deep playoff run with a team that owner Jeff Lurie opened up his pocket book for this offseason, then "Big Red" will have to take his one or two word answers at press conferences elsewhere.

No. 4: Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts, Hot Seat Temp: 92 with Dehydration

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    For a while, I thought Colts head coach Jim Caldwell might get a "mulligan" of sorts this season without having Peyton Manning behind center.

    But, the more and more I thought about it, if Indianapolis was such a one man team to begin with, then what exactly does Caldwell bring to the table?

    The answer is not a whole lot for a team that is 0-3 as of press time and is 28th in the league in points (15.3) and 31st in yards (254.0) per game.

    Do the Colts still not have Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Joseph Addai on the team?

    I think there are a few teams that would put those weapons on their roster even with an average or below average quarterback and do a lot better than the Colts have managed.

    Then came this revealing tidbit from released defensive back Justin Tryon, "Caldwell wanted to start me, but it wasn't up to him!" Tryon tweeted.

    Let me be clear. I'm loathe to putting too much stock in words from a recently released player.

    But I believe Tryon here because I've thought for awhile that Colts' vice chairman Bill Polian is clearly calling the shots in Indianapolis.

    And to take a shot of my own, I kind of expect the Colts to quietly tank the rest of the season to earn the right to select prized college quarterback Andrew Luck as a replacement for Peyton Manning, who I increasingly believe won't ever play again.

    Caldwell may be the fall guy come December for the team's post-Manning collapse, but in reality he will have very little to do with it.

    This is called irony, since Caldwell arguably also had very little to do with the team's success either, especially during a tremendous 14-2 record during the 2009 regular season and resulting trip to Super Bowl XLIV where Indy lost to New Orleans 31-17.

No. 3: Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams, Hot Seat Temp: 100 Degrees & Sunburn

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    I chuckled when the so-called experts predicted the St. Louis Rams as a break-through team in 2011. Even if the team hadn't been decimated by injuries, they weren't talented enough to compete on a regular basis.

    The Rams lack an elite receiver to help out sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo came to St. Louis as a defensive guru. Yet, his Rams allowed a one-dimensional speed receiver in the Baltimore Ravens' Torrie Smith burn them for three long touchdowns in the first quarter of a 37-7 pasting in Week 3.

No. 2: Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings, Hot Seat Temp: 110 and Sauna-Like

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    Coach Frazier, repeat after me.

    Donovan McNabb is not an NFL starting quarterback anymore.

    Look, the Minnesota Vikings aren't good enough regardless of who starts at quarterback for the team, but I think Frazier would get a little bit of job security and more time to build the team if he just turned over the signal caller reigns to first-round draft pick Christian Ponder to see what the young buck has to offer.

    The strange element for the Vikings is that they haven't lost any of their four games by more than seven points, which makes you think they will break through at some point and has probably convinced Frazier to stick with McNabb for the time being rather than call the season a wash and go with Ponder.

    Running back Adrian Peterson is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and you would think that he would be able to carry the team on his back for at least a couple of victories.

    But the Vikings are 0-4 and an outside contender in the "Suck for Luck" derby. Oh, and to clear up any misconception, Minnesota would draft Luck with the first pick overall and try to move Ponder because Luck is that good of a prospect and one that enticing to a new head coach.

    I don't expect the Vikings to suck enough for Luck but they will be bad enough to make Leslie Frazier, a little over one (full season) and done in Minnesota.

No. 1: Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins, Hot Seat Temp: 134 Degrees, Death Valley

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    With Sparano's Dolphins losing to the San Diego Chargers to start the season 0-4 heading into a bye week, many people are speculating that the Miami coach might be gone by the time you read this article.

    There is an NFL source who suggests that Sparano is safe through the team's bye week, but that seems to be just putting off the inevitable.

    The unfortunate reality for Sparano is that his team, for all practical purposes, seems to have given up on him. That may sound harsh, but if you play back the San Diego tape (and I did), you are going to see a lack of emotion and resignation from the team, especially on defense as the Chargers chewed up the clock during the second half on Sunday. Mind you, this was a San Diego squad without Antonio Gates and that featured an injured, less than 100 percent Vincent Jackson.

    Of course, Sparano seems like a nice guy who tries hard enough, but one thing you learn if you follow footballl for even a short while is that nice guys don't always make the best NFL head coaches. Maybe, they even only rarely do.

    Beyond that, the personnel on the Dolphins is just not good enough to win games based on sheer talent. Put another way, they can't bail out Sparano even if they want to do so.

    General manager Jeff Ireland should be firmly on the hot seat as well.

    Miami lacks a franchise quarterback, has an inconsistent offensive line that has progressively gotten worse during Sparano's (a former o-line coach) tenure, a "star" receiver in Brandon Marshall who hasn't made a game-winning play since he arrived in South Florida, no production from the tight end, and a defense that can't generate pressure on a quarterback or cover receivers downfield. 

    It's hard to see the Dolphins winning a football game this season, although given the luck of Dolphin fans, the team will probably scrape out enough victories against other poor teams to eliminate themselves from a marquee new head coach and the Luck sweepstakes.