We are now five weeks into the NFL season and a number of coaches are feeling the early season pressure after some lackluster starts.
Some may argue that it is still too early and there is a lot of football to be played. This is a valid point but the NFL is a league of now. As in win now or get out of town.
Now there are a number of factors a coach cannot control: injuries, on-field player errors or player effort.
At the end of the day, however, if you can’t win you will be replaced. As the saying goes “when you win it’s the players and when you lose it’s the coaches.”
Here is a list of five coaches who might be feeling the heat.
Last year the Bears ended the season by losing the NFC Championship at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion and hated division rival, the Green Bay Packers.
This year the Bears look to be completely out of sync. Except for a Week 1 thrashing of Atlanta which looks less inspiring as the weeks go on, the Chicago Bears look out of sorts on both sides of the ball.
Outside of Matt Forte there hasn’t been much to brag about on offense. Part of the problem is up front. The Bears have done little to fix a line that allows Jay Culter to be pounded game after game. Cutler has been sacked 18 times in five games so far.
The Defense, which is usually the strength of the team and Lovie Smith’s specialty, isn’t fairing much better. The Bears are giving up just under 25 ppg.
With the Bears already having dropped games to the Lions and Packers, this Sunday’s game with Minnesota is huge. Win and they're back at .500 with a game against Tampa Bay and a bye week to follow. Lose and Lovie might not be feeling too much love from the front office.
Temperature Gauge: Lukewarm.
It might be too early to panic but things don’t look good in St. Louis. Despite finishing one game out of the playoffs a season ago and being the consensus favorite to win the division this year, the Rams have lost their first four games.
The Rams brought in Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels to spice up the offense but so far the team has yet to score more than 16 points in a game.
Part of the rough start can be blamed on the level of the competition but in three of their four losses the Rams have not even been competitive.
Sam Bradford has been sacked a league high 18 times in only four games and Steven Jackson is having trouble staying healthy.
Overall the team seems to have regressed from the momentum they built a year ago.
The schedule ahead doesn’t do them any favors either. Following the bye week they head to Green Bay, then to Dallas and host New Orleans on the last Sunday of the month. After that the schedule relents and their next six games are against teams with a combined record of 12-17.
There is a chance that the Rams could be 0-7 before they play at Arizona on November 6th.
Temperature Gauge: Turn Down the Heat.
The Jaguars' biggest move of the offseason might have doomed their season before it even began. In an effort to save money the team parted ways with veteran quarterback David Garrard.
It might not have been the best move to make, given the stakes coming into the season. Head coach Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat and the Jaguars are usually at the top of the list when people discuss the possibility of a franchise relocating.
Also, the AFC South appeared to be a wide open race with the neck injury suffered by the Colts Peyton Manning.
The Jags started off strong with a Week 1 win over Tennessee. Since then they have dropped four straight. With rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert leading the way the offense is expected to put up modest numbers but Del Rio needs his team to win now.
He’s managed to escape the axe so far but with games at Pittsburgh and Houston and a game with Baltimore sandwiched in between, the Jags face the real possibility of going 1-7 heading into their bye week.
The Jaguars are heading in a new direction and have to suffer through the growing pains with their new, young Quarterback. A few more losses and Jack Del Rio might not be there to grow along with them.
Temperature Gauge: Boiling
The good news is the Philadelphia Eagles have arguably the most talented roster in the NFL. The bad news is that collection of talent has them sitting in the cellar of the NFC East.
The Eagles took care of business with a Week 1 victory over the St. Louis Rams but there appeared to be several chinks in their armor. The run defense was terrible, they still lacked a power running game and for all the hype that secondary could be exploited.
Four weeks later and those cracks have turned into gaping holes that have the “Dream Team” living a nightmare after four straight losses.
It is often said that good teams find a way to win. Well, the Eagles have found creative ways to lose. They blew a 10 point lead in Atlanta although Michael Vick was hurt late in the second half of that game. They looked horrid and couldn’t put together anything offensively in Week 3 with the Giants. They blew a 23-3 second half lead at home the following week to San Francisco despite Vick tallying 491 yards in that game.
Then after mounting a comeback against Buffalo last Sunday, they imploded on both sides of the ball late in the fourth quarter. First, Michael Vick threw his fourth interception of the ball game and then Juqua Parker jumped offside on fourth down.
The Eagles are skilled enough and have the ability to win 11 straight and finish the regular season at 12-4, yet they seem to lack the stability to win any game.
Andy Reid’s days in Philadelphia might be numbered.
Temperature Gauge: RED HOT!
Dan Marino is not walking through that door. Larry Csonka is not walking through that door. Tony Sparano, however, might very well be walking out the door in Miami.
Things seemed bright for Sparano in the sunshine state back in 2008. He led the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season as coach but since then his record is just 14-22 including a 0-4 start this year.
The Dolphins might not be the worst team in the league but they sure do look like it. The offense is dreadful both on the ground and through the air. Reggie Bush has scored only one rushing touchdown and he leads the team.
The passing game was bad before and now with Chad Henne on the shelf for the entire season with a shoulder injury, things figure to go from bad to worse.
The Dolphins defense is equally terrible giving up 104 points in only four games this season and failing to make a meaningful impact in any game so far.
Making matters worse for Miami of the 12 games remaining on their schedule, only three are against teams with losing records currently.
The silver lining for Miami may come on January 2nd, which is the day after the last game of the season. If things continue the way they’ve been going the team will have the top pick in the “Andrew Luck” sweepstakes. Unfortunately, Tony Sparano won’t be around to celebrate with the team.
Temperature Gauge: ON FIRE!!!