The Most Likely Interim Head Coach Replacement for Every Coach on the Hot Seat

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaFeatured Columnist IVNovember 8, 2011

The Most Likely Interim Head Coach Replacement for Every Coach on the Hot Seat

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    Every team in the NFL has played at least eight games, which means that we are officially at the halfway mark of the 2011 NFL season. 

    Some teams are gearing up for playoff runs; however, other teams might already have an eye towards the future. 

    For some teams, this eye towards the future (and possibly Andrew Luck) started in Week 1, but we don't like to single these teams out; we'll just call them the Indianapolis Colts. 

    Other teams (for the sake of argument, we'll call them the St. Louis Rams), expected a playoff berth this season, but lo and behold, the playoffs aren't quite in the cards. 

    This might cause some teams to decide to throw caution to the wind and do something that, while common in Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL (one NHL team even fired a coach prior to the playoffs before winning the cup; I believe it was the New Jersey Devils in 2000), fire their coach at midseason. 

    But this is not about speculating who will fire their coach, more about who could their possible replacements be. 

    So let's take a look at that, even though based off of the picture, I've already provided you a spoiler of one coach who could be gone. 

Tony Sparano

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    The term "Lame Duck" was invented for Tony Sparano. 

    Everyone knew that if Miami didn't produce this season, Sparano would be on the way out. 

    Unless your goal is to lose (and with Miami, it isn't; they're not the Indianapolis Colts), 1-7 is not what you would call "producing". 

    Why He Might Get Fired

    Sparano, and many Dolphins fans, thought he would be fired earlier this season after the Dolphins-Broncos game. He even said it himself to an official during that Broncos game stating: “If I don’t call timeout we’re all (explicit). Now I’m getting fired.”

    Sparano also put his house on the market; however, he claims it is because his kids have all moved out and he and his wife are now "empty nesters" who want to move closer to the beach (In case you're interested, the house is located in Davie, Fla. and is listed at about $1.5 million.).

    Who Might Replace Him

    I wrote this piece already, but that's for after the season. If he gets fired during the season, though, his replacement will likely be former UCLA head coach and current Miami Dolphins wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell.

    Dorrell went 35-27 as coach of the Bruins, but has never been a head coach in the NFL. Dorrell would also fulfill the Rooney Rule for the Dolphins by being named head coach, which will likely be necessary since it appears that the only names on Stephen Ross' list at this point are Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and possibly Urban Meyer.  

Andy Reid

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    It's a miracle how long Andy Reid has held onto the job in Philadelphia. 

    Really, think about it. He coaches in Philadelphia, yet he only has one Super Bowl appearance in his 12 years of coaching. That's pretty impressive. 

    However, this season, the "Dream Team" has been far from a dream. The Eagles stand at 3-5 and are looking up at the Giants for first in the NFC East while also looking up at the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the NFC's two wild card berths. 

    Why He Might Be Fired

    Because, standing at 3-5, that might be the only way to shake things up with the Eagles. Make no mistake about it, Philadelphia may be the most talented team in the NFC, but they are far from being the best. It's 53 very talented men playing together, not 53 men united over the same cause. 

    Who Might Replace Him?

    Right now, I'd say it would be assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Mornhinweg. Morhninweg led the Lions into some new levels of terrible never seen before in the NFL, but one has to wonder how much Matt Millen had to do with that. On top of that, any experience is better than no experience at all in this case. 

Steve Spagnuolo

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    The St. Louis Rams showed promise coming into 2011. 

    Last season, they went 7-9, good enough to tie for the NFC West title with the Seattle Seahawks (Seattle got the playoff berth due to winning the tiebreaker), and with a young team lead by Sam Bradford, all indications during the preseason told us that the Rams would win the NFC West in a very comfortable fashion. 

    Why He Might Get Fired

    Unfortunately, the Rams failed to live up to that promise in a big way. Currently, they're sitting at 1-7, which still puts them in contention for second place in the NFC West. Unfortunately for Spagnuolo, there's a chance that the second place team in the NFC West could have a record of 4-11, meaning the promise of playoffs the Rams saw at the beginning of the season have faded. 

    The Rams have had a disappointing year no matter how you could possibly frame it. While they have a signature victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 8 to be able to gloat about, there's nothing else. Already they're eliminated from playoff contention barring a shocking 49ers collapse (which no one sane sees happening. Seriously, if the 49ers only win two more games this season, they're NFC West champions.).

    Who Might Replace Him if He's Fired Next Week?

    Right now, the front runner to that would be former Broncos head coach and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is perhaps best known as either "The genius that drafted Tim Tebow" or "The idiot that drafted Tim Tebow," depending on who you ask.

    As head coach of the Broncos, though, McDaniels proved himself to be more idiot than genius, going 11-17 and chasing two rising stars in Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall out of town. 

    But since he's still very young and the only member of the Rams coaching staff with any head coaching experience, he would likely get the nod as interim head coach should they decide to jettison Spagnuolo during the season. 

Jim Caldwell

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    I honestly don't think Jim Caldwell's job is in jeopardy in Indianapolis. 

    I honestly think that the Colts are intentionally in "Suck For Luck" mode, and that next season, when Manning comes back, Caldwell will be there as head coach of the Colts and everyone will pretend that 2011 never happened. 

    But let's assume that I'm wrong (not hard to do, but stay with me) and let's assume that Caldwell, who went 26-11 in his first two years as head coach of the Colts (with Peyton Manning as quarterback), will be fired for the mockery of the game of football that the Indianapolis Colts have put on the field for their first nine games. And let's assume that it happens within the next two weeks. 

    Why He Might Get Fired

    Um, did you not read my last paragraph? Like I said, let's assume I'm wrong and the Colts wanted to win this year (I'm not; they don't, but please play along with me), and let's assume that Caldwell's job is in jeopardy, because in the end, 0-9 starts usually get coaches fired. Manning made Caldwell look good in his first two years on the job, but no Manning this year, and look at that, Caldwell looks like the worst coach in NFL history since Cam Cameron. 

    Who Might Replace Him

    I know history and logic might dictate that an assistant coach with some type of head coaching experience might take over the job. That coach would be Colts QB's coach Ron Turner, who was formerly the head coach at the University of Illinois from 1997-2004. 

    However, we all know who's really running things in Indianapolis. No, not Jim Irsay, whose tweets indicate a man who's a bit imbalanced, but Peyton Manning. Yes, Peyton Manning would not only be the potential coach of the Indianapolis Colts, but also based off of the way things are going, their best man for the job going forward.

    Who better to help Andrew Luck develop than the Man-ning himself? This would allow the Colts to continue to have Peyton as a part of their organization while possibly avoiding any Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers ugliness between the two men.  

Jason Garrett

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    Is being head coach of the Dallas Cowboys the toughest job in the state of Texas?

    Right now,  I'd have to say yes. No job has more pressure surrounding it; no job has higher expectations. Having Jerry Jones as owner doesn't help. 

    Welcome to the NFL, Jason Garrett. 

    Since taking over the Dallas Cowboys, Garrett has gone 9-7. Last season, Garrett took over at midseason after the firing of Wade Phillips that Jerry Jones had stated wouldn't happen. The Cowboys were an injury-riddled squad already who had lost Tony Romo for the season and were out of the NFC East race. 

    He would then lead the Cowboys to a 5-3 record to finish the season, which raised expectations for 2011, when he would have a healthy Tony Romo. 

    However, the Cowboys are only 4-4 at the halfway mark, a full two games behind the Giants. If they were to pull into a tie with Philadelphia, however, the Eagles would own the tiebreaker. 

    Why He Might Get Fired

    Simply put: high expectations, plus his possible replacement. Jones has already questioned Garrett's play calling before going on to retract it. To add to that, there's also the fact that Garrett might have lost faith in Tony Romo after the Lions game where Romo threw three interceptions that led to a Detroit come back. 

    Who Might Replace Him

    I mentioned Garrett's possible replacement as a reason he might get fired. This wouldn't just be on an interim basis, but full time. 

    Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will be a hot commodity this offseason. The Cowboys defense under Ryan has been outstanding (save for the Eagles game), and he will likely field offers from some of the other teams on this list to become their head coach. 

    Jones might want to lock up Ryan as his head coach for the Cowboys, and if Garrett winds up flopping down the stretch this month, it could happen at the beginning of December instead of at the beginning of January. 

Jack Del Rio

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to have a problem where whenever they're close to achieving something, they manage to shoot themselves in the foot (or accidentally cut their legs with an ax).

    How much does Del Rio have to do with this? Last year, with three games left in the season, the Jaguars were neck and neck with Indianapolis for their first AFC South title (and first division title since 1999) with a record of 8-5. The Jaguars then lost their last three games of the season to finish at 8-8 and out of the postseason once again.

    Then, during the offseason, they release quarterback David Garrard a week before the beginning of the season, then with Luke McCown starting, they beat the Titans before losing to the Jets in embarassing fashion.

    Then comes Blaine Gabbert, who offered little to no improvement. The Jaguars offense currently ranks 32nd in total offense in the NFL and has only managed to score 12.3 points per game.

    Jacksonville now stands at 2-6.

    Why He Might Be Fired

    Del Rio has been the head coach of the Jaguars since 2003. In that time, the Jaguars have made the playoffs two times in nine years. Currently, the team shows no signs of progress at all.

    Who Might Replace Him

    Despite offensive woes plaguing the Jaguars this season, their best interim solution to finish out the season if Del Rio is fired will likely be offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

    Koetter served as a head coach in college at Boise State from 1998-2000 and at Arizona State from 2001-2006. His collegiate record was 66-44.