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By Steve Silverman
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The NFL season has not even reached the halfway point, but the fire under the seat of 10 head coaches is already quite hot.
A number of these coaches will have to make the playoffs if they are going to save their jobs. Others will have to show significant improvement from early-season starts. Some will be scapegoats because ownership and the front office did not do their jobs, while others are fully deserving of their shaky status.
Firing a head coach can turn out to be the right move when a coach has no new solutions and just keeps trying the same things over again. However, patience can work wonders. Look at Gary Kubiak in Houston. Owner Bob McNair could have gotten rid of him at many points since he was hired in 2006. However, he stuck with him, and the Texans are probably the best team in the AFC.
Andy Reid, Philadelphia – The talent level in Philadelphia is high enough that the Eagles should be considered on par with the Giants, Bears and 49ers. However, the Eagles make too many mistakes, and Reid appears to have no answers. Quarterback Michael Vick’s tendency to turn the ball over is the biggest problem, but it’s Reid who endorsed and is tied to him. Reid will almost certainly be fired if the Eagles don’t make the playoffs.
Jim Schwartz, Detroit – Nobody inherited a worse situation than the one Schwartz found himself in when he was hired to coach the Lions in 2009. They had gone 0-16 the previous season. Schwartz’s team has made significant progress, and it made the postseason last year. However, the Lions are an undisciplined team that has more than its share of problems off the field. And, more importantly, it makes mistakes on it. If the Lions are not a .500 team this year — and they are in last place in the NFC North right now — Schwartz may be on his way out of town.
Norv Turner, San Diego – Few AFC teams appear to have the talent level that the Chargers have, but when it comes to executing in the second half of games, Turner’s team has not gotten the job done. It’s as if the team reflects Turner’s mindset. He knew he was under pressure coming into the season, and his team tightens up when they have a chance to win. Turner’s Chargers must make the playoffs if he is going to keep his job.
Jason Garrett, Dallas – When the Cowboys were in disarray under Wade Phillips, Jerry Jones decided he had seen enough and promoted Garrett to the head coach position. Garrett came to the job with the reputation of “young genius,” but he often appears to be overwhelmed by game-day decisions. It’s a lot easier to look smart when you are the assistant than when you have to pull the trigger. A playoff appearance would seem to be the key to Garrett keeping his job.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati – The Bengals have lost three games in a row and Lewis may not know how to stop the bleeding. This is his 10th season as the team’s head coach, and his coaching resume is quite undistinguished. The Bengals have been to the playoffs three times but have not won in the postseason. It’s one step forward and two steps back for Lewis, but he probably will not be fired by dodgy owner Mike Brown.
Chan Gailey, Buffalo – Expectations were a lot higher for the Bills during the preseason than they have been for a long time. Much of that was due to the offseason acquisition of defensive end Mario Williams, who was supposed to upgrade the Buffalo defense. That has not happened, as the Buffalo defense has been invisible at times. There are questions about the effort in Buffalo by some of the players, and that does not help Gailey’s case. It’s going to be difficult for Gailey to hold onto his job unless the Bills finish .500 or better.
Romeo Crennel, Kansas City – The Chiefs may have been victimized by their desire to read too much into a decent late-season finish last year when they hired Crennel to be their full-time head coach. While his players like him and play hard for him, the Chiefs make too many errors and repeat them regularly. Crennel has also been hurt badly by Matt Cassel’s poor performance. He may hang on for one more year, but Crennel appears to be a disappointment.
Ron Rivera, Carolina – The Panthers fired general manager Marty Hurney this week, and that means the disappointment in Carolina is quite palpable. Rivera is an excellent defensive coach, but quarterback Cam Newton has not taken a step forward in his second year. That may not be Rivera’s fault, but narrow-minded owner Jerry Richardson will look hard at him at the end of the season. Rivera may survive one more year, but he will need to see his team play respectably over the second half of the season.
Mike Mularkey, Jacksonville – Blaming Mularkey for the Jaguars’ problems is ludicrous. He does not have the kind of talent level that will allow his team to compete most weeks in this league. The injury to quarterback Blaine Gabbert makes things even worse. However, he does not deserve to be fired because he has not been given reasonable tools.
Pat Shurmur, Cleveland – The Browns are a feisty team. They challenged the Giants when they came to MetLife Stadium in Week 5 and Shurmur deserves credit for getting one of the least talented teams in the league to play hard each week. However, with new ownership and a new general manager, it is almost certain that the Browns will fire Shurmur at the end of the season.
Which NFL coach do you think has the hottest seat right now? Share your thoughts and comments in the section below…