By Steve Silverman
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Tom Coughlin, Bill Belichick, Mike McCarthy, John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin can feel secure in their position as head coaches in the NFL.
While the NFL is a “What have you done for me lately?” type of operation, the five coaches above don’t have to worry about losing their jobs next year. They have been proven and consistent winners.
But there are a number of coaches who find themselves on the hot seat as the season begins — or could find their bottoms getting roasted by midseason.
Andy Reid, Philadelphia – Reid is considered one of the most cerebral coaches and one of the best strategists in the game. While many around the league have personal sympathy for him as a result of the tragic death of his son earlier this summer, the Eagles have been underachieving in recent seasons. They had one of the most talented rosters in the league last year but they finished with an 8-8 record. They haven’t won a playoff game since the end of the 2008 season. That’s too long for Eagle ownership and fans to put up with much longer. If Reid doesn’t get to the playoffs and win one game this year, it will be time to change the culture in Philadelphia.
Rex Ryan, N.Y. Jets – After making the playoffs his first two seasons at the helm of the Jets, Ryan saw his team as one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl last year. They fell by the wayside and became a .500 team. It may not get much better this year with the combination of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow at quarterback. The Jets don’t have a legitimate NFL passing game. They need to figure out another way to win. If they don’t, Ryan is going to face incredible pressure in late December and early January.
Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers – Turner has been living on borrowed time in San Diego. The AFC West has been one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, yet the Chargers failed to make the playoffs in either of the last two seasons. Turner has been on the job for five years and if they don’t return to the postseason in Year 6 with Philip Rivers at quarterback and hard-hitting safety Eric Weddle leading the defense, a coaching change seems certain. Turner would likely be somebody’s offensive coordinator next year, but no longer an NFL head coach.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones has given hints that there will be a major housecleaning if the Cowboys continue to tread water and play close-but-no-cigar football. They blew a chance to make the playoffs when they dropped two games to the Giants in the last four weeks a year ago. Quarterback Tony Romo is running out of chances. If Jones goes in a new direction at quarterback, he’s likely to find a new head coach as well.
Lovie Smith, Chicago – Smith is a favorite of owner Virginia McCaskey, but it is doubtful that she would save him from the chopping block if the Bears fail to make the playoffs. New general manager Phil Emery took the job during the offseason with the caveat that he would keep Smith as his head coach. There will be no such edict at the end of the season if the Bears don’t challenge the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title.
Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco – Jim Harbaugh would appear to be as safe as any coach in the league since the 49ers had a sensational 13-3 season and could easily have been the NFC representative in the Super Bowl if not for late-game heroics by the Giants in the NFC Championship Game. However, the 49ers got off to a hot start last year and rolled to the NFC West title. They did not face any adversity. What happens if they have a couple of key injuries and start slowly? Then Harbaugh’s raw personality will come to the surface. He tends to rub people the wrong way because he’s abrupt. When he wins, his personality is quirky. If he loses, his personality will be described as obnoxious.
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