By Steve Silverman
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Rex Ryan is almost certainly in his final hours as the head coach of the New York Jets, but he is hardly alone.
“Black Monday” is likely to be quite busy, because Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans was the only coach to lose his job during the regular season.
There are at least five NFL coaches who are on the firing line at the end of Week 17.Ryan had a difficult assignment from the start of the year. He was working with a new general manager in John Idzik, who had marching orders to keep Ryan on the job for a season before he named his own head coach.
Ryan probably could have changed Idzik’s mind with a strong playoff season, but Geno Smith made too many mistakes as a rookie quarterback to give the Jets a real chance to reach the postseason. Ryan, a defensive guru from Day One, knew how difficult it would be to remain competitive with a first-year signal-caller who was not in the same class as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson were in the 2012 season.
It doesn’t mean that Ryan is a bad head coach. A win over the Dolphins will allow the Jets to finish with a .500 record. However, his limitations on the offensive end are obvious and you can’t win in the NFL today without a top-level attack.
It’s over for Ryan and he knows it.
So does Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins, who no longer wants to coach for Daniel Snyder. That seems like a reasonable position, because Snyder has been a meddler throughout Shanahan’s tenure and he will almost certainly continue with that behavior with whomever gets hired as the Redskins’ next head coach.
Shanahan has made it clear that Snyder has shown favoritism toward RGIII, and that favored son attitude has made it difficult for him to coach the team. However, Shanahan’s attitude has also contributed to his own problems. The two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos basically believes that he is infallible, and that makes it difficult for him to have meaningful dialogue with anyone who may differ on coaching strategy or personnel decisions.
Few coaches have done less with more than Jim Schwartz in Detroit. The Lions arguably have more talent than any team in the NFC North.
Once Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Jay Cutler of the Bears went down with significant injuries, the door was left wide open for the Lions to blast through to the division championship. Any team with the skill-position trio of Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson should be a playoff lock, but the Lions lost five of their last six games going into their season finale with the Vikings and they are out of the playoffs.
The Lions’ signature is a remarkable lack of discipline that manifests itself in penalties and turnovers at crucial moments. This has afflicted his team in each of Schwartz’s five seasons, and he will also get bad news shortly after the final game of the season.
Dennis Allen appears to be finishing a two-year run as head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
If the Raiders can’t beat the Denver Broncos in the season-ender – and they can’t – Allen will have coached the Raider to back-to-back 4-12 seasons. Allen seems like the mouse who is constantly moving his little legs on the wheel and going nowhere. He’s getting plenty of exercise but there has been no improvement.
The Raiders probably need a new general manager as well, but Reggie McKenzie appears to be safe. He will soon be in the business of finding a new head coach after he lets Allen go.
Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings also is on his way out.
That may not be fair, considering that the Vikings don’t have a professional quarterback, but that’s how life in the NFL goes. There’s always someone to blame and owner Zygi Wilf is in general manager Rick Spielman’s corner.
So, if he supports Spielman, it means that Frazier has not done a good job with the talent at hand. How either Wilf or Spielman can say that when the Vikings’ quarterbacks include Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and the regrettable Josh Freeman is difficult to understand.
Other coaches like Jason Garrett, Greg Schiano and Mike Munchak have heard plenty of criticism and may deserve the ax. However, Garrett can survive if his team manages a victory over the Eagles in the season finale (unlikely) and Schiano appears to have won some support since parting ways with Freeman earlier in the year. The Titans could not step into the playoff picture despite the fall suffered by the Texans, and Munchak may have to pay.
The firing season is at hand.
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