NFL Head Coaches On the Hot Seat Heading Into 2012

By Dan Parzych

With the 2012 NFL season right around the corner, there are plenty of head coaches that will be feeling the heat on the hot seat as they will face constant pressure week after week for their teams to live up to expectations and make a strong run at the playoffs. Here’s a look at seven NFL head coaches that will be starting the regular season on the hot seat once September rolls around.

7. Marvin Lewis–Cincinnati Bengals

Not many head coaches receive extensions after just two playoff appearances in eight seasons, but Marvin Lewis was lucky enough to receive one from the Bengals following the 2010 season–which was ironic considering the team finished with a disappointing 4-12 record.

Lewis is entering the final year of his contract and after a surprise playoff run last season, 2012 could determine what the future has in store for Lewis when it comes to being head coach in Cincinnati. The Bengals are loaded with enough talent on both sides of the ball heading into this season and certainly have what it takes to give the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens a run for their money when it comes to winning the AFC North (sorry Cleveland Browns fans–maybe next year).

Of coures, everybody remembers what happened two years ago when expectations were this high in Cincinnati–so it should be interesting to see how things pan out this time around.

Here’s a video with more coverage on why Lewis is on the hot seat.

6. Chan Gailey–Buffalo Bills

If his first two years as head coach are any indication of what to expect, the Buffalo Bills should surpass their six-win total from the 2011 season–especially with one of the biggest offseason signings of Mario Williams.

The Bills finally seemed like they were ready for a playoff run last year after an impressive 5-2 start, but losing eight of their final nine games resulted in a 6-10 finish during the regular season. Buffalo invested plenty of money with the re-signings of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Steve Johnson this offseason–so let’s hope the organization realizes what they were doing.

Otherwise–Chan Gailey’s job could be in question if the Bills continue to struggle. Their playoff drought since the 1999 season has to come to an end at some point, doesn’t it?

Here’s a video with more coverage on why Gailey is on the hot seat. 

5. Leslie Frazier–Minnesota Vikings

His first full season as head coach was anything but impressive for Leslie Frazier as the Vikings were one of the biggest laughing stocks of the NFL as they finished with a 3-13 record during the regular season.

Obviously, one of the main factors for how well Minnesota performs in 2012 will be how well Adrian Peterson looks after tearing his ACL in Week 16 last season, but there’s no reason why the Vikings shouldn’t be a seven or eight win team this year. Leslie Frazier was put in a difficult spot two years ago when he unexpectedly took over the head coaching duties following the firing of Brad Childress and this season will determine whether or not he has what it takes to be head coach beyond the 2012 season.

Here’s a video with more coverage on why Frazier is on the hot seat.

4. Ken Whisenhunt–Arizona Cardinals 

As if Ken Whisenhunt may have one of the most difficult decisions heading into 2012 as he’ll be forced to choose between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton at quarterback, but the head coach should be worried about losing his job if the Cardinals record another disappointing season.

Arizona’s 8-8 finish may have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2011 season considering their 1-6 start, but this team seems to have enough talent to at least compete with the rest of the NFC West for the division title. If the Cardinals fail to reach the playoffs for a third-straight season, it’s hard not to wonder whether or not Whisenhunt will be back for 2013.

Here’s a video with more coverage on why Whisenhunt is on the hot seat. 

3. Lovie Smith–Chicago Bears 

Lovie Smith’s career with the Bears got off to a hot start as the head coach helped the team reach the playoffs in two of his first three seasons–including an NFC Championship back in 2006. However, Chicago has only seen one playoff appearance during the five years since then and there were plenty of fans upset with the organization’s decision to give him a two-year extension in 2011.

Before season-ending injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the Bears looked like one of the hottest teams in the NFL at one point during the regular season with a 7-3 record before they went on to lose their next five games. The talent is certainly there for Chicago to compete with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions in the NFC North now that they’ve upgraded at wide receiver following the acquisition of Brandon Marshall, but anything short of the playoffs will be considered a failure for the upcoming season.

And if that happens–all fingers will be pointing towards Smith for the blame.

Here’s a video with more coverage on why Smith is on the hot seat.

2. Norv Turner–San Diego Chargers 

Has any head coach been on the hot seat more over the last couple of seasons that Norv Turner? The ironic thing is–Turner has yet to record a losing season during his five-year tenure with the Chargers.

With this in mind, why would a coach like Turner be on the hot seat heading into 2012? Well, for starters, San Diego has failed to reach the playoffs in each of the past two seasons in one of the weakest divisions in all of football.

Plus, the argument can be made the Chargers have displayed Super Bowl caliber teams at the beginning of Turner’s tenure and failed to live up to expectations–which is why the head coach will be on the hot seat.

Here’s a video with more coverage on why Turner is on the hot seat.

1. Andy Reid–Philadelphia Eagles

One of the most hyped-up teams from 2011, the Eagles were one of the biggest disappointments of last season as their weakness at linebacker was exposed early on and the team jumped out to a 1-5 start. For a team that was picked by many to be the team to beat in the NFC, it was embarrassing to see a team as talented as Philadelphia to finish 8-8 during the regular season and not even make the playoffs.

When these things happen, most of the blame falls on the shoulders of the head coach and Andy Reid took plenty of heat for some of his decisions–especially when it comes to bringing back Juan Castillo at defensive coordinator. The fact that Reid has yet to win a Super Bowl despite nine trips to the playoffs to go along with five NFC Championship appearances proves that it may be time for the Eagles to part ways with their beloved head coach if he fails to deliver in 2012.

Here’s a video with more coverage on why Reid is on the hot seat. 

Dan Parzych is the Director of Content for

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