5 NFL Coaches On Hot Seat Heading into Training Camp
'Un-Fave' 5: The NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat
With NFL Training Camps set to open in less than three months, the heat some head coaches will be feeling won’t just come from the summer sky. Their office chairs will be a burning, from July through January – if they make it that far.
There will be eight new head coaches in the NFL by the time the new season kicks off. Of the 24 remaining teams, 11 of them have hired head coaches three years ago or less. The word “longevity” is what many wouldn’t ascribe to an NFL Head Coach. One would be hard pressed to find another profession where the job expectations are so high and the rewards are so few.
All of the coaches on this list lead teams that have underachieved greatly. One has led his team, a probable Super Bowl contender, to early playoff exits the last two years. Injuries, dubious personnel decisions or simply a glaring lack of talent will probably cause these coaches to receive pink slips.
As far as coaching ability is concerned, at one time or another, these five guys were hailed as paragons at their positions. There are offensive and defensive gurus on this list. Two are former quarterbacks. One of them famously worked under Bill Belichick, widely considered the best head coach today.
But all of that may not matter in the end, as the head coaching business in professional sports is no country for coaches, old and young.
Without further adieu, we bring you the five guys whose lanyards could have expiration dates on them.
Tacuma R. Roeback is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TacumaRoe, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+
5. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Who's having the most precarious offseason ever? The answer is Rivera. Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson installed a new general manager in Dave Gettleman. They lost offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who left to take the Cleveland Browns head coaching job.
Panthers prize quarterback Cam Newton is still in the same predicament: the man does not have enough weapons around him to help out.
The division the Panthers play in is no joke, either. Every team in the Panthers division is more talented, particularly on offense. The Atlanta Falcons added to its already potent core by signing veteran workhorse running back Steven Jackson. The New Orleans Saints get their head coach back, after a year-long suspension, which should be a boon to the team’s offensive dynamism. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, already a young and talented group, has a dynamic running back in Doug Martin and the vertically lethal Vincent Jackson for quarterback Josh Freeman. Let’s not forget about the Buc’s signing of cornerback Darrelle Revis, either.
The Panthers return with an improved front seven and perhaps the best young linebacker in the game right now in Luke Kuechly. But it will probably not be enough in the end. Expect the Panthers to finish last against their more talented division mates. That will be Rivera’s undoing. Plus, how many GM’s keep the holdover head coach from a previous regime? None.
4. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Garrett might be the NFL’s equivalent to the Teflon don. Why? He has survived as a head coach, despite posting two straight 8-8 seasons. His overall record is only 21-19. This kind of mediocrity is unflattering for this proud franchise, one of the benchmark organizations in the NFL.
Garrett has to be near the end of his rope by now, having outlasted two defensive coordinators and now enters 2013 with his third in Monte Kiffin.
Is it the defense? Is it due to injuries suffered by running back DeMarco Murray, a key cog to the offense? Is it because Tony Romo wasn’t involved in the playcalling? A lot has circulated as to why the Cowboys have underachieved. Eventually, the head coach has to answer for the deficits that his club has incurred. Garrett also fields a team in a difficult division where the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins have comparable or superior roster talent.
This upcoming season, Garrett has run out of excuses. And, pending the Cowboys won-loss record, chances too.
3. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions were NFL darlings in 2011, having rebounded from dreadful records of 0-16 and 2-14, and the previous year’s mark of 6-10. Under Schwartz, they were a team on the rise, populated with rising stars in quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Judging from the rap sheets of some of Detroit’s players, it seems as if Lions brass whiffed in screening players for character concerns. While the team has made positive moves in adding Reggie Bush and drafting athletic defensive end Ziggy Ansah, they still have the misfortune, like the two previous coaches on this list, of playing in an ultra-competitive division.
Outside of the NFC West, the NFC North might be the toughest division in the entire league. The Green Bay Packers are a superior offensive collective. Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings boast solid defenses. The former is poised to field a better offensive unit and the latter has added offensive weapons and has improved its secondary.
So even an improved Lions team may not make it into the playoffs next season. That might be enough to finish Schwartz.
2. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
Doug Collins syndrome. It occurs when good coaches are able to turn their teams into contenders but fail to push them to the championship level. It occurred for Collins when he served as the head coach for the Chicago Bulls, guiding them to a 47-35 record in his final year, where they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to be eliminated by the Detroit Pistons. He was fired and replaced by Phil Jackson. And you know the rest of that story.
Kubiak could have the same affliction. For two straight years, the Texans posted impressive records going 10-6 and 12-4 the last two years, distancing themselves from the expansion team stigma they had since they came into the league in 2002. The 2011 season was a surprise. The team lost its starting quarterback but managed to win its Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals before losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a close game. Last year’s team had its first playoff bye, but was trounced by the New England Patriots, 41-28.
After seeing his team achieve heights it never has in its history, the expectations are higher than ever. The Texans have to take the next step. Anything short of a Conference Championship run will be a disappointment. And after seven seasons, one has to wonder if the Texans can ever advance to the Super Bowl under Kubiak (or quarterback Shaub for that matter). Both could be in new places by next year if the Texans fall short.
1. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Mike Munchak, head coach of the Tennessee Titans, should be on this list after what his team did this offseason, securing the services of former Buffalo Bills Guard Andy Levitre and signing Tight End Delanie Walker. This is still a young team that will go as far as its young quarterback Jake Locker can take them.
But how can we not include Rex Ryan, whose seat is scalding, hotter than all of the aforementioned coaches? The Jets have a befuddling quarterback situation, a paucity of weapons on offense and a weakened secondary with the trade of Revis to the Buccaneers.
What’s more, Jets Owner Woody Johnson hired General Manger John Idzik, but kept Ryan. That kind of situation never bodes well for holdover head coaches (see the Bears and Lovie Smith situation as a reference).
Frankly, some unlikely events must transpire in order for Ryan to keep his job: Mark Sanchez has to recover the form he had when the Jets went to back to back AFC Championships during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. The other option is that newly-drafted quarterback Geno Smith has to grow up fast, along with second-year receiver Stephen Hill and first-round defensive picks Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson. That’s not even mentioning a return to form for veteran receiver Santonio Holmes, who suffered a season ending foot injury in the team’s fourth game last year. That’s a lot to ask of a team that has to contend with the mighty Patriots and the improved Miami Dolphins.
The Jets should’ve done Rex a favor by letting him walk. “Lame-duck” status is all but a certainty for him. He’ll wear it like a tattoo.