Top 7 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat
It’s never a dying topic. Whether it’s preseason, mid-season, or the playoffs, you’ll always hear about an NFL coach somewhere that could be on his last leg.
Just ask Brad Childress. Go ahead and ask Jeff Fisher.
The fact is, sooner or later you run out of time to get your team to mediocrity. Sooner or later just getting into the playoffs doesn’t cut it. And if you wait long enough, a lack of a Super Bowl trophy can equate to a pink slip.
Here’s a look at the top-10 NFL coaches that are more than likely sitting on the hot seat in 2011:
1. Tony Sparano (Miami Dolphins)
Sparano turned the Miami Dolphins around in his first season, taking an awful 1-15 team and spinning it into an 11-5 AFC East division winner. Unfortunately, Sparano has since been hitched to Chad Henne, and the Dolphins have gone 7-9 the past two seasons. To make matters worse, Miami actually tried to replace Sparano with Jim Harbaugh, and foolishly did so fairly loudly. If Henne or Matt Moore can’t get Miami’s offense going and get the Dolphins back into post-season play, Sparano is likely history.
Sparano is in an extremely tough division with the New York Jets and New England Patriots staring his inconsistent roster down. He doesn’t stand much of a chance.
Verdict: 6-10, fired before the season is over.
2. Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans)
Ever since coming to Houston, Kubiak has instilled the belief that the Indianapolis Colts don’t have to be the only team that can win the AFC South. Unfortunately, Kubiak’s potent offenses haven’t been able to make-up for awful defenses and the Texans haven’t had a record better than 9-7 during his five-year tenure. With the addition of defensive guru Wade Phillips and a change in their defensive scheme, the Texans have a better chance than ever to chase a division title and reach the playoffs. If they don’t accomplish their goal of post-season play, however, Kubiak is almost surely gone.
Kubiak is definitely on the hot seat, but he also has a potent, balance offense filled with superstars, and a defense that will be significantly better than it was last season. It won’t be easy, but Houston finally has the tools to make a playoff push.
Verdict: 10-6, playoffs and Kubiak keeps his job.
3. Tom Coughlin (New York Giants)
Unlike the two coaches above him on our hot list, Coughlin has won a Super Bowl, and has a history of putting consistent winners on the football field. However, as good as Coughlin’s resume’ has been throughout his head-coaching career, monumental collapses in each of the past two seasons have placed him on the hot seat. No one can hide from the media and criticism on a stage like New York, so if Coughlin and his Giants miss the playoffs for the third year in a row, you can safely bet a coaching change will be coming.
I like Coughlin’s ablity to piece together winners, but there’s something intangible that can’t be explained about his team’s fragile mentality late in the year. With the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles giving the Giants strong fights for four games in 2011, the Giants will have a tough time righting the ship.
Verdict: 8-8, Coughlin gets canned.
4. Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Del Rio and his Jaguars have been a mixed bag for the past eight seasons, as they’ve reached the playoffs just twice, but have finished .500 or better five times. Still, Del Rio’s teams haven’t been up to par from an overall stand-point, and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007. Del Rios was extended into 2012 and could have bought himself some more time by “looking to the future” with quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars haven’t been getting results on defense and have an inconsistent offense. This isn’t likely to change much in 2011, which doesn’t bode well for Del Rio and co. in a division with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.
Verdict: 5-11, Del Rio gets sent packing.
5. Norv Turner (San Diego Chargers)
Despite a history of mediocrity in his head-coaching career, Turner actually helped guide his Chargers to three straight playoff appearances upon arriving in San Diego. In fact, last season marked the first time in his San Diego tenure that the team missed the playoffs.
Turner has easily one of the most talented offensive rosters, and has a defensive system in place that boasts talent and results at getting to the quarterback. If the defense can become more consistent and his offensive players can stay reasonably healthy, the AFC West should once again belong to the Chargers and Turner’s hot seat should cool down.
Verdict: 12-4, Turner stays on.
6. Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals)
Whisenhunt is a God amongst men in Arizona, as he’s the first (and only) Cardinals coach to get the franchise into a Super Bowl. While he deserves recognition for getting his team to the biggest game of the year, his Cardinals teams have otherwise been mediocre or down-right awful.
We’ll give Whisenhunt a mulligan for the dreadful 2010 season, as a lot of the pain and agony of that season goes on the shoulders of Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton. However, if the trade for Kevin Kolb blows up in everyone’s face, it could be the end for Whisenhunt.
Verdict: 9-7, Whisenhunt keeps his job.
7. Chan Gailey (Buffalo Bills)
Gailey is likely a stop-gap in Buffalo. He doesn’t have much to work with, but it continues to look like the Bills are in rebuilding mode, and in a tough AFC East, it will likely once again be a difficult up-hill climb.
If the Bills think there is a younger coach with more potential available after another losing season, they could pull the trigger. However, expectations remains pretty low in Buffalo, which could mean Gailey at least gets a third season to see what he can do.
Verdict: 6-10, Gailey stays on for one more year.