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Hot Seat for NFL Coaches – Take a Number

Hot Seat for NFL Coaches – Take a Number
Chan Gailey… Why was he hired by Buffalo?

At midseason of 2010, it appears that a few realities have become apparent. First off, the Dallas Cowboys are not hosting the Super Bowl in their new palatial stadium. Next, the race for first pick in the 2011 Draft is more hotly contested than we expected. Most importantly, there are a lot of coaches on the hot seat and many of them could be applying for unemployment benefits by season’s end. The good news for these coaches is they’ve already been paid a lot so they can use their savings. The bad news is that there are only 32 NFL Head Coaching jobs. Supposedly they could go to the United Football League or the Arena Football League rather than working the drive thru window at Flippy Burger.

San Francisco 49ers' head coach Mike Singletary argues with the referee during their NFL football game against the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium in London October 31, 2010

I can’t recall there ever being so large a class of NFL Head Coaches in danger of losing their jobs in one year. While doom looms on the horizon for these soon-to-be ex-Head Coaches, there are some excellent opportunities for experienced coaches waiting in the wings. NFL owners have the option of paying for accomplished Super Bowl coaches like Cowher and Gruden or they can save money by trying to find the next hot assistant – a la Josh McDaniels, Ken Whisenhunt or Rex Ryan. So which coaches are on the hot seat?

Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings

Brad Childress may be captain of a sinking ship in Minnesota

No one can believe how quickly the wheels have fallen off the Vikings wagon but it isn’t hard to believe why when you examine the elements involved:

  • Brett Favre was due to combust at any time. Maybe his third retirement should have stuck? Goodbye Grandpa Drama Queen and take your ridiculous shutterbug sex scandals too! Stick to riding your John Deere! You used to be “Braveheart” and you used to not be 42!
  • Leslie Frazier waits in the Vikings wings

    Childress appears to be asleep at the switch, blaming everyone in the organization for his mismanagement of the offense, game strategy, personnel and team behavior. He was brought on board to restore order, instill a level of professionalism and teach this team how to win. Epic fail on all three counts, three strikes and you’re out!

  • Randy Moss? Trading a 3rd round pick and then summarily dumping Moss?


Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys

Wade Phillips Cowboys are 1-6 and stink defensively

Phillips is a player's coach but where are his players?

Wade Phillips has been an extremely successful defensive coordinator but he has never been an effective head coach. When Jerry Jones brought Phillips in, he was tagged as a player’s coach. That means he is not a stickler for discipline and is very much the diametrical opposite of say a Bill Parcells control freak type. The result:

  • Cowboys have a record of 1-6 and recently gave up 35 points to Jacksonville
  • David Garrard and Co. score 5 TD in four quarters – against Phillips DEFENSE!
  • Tony Romo’s injury isn’t Phillips’ fault but the team lost 5 of 6 with Romo so what difference will 38-year-old Jon Kitna make?
  • Jones claims Phillips job is not in jeopardy. Would a coach with secure job status take his 1-6 team and try to figure out ways to reinvent the club for 2011? Rather than get second year Stephen McGee valuable time at QB, Phillips sticks with Kitna. Was Jason Garrett not willing to suit up ? 

Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears

Lovie Smith may be out of time in Chicago

Poor Lovie Smith. This man took over the Chicago Bears in 2004 and has been fighting a losing battle ever since Day One. 56-47 overall, but just 3 winning seasons. How this team got to Super Bowl XLI is beyond me but there is no danger of that happening anytime soon. Some of the reasons:

  • Mike Martz was brought on board as offensive coordinator, claiming that he would turn the Bears offense into Chicago’s version of The Greatest Show on Turf. Really? Were you serious? Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce are not walking through that locker room door anytime soon! Martz could take over – or Mike Tice – or Rod Marinelli – all three are failed head coaches! Maybe dump the whole Ship of Fools by having them walk the plank and start over. Hibernating for the winter is not an option either. Rob Ryan has some strong Chicago ties. I wonder if Holmgren’s phone is ringing…?
  • Jay Cutler? Jay Cutler? This offense is abysmal… worst TD/INT ratio, worst in yardage and worst in Red Zone conversions… Most sacks…It doesn’t get much worse than this!
  • Bears are 0-of-10 from their opponents’ one-yard line this season. Martz claims Chester Taylor will be utilized in goal-line situations. Taylor has failed on one rush from the 1, while Matt Forte is 0-of-6. You can’t fire all the players… so…
  • Smith posted 11-5 and 13-3 won-loss records in 2005 and 2006 respectively, boasting NFC Championship in 2006 as well as a Super Bowl berth and a colossal loss. Since then, of 4 seasons, Smith’s Bears have posted a .500 season only once in 2008 when they went 9-7.

I want winners!

Who else could be on Death Row?… Childress… Wade Phillips… Lovie Smith… then Possibility of Parole includes:

  • Mike Singletary, SF at 2-6 though showing signs of improvement… too little too late? “I want winners! Don’t want him! Can’t use him!” We know, Mike! However, I wouldn’t want to be the guy who has to fire “Samurai Mike” because that person may get a stunner tackle! He was not a coordinator and is really a motivator more than a coach. Perhaps players can sense that? Perhaps ownership needed a stopgap sideshow attraction while they searched for a long-term solution? Cirque du Singletary? Singletary is best served to be a linebackers coach for any of the other 31 teams in the NFL and a damn good one.


Next level of incarceration looking at sentencing:

  • Tom Cable, OAK 13-23 never made postseason. So many problems though he is some kind of warped rock star in Oakland. Is the UFC still hiring?
  • Chan Gailey, BUF – why exactly was he hired? Bills are the best 0-7 team in NFL and nobody wants this job anyway! He may survive due to lack of interest unlike the Buffalo franchise! If he stays he’ll need a Canadian work visa but Toronto is a much more interesting fan base than Buffalo.
  • Norv Turner, SD this team is 3-5 and still thinks they will make the playoffs but when are NFL owners going to realize that Norv Turner is not a successful postseason head coach? 13 seasons as head coach, 93-103 overall, 49-59 with Washington,9-23 with Oakland, 35-21 with San Diego and Division Championships but Norv Turner has not been a successful head coach. He can’t seem to win the big game. They use that line on QB why not coaches? Wade Phillips Syndrome perhaps? His Dallas days were long ago!
  • Eric Mangini, CLE 7-16 with Cleveland, 23-25 with NY Jets – what happened to “Man-genius”? He may not have a lot to work with but a good mechanic never blames his tools!
  • John Fox, CAR… Beyond time to go… Overall: 71 – 57, Playoffs: 5 – 3; Carolina is the worst team in the NFL and needs a total overhaul. Does management change the oil, buy new tires or rebuild the engine? Do we need more evidence? Retire Coach Fox. You’ve done all that you can do.
  • Jack Del Rio, JAX… Overall: 57 – 55, Playoffs: 1 – 2; ONE playoff win in 7 years?4-4 W-L in 2010 but beat Dallas 35-17. Team is headed for LA and Dl Rio is a USC guy… but he has to survive long enough to get there in 2012. The Mayan calendar doesn’t see this one ending well…
  • Tom Coughlin, NYG – Done a good job getting a Lombardi Trophy but isn’t it simply time to retire? Run out of BC and Jacksonville because the players stopped listening to all the screaming. He’s still screaming at the players…
  • Marvin Lewis, CIN is 2-5 this season,  8 seasons, 58-60 overall, two division championships and nothing further but lead the league in players suspensions, incarcerations, civil suits, parking lot beat-downs, paternity suits, gang shootings, mysterious unsolved cold cases, crappy reality TV shows and general off-field chaos. How are those contract renegotiations coming along, Marv???

So all of this being said… who is on the horizon to come in and rebuild some of these struggling franchises? Well it is safe to say that Bill Parcells, Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson and Jim Mora, Sr. (playoffs? PLAYOFFS? Are you talking about PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?]) are retired for good. Pete Carroll has made the jump back from college to the NFL (and is one of the highest paid coaches in the NFL) while Mike Shanahan wishes he hadn’t come out of retirement to take the job in Washington. There’s more backstabbing and back-door politics with the Redskins than in Congress.

So who is out there for owners to hire? College coaches? Veterans? Coordinators?

Jon Gruden - MNF or Dallas sideline?

1.Jon Gruden, MNF…Gruden is considered the best X and O coach on the market, intense disciplinarian and exemplary game manager not to mention accomplished talent evaluator and emotional motivator. 11 years, 95-81 with Oakland and Tampa Bay plus a Lombardi trophy in 2002. Will he leave Monday Night Football to take on an NFL team? Bet on “Chuckie” to be back on the sidelines somwhere (above the high school ranks) in 2011!

Target teams include Dallas, Minnesota,  Carolina but tempting to have him return to Oakland. Prediction: San Francisco 49ers

2. Bill Cowher, CBS… Cowher has been mentioned for every coaching vacancy in the past three years and rightfully so. He is hands down the most accomplished coaching candidate because he has 2 Super Bowl championships, 15 years in Pittsburgh, 149-90 and only 3 losing seasons. Any team would be happy to instill some Cowher Power into their franchise but they will have to pay through the nose to wrest him out of that comfy chair in CBS Studios. Highest bidder wins. Cowhers has hinted at his own short list of franchises.

Bill Cowher has sat out and may not return to coaching

 Target teams: All 32 NFL franchises Prediction: Carolina on my mind.

And then… there are the rest:

Brian Billick… FOX analyst…who may or may not want to get back into coaching Target teams: Minnesota, Chicago, Oakland, Buffalo, Carolina, NY Giants, Cleveland, SF, Jacksonville Prediction: Jacksonville while team relocates to Los Angeles in 2012. San Diego is also an option.

Steve Mariucci, NFL Network and looks very comfortable on the set in Hollywood… Target teams: Minnesota, Chicago, Oakland, Buffalo, Carolina, NY Giants, Cleveland, Jacksonville                        Prediction: New York Football Giants

Denny Green – UFL… he’s in the UFL for a reason. “You wanna crown ‘em, go ahead and crown ‘em!” Maybe Denny gets a Burger King sponsorship deal?

Dick Vermeil, Marv Levy, Mike Ditka… stick to the Coors Light commercials. Living legends don’t come out of retirement a second time… do they?

Jim Fassel - he’s in the UFL because Arena League said “No thanks” (fossil?)

Jim Mora, Jr. – Got shafted a bit by previous NFL work and could be a very appealing candidate in Minnesota  or Cleveland but likely to be coordinator before head coach. San Diego would be interesting or Oakland. Prediction: DENVER

Herman Edwards – ESPN… Maybe he will coach again with so many openings he will have the chance…if he wants it? “You play to win the game! ” Target teams Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago, Minnesota. Prediction: Minnesota

 Jeff Fisher is the longest-tenured coach in the NFL (dating back to 1995 Houston Oilers) and is the only coach the Titans have ever known. Maybe he decides to leave the cacophony of chaos that is Tennessee to witness the rebirth of the Los Angeles Jaguars? That would leave the Tennessee job open for the likes of Russ Grimm, Jim Mora, Greg Williams, Dom Capers, Mike Zimmer, Josh McDaniels or my dark horse candidate, Al Golden currently of the Temple Owls.






Oregon coach Chip Kelly will be the hot college coach who jumps to the NFL.

Chip Kelly's success in Oregon could launch him to the NFL

Target teams: Minnesota, SF, Oakland, Buffalo, Carolina, NY Giants, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Jacksonville  Prediction: Raiders, Bengals or 49ers. My guess is he’d take any NFL job – even the Raiders or Tennessee!


Certainly moves can be made anytime as teams promote their in-house assistants. While that will reduce offseason vacancies, I still predict no less than  7 openings and as many as 10 head coach changes before 2011 - pending the outcome of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

I also predict two franchise relocations by 2012 which would put the Jacksonville Jaguars in Los Angeles and the Buffalo Bills in Toronto. As of the 2010 season, the Jaguars and Bills rank 31st and 30th in ticket prices, respectively; the Bills jumped ahead of Jacksonville after raising prices for the 2010 season. Toronto has hosted Bills games and the market would be a welcome presence both as an established sports city (Maple Leafs in hockey, CFLArgonauts, the Blue Jays in baseball, the Raptors in basketball, the Rock and the Nationals in lacrosse and Toronto FC in soccer) and expanding the NFL’s international flavor.

Toronto has hosted Bills games and is a likely NFL destination

Los Angeles has been without an NFL team since 1995, which is a black eye for NFL revenue, marketing and balance. Seems the fans couldn't care less.

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Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me

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In response to “Hot Seat for NFL Coaches – Take a Number”

  1. jason Nov 9 20109:08 pm


    The Bills won’t move to Toronto due to lack of interest in Toronto for an NFL Team. They have their cfl team that is the hype. Rogers had to give away 30,000 plus tickets again to avoid a black out. Jacksonville on the other hand I give it 2 years

    1. Christopher Rowe Nov 9 20109:58 pm


      Well is the issue that Toronto doesn’t want to root for the Buffalo Bills vs. Chicago Bears or that you think Toronto won’t support CFL and NFL teams? Toronto has embraced Major League Baseball, the NBA, obviously the NHL and CFL which are core sports – in addition to Major League Soccer. Lots of Canadians follow Buffalo or Green Bay or Minnesota or Detroit because of proximate geography. More importantly Toronto is a great sports city and they have embraced franchises in every major sport. Why would the fans not want to see weekly NFL games? Why would the Toronto market not want the revenue generated? Why would the community say no to the Toronto NFL team when they support the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Argonauts and Raptors?

      1. EvilJohn Nov 10 201010:47 am


        Easy, because they don’t really support those franchises (outside of the Leafs all that well).

        At any rate, they’ll need a real NFL stadium, not that Rinky Dink little ex-skydome.

  2. Christopher Rowe Jan 3 20113:54 pm


    Right about Phillips, right about Singletary, Right about Mangini. Who’s next? Tom Cable or Tom Coughlin? Jack Del Rio? Gary Kubiak to Denver? Where will Cowher go?

    1. Christopher Rowe Jan 3 20117:16 pm


      Right about Brad Childress (congrats Leslie Frazier). Who else? Tony Sporano? Jeff Fisher? Does Jason Garrett get promoted to full-time HC for 2011? Who wants the Denver job? What about Marty Scottenheimer and Norv Turner? Which of them will be working in 2011? Marv Lewis has to be on a sinking ship, no? Will Mike Holmgren REALLY step back onto the sidelines or does HE want to lure in Jeff Fisher to Cleveland? What about Mike Nolan and Jim Mora, Jr? Does Wade Phillips ever work again? Should Dom Capers get ANOTHER chance to be a Head Coach or will he be this generation’s Dick LeBeau? Is Jimmy Johnson considering Miami and Jacksonville jobs or will he not battle with Jon Gruden? Who else will follow Charlie Weiss back to the college ranks – and is Weiss a fool for doing so before the playoffs?

      1. Christopher Rowe Jan 5 20111:14 pm


        Right about Tom Cable – despite the fact that Raiders fans told me I was wrong. Marv Lewis sticks in Cincy and Kubiak stays in Houston! Who’s next? Jason Garrett loses “interim” from title? Jim Harbaugh in SF? I’ll admit I wound up being wrong on Lovie Smith as he and the Bears are better than I thought. Sparano is next? What about Denver? Does anyone want that job? Carolina?

        1. Christopher Rowe Jan 6 201111:21 am


          Wade Phillips hooks on in Houston… Tom Cable out in Oakland… Coughlin re-ups in NY… What’s the story in Jacksonville? Dallas? Miami? San Francisco? Denver?

          1. Christopher Rowe Jan 11 20117:17 am

            Rumored Rivera to Carolina. Cowher? Gruden? Garrett stays in Dallas. Frazier stays in Minnesota. Mornhinweg leaves? Where does he land? Cleveland? San Francisco? Oakland? Denver?

  3. Christopher Rowe Jan 6 201111:26 am


    Vince Young outsted? Guess Fisher stays put!

    1. Christopher Rowe Jan 28 20113:32 pm


      Fisher leaves, Reid is most tenured, what happens now in Tennessee? Which coaches are still on the move?

      1. James Centifonti Jan 28 20116:37 pm


        A guess could be somebody whom won’t be a name and will be cheap especially with what they will still have to pay Fisher for 1 more year.

        Maybe names like Mike Munchak, Russ Grimm, Mike Tice, Gregg Williams, or Jeff Jagodzinski.

        1. Christopher Rowe Jan 29 20111:03 pm


          Thinking outside the box seems to be a lost art in the NFL. Everyone just wants to recycle recognizeable names rather than take a chance on a true “X & O” coach. I guess it is a risk-reward thing?

  4. Greg Apr 8 20111:08 pm


    Buffalo Bills claim a $9M profit from Toronto Rogers Centre deal. Looks like this could become a more permanent arrangement. I agree that if 10% of the market is vesting their interest in the Buffalo Bills then it contributes to their regional fan base but is Toronto really the best place? What about Los Angeles? What about the CFL? Buffalo’s market is 47th in 2010 census and even if drawing from 500 miles in every direction, they have maxxed out their revenue. Where does it go from here?

    1. Greg Apr 8 20111:11 pm


      Without a CBA this is all moot but the NFL should place a franchise in Los Angeles – even if they have to purchase an existing franchise and then sell them to a group willing to house them in Los Angeles. Suggest Jacksonville to Los Angeles and then determine what to do with Bills, Buffalo, Toronto and other flailing markets. Arizona would have been good to move to LA had they not built that stadium

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