The NFL coaching carousel has been going about 100 mph this season, and as of this morning, the second most criticized coach in the league was thrown from the ride, as Brad Childress was finally (and mercilessly) removed from his post in Minnesota. He becomes the second high-profile coaching switch after Wade Phillips was bumped for Jason Garrett in Dallas 2 weeks ago.
However, there is much more turnover that could be taking place, some obvious and some not, yet could be revealing themselves in the upcoming months, or even weeks. Leslie Frazier will hold on the position in Minnesota throughout the end of the season, as will Jason Garrett. Both are in similar positions, with talented yet highly under achieving teams, that are capable of playing better down the stretch and as a result helping their current caretakers removed the ‘interim’ from their job title.
But in other places, there are more than a few “Dead Men Walking”, whose seats are so hot, they’ve probably already numbed out from the burning. Lets take a look at these guys, with the temperature of their seat on a 1 of 5 scale.
John Fox (Carolina Panthers) 5/5: Fox has been in his current position since 2002, making him the longest tenured of the current coaches who could be looking for new real estate soon. He has won the NFC South twice and even reached the Super Bowl in 2003. These factors make him hard to outright blame, especially with the downturn of the club, due to age, injury and the departure of Julius Peppers. However, the Panthers have been on a downward spiral for the last 2 years and are headed straight to the top of the Draft this year. At the end of this season would be the best time to make the switch, before it gets too ugly.
Mike Singletary (S.F. 49ers) 3/5: He’s piloting a team that was hyped and built to take an easy walk in the League’s weakest division, yet has struggled to stay out of the cellar instead. He is in his 2nd full season with the team, and has made some big strides in changing the fates of some Niners that were silent before he arrived (see Davis, Vernon). However, this team has played very undisciplined and is still floundering weekly to turn it around. In the end, despite his vote of confidence to make it through the season, his job will depend on how well they play in their division-heavy end of the season and if they find some consistency and win out in the West, which is still a distinct possibility, due to only having two NFC West games so far.
Tony Sparano (Miami Dolphins) 2/5: The Dolphins have been surprisingly good on defense this year, but they are still struggling to find their way on the other side of the ball, which is Sparano’s specialty. After winning the AFC East in first season, they steeply declined last year and have begun trailing off again this season. There could be the urge to shake up the mix to shoot the Dolphins back into the mix with the Jets and Pats in the East.
Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars) 3/5: The Jags have played some strong games recently and pulled themselves into the surprising place of #1 in the AFC South. This is a direct savior to Del Rio’s place, because after two consecutive seasons finishing the cellar of the division, he had to feel the Grim Reaper was right around the corner. If he keeps the Jags competitive, and if he can miraculously win the division, he is safe, but if they slump or fall out in the race in the upcoming weeks, a new job could be available in Jacksonville too.
Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals) 5/5: This is just a matter of time here. The Bengals imploding this season has been arguably worse than the Cowboys or Vikings, but is excused some due to the general expectation of the Bengals to find a way to ruin things. While he is charged with the very unenviable job of maintaining Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, its come to a point where a change at the top is needed. This club has fallen across the board and has been generally inconsistent in the eight years he has been in control. He doesn’t seem to show to be able to keep the team at a high level after they reach it, and its time to find somebody that can, because a lack of talent is definitely not the problem in Cincy.
Eric Mangini (Cleveland Browns) 4/5: With Mike Holmgren in control of the program here and Cleveland still not making the big strides that I’m sure he’s expected by this time, Mangini almost always in a “one foot out the door” mode. He may get another season to jump into competition, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the short leash he’s been on almost since he arrived is finally taken back.
Norv Turner (San Diego Chargers) 3/5: The Chargers are underwhelming this season, but there is so much to blame in this scenario from a personnel perspective, that Turner may be alloted at least another season to take the Chargers back to where they usually are at the top of the AFC West. They have improved from their shaky start at the beginning of the year, and some consistent play to end the season may keep Norv in place, but its far from a guarantee.
Josh McDaniels (Denver Broncos) 2/5: The Broncos are in a tough spot with McDaniels. They gave up a lot to land him and moved both of their top talents on offense to appease him and to support his control of the team. However, the Broncos are struggling this year with the team that was shaped for him and while the ax might not find his this year or even this offseason, McDaniels has to start cashing in on his opportunity here soon in the way that many of his coaching contemporaries such as Todd Haley and Raheem Morris have.