In three days, the NFL will be in the midst of its annual day of reckoning for head coaches who will be getting the shoe from their current jobs.
This year, league insiders are looking at several potential hot spots.
The Redskins are a given; we’ve heard that coach Jim Zorn will be given a pink slip as soon as the team returns from San Diego, if not earlier.
As to the rest of the Black Monday victims, the situation is less clear.
Browns coach Eric Mangini tops the list of potential casualties, though new team president Mike Holmgren might not want to run Mangini out the door in Holmgren’s first official day on the job.
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio has inched onto the hot seat, but a $15 million buyout should save him.
Ditto in Chicago, where Lovie Smith would be owed $11 million to not coach the Bears in 2010 and 2011. Our guess is that G.M. Jerry Angelo will sacrifice Smith in the hopes of saving Angelo’s butt.
In Buffalo, the Bills are expected to not retain interim head coach Perry Fewell.
And the Texans’ situation remains uncertain. Though it appears that owner Bob McNair is inclined to keep Gary Kubiak, an ugly home loss to the Pats could push McNair to the “fire his ass” side of the fence.
Tampa Bay is in play, too, given reports that ownership has reached out to Bill Cowher.
And Raiders coach Tom Cable also is in trouble, given that whoever the Raiders coach is at any given moment is always presumed to be in trouble.
There also could be a surprise or two. Or three, as we saw last January, when the Jets fired Eric Mangini the day after the season ended, and the Broncos and Bucs unexpectedly pulled the plug on Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden, respectively, later in the month.
One guy who might be in trouble come late January, if not sooner, is Seahawks coach Jim Mora. If the team’s new G.M. isn’t inclined to keep Mora, the new G.M. might want Mora to be fired before the new G.M. arrives on the scene.
Then there’s Dallas, where it’s widely assumed that one postseason win is needed for Wade Phillips to avoid making the long walk to the parking lot.
Regardless of how it all shakes out, it’ll be a wild ride. And we’ll be on the horse, doing our best to avoid getting thrown off.