The most recent blurb I banged out on the PFT portable Commodore 64 focused on hope. So why not balance it out with a little despair?
While every fan of every team currently has hope, we know that plenty of teams ultimately will be hopeless. The recent trend toward every team having a legitimate chance to win has resulted in more impatience among owners, prompting more teams to make changes in the hopes of becoming one of the teams that quickly turns things around.
Last year, eight coaches lost their jobs after the season ended. This year, no fewer than six enter the season on the hot seat.
The hottest comes in New York, where the firing of the General Manager but not the head coach predisposes John Idzik to want his own guy. Rex Ryan hasn’t done much to help his cause so far. It doesn’t mean the Jets are destined to have another bad season. If they do, however, change is coming. The only question is whether the Jets end up bad enough to get owner Woody Johnson to press the “reset” button, firing both Ryan and Idzik and changing the model to a strong head coach who hires his own folks to help him set the table.
The flames are flickering in Tennessee, where three-decade employee Mike Munchak could fall to the whims of a ninety-something owner who expects the money spent in the offseason to transform into a contender. Many thought Munchak could be gone after a disastrous 2012. Absent significant improvement this year, it could be over.
Ditto for Dennis Allen, who works for a Raiders franchise where only G.M. Reggie McKenzie seems to be safe (and even McKenzie may not be). While Allen has had one hand tied behind his back due to subpar personnel, misadventures via the team’s offensive schemes stick to the head coach. Owner Mark Davis has shown flashes of impatience; if the 2-14 Chiefs leave the Raiders in the dust of the AFC West this year, the Son of Al could behave like an apple nestled at the base of the tree.
In the NFC, the Cowboys have developed an unspoken belief that, if they can get to the playoffs, they can win the Super Bowl. But they can’t get to the playoffs. If they don’t, look for Jason Garrett to be out. And look for Jerry Jones to make a run at Jon Gruden, who would instantly be reunited with multiple of his former assistants.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz received a contract extension in 2012, and that still almost wasn’t enough to save him. It did, but it won’t if the team falls to 4-12 again.
In Charlotte, where a new G.M. is likely waiting for a reason to hire his own head coach, Ron Rivera has to show that he’s the man to get the most out of Cam Newton, and to complement him with a defense that can slow down some of the high-powered offenses in the NFC South.
Beyond those six, other guys could slide onto the hot seat, depending on how the season unfolds. With all the money invested by the Dolphins in talent, a 6-10 season or worse could put Joe Philbin in the crosshairs for change. For the Giants, where G.M. Jerry Reese has put everyone on notice, another failure to get to the playoffs will at a minimum get Tom Coughlin on the hot seat for 2014. Which could be a good thing, since whenever he’s on the hot seat, the Giants win the Super Bowl.
In Pittsburgh, where the Rooneys have employed three coaches since the first term of the Nixon administration, pressure could increase on Mike Tomlin. Given their history, the Rooneys will ignore any external calls for change. But this would be the first time that Art Rooney will be presiding over a multi-year absence from the postseason.
Finally, a failure to get to the playoffs coupled with lingering questions and disagreements regarding the proper use of quarterback Robert Griffin III could make the most powerful man in D.C. who doesn’t live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to make a Magic Johnson-style power play.
The final list of fired coaches depends largely on how the 255 remaining regular-season dominoes fall. Another 13 of them fall today. History tells us that more than half that many head coaches could be falling out of employment by the end of the year.