As the NFL-following world focuses on the coaches who inevitably will, or won’t, be fired, it makes sense to at least ponder the General Managers who will, or won’t, be relieved of their duties, too.
Last year, six General Managers were fired during or after the season, with the Jets, Jaguars, Chargers, Chiefs, Panthers, and Cardinals all breaking in new front-office bosses for 2013. (In Buffalo, Buddy Nix retired, passing the baton to Doug Whaley.) This year, it’s safe to assume that, somewhere, changes will be made.
So let’s take a look at the guys who could be taking a hike, in no particular order (other than my own meandering path through the eight NFL divisions).
In Miami, Jeff Ireland’s fate could be tied to making it to the playoffs. At one point, it seemed to be a done deal that Ireland would be done with the Dolphins. With the team improving significantly in recent weeks — and with the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito situation dying down — Ireland could be safe.
In Pittsburgh, Kevin Colbert is not believed to be in any danger, even though the Steelers haven’t done a good job of reloading the roster with young players who can step in and step up. (If the Steelers finagle an unlikely-but-not-impossible path to the postseason, there’s no way a change at G.M. would even be considered.)
For the Titans, the speculation has centered on coach Mike Munchak. Some think G.M. Ruston Webster could go, too. One league insider pegged Webster’s chances of staying at 50-50.
Of all the high-level employees in Oakland, only G.M. Reggie McKenzie is believed to be safe. But he may not be. While coach Dennis Allen likely will be the first to go, McKenzie could be gone, too — especially if the coach whom Mark Davis hires would want to full control or his own guy picking players.
In July, Giants G.M. Jerry Reese had some ominous words, for everyone: “All I know is that we’ve been in the playoffs one time in the last four years and that’s really not acceptable for us,” Reese said at the time. ”That’s not our standards. That’s not what we shoot for. We want to put everybody on notice, myself, everybody is on notice that that’s not our standard.”
This year has been even worse. While the dip can be blamed on injuries, it’s the General Manager’s job to ensure that depth is in place. If Reese’s words weren’t merely rhetoric, he’s in trouble.
Bruce Allen, who was hired to set the table for Mike Shanahan, is believed to be safe in Washington even though Shanahan likely won’t be back. Whether by virtue of his family name or his innate political skills, Allen likely has done enough to stick around to work with the next head coach.
In Detroit, Martin Mayhew could end up on the outs along with Jim Schwartz. While Mayhew has put together a roster of talented players, they’re undisciplined. And that’s part of the challenge when it comes to finding the right players.
Rick Spielman’s status in Minnesota depends, as one league source put it, on the standard that applies to him. If his status will be determined based on wins and losses, Spielman could be in trouble. If it’s based on whether he’s a good guy who has done a good but not great job of putting a team together (but a not-so-great job of finding quarterbacks), he likely sticks around.
For the Buccaneers, there’s a school of thought that Greg Schiano will do enough not only to save his job but also to get his own guy hired at G.M. Which would mean that Mark Dominik would be out.
In Atlanta, there’s been some chatter that Thomas Dimitroff could be out. And that’s ridiculous. Five years, five winning seasons. While the seat could warm up considerably if there’s a second straight losing season, it would be foolish to blow up the front office of a franchise that, before Dimitroff arrived, never had consecutive winning seasons and endured a nightmare in 2007.
Last week, we mentioned that there’s talk Les Snead could be out in St. Louis. There was no direct, on-the-record denial, but it would still be a surprise if Snead doesn’t return.