In a league where results are being demanded as swiftly as ever, no less than three National Football League coaches have been axed in a two-week period – starting with Jack Del Rio (after nine-plus years) in Jacksonville and escalating this week with Kansas City’s Todd Haley (less than a year removed from a playoff berth) and Miami’s Tony Sparano.
Is the head coaching turnover about to get as bad as the NHL or even the NBA (where all 15 Eastern Conference teams changed coaches in a two-year period in the mid-2000s)? That remains to be seen, but I see no less than 10 additional changes that may be made when the 2011 regular season closes January 1, or even after the playoffs.
Maybe it’s just global warming, but here are the coaches skating on the thin ice that JDR, Haley, and Sparano have already broken through.
1. Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay)
Less than two months ago Morris wouldn’t even be on this list after a 4-2 start, and that after seemingly turning the franchise around with a 10-6 mark in 2010. But a seven-game losing streak featuring some of the club’s worst football since the infamous 26-game losing streak of 1976-77 has Morris in deep trouble. The fact that he may had been too young to begin with when hired (still only 35) may be a migrating factor.
But incidents such as Morris ordering one of his players off the field a few weeks back and a possible off-field issue involving RB LeGarrette Blount (that would be nothing new) is not helping Raheem’s case.
SURVIVAL CHANCES: None, look for Morris to join the other two Florida-based coaches (Del Rio/Sparano) on the coaching unemployment line, was even surprised he didn’t join Del Rio/Haley this week.
2. Jim Caldwell (Indianapolis)
There is a new report that Caldwell will be gone if Colts go 0-16. Duh, he’s in trouble if the Colts by some miracle finish 3-13. The Colts were going to get a mulligan without Peyton Manning this year. If Indy were just respectable right now (say 5-8), there would be no discussion. But Blue Horseshoe has become historically bad, worse even than the teams from 1980 until the mid- to late-90s. Caldwell might be a good guy, but coaches simply don’t survive 0-13.
SURVIVAL CHANCES: Caldewelll is done.
3. Norv Turner (San Diego)
Norv’s reign in the 6-1-9 is coming to a close, even if the team runs the table and finishes 9-7. After turning the Houston Texans into one of the league’s best defenses, Wade Phillips is being mentioned as a replacement. Phillips’ regular season coaching record (82-59) is surprisingly good, but a bad ending at all his spots. Also Wade would be the same type of coach with the same type of rep as Norv – a retread who’s a great coordinator, not as great as the man.
And the man before Norv with the Chargers?? Marty Schottenheimer just may resurface (again) in Kansas City.
SURVIVAL CHANCES: Has about run his course.
4. Andy Reid (Philadelphia)
Obviously his career record has been exceptional, and Rex Ryan recently referred to Reid as a “Hall of Fame coach.” But the bar was set very high for the “Dream Team” this year, and 5-8 in the division obviously falls far short of that. This is likely a case of a coach who has taken a franchise about as far as he’s going to take it.
SURVIVAL CHANCES: I think the Bill Walsh 10-year burnout rule plays here. Look for the Eagles to make a change.
5. Pat Shurmur (Cleveland)
The Browns have been an awful mess for a while now, and it would seem Shurmur deserves more than one year. But there have been distractions such as the Peyton Hillis mess and now the Colt McCoy-concussion controversy. And team president Mike Holmgren is beginning to feel some heat as well. Holmgren this week was quoted as saying that Pat “will be here a long time.” Famous last words??
SURVIVAL CHANCES: Iffy, better than 50-50 he goes.
* – Pat Shurmur photo credit: via Cleveland Browns.com
6. Mike Shanahan (Washington)
Actually the problems regarding DC football starts with owner Dan Snyder, who continues to swing for the fences with large contracts for star players and big-name hires on the coaching staff but with negative results. Remember how many said “who?” when Mike McCarthy was hired in Green Bay?? And how many free agents did the Packers sign in the off-season?? Maybe instead of throwing more bad money after bad money, Snyder ought to take a cue of following that template.
SURVIVAL CHANCES: Snyder probably dismisses Shanny, only to search for yet another quick fix (big name college coach??).
7. Steve Spagnuolo (St. Louis)
Here’s another team that was on the rise in 2010 that has regressed to the point that the HC finds himself on the hot seat. QB Sam Bradford has played hurt the past several weeks, and outside of RB Steven Jackson, there is little talent on offense period.
With a record of 15-62 (and that includes 7-9 last year), the team is in the midst of its worst stretch in franchise history (including L.A and Cleveland). And this has been accomplished in the weak NFL West.
SURVIVAL CHANCES: If Spags stays in 2012, he has to go 9-7 minimum.
8. Leslie Frazier (Minnesota)
Picking up the pieces from the Mike Tice and Brad Childress regimes, it figured that Frazier would be given time to rebuild the Vikings, especially known going in that Christian Ponder was going to have to develop sooner rather than later.
That said, 2-11 is not going to cut it. A lot of competition going on right now in the NFC North, but Frazier is going to have to find a way to tread water in 2012 — he does have prize pieces in Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen.
SURVIVAL CHANCES: Gets one more year, but has to at least be in neighborhood of .500.
9. Jason Garrett (Dallas)
Not like 7-6 is the end of the world, but it’s been the way the Cowboys have lost with catastrophic late-game collapses. Maybe Garrett’s to blame, maybe the make-up of QB Tony Romo is the blame. Good news is Dallas can still right the ship and win the NFC East and then make noise in the playoffs. Bad news is Felix Jones is the only RB on the roster left physically standing.
SURVIVAL CHANCES: Unless Jerry Jones has a quick trigger, Garrett should get another year.
10. Tom Coughlin (Giants)
Yes, all four NFC East coaches made this list, which tells you the perennial expectations in these high-profile markets. It’s said that Coughlin may have saved his job with the Giants’ miraculous comeback in Dallas Sunday night.
My question is should his job security be shaky to begin with, considering a murderous schedule and the four-game losing streak maybe long forgotten with a division title/playoff run? The 2007 team finished the regular season giving the undefeated Patriots a run for their money in a 38-35 loss, then beat New England in the Super Bowl. The 2011 team recently lost to the Packers 38-35 – will they get a second chance at the Pack in the playoffs?
SURVIVAL CHANCES: Probably stays, but sealing the division with a Week 17 win over Dallas would be nice. At age 65, retirement would also not be out of the question.
So there are 10 more potential coaching changes on top of the three already made. And then factor in an off-the-board possibility like Bill Belichick doing like Tony LaRussa if the Patriots were to win it all, and a case like Mike Smith in Atlanta who endured a health scare last week.
That would be somewhere between 13-15 teams making changes at the top before the 2012 season begins. The final three weeks will determine how many changes actually come to fruition.