Jack Del Rio, Eric Mangini, Tom Cable and Mike Singletary are four NFL coaches I just don't get, and Wade Phillips is a man I really admire. And as early as it is in this NFL season — I believe it is pure folly to suggest who the really good teams are with less than four and preferably five games in the books — and unpleasant as it may be to be talking about coaches on the bubble while they've really just begun unveiling their 2010 efforts, I'm hard-pressed to see any of them in their current jobs by the time the Super Bowl rolls around.
Del Rio was impressive early on in Jacksonville, compiling a 45-35 record in his first five seasons, but multiple cracks in the armor began to appear in 2008, as the Jaguars stumbled to 5-11 and then 7-9 last season. Many insiders thought he was gone, suggesting Del Rio may not communicate with certain players all that well. After he cast his lot with David Garrard as the franchise QB, it seems pretty obvious he made a bad bet there. With the Jaguars struggling at the ticket office and appearing clueless on defense, as well as on offense, in beatdowns by the Chargers and Eagles the past two weeks, it's nearly impossible to imagine Del Rio returning next year.
The big question on Mangini is: Why did Mike Holmgren bring him back this year? The fact the Browns won their final four games last season after a 1-11 start gave Holmgren an excuse, but can you really call it a reason? Mangini is a guy who struggles to communicate at times because either his ego or his style tells him it's not his problem, but this year's 0-3 start with a dramatically retooled roster just confirms what we expected last year. Holmgren will have no choice but to put his own, handpicked guy in the head coach's chair for the Browns next year.
After taking over the Raiders four games into the 2008 season, Cable led the Raiders to a 4-8 finish and followed that up with a 5-11 2009 campaign. Concerns about his off-field activities, specifically multiple accusations of domestic abuse against his ex-wives and a girlfriend, have surfaced, and combined with his alleged assault of a former assistant coach, it seemed almost certain he'd be gone. It's important to note Cable has not been convicted of any crimes as a result of any of those allegations, and it is also important to note, following his 1-2 start this year, he's done nothing to improve the play of a Raiders team that appears to have a bit more talent than most of the other weak sisters around the league.
My questions about Singletary are simple: What exactly does he do as the head coach of the 49ers? Mike is someone I know and have tremendous respect for as a man and a player. But I watched him coach the entire game against the Saints last Monday night and then the following week in Kansas City and never once saw him lower the microphone on his headset to his mouth or speak to any of his assistant coaches. He's clearly left his offense to Jimmy Raye and his defense to Greg Manusky and apparently believes the head coach's responsibility is nothing more than motivational. Singletary is one of the least-experienced NFL coaches ever to get a head job, and there is far too much talent on that club for it to be 0-3, and an ugly 0-3 at that.
Phillips is now 82-56 as an NFL head coach, and I suspect he's one of the better coaches in the league. His problem is that Jerry Jones has put him in an absolute no-win situation by overrating Jones' own handpicked talent and naming offensive coordinator Jason Garrett as the heir apparent before he even gave Phillips the job. Still, Phillips soldiers on, accepts all the blame and never points a finger. Because Phillips is as good as he is, the 'Boys will make a run in an NFC East that now appears far weaker than anyone expected. But there's no way they're "Super," and he may actually be better off when Jones makes him the scapegoat for more failed expectations when this season ends.
Check out the current print edition (Oct. 3 cover date) of Pro Football Weekly, which includes a cover story on the Steelers' suffocating defense, a look at the 11 coordinators who are new to their teams this season, seven reasons why Andy Reid chose Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb as his starting quarterback, fantasy football coverage and much more. You can purchase the print edition at retail outlets or online (print or electronic version) at PFWstore.com.