Pro Football weekly

Comment | Print |

Hot-seat meter: Ranking the coaches, 1-32

About the Author

Recent posts by Eric Edholm

Reese: Giants' Tuck wants to regain form

Posted Feb. 23, 2013 @ 11:26 a.m.

Chiefs' Dorsey eyes '333 players' for first pick

Posted Feb. 22, 2013 @ 4:33 p.m.

Caldwell might be starting fresh in Jacksonville

Posted Feb. 22, 2013 @ 2:17 p.m.

Related Stories

Titans make twin killing; sign OG Levitre, TE Walker

Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:39 p.m.

Colts add OT Cherilus, CB Toler

Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:31 p.m.

Browns strike early, sign Kruger

Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:23 p.m.

Broncos sign former Chargers OG Vasquez

Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:20 p.m.

Bills bring back McKelvin

Posted March 09, 2013 @ 1:45 p.m.

Redskins lock up TE Paulsen

Posted March 09, 2013 @ 1:16 p.m.

SS Moore is staying with the Falcons

Posted March 09, 2013 @ 9:36 a.m.

Chiefs add CB Robinson

Posted March 09, 2013 @ 8:58 a.m.

No tag for Cook ups ante for Titans as FA approaches

Posted March 07, 2013 @ 2:56 p.m.

Lions re-sign OT Hilliard

Posted March 01, 2013 @ 12:05 p.m.
Posted June 28, 2012 @ 3:45 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Job security is a precious commodity in the NFL that few head coaches enjoy. Not even winning can guarantee it unconditionally. They are paid exceptionally well, and NFL teams expect results. Not tomorrow, but today.

Since 2006, only five NFL teams — the Eagles, Patriots, Giants, Bengals and Bears — have not made a head-coaching change. In that time, an average of 5.6 coaches have been fired per year. Not including interim coaches such as the Saints’ Joe Vitt, who will replace the suspended Sean Payton for part of this season in New Orleans, there have been 50 new full-time head coaches in the past seven years.

NFL teams have sped up the process more in recent years in two ways: Not only are coaches not always afforded the minimum three years to turn a team around, but teams also are more willing to whack coaches prior to what’s commonly known as "Black Monday," which is the day following the final regular-season game.

One of the most secure men in the NFL now, the Giants’ Tom Coughlin, hasn’t always been that way. Perpetually under the white-hot New York glare and having endured a few disappointing seasons before and after winning a championship (and later a second), Coughlin said it best after receiving a one-year extension prior to the 2011 season: “As I have said roughly a thousand times, we’re all on one-year contracts in this business.”

Consider some more of the incredible head-coaching turnover facts from recent years:

The Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio on Nov. 29, 2011, and the Chiefs and Dolphins canned Todd Haley and Tony Sparano, respectively, on Dec. 12. There has been at least one head coach fired prior to the end of the regular season every year since 2007.

Four teams have fired coaches after only one season at the helm during that stretch: the Raiders in 2006 (Art Shell), the Dolphins in 2007 (Cam Cameron), the Seahawks in 2009 (Jim Mora) and — guess who — the Raiders again last season (Hue Jackson). Bobby Petrino left the Falcons after only 13 games in 2007 on his own bizarre volition to take the Arkansas job.

The Raiders have had seven different head coaches since Jon Gruden left following the 2001 season, and four since ‘06. Not including Dennis Allen, who was hired this January, the average tenure of the post-Gruden Raiders coaches has been 26.7 games.

The Colts fired Jim Caldwell (career record of 26-22) after a 2-14 season in 2011 despite winning his first 14 NFL games and the team making a Super Bowl that season in 2009. Of the 11 head coaches hired the same year as Caldwell, four were fired after only two seasons and only the Jets’ Rex Ryan and the Lions’ Jim Schwartz remain with their same teams.

Eric Mangini and Jim Mora each have been fired twice as head coaches since ‘06, and Herman Edwards changed jobs once and was fired another time.

And several more men could join that inglorious group after this season. Impatient owners, unstable front offices, economics, bipolar fan bases and, well, bad coaching all can lead to changes. This season, many big names and long-tenured coaches could be among the victims.

Opening night is 69 days off. And Black Monday — which falls on New Year’s Eve (“Should auld acquaintance be forgot …”) this year — is a mere 186 days from now. Somewhere in between those two dates, we’ll find out who is left standing.

Here’s a primer of where the 32 head coaches currently stand, in reverse order of comfort:

32. Andy Reid, Eagles

2011 record: 8-8; missed postseason
All-time record: 126-81-1 regular season; 10-9 playoffs; one Super Bowl loss
Seasons as head coach: 13

There’s no question that last season’s disappointment, which was far worse than a deceiving 8-8 record, almost put Reid on the chopping block this January. After a long deliberation with management and owner Jeffrey Lurie, Reid was given a reprieve and a chance to reverse his and the Eagles’ fortunes in 2012. The ouster of team president Joe Banner in early June created a fascinating situation and tons of speculation about what that move actually meant relative to Reid. Lurie essentially sided with Reid, who felt that Banner’s negotiations actually hurt lockerroom morale, but in doing so the owner also raised the pressure on the coach.

What Reid needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Even with his terrific coaching record — aside from that elusive Super Bowl title that will be the only thing to appease irritable Philly fans — Reid must win, and perhaps win big, this season. Playoffs? Good place to start, but Eagles fans are tired of having good but not great teams. Reid has anchored himself to much-criticized defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and talented players such as Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson, thrown his considerable weight behind them and gone “all in,” so to speak, this season. Anything short of a win or two in the postseason might mean Reid moves on and becomes one of the more fascinating head-coaching free agents in recent memory.

31. Norv Turner, Chargers

2011 record: 8-8; missed postseason
All-time record: 107-113-1 regular season; 4-4 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 14

It was a surprise to many that Turner was retained, along with GM A.J. Smith, this offseason. When the decision was announced, owner Dean Spanos spoke of the “stability and experience” the pair brought, but ultimately Turner must win — and win big — in 2012 to be back for a seventh season in San Diego. Having two years and about $6 million left on his deal probably was a big reason Turner was spared. Even with a 13-win season in 2009, there has been a disturbingly downward trend as the team has tried to cycle out certain veterans while remaining competitive. The team won two playoff games in ‘07, Turner’s first season in San Diego, then one in ‘08, and zero in ‘09. The Chargers have fallen to 9-7 and 8-8 the past two seasons, missing the playoffs both times, and QB Philip Rivers and the defense both crashed hard in certain respects in ‘11. To say Turner is on borrowed time is understating.

What Turner needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Making the playoffs is a start, but winning the division and not bowing out in Round One would be ideal. Others have suggested that with Spanos and Smith there with him, Turner might be bulletproof. But not at 7-9 he wouldn’t be.

30. Leslie Frazier, Vikings

2011 record: 3-13; missed postseason
All-time record: 6-16 regular season; 0-0 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 2

Frazier did a fairly nice job stabilizing a tumultuous situation in the wake of Brad Childress’ firing with a 3-3 finish (including a shocking upset of the playoff-bound Eagles in Philly) as the interim coach in 2010. The problem is that he won the same number of games in a full season a year ago, as new problems emerged. Frazier’s first mistake was backing the acquisition of QB Donovan McNabb — a move that eventual GM Rick Spielman was not in support of — which set the season off on a bad note and put the Vikings in a hole. On the sideline, Frazier made his share of errors that made some question his acumen, nerve and feel: namely fourth-down decisions in road losses to the Lions and Falcons, tinkering with Christian Ponder’s confidence, philosophical differences with former defensive coordinator Fred Pagac and a lack of decisiveness in other situations during games. Owner Zygi Wilf might be in a cash crunch with the team agreeing on a new (and expensive) stadium, so the idea of paying two coaching staffs is unappealing.

What Frazier needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Some have chalked his struggles up to growing pains as a coach, but Frazier must find a way to swim upstream this season in the NFC North, improve upon a 3-13 record (the worst in 51 years of the franchise) and raise optimism that he can lead this young corps of talent to new heights.

29. Pat Shurmur, Browns

2011 record: 4-12; missed postseason
All-time record: 4-12 regular season; 0-0 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 1

Shurmur might only have 16 games under his belt so far, and he has team president Mike Holmgren in his corner. But what is that worth in light of talk that Holmgren might not be long for Cleveland? He has promised to be more visible with the team, has called the Browns job his “last great adventure” in the NFL and has claimed good relationships with owner Randy Lerner and GM Tom Heckert. But Holmgren staying past this season also does not ensure that Shurmur won’t be collateral damage if he suffers through another 4-12 (or similar) season. The Browns have the allure of immediate improvement if rookies RB Trent Richardson and QB Brandon Weeden improve the offense and the fifth-ranked defense from a year ago (in terms of points allowed) can remain steady. This also will be Shurmur’s first complete offseason with the team, so you can understand some of the struggles a year ago. But they play in maybe the toughest division in football — the other three AFC North teams made the postseason last year — and have not made the playoffs since 1999. You could say Clevelanders are tired of losing, but that would be unfairly piling on. They’re also a little extra cranky following LeBron James’ first championship with the Miami Heat.

What Shurmur needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Be competitive. Start a fire. Do something. The Browns have been mostly irrelevant in the NFL sphere for more than a decade, and they have had more than seven victories only twice (going back to the old franchise) since 1994. Seven — that’s a good number to shoot for. Shurmur probably wouldn’t get fired for that.

28. Rex Ryan, Jets

2011 record: 8-8; missed postseason
All-time record: 28-20 regular season; 4-2 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 3

Too high? Don’t forget who and where we are talking about. There are different rules with this team. Ryan, predictably, has remained confident when asked about whether he would last. Many argue he should with two AFC title game appearances in his first two seasons before last season’s slip to 8-8, and it probably would take another tumble for Ryan to lose his job. But New York has a way of chewing up and spitting out coaches, even those as charismatic and beloved (in some circles) as Ryan, and the pressure and attention around the Jets — amplified by the addition of Tim Tebow — is near deafening. In any other city, Ryan probably could incur another non-playoff season, but maybe not this one, even as close as Ryan is with GM Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson. They don’t forget about the bottom line when things go poorly, and the Eric Mangini experiment is proof they’ll cut cords sooner than expected.

What Ryan needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Continuing to be a thorn in the Patriots’ sides is one thing, but the Jets can’t fall too far behind in the division. A wild-card playoff appearance probably keeps Ryan safe, and a competitive run down the stretch (without making the playoffs) might be enough to buy him another year. But below .500? All bets would be off. And if things get crazy — crazier, that is — with Tebow and Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes, a lack of locker-room control could doom Ryan even if they did sneak into the playoffs and lose the first game.

27. Jason Garrett, Cowboys

2011 record: 8-8; missed postseason
All-time record: 13-11 regular season; 0-0 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 2

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been a more patient man on many fronts the past several seasons. He went as long as he felt he could with Wade Phillips as his coach — 56 games — before firing him at the midpoint of the 2010 season. That’s when Garrett, first hired as the eventual head coach and later as the offensive coordinator under Phillips, finally got his chance to steer the ship. Many have felt that Garrett would be a better head coach than coordinator (a position he was roundly criticized in after 2007), and his early results have been solid, especially in turning around Phillips’ mess in ‘10 with a 5-3 finish. But last season’s topsy-turvy 8-8 campaign featured a four-game win streak that put the team at 7-4, followed by losses in four of the final five games (including the division clincher at the Giants in Week 17) to finish out of the postseason. And even with a more patient approach to doing business, can Jones keep his itchy trigger finger holstered? No head coach since Jimmy Johnson has lasted more than four seasons in Dallas.

What Garrett needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Some believe Garrett must make the playoffs to keep Jones happy. They made two bold moves in the offseason at cornerback, signing Brandon Carr to a big deal and trading up for rookie Morris Claiborne, while alienating a third at the position (Mike Jenkins) in the process. The division is loaded again, with the Giants coming off a Super Bowl, the talented Eagles facing high expectations and the Redskins landing hot prospect Robert Griffin III, so some measure of perspective must be kept here. But Tony Romo is nearing the end of his prime at 32 and Jones is a wild card who might have his eye on another big catch at coach if the right person shows interest in the job, and he won’t hesitate to ace Garrett in that situation. It just would be a lot harder to fire the guy if the Cowboys make the postseason and, God forbid, win a game or two.

26. Marvin Lewis, Bengals

2011 record: 9-7; lost in Round One of playoffs
All-time record: 69-74-1 regular season; 0-3 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 9

Lewis was all but gone a year and a half ago, but he returned for 2011 and delivered an unexpected surprise in the form of a wildcard appearance. Even with the future bright and franchise pieces in place with QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green, among other building blocks, Lewis, whose Bengal teams have never won a postseason game in his tenure, likely once more faces a make-or-break season. Lewis, who's entering the final year of his contract, admitted recently that there hasn’t been any substantive talk towards a new deal in “a while.”

What Lewis needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Although he has won some battles with Brown, such as adding to the scouting staff and, well, keeping his job this long, it’s still a shaky situation. The playoff loss in Houston might have done more harm than the playoff appearance did good, odd as that sounds. Lewis is criticized for his game management by fans and media, often in his use of timeouts and challenges, so he’ll be under the microscope in 2012. It’s also an awkward phenomenon, but the Bengals actually have two well-qualified candidates to replace Lewis on staff in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Gruden turned down an interview for the Jaguars’ head-coaching vacancy after coming out of nowhere, which raised eyebrows.

25. Lovie Smith, Bears

2011 record: 8-8; missed postseason
All-time record: 71-57 regular season; 3-3 playoffs; lost one Super Bowl
Seasons as head coach: 8

Smith’s steady-as-she-goes approach has earned him some solid numbers in his 11 seasons, namely a .555 win percentage, a Super Bowl appearance and a spot in the NFC title game two years ago. But a trio of factors could make him vulnerable this season: He’ll have only one year left on his deal after 2012, there’s a new general manager in place and there are high expectations on the Bears this season. That’s something Smith will have to battle, and new GM Phil Emery could seek his own candidate if things don’t go as planned. Another factor in the equation is team chairman George McCaskey. Despite his denials that he forced GM Jerry Angelo out, many believe it to be true, and McCaskey in theory could pull rank on Emery and make a similar move.

What Smith needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Keep winning games. Although the expectations are high, most people understand that the Packers generally are a better team right now, and a second-place finish would not offend the masses. What won’t fly: Getting surpassed (or worse, thumped twice this season) by the Lions, who are a hot ticket right now, but the Bears showed they could hang with them last season. Falling to third and finishing way out of the race could fire up the burners quickly under Smith, who is respected but hardly beloved in Chicago.

24. Chan Gailey, Bills

2011 record: 6-10; missed postseason
All-time record: 28-36 regular season; 0-2 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 4

Gailey is entering his third season with the Bills, and there had been almost no real talk about Gailey being on any hot seat up until this offseason. It fits the recent Buffalo model: Since Marv Levy stepped down following the 1997 season, his successors have lasted three (Wade Phillips), Gregg Williams (three), two (Mike Mularkey; he resigned) and parts of four (Jauron) seasons. Now that the Bills have been bold for the first time in free agency in recent memory, the pressure has been cranked up on Gailey. People are talking about the Bills as a sleeper team, a real wildcard possibility and perhaps no longer the Patriots’ whipping boys. They beat them once in dramatic fashion last season, when they started hot and were the toast of the town through October before withering away down the stretch in miserable fashion. Another late collapse of that ilk could be Gailey’s death knell. He’s putting his faith in 29-year-old QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, which carries risk considering the up-and-down nature of his career. There is support from GM Buddy Nix, who believes in Gailey, but what about ownership and the rest of management? Gailey was not a universal pick when he was hired.

What Ryan needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Being competitive — and staying so for the length of the season — is important. The Bills have not been the most financially stable franchise, even though rumors of relocation have died off. But what they need now is a team to rally around. If that means they beat the Patriots once and fall a game short of the postseason, so be it. The roster has filled out nicely, so Gailey must have this team poised for a jump very soon, and if he doesn’t, he could be axed.

23. Mike Shanahan, Redskins

2011 record: 5-11; missed postseason
All-time record: 157-119 regular season; 8-5 playoffs; two Super Bowl victories
Seasons as head coach: 18

Like Jerry Jones in Dallas, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has a reputation for being impatient, and it has borne out in his head-coaching carousel, with seven men holding the post since Snyder bought the team in 1999. But Shanahan represents a different level of security, carrying the titles of executive vice president and head coach. The progress has been slow and subtle so far under Shanahan in D.C., and the team actually took a dip in the standings on his watch, dropping from 6-10 in 2010 to 5-11 a season ago. The natives are getting a bit restless, and it’s a strong, opinionated fan base that stretches beyond the district. They are tired of looking up at the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC East. Hope has sprung, though, with the addition of Robert Griffin III, who might be the best QB in franchise history since (insert long-retired player here).

What Shanahan needs to do to keep his job in 2013: With two years left on his deal after 2012 — and a lot of money invested in him — Shanahan probably can avoid unemployment by showing any kind of improvement over last season. Starting RG3 from Jump Street hasn’t made the coach completely impervious, especially in that town with that owner, but sources swear that Snyder is in for the long haul. A fourth-place finish won’t go over well, but sparks of brilliance from the young QB and noticeable upgrades elsewhere likely has Shanny back in ‘13.

22. Mike Smith, Falcons

2011 record: 10-6; lost in Round One of playoffs
All-time record: 43-21 regular season; 0-3 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 4

There are two trains of thought here. One is that owner Arthur Blank and GM Thomas Dimitroff have found a coach they can believe in and that Mike Smith has led this team into annual contention in a tough division. Another is that there is significantly higher pressure to perform and that another also-ran performance in the playoffs could lead to some heads rolling. The team has what it believes is a franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan, two big-play wide receivers, a Hall of Fame tight end in his final year and an aging running back maybe on his final legs in the coming years. Also, the Saints are really vulnerable in the wake of the bounty mess. The Falcons expect to win now, and Smith knows this.

What Smith needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Think less in terms of a certain number of wins or a division crown and more in terms of playoff victories, although dropping off by three victories (as the team did from 2010 to ‘11) would cause uproar. Smith has led this team to a winning record in each of his four seasons and is 22 games over .500, but most damning is an 0-3 postseason mark that sticks out like a sore thumb. If Smith and the Falcons make it 0-4 following a 13-3 regular season this year, who exactly will be happy? The only question at that point is whether it would be a fireable offense.

21. Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals

2011 record: 8-8; missed postseason
All-time record: 40-40 regular season; 4-2 playoffs; one Super Bowl loss
Seasons as head coach: 5

Whisenhunt has made the Cardinals relevant, leading them to their first Super Bowl (and within an eyelash of a victory), although the post-Kurt Warner record — 13-19 — is a bit shaky. Still, to this point, he has built up enough credibility and accomplishments to keep his job, and the team’s rally from a 1-6 start to an 8-8 finish last season showed he never lost the locker room. Those are important factors. But how patient will the Cardinals be long term? Whisenhunt’s contract runs through 2013, with a team option for ‘14. The coach invested heavily in QB Kevin Kolb, and the team’s pursuit of free agent Peyton Manning was telling. Even though Kolb only has had nine games with the team, some believe he never will be the answer.

What Whisenhunt needs to do to keep his job in 2013: He must handle the quarterback situation with his head, not his heart, and that could lead to benching the well-paid Kolb for either John Skelton or, down the road, Ryan Lindley. Amid this QB situation, Whisenhunt can’t lose too much ground in the NFC West. He’s the longest-tenured coach in the division for a reason: because he’s good at what he does. But another losing season, especially one with 10 or more losses, could end his run in Arizona.

20. Pete Carroll, Seahawks

2011 record: 7-9; missed postseason
All-time record: 47-49 regular season; 2-3 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 6

Carroll has two 7-9 seasons to his name in Seattle, but he bought a little lasting credence with a shocking playoff victory against the Saints two years ago. He also appears to have a strong ally in GM John Schneider, who works hand in hand with Carroll to pick players and build the roster. They seem to share a vision. And it’s a strong, perhaps underrated roster that they have built, with a defense that might be ready to vault into the top handful of the NFL if the pass rush develops. But what happens if they can’t find a solution at quarterback? Even in a weak division, they likely can’t play the shuffle game with Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson or Tarvaris Jackson and expect to take down the 49ers and what Jim Harbaugh has built there so quickly. They must develop offensively and take advantage of the fact that the rest of the division remains vulnerable to varying degrees.

What Carroll needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Do we say that 7-9 for a third straight season is probably enough? There is legitimate optimism in Seattle about a playoff berth this year, and with two years left on Carroll’s deal after this season, it probably would take a real disaster to see him canned.

19. Sean Payton, Saints

2011 record: 13-3; won NFC South, lost in Round Two of playoffs
All-time record: 62-34 regular season; 5-3 playoffs; one Super Bowl victory
Seasons as head coach: 6

You’d have to be vacationing in Upper Mongolia not to be aware of the Saints’ current issues, which have centered around Payton, who was left standing amid the bounty scandal, although he won’t be coaching in 2012. The yearlong suspension leaves the job to interim head coach Joe Vitt after his own six-game penalty. Vitt struggled to keep the Rams afloat in an interim role in 2005 following Mike Martz’s firing, leading the team to a 4-7 finish after Vitt won his first two games (including his first one over, yep, the Saints). Owner Tom Benson expressed his public dismay about the bounty program but supported Payton and, to a lesser degree, Vitt.

What Payton needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Had Benson wanted to, he could have fired Payton on the spot and likely would have found a way to recoup some of the money in the wake of the scandal. But he kept his coach, willing to have him sit on the sidelines this season, with ‘13 and beyond in mind. Payton signed an extension last year through the 2015 season that likely pays him among the highest coaches in the NFL (those figures are not available in a lot of cases). Honestly, Payton should be back next season without too much friction unless he says or does something stupid in the next six months or so or the league unveils new, damaging evidence in the case that makes Payton look worse. One stipulation upon his return could be that Payton must make coaching changes if things fall apart on the field for the Saints this season. The long-term fate of franchise QB Drew Brees, who has yet to sign an extension of his own, could be tied directly to Payton. It’s a tricky, multilayered situation there.

18. Joe Philbin, Dolphins

2011 record: 0-0
All-time record: 0-0
Seasons as head coach: None

First-year head coaches typically are safe, even with a couple of non-Al Davis-related exceptions in the past five years, including one in Miami. An unstable team and a new front office moved on from Cam Cameron and his one victory in 2007, and the most likely reason something similar could occur again would be the Stephen Ross factor. The impulsive, inexperienced owner quickly has gained a reputation for courting — and losing — some big fish, both coaches (Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher) and players (Peyton Manning). He might decide to fire GM Jeff Ireland, the fans’ favorite whipping boy, and who knows what a new GM might do? Many choose to “move in a new direction,” as they like to say, so it’s far from certain that Philbin, who was far from a slam-dunk choice in many eyes, would match what a new GM wants.

What Philbin needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Win enough games to keep Ireland’s job safe and fail to evoke memories of the dark days of Cameron and ‘07. Without a ready-made franchise QB in place (patience, Ryan Tannehill supporters), that should be plenty.

17. Dennis Allen, Raiders

2011 record: 0-0
All-time record: 0-0
Seasons as head coach: None

In reality, the 39-year-old first-time coach isn’t going anywhere. The Raiders hired him for a measure of stability following a decade-plus of constant change, and they see him as a rising star in the business. The fact that Al Davis has passed away and that Reggie McKenzie — by all barometers, a far more measured and far less implusive man than Davis — is making the football decisions is a good thing for Allen. He’ll be allowed to implement his defense, make a long-term decision at quarterback and establish his leadership in the locker room at a reasonable NFL pace.

What Allen needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Avoid a total trainwreck. We’re talking a 1-15 or 0-16 Hindenburg-esque disaster here. He’ll be back almost no matter what unless he shockingly proves to be completely incompetent, which his strong supporters say won’t happen.

16. Mike Munchak, Titans

2011 record: 9-7; missed postseason
All-time record: 9-7 regular season
Seasons as head coach: 1

After an unexpected 9-7 season and a run at the playoffs (the finished with the same record as the Bengals, who snuck in), Munchak afforded himself some nice cushion after Year One and did a splendid job handling Chris Johnson in an offseason, a new offensive system and quarterback following the lockout and proved to be a good in-game coach after some had questioned his X-and-O qualifications as a career OL coach. The Titans appear to be in solid shape in a winnable division, and Munchak has good footing and backing from executive vice president / GM Ruston Webster and executive vice president / COO Mike Reinfeldt.

What Munchak to do to keep his job in 2013: There were whispers that Munchak was quietly interested in the Penn State job last December, and though they proved to no avail, a flirtation with another job could slightly irritate the front office and management. It’s more likely that Munchak could find himself on the hot seat entering 2013 if the Titans slip to 6-10 or 5-11, for instance.

15. Mike Mularkey, Jaguars

2011 record: 0-0
All-time record: 14-18 regular season; 0-0 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 2

Mularkey comes to Jacksonville charged with the task of instilling more discipline in a team that had lost its way under Jack Del Rio and to help first-round QB Blaine Gabbert develop quickly into a franchise cornerstone. The belief is that Mularkey will get more than a year to reach those goals, even if immediate improvement is expected. The wild-card factor is that GM Gene Smith’s future with the team is not set in stone, and we don’t know how patient new Jaguars owner Shad Khan will be after purchasing the club last year.

What Mularkey needs to do to keep his job in 2013: A 3-13 campaign (or worse) and no clear progress from Gabbert might be what it would take for Smith to lose his job, and if that happens all bets are off. Short of that, Mularkey will coach the Jaguars, who haven’t exactly set the world on fire, in 2013.

14. Chuck Pagano, Colts

2011 record: 0-0
All-time record: 0-0
Seasons as head coach: None

New Colts GM Ryan Grigson cut his teeth in Philadelphia, where Andy Reid has been the team’s head coach since 1999, and Grigson hopes that he’s working with the next Reid in Pagano, who was not a head-coaching candidate prior to last season. Of course, the hiring and firing decisions truly belong to owner Jim Irsay, whose exposure (much through Twitter) has grown quite a bit the past few seasons. He typically deferred to Bill Polian for moves of his measure in the past, but that was before Irsay and Polian parted ways in December. One could make the argument that former Jim Caldwell didn’t deserve to be fired, not two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, even with a 2-14 stain to his name. So Irsay has shown recently he’s capable of bold and perhaps rash maneuvers involving important staff members, but it’s not as if anyone expects Pagano to be a one-and-done.

What Pagano needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Avoid 0-16. Going through the threat of a winless season was enough for Irsay. Surpassing the 2012 win total would probably suffice, and having QB Andrew Luck on board should be enough to earn that many wins.

13. Romeo Crennel, Chiefs

2011 record: 2-1
All-time record: 26-41 regular season
Seasons as head coach: 5

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has handed the reins to his longtime collaborator in Crennel, and the 65-year-old head coach rewarded him with an upset of the previously unbeaten Packers in Week 15 and a solid finish after what had been a turbulent season. The Chiefs believe they are in better shape heading into 2012 because they were gutted by injuries a season ago, which might have been one reason why Pioli stayed within the organization to name his head coach. The players love Crennel and should play hard for him, and the division appears to be fairly up for grabs.

What Crennel needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Keep the team competitive. The Chiefs probably could tolerate a subpar season if injuries crop up again, but one of Crennel’s calling-card traits is that he’s a players’ coach. If he loses that, Pioli might be forced to go in a new direction. If the Chiefs fall even farther from last season’s 7-9, Crennel’s fate could be the same.

12. Greg Schiano, Buccaneers

2011 record: 0-0
All-time record: 0-0
Seasons as head coach: None

The Buccaneers don’t intend to hit the reset button again, not after taking steps backwards as a franchise under Raheem Morris and fans starting to pine for Jon Gruden. The choice of Schiano wasn’t universally lauded, and the recent history of college coaches (Jim Harbaugh notwithstanding) has been a bit murky. But he’ll have every opportunity to set his plan in motion this season and build with an eye toward the future. There are expectations that QB Josh Freeman could regain his mojo, perhaps soon, which speeds up the process a bit for Schiano. But it would be stunning if GM Mark Dominik did an end around and let go of his new coach after a single season.

What Schiano needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Not look like most college coaches who stumble in this league. If Freeman improves at all, getting back closer to what he did in 2010, it’s a great start. Winning 3-4 games should just about ensure Schiano is back, although Freeman playing better almost certainly would result in more victories than that. Unless, that is, the defense incredibly found a way to get worse …

11. Ron Rivera, Panthers

2011 record: 6-10
All-time record: 6-10
Seasons as head coach: 1

The Panthers had grown stagnant under John Fox, despite a strong overall mark under his watch, and turned to Rivera. The irony was not lost on many team observers that the similarities between the two men — defensive-minded coaches, men of few public words, West Coast guys — were somewhat striking. But Rivera appears to be quickly casting a mold that is in stark contrast to his predecessor. He supported the controversial drafting of Cam Newton No. 1 overall and backed a daring vertical attack to match his skills when many said those two things were antithetical. The front office and ownership love the direction of the franchise and believe Rivera and Newton will be their stallions for the next several years.

What Rivera needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Avoid the sophomore slump that has felled a number of coaches in recent years. Of course, improving over six wins shouldn’t be too hard with the pieces they have.

10. John Fox, Broncos

2011 record: 8-8; lost in Round Two of the playoffs
All-time record: 81-79 regular season; 6-4 playoffs; one Super Bowl loss
Seasons as head coach: 10

Some thought the John Elway-Fox pairing was a bit odd prior to last season, but the two men have quickly formed a strong bond. In fact, their laid-back styles, visions for success and experience helped lure QB Peyton Manning to Denver in what could be a game-changer for the franchise. The subsequent trade of Tim Tebow takes one form of media hype away, replaced by the Manning mania, but it also puts Fox on a bit of a watch. If he and Elway are wrong about Manning’s health, it could lead to some bruised egos. Owner Pat Bowlen — no matter what his day-to-day role is or isn’t these days — could never fire Elway, his golden boy. So guess who could be fired? Still, it’s a stretch, and quite a big one, in a time of excitement in Denver.

What Fox needs to do to keep his job in 2013: If the Broncos struggle this season and Manning can’t perform, there will be heat on Fox. But heat does not equate to fire, and it would be almost unimaginable that he loses his job even in the case of a disaster. In that situation, short of a career-threatening injury for Manning, the Broncos then would reload after next season and take another shot at a title with Fox back in place in ’13.

9. Jim Schwartz, Lions

2011 record: 10-6; lost in Round One of the playoffs
All-time record: 18-30 regular season; 0-1 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 3

Schwartz might be the most secure 18-30 coach in recent history, but that hasn’t stopped him from seeking a contract extension now. His deal runs up after this season, but there is no lame-duck status here. Schwartz is considered one of the brightest head coaches in the NFL, and he appears to be building a monster in Detroit. So why might he give up a little money by signing a deal now instead of perhaps after a deep run in the playoffs this season? Some have speculated that Schwartz would rather have the long-term security and the comfort of knowing where he’ll be in 2013. There’s also the fact that the Packers and Bears are the Lions’ opponents in the extremely competitive NFC North and winning this season — even with a loaded roster — is far from a guarantee. If Schwartz wants to be back, he certainly will — it’s just a matter of when an extension might come down the pike. He is as tight-lipped as anyone about it, and GM Martin Mayhew (in the few media sessions he has) often speaks in broad generalities about Schwartz’s deal.

What Schwartz needs to do to return in 2013: Signing an extension this summer would end the debate. It looks like a solid possibility. Schwartz could opt to wait, rolling the dice that he might be worth more at the end of the season. But what won’t happen is him getting fired, even with a disturbing rash of off- and on-field incidents under the coach’s watch. Ndamukong Suh might have to eat Aaron Rodgers for that to happen.

8. Gary Kubiak, Texans

2011 record: 10-6; won AFC South, lost in Round Two of the playoffs
All-time record: 47-49 regular season; 1-1 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 6

In reality, he might be the safest coach in the NFL after receiving a three-year extension, along with GM Rick Smith, in mid-June. But saying he’s on more solid metaphysical footing than the men above him on this list feels like blasphemy in some ways. Why? Because Kubiak might have topped this list a year ago, and despite the Texans’ first-ever divisional crown and exciting playoff run, another poor season might have Kubiak back on the block. But the situation is strong now, even with some free-agent losses, and Kubiak doesn’t have to coach with his back against the wall.

What Kubiak needs to do to keep his job in 2013: He’s not getting fired. But Kubiak would make a lot of people feel a lot better about the extension if the Texans followed up last season with some more success in 2012. Something to watch: the play this season of QB Matt Schaub, who is in a contract year. To ask if the Texans still have a lot riding on this year, even in the afterglow of a division crown, is a clown question, bro.

7. Jeff Fisher, Rams

2011 record: 0-0
All-time record: 142-120 regular season; 5-6 playoffs; one Super Bowl loss
Seasons as head coach: 17

A first-year head coach has more security than a coach coming off a divisional title and having just received an extension? Well, Gary Kubiak’s deal runs through 2014, while Fisher will earn an average of $7 million annually over the next five years. (And to think, talk spread before he signed that he was not seeking outrageous money.) That puts him among the two or three highest-paid head coaches in the NFL, right up there with Mike Shanahan and Bill Belichick. The Rams moved on from Steve Spagnuolo and put all their eggs in Fisher’s basket, to so speak. They might have questions about finances and stadium leases, but you can bet that Fisher has the full support of COO Kevin Demoff and GM Les Snead.

What Fisher needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Very, very little. The Rams have been outscored by 514 points combined the past three seasons. He will be back.

6. John Harbaugh, Ravens

2011 record: 12-4; won AFC North, lost in AFC title game
All-time record: 44-20 regular season; 5-4 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 4

There is pressure on the Ravens to win this season, no question. They nearly made the Super Bowl in January, narrowly losing to the Patriots in New England, and the bulk of the team returns. Harbaugh has won at least 11 games in three of his four seasons and has division crowns to his name each of the past two. For coaches with at least 50 NFL games under their belt, his .688 win percentage is tied for the seventh-highest in NFL history and better than all-time legends George Halas and Don Shula, albeit with far fewer games to his name. Harbaugh also has done well in the postseason, going 5-4 and making two AFC title games. Still, there are a few things to worry about currently, with Ray Rice’s and Joe Flacco’s contract situations and Terrell Suggs’ injury.

What Harbaugh needs to do to keep his job in 2013: A losing season would anger the locals greatly — and some might argue anything less than a playoff win would be unacceptable. But would Harbaugh get fired from it? Strange things happen; if Flacco or Rice or Haloti Ngata get hurt, Suggs doesn’t respond well to rehab or any other major injury hits take place, even a 5-11 season likely is not enough to cost Harbaugh his job.

5. Mike McCarthy, Packers

2011 record: 15-1; won NFC North, lost in Round Two of playoffs
All-time record: 63-33 regular season; 5-3 playoffs; one Super Bowl victory
Seasons as head coach: 6

How long does a Super Bowl victory followed up by a 15-1 regular season the next year buy a coach? McCarthy and the Packers feasibly could lay a total egg in 2012 — even with Super Bowl aspirations — and he would be fine. The franchise is completely behind him, and he is involved in calling plays with franchise QB Aaron Rodgers, who would throw a fit if McCarthy was fired, as well as helping sculpt the roster with GM Ted Thompson. Can’t make Rodgers mad.

What McCarthy needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Prevent from flipping over the handlebars of one of those training-camp bikes and knocking out his lower mandible. In fact, that’s not even enough — he’d just have to send in plays through more creative means.

4. Mike Tomlin, Steelers

2011 record: 12-4; lost in Round One of the playoffs
All-time record: 55-25 regular season; 5-3 playoffs; one Super Bowl victory
Seasons as head coach: 5

Sure, there’s a tepid level of pressure brewing with the Steelers, whose fans can get a bit snippy if four or five years pass between Super Bowl titles. Losing to the Ravens multiple times also makes for a grumpy Steeltown. But Tomlin coaches for perhaps the most historically bedrock franchise in NFL history in the Steelers, who have had three head coaches since 1969. Chances are, they will be stuck on three for many years to come. Tomlin has gained rock-star status in Pittsburgh and is beloved by the Rooney family.

What Tomlin needs to do to keep his job in 2013: There’s no way the Steelers go 0-16, but if they did and Tomlin mulled taking the Browns’ head-coaching vacancy at the end of the year, then maybe the NFL’s first family in Pittsburgh might reassess its position on coaching changes.

3. Jim Harbaugh, 49ers

2011 record: 13-3; won NFC West, lost in NFC title game
All-time record: 13-3 regular season; 1-1 playoffs
Seasons as head coach: 1

That’s how big an impression Harbaugh left in his first season in San Francisco: He’s ahead of a few Super Bowl-winning coaches here, not to mention his older brother. The Niners are back in business, and they nearly made the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl before losing in overtime in the NFC championship game last season. Everyone has bought in: the fans, management, Alex Smith, Vernon Davis and maybe even Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss. Harbaugh owns that town now, and though some have wondered privately about his waxing arrogance being a problem down the line (Rex Ryan might have a comment about that), even a miserable flop this year would not cause him to lose his job. The worst win percentage he could have after 32 games would be .406.

What Harbaugh needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Not pull a Woody Hayes and strangle someone from another team. On a completely unrelated note, good buddy Jim Schwartz and the Lions visit Candlestick in Week Two.

2. Tom Coughlin, Giants

2011 record: 9-7; won NFC East and Super Bowl
All-time record: 142-114 regular season; 11-7 playoffs; two Super Bowl victories
Seasons as head coach: 16

Coughlin and the Giants came to an agreement on a contract extension through 2014, and truth be told, he could probably have the job as long as he wants it and health permits. You know the story: The Giants twice have turned disappointing regular-season starts into Super Bowl wins the past four years, beating the mighty Patriots each time. Coughlin might not be the most popular New York (or Giants, for that matter) coach of all time, but his place is secured for years to come. Now he’s working on beefing up his résumé for Canton.

What Coughlin needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Coach all 16 games.

1. Bill Belichick, Patriots

2011 record: 13-3; lost in Super Bowl
All-time record: 175-97 regular season; 17-7 playoffs; 3-2 in Super Bowls
Seasons as head coach: 17

The man who twice has lost to Coughlin in the Super Bowl — after winning it with the Patriots three times, of course — ranks higher on this list by a single notch because of his age (he’s almost six years younger), his contract (he’s believed to be the highest-paid coach in all of sports) and his status (regarded as the closest thing to this generation’s Halas). Belichick, who turned 60 this year, had been mentioned as possibly interested in stepping down at some point, and other people have wondered out loud if he’d ever want to take on a Bill Parcells-like reclamation project with another team, maybe a final feather in his well-doffed football cap. But the security Belichick enjoys in New England is unparalleled, and his relationship with owner Robert Kraft (which only slightly was disturbed in the wake of the "Spygate" incident years ago) remains exceptionally strong. As far as everyone is concerned, they have rare faith and trust in each other.

What Belichick needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Resist re-acquiring Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth.

Comments ()


ABOUT TRUST ONLINE