NFL Coaches On The Hot Seat?
As always, there have been multiple coaching changes in the NFL this offseason as teams look to turn around their fortunes after a poor 2011. Next offseason will certainly be no different, and here are a few head coaches who may find themselves on the hot seat if their teams fail to reach expectations in 2012.
1. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers - The perpetually underachieving Chargers will have Turner back as head coach in 2012, after a second consecutive season out of the Playoffs and an 8-8 2011 season. The team did win the AFC West in each of Turner's first three seasons as head coach, including one appearance in the AFC Championship, but his failure to coax the most out of a typically talent-laden roster has been a disappointment the past two seasons. It has to be considered unlikely Turner would be fired in the middle of next season barring a disastrous turn of events, but another disappointing campaign would certainly again lead to rampant speculation about his job status and may finally lead to his firing.
2. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys - Garrett led the Cowboys to an 8-8 record in his first full season as head coach in 2011, which is definitely not what anyone in the franchise was hoping for at the start of the season. Dallas is another team that never seems to reach preseason expectations, and playing in a difficult NFC East does not help things. That said, Cowboys' Owner Jerry Jones has high expectations (for better or worse) and may look to bring in a big-name head coach if the team does not return to the Playoffs in 2012. Garrett will have to prove he is not in over his head as an NFL Head Coach, and every move he makes will be scrutinized by the local and national media if things do not work out.
3. Rex Ryan, New York Jets - Ryan's mouth is writing checks his team can't cash to this point in his tenure, though reaching the AFC Championship two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010 is noteworthy. But the Jets failed to make the Playoffs in 2011 as the locker room atmosphere seemed to deteriorate late in the season, so Ryan has to regain control and perhaps not be so player-friendly going forward. In any case, the Jets are likely to be among the teams most interested in both Peyton Manning and Randy Moss, which will only further increase the scrutiny of the Jets and Ryan himself. That seems to be ok with Ryan if his public persona is any indication, but if things go south again his job status may come into question quickly.
4. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins - An 11-21 record through two seasons is certainly not what the Redskins and Shanahan were looking for, though a regular season sweep of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants this past season does lend some cause for hope going forward. The shortcomings on the roster are clear, particularly offensively at quarterback and wide receiver, and could be easily addressed this offseason, so contention for a Playoff berth may not be far away. A tough NFC East is no bargain for sure, but owner Dan Snyder definitely had better results in mind when bringing a big name like Shanahan in. It is notable that Shanahan has failed to make the Playoffs in each of his last five seasons as a head coach, dating back to his time with the Denver Broncos.
5. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings - The Vikings tied a franchise worst for a 16-game season with a 3-13 record in 2011, and they have clearly fallen behind the pack in the NFC North. There are big talent gaps on the roster, especially defensively, but getting younger and rebuilding look to be on the top of the team's agenda going forward. That does not look likely to give Frazier a ton of job security in 2012 if another poor record comes, and with the franchise looking to find a way to build a new stadium a higher profile head coach may be deemed a better fit by ownership. All things considered, and with a lack of good possible internal replacements currently on the coaching staff, Frazier should get all of the 2012 season to prove himself and try to lead the Vikings to some improvement. After that, his job may be in jeopardy.
Honorable Mention: Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles; Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears; Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills