Top 10 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Week 5

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Rex Ryan's Jets have not gotten off to a great start this season

<p> Top 10 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Week 5</p>

Week 5 of the 2012 NFL season will kick off on Thursday night, which means we’ve reached the quarter-mark of the regular season. Teams across the league are evaluating where things stand right now, and that starts with the head coaches. Speaking of which, while no coach seems in imminent danger of losing his job, there are certainly a few who are starting to feel the heat.

Top 10 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Week 5

1. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Preseason Rank:
3
2012 Record: 2-2


Yes, the Jets are currently tied for first in the AFC East, and technically hold the advantage thanks to a 2-0 divisional record. However, the overall picture and in many ways, the immediate outlook, does not paint nearly as rosy a picture. Following Sunday’s 34-0 shutout loss to San Francisco at home, the Jets have scored just 33 points in their past three games after scoring 48 in a Week 1 win over Buffalo. In that game, the Jets had 384 yards of total offense. Since then, they are averaging a little more than 250 per game, and had just 145 total yards against the 49ers.

Before the season started, Ryan expressed a desire to return to the team’s “Ground N Pound” ways. Well it’s the Jets’ whose run game, which is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, has been grounded, while their rush defense has been pounded. The defense is giving up nearly five yards a carry as the 49ers ran roughshod for 245 yards on 44 carries (5.6 ypc) on Sunday. That’s the most allowed by the team in 52 games under Ryan. Obviously the defense has been impacted by the season-ending loss of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, but the Jets’ problems, on both sides of the ball right now, run much deeper than that. These are now Ryan’s problems to try and address as he gets his team ready for a visit from the undefeated Houston Texans this coming Monday night.

2. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Preseason Rank:
4
2012 Record: 2-2

Dallas is just one game behind current NFC East leader Philadelphia and has won its only divisional game (Week 1 against the Giants) so far, so there’s no reason to panic in Big D. However, there is certainly plenty to be concerned about following the Cowboys’ disappointing 34-18 home loss to Chicago on Monday night. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated, as Tony Romo was picked off five times and the Bears returned two of those for touchdowns. The good news is the coaching staff and team have an extra week to work on things before travelling to Baltimore in Week 6. The bad news is that there is a lot to address, starting with a running game that has all but disappeared since Week 1, and Garrett and the coaching staff know that expectations are always high when it comes the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones. The team has missed the playoffs the past two seasons. It’s entirely possible that Jones, who is not known for his patience, will decide to make a change should that streak continue this season.

3. Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
Preseason Rank:
9
2012 Record: 1-3


Injuries derailed the Chiefs’ 2011 season and have been an issue for the defense at the start of this season. The team is getting healthier, now it’s just a matter of producing on the field. Running back Jamaal Charles has returned from a torn ACL to power the offense, which needs better play from quarterback Matt Cassel (6 total TDs, 10 total turnovers). The defense is having its problems stopping anyone, as they have allowed an average of 34 points per game. Only the Tennessee Titans (37.8 ppg) are giving up more. Crennel took over the team late last season, and is now 3-4 with the Chiefs in his second stint as a head coach. He went 24-40 in four seasons as the Browns’ head coach from 2005-08.

4. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
Preseason Rank:
NR
2012 Record: 1-3


Much was expected of the Lions after finally putting an end to the franchise’s 12-year playoff drought last season. However, after scratching out a win over St. Louis in Week 1, the Lions have lost three in a row, including Sunday’s 20-13 divisional defeat at home to Minnesota. The Lions will have a week to reassess and address any issues that need to be fixed before starting a difficult three-week stretch – at Philadelphia, at Chicago and home to Seattle. The pressure is on Schwartz and his team to show that last year’s breakthrough wasn’t a fluke.

5. Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
Preseason Rank:
8
2012 Record: 0-4


The Browns and the Saints are the only winless teams left in the NFL, but there’s no “interim” in front of Pat Shurmur’s title. Shurmur’s young charges are playing better, three of the four losses have been by seven points or less, but the easiest way to measure progress is with wins. After giving divisional foe Baltimore all it could handle last Thursday, the Browns will have another chance to make a statement when they go to New York to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. The reality for Shurmur is he’s now 4-16 as the Browns’ head coach. Even with a rookie quarterback and running back leading his offense, he needs to find a way to get at least five victories or else the team may decide to bring someone else to oversee the rebuilding process.

6. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
Preseason Rank:
1
2012 Record: 3-1

For Turner, and general manager A.J. Smith for that matter, it’s pretty simple. At the minimum, the Chargers have to make the playoffs to have any shot at keeping their jobs. So far, so good as the Chargers have gotten off to an uncharacteristic 3-1 start. The offense hasn’t been as explosive as it has been in the past, but the defense is playing well, especially against the run (80.3 yards rushing per game, 6th in the NFL), and Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense have done a much better job of holding onto the ball (+3 turnover ratio). The Chargers go to New Orleans and then host Denver before their Week 7 bye, so we should know more about this team at that point.

7. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
Preseason Rank:
7
2012 Record: 2-2


Buffalo rebounded from a rough opening week loss to the Jets to win their next two over Kansas City and Cleveland. That modest winning streak came to a screeching halt on Sunday as New England scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to erase a 21-7 Bills lead. The Patriots won the game 52-28, gashing a revamped Bills’ defense that was expected to be one of the team’s strengths after the offseason additions, for 580 yards. The Bills’ offense (387.8 ypg, 11th in the NFL) has more than held its own, but the defense must play better as they already face a 0-2 hole in the AFC East divisional race.

8. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Preseason Rank:
2
2012 Record: 3-1

The Eagles are 3-1 and currently in first place in the NFC East, but that doesn’t mean the pressure is off for Reid and the coaching staff. First, owner Jeffrey Lurie has basically made it pretty clear that the Eagles need to do more than just into the playoffs this season. Second, the Eagles have been winning, but it hasn’t exactly been pretty. They’ve won their three games by a combined five points, while their one loss was by 21 on the road at Arizona. Also, the Eagles have turned the ball over 12 times already, with quarterback Michael Vick being responsible for nine (6 INT, 3 fumbles) of those. Vick and the team, however, did play turnover-free football in Sunday night’s big win over the Giants. So for now, everything seems copacetic in The City of Brotherly Love, but will only remain that way as long as Reid’s team keeps on winning.

9. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Preseason Rank:
NR
2012 Record: 1-3


The Panthers lost a tough one in Atlanta on Sunday as the Falcons forced the Panthers to punt with a little more than a minute left in the game. Matt Ryan then drove the team into position for Matt Bryant to kick the game-winning 40-yard field goal with just five seconds left. The good news for Rivera and the Panthers is that quarterback Cam Newton rebounded nicely after a rough Week 3 outing, accounting for more than 300 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in a win and the Panthers will try again next week at home against Seattle.

10. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
Preseason Rank:
6
2012 Record: 3-1

Smith and the Bears have bounced back with two straight victories following an ugly 23-10 loss at Green Bay in Week 2. The Bears were at their best on Monday night, thoroughly beating Dallas in all aspects in a convincing 34-18 victory in the palace that Jerry Jones built. Besides the defense intercepting Tony Romo five times (returning two of those for touchdowns), the offense did its part as Jay Cutler threw for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He did have one fumble, but he was only sacked twice and the Bears also got Matt Forte back in the lineup. There’s still a long ways to go and the Bears are already down a game to the Packers in the NFC North race, but there’s still plenty of reasons to be optimistic regarding the team’s outlook this season.

Others:
New Orleans is 0-4, but remember they are being led by an interim to the interim right now, so it doesn’t matter how many games Joe Vitt/Aaron Kromer win or lose. They both know they are merely keeping the seat warm for Sean Payton. Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier (No. 5) and Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt (No. 10) both made the preseason Hot Seat list, but have since poured a big ‘ol bucket of ice cold water on any such talk as their teams are a combined 7-1 to start the season. In fact, right now you have to say these two are the current leaders for Coach of the Year honors.

Of the six first-year head coaches, Jeff Fisher in St. Louis is the only one with two wins. The rest – Dennis Allen (Oakland), Mike Mularkey (Jacksonville), Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis), Joe Philbin (Miami) and Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay) – are either 1-3 or 1-2 as Pagano’s Colts were on bye in Week 4. There’s no reason to think any of these coaches are in jeopardy of losing their job just four games into it. That is especially the case with Pagano, who now has something far more important to deal with as he’s been diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 3, 2012

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