Norv Turner, Andy Reid lead the list of coaches who need to win this season
The 2012 NFL season kicks off in less than two weeks, which means teams will start finalizing their 53-man rosters very soon. Once Week 1 rolls around, however, the focus on job security switches from the players to the head coaches. As is typically the case, several enter the upcoming season on the proverbial "hot seat."
Below is a look at the coaches who really need to win in 2012 or otherwise they may want to start polishing up their resume.
2012 NFL Head Coaches Hot Seat Rankings
1. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
After missing the playoffs for a second straight season with a team that many expected to contend for a Super Bowl title, some were surprised that Turner got a reprieve for this season. Thereâs little doubt that this is Turnerâs last stand with the Chargers, who should be able to compete with the now Peyton Manning-led Broncos for AFC West supremacy in 2012. For his career, Turner has a sub-.500 record (107-113-1) in 14 seasons and has only been to the playoffs four times. Two of those appearances have come in his five seasons with the Chargers, but if Turner has any hopes of keeping his job, just making the playoffs may not be enough this season.
2. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Reid is the most tenured coach in all of the NFL as he enters his 14th season leading the Eagles. The franchiseâs all-time leader in wins (126), Reid has taken the team to the playoffs nine times, won six division titles, one NFC Championship, and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX following the 2004 season. However, after signing several marquee free agents, the Eaglesâ so-called âDream Teamâ stumbled out of the gates in 2011, starting the season 1-4. They never really got any momentum going until the end, when they won four in a row against non-playoff teams, and finished the season a disappointing 8-8. Owner Jeffrey Lurie has not come out and said so publicly, but itâs pretty clear that Reid and the Eagles need to not only make the playoffs this season, but get beyond the first round. Otherwise there will probably be significant changes, starting at the top.
3. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Last season was the first in three that Ryan did not lead his Jets to the playoffs, although he did get them to just a win away from the Super Bowl in his first two. However, when the team you share the city with has two world championships in the past five seasons, itâs pretty clear that you need to do more than just talk a good game. Ryan seems to have moved on from his annual Super Bowl guarantees, which is a wise move on his part. Besides, if he and the Jets donât fare better than 8-8 this season, the only guarantee he will need to worry about is one coming from owner Woody Johnson about his job security.
4. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Garrett may be entering just his second full season as a head coach, but letâs not kid ourselves here, the Dallas Cowboys arenât your typical NFL franchise. Garrett has posted a winning record (15-13) in his tenure, but the âBoys went 8-8 in 2011, missing the playoffs for the second straight season. Jerry Jones isnât known for being a patient man and with a potential coaching free agency pool that could include the likes of Super Bowl winners Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Brian Billick and Jon Gruden, Garrett can ill afford a slow start or losing season.
5. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Just like Garrett, Frazier has been in charge of the Vikings for only one full season. However, thatâs where the similarities end between the two coaches as the Vikings and Cowboys are in two entirely different situations. The Vikings are in complete rebuild mode and no one is expecting them to compete for a playoff spot in 2012. That said, if Frazier isn't even able to improve on last yearâs 3-13 dismal showing then no one would be surprised if owner Zygi Wilf goes with someone else to oversee the rebuild in Minnesota.
6. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
After starting the 2011 season 7-3, the Bears stumbled miserably down the stretch finishing 1-5 and missing the playoffs. Season-ending injuries to both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte played a significant role behind the teamâs collapse. Thatâs why new general manager Phil Emery addressed the depth at both quarterback and running back as well as added wide receiver Brandon Marshall during the offseason. With these moves and others, Smith and the Bears really have no excuses should they miss the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons. If that happens, Smithâs run in the Windy City could come to an end.
7. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
Like the Bears, the Bills got off to a great start (5-2) last season, before watching it all come apart and finishing a disappointing 6-10. The Bills focused their offseason efforts on upgrading the defense, highlighted by the signing of marquee free agent Mario Williams. If the team doesnât show signs of taking that next step in 2012 and posts an eighth straight losing season, the first casualty will more than likely be the 60-year-old Gailey.
8. Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
The Browns havenât been in the playoffs since 2002 and have had two winning seasons in the past 10. No one is expecting them to contend for a playoff spot in 2012, especially since they are in the same division as Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but thereâs no reason they canât win more than four games this season either. The Browns have put together several solid drafts recently, highlighted by this yearâs first-round picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden. If Shurmur and his team doesnât start showing some results on the field, chances are someone else will get the chance to coach the young pups in 2013.
9. Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
Injuries devastated the Chiefs early and often last season, but that still wasnât enough of an excuse for Todd Haley to save his job. Crennel took over, went 2-1 in the final three games, and should get a healthy Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and other key players back this season. Now itâs up to Crennel to show heâs the right man to lead the Chiefs back to the playoffs. Even though he and general manager Scott Pioli have a relationship that goes back to their days with the Patriots, Crennelâs track record as a head coach (24-40 with Cleveland from 2005-08) isnât exactly the strongest.
10. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
Whisenhunt has won two division titles and led the Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII in his five seasons so far in the desert. The problem is, both playoff appearances and the NFC Championship came with Kurt Warner leading the offense. Since Warnerâs retirement, the Cardinals have gone 13-21 and missed the playoffs the last two seasons. To make matters worse for Whisenhunt, Arizona's quarterback situation has been the story of Cardinals' traning camp, mainly how poorly Kevin Kolb, whom the Cardinals invested more than $62 million after trading for him in 2011, has performed. Whether Kolb, backup John Skelton or rookie Ryan Lindley ends up with the starting job remains to be seen, but it's clear that the position could play a significant role in Whisenhuntâs future with the team.
Three More Names to Watch
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
Kubiak led the Texans to their first-ever 10-win season, division title, playoff appearance and playoff victory in 2011 and then signed a two-year contract extension that takes him through the 2014 season in June. So why is he even mentioned here, you ask? Because for the first time in franchise history, the Texans are not only expected to make the playoffs, but compete for a spot in the Super Bowl. Kubiakâs never had to coach a team with such high expectations, so what happens if the Texans donât meet said expectations?
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Yes Payton wonât be coaching this season, so he canât do anything to âhurtâ his resume, if you will. However, given the damage done, not only to Peytonâs reputation and wallet, but also to the Saintsâ franchise itself, because of the bounty scandal, you canât help but wonder if perhaps Payton has already coached his last game for the Saints. He is under contract through the 2015 season, but I have to think should he want out of the Big Easy or vice versa, something can be worked out. Did I mention Payton has a house in Dallas?
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
Whatâs a coach with 157 career wins (14th all-time) and two Super Bowl titles have to worry about? Perhaps nothing, but Shanahan has gone just 11-21 in his first two seasons in Washington. His contract runs through 2014 and it pays him $7 million a year, but money has never been an issue for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. Shanahan's best seasons came when he had a quarterback named John Elway on his roster. Will he be able to revisit that success with his new field general, No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III? More importantly, will he get enough time to even find out?
â By Mark Ross, published on August 23, 2012
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