The beauty of the NFL is that every year each team has the realistic chance of advancing to the playoffs if a few things go right. On the flip side, a season can turn disastrous with a couple of injuries or lackluster play. As a result, the head coach usually suffers the brunt of it and ends up looking for a new job.
These are the five NFL coaches on the hot seat in 2010 that could be looking for employment in 2011.
Lovie Smith – Chicago Bears
After head coach Smith led the Bears to back-to-back NFC North titles, they have only been able to muster a 23 – 25 overall record and no playoff berths. The Bears tried to stick with what they had on offense until they saw the rest of their division making upgrades at the quarterback position.
As a result of the fan pressure for success, the Bears offered up just about everything, including the kitchen sink to the Denver Broncos for quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler regressed in 2009 thanks to a below average receiving core and resulted in him throwing a NFL high 26 interceptions.
Smith was also dealt a raw deal by the Bears organization when they promoted Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator. This is the same Marinelli who was head coach of the Detroit Lions during their woeful years and saw their defense ranked at the bottom of every statistical category.
The saving grace for Smith is Mike Martz, who was brought in to be the offensive coordinator. If he is able to instill his offensive style successfully, Cutler has the chance to put up some monster numbers. That is of course if Cutler is able to survive the lack of a solid pass blocking scheme.
Jack Del Rio – Jacksonville Jaguars
Every year Jack Del Rio finds a way to retain his job as the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach despite not reaching the playoffs in five of the seven seasons. With the Jaguars losing money as they try to find ways to bring in fans, ownership is going to be lurking behind Del Rio through the entire 2010 NFL season.
Even though Del Rio has three years left on his current contract, his teams have failed to live up to the expectations. In 2009, the Jaguars had one of the best running backs in the game, but were unable to muster much of an offensive attack and averaged 16.2 points per game during the second half. As a result, they compiled a 3 – 5 record and missed out on a playoff berth.
Del Rio has to be the odds on favored to be removed from his head coach position before the season is over, especially if the Jaguars continue to suffer from fan apathy that has led to seven of the eight home games being blacked out in 2009.
John Fox – Carolina Panthers
The Panthers will enter the 2010 NFL season with a good number of questions on both sides of the ball, but one of the biggest ones will be if head coach Fox returns in 2011. Though Fox has led the Panthers to three division title in eight years, it was the only time when they had a winning record.
Last year the Panthers underperformed on the offensive side, scoring less than 20 points per game while they committed 26 turnovers. Fox is going to need to settle on a starter at the quarterback position if he wants to find consistency for his offense.
Fox has not received a vote of support from the Panthers’ organization yet as he enters into the final year of his contract. This will only make things even harder on the embattled coach. The only thing that would probably save Fox’s job by the end of the season is if the team makes a serious attempt of reaching the playoffs.
Tom Coughlin – New York Giants
The majority of people are forgiving except when it comes to their sports teams. The same can be said about fans and the ‘what have you done for me lately’ attitude. Despite winning a Super Bowl only a few years ago, Tom Coughlin is in a dicey situation in New York.
The Giants suffered from an identity crisis in 2009. Their normally stingy defense gave up 26.7 points per game, third highest in the NFL while their running game was middle of the pack. It did not help that the Giants were 5-0 out of the gate and finished with a .500 record and out of the playoffs. The one bright spot was the performance of Eli Manning and how he matured as a quarterback.
The Giants are not going to sit by and watch the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFC East pass them by. If Coughlin is unable to right the ship and bring the team back to their normal standards, he will be looking for a new head coaching position in the NFL.
Wade Phillips – Dallas Cowboys
Despite the success the Dallas Cowboys had in 2009, Wade Phillips is going to be on the hot seat the moment the regular season kicks off. Yes, even though Phillips has managed to survive as the Cowboys head coach after compiling a 34 – 17 record.
Had the Cowboys been unable to earn their first playoff victory last season, Phillips would already be out of a job. Now he is going to be saddled with the pressure of getting the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. Since the up and down retirement of the Minnesota Vikings’ Brett Favre, the folks out in Las Vegas have anointed the Cowboys as the team to beat.
While there is a lot to be excited about down in Texas, there are several question marks about this team. Will they be able to find a suitable wide receiver to play opposite Miles Austin? Can their defense continue to find success on a consistent basis in the battle tested NFC East?
If the Cowboys do not make a deep run into the 2011 playoffs, we can expect to see head coach Wade Phillips looking for work elsewhere.
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