By Wesley Kaminsky
Every year in the NFL, coaches get fired. There’s no way around it. When a team is struggling, the blame falls to the head coach.
Last season, Steve Spagnuolo, Tony Sparano, Raheem Morris, Tony Haley, Jack Del Rio, Hue Jackson, and Jim Caldwell were among those who were given the boot. No surprise, none of those teams made the playoffs.
Which coaches have a lot of pressure on them this year? Here is my two cents.
No.5: Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Since taking over as interim coach in 2010 for Brad Childress, the Vikings haven’t seen much improvement from Leslie Frazier. After going 3-3 in 2010, Frazier got his interim tag removed, becoming the head coach of the Vikings.
In his first full season in Minnesota, the Vikings had their worst season since 1984, going 3-13. After starting the season with Donovan McNabb at quarterback, the Vikings quickly fell to 1-5. Needing a spark, Frazier turned to rookie Christian Ponder. Ponder managed to go just 2-8 in his rookie season and will be the starting quarterback in 2012.
If Ponder isn’t the answer for the Vikings, that could also very well mean the end for Frazier. With Adrian Peterson coming off of a torn ACL and MCL, you have to wonder if he’ll be the same. If the Vikings start this season slow again, don’t be surprised if he gets fired. Be careful, Leslie.
Final Verdict: Leslie Frazier gets fired halfway through the season.
No. 4: Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Rex Ryan has never been shy in sharing his thoughts. Since taking over as head coach of the Jets in 2009, Ryan hasn’t been afraid to say his team would win the Super Bowl. In three seasons with the Jets, they haven’t reached their goal yet. After making the AFC Championship game in 2009 and 2010, the Jets took a step back a season ago, missing the playoffs.
That followed with a noisy off-season, thanks to the signing of Tim Tebow. For Mark Sanchez, this season is due to be a distraction. He can say all he wants about how he does not mind Tebow on the team, but its got to bother him a little bit. Sanchez job is not safe, no matter what Rex Ryan, or anybody in the Jets organization says.
There’s a reason they brought Tim Tebow in. If the Jets miss the playoffs for the second straight time this season, the blame could fall to Rex Ryan. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets grew tired of his antics if they fall short of the playoffs. Then again, I don’t see Rex Ryan getting fired.
Final Verdict: The Jets miss the playoffs for the second straight season, but Rex Ryan survives.
No. 3: Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Similar to Rex Ryan, I have a hard time believing the Eagles will fire Andy Reid. Granted, Reid has been there a lot longer, as he is entering his 13th season in Philadelphia. He’s helped bring the Eagles franchise to where it is today, guiding the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance, five NFC championship games, and six division titles. With the tragic passing of his oldest son Garrett Reid, Michael Vick has stated that this upcoming season will be dedicated to him. It’s going to be an emotional season for the Eagles.
For many years now, Eagles fans have been waiting for Andy Reid to be fired. With just a 10-9 playoff record, Reid’s teams have come up short again and again in the post-season. He always has the Eagles competitive, but Eagles fans want more: a Lombardi Trophy.
Thanks to Vince Young proclaiming the Eagles a “Dream Team” a season ago, it was Super Bowl or bust in Philadelphia. The Eagles fell short, finishing 8-8, but winning their last four games. Now, they need to carry that into 2012.
The Eagles success lies on the shoulders and health of Michael Vick. It’s no secret that he’s had some trouble staying on the field.
I expect the Eagles to play inspired football this season. In a tough NFC East, the division crown won’t be easy. They have more than enough to win it.
Final Verdict: The Eagles don’t make the Super Bowl, but return to the playoffs, keeping Andy Reid safe.
No. 2: Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
For the past two seasons, I’ve previewed five coaches who are on the hot seat heading into the upcoming year.
Both times, I’ve had Norv Turner on my list.
Both times, he’s missed the playoffs.
Both times, he’s somehow survived.
I don’t get it. Since 2009, when the Chargers lost in the divisional round to the Jets, they haven’t been back in the playoffs. That season they were 13-3, and had won 11 straight games heading into the playoffs. It looked like that was the year for them to make it to the Super Bowl.
Now, three seasons later, they have continued to underachieve under Turner. In 2011, Tebow-mania proved to be too much for the Chargers, and in 2010, they somehow let the Chiefs win the division.
It doesn’t get any easier this season with Peyton Manning joining the AFC West.
I really should stop believing in the Chargers, but I believe in Philip Rivers. This team is flying under the radar and they might just make some noise in the playoffs. Please, don’t quote me on this.
Final Verdict: The Chargers win the AFC West, and Norv Turner remains in San Diego.
No. 1: Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Since inheriting a 1-7 Cowboys team in 2010, Jason Garrett hasn’t made much noise in Dallas. After finishing the 2010 season on a high note at 5-3, Jerry Jones named Garrett the head coach.
One year later, the Cowboys fell short of the playoffs, losing to the Giants in Week 17 with the NFC East title on the line.
Known as “America’s Team,” the Cowboys have just one playoff win since 1996. Tony Romo has proven that he’s got the tools to be a successful quarterback, but he hasn’t put it all together yet. This will be a huge year for Romo and Garrett.
Another failed regular season could mean the end of the road for both of them. Expectations are always high in Dallas, which means Garrett has a lot of pressure.
I look at this team in a similar position as the Chargers. Both teams have missed the playoffs the past two seasons, and both are flying under the radar. I like the Cowboys this season. I think Tony Romo is the right guy for this team and will prove it this season.
Final Verdict: Look for the Cowboys to bounce back this season, keeping Jason Garrett around.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.