We’re already one game into the Week 13 schedule in the NFL. On Thursday night, the Seattle Seahawks handed a 31-14 beat down to the reeling Philadelphia Eagles. For me, I’ve always looked at Week 13 as the point in the season where the hot seat really heats up. Of course, playoff clinching scenarios come in to play and for teams on the fringe it’s make or break time.
The hot seat heats up a little earlier for some coaches, but this is the time of year when speculation really heats up as to which coaches will be looking for work at seasons end. Coaching changes usually come in bunches and once the first one goes, it usually begins a domino effect. Well, the first domino has fallen in Jacksonville and Jack Del Rio is no longer employed.
This season, there are quite a few head coaches whose seat is getting warm and toasty right about now. Here are eight that should start polishing their resume.
1. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Everyone expected the Vikings to struggle this year, but no one expected them to be this bad. Frazier is the one who lobbied to bring in Donovan McNabb and we all know how that experiment turned out. Minnesota is tied for the second worst record in football at 2-9 and could very well match the 1984 3-13 record. The defensive staff, which was retained from the Brad Childress era, will likely be tweaked. There are dead men walking in Winter Park, Minnesota, and Frazier could very well be one of them.
2. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This year, the Bucs have been pretty good (see: upset of New Orleans in Tampa) or horrifyingly bad (see: blowouts against Houston and San Francisco). If you’re the Glazers and see a team cart-wheeling to the Earth in a fireball, crashing in front of an ocean of empty seats, in a market where the sports dollar is stretched thin, you may feel compelled to act. Morris is under contract through 2012 but given the way the Buccaneers have been blown out this season, that contract may very well be shortened.
3) Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
A funny thing happened in San Diego. In years past, the Chargers started slow and finished strong. This year, they started 4-1 and there were high hopes in Southern Cal. Turner’s five-year stint with the Chargers has been an example of the law of diminishing returns, given that San Diego won two playoff games and made the AFC title game in his first season of 2007, then won just one postseason game in 2008, none in 2009 and didn’t even make the 12-team playoff field in 2010. His career coaching record now stands at 103-112-1, including his previous stops in Washington and Oakland. Not good…
4. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams
Spags may be liked and respected by his players and around the league, but it’s the bottom line that’s about to do him in. St. Louis is 10-33 in his 43-game tenure, and even if the Rams rally to a season-ending five-game winning streak, which doesn’t seem likely, Spagnuolo would still have won less than one-third of his games after taking over from the Scott Linehan-Jim Haslett regime in St. Louis. Expectations became sky high with last year’s 7-9 record and the hiring of Josh McDaniels, who was expected to take QB Sam Bradford’s game to the next level.
5. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Reid must rue the day this past offseason when Vince Young referred to the Eagles as the “Dream Team”, because the dream has quickly turned into a nightmare. Reid may be the dean of head coaches in terms of continuous service and he may have won more than 60% of his games, but in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, the Eagles have won just one of their past nine games at home, including last year’s first-round loss to Green Bay, and look almost assured of the franchise’s first losing record since 2005, the infamous Terrell Owens insubordination season.
6. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have played much better since their disastrous 0-7 start but the weight of expectations may be a little too heavy. Like the Wildcat offence that those 2008 Dolphins made famous, Miami flashed and then largely crashed and burned after that early success. The Dolphins (3-8) are headed for their third consecutive losing season. They still haven’t been able to get their quarterback issues fixed, and have lost home games at an alarming rate the past two seasons.
Sparano likely won’t have any problem getting his next assistant coaching job in the NFL. But his tenure as the boss in Miami has not gone well at all, and it would probably have been better for him if Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had been able to land his successor last offseason, when Ross embarrassed himself and the organization by going across the country in the failed pursuit of Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.
7. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
Caldwell may be a nice guy, but he learned one lesson and he learned it fast. Without Peyton Manning, this team is bad. A lot of it has to do with the Colts brass, which was content to see the immediate results and failed/refused to address life after Peyton. As a result, the team that won the Super Bowl in 2009 may also be the next team to go 0 for the season.
Colts owner Jim Irsay is a patient man, and he might give Caldwell a free pass for this lost season. But he might also decide that Caldwell and his staff showed very little skill in making the best of a bad situation this year, and that a change must be made to at least assign some accountability for the Colts’ epic failure.
8. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
If NFL seasons were only eight games long, Coughlin would be in the Hall of Fame by now. New York is 47-17 in the first half of the season from 2004. But Monday night’s brutal 49-24 loss at New Orleans was New York’s third straight defeat, which in a market like New York where losing is not an option, is enough to stir the masses.
Coughlin’s Giants are 24-35 in the season’s second half, and with games still remaining against Green Bay, Dallas (two) and the Jets, a 7-9 or 8-8 finish is very possible in New York. That should result in Coughlin, 65, not being asked back for 2012, the final season of his current contract. New York memorably went on that Super Bowl run in 2007 under Coughlin, but they haven’t won a playoff game since upsetting those 18-0 Patriots, and this would be the Giants’ third consecutive non-playoff season.