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9 NFL Coaches That Could Get Their Walking Papers
With so many teams hovering around mediocrity in the NFL right now, it’s tough to ascertain who’s playing better than others, let alone get a solid grasp on the quality of the coaching. The parity of the middle 60% might as well dictate that a random number generator pick the wildcard teams for several of the divisions, but that doesn’t mean that deficiencies can’t be snooped out as the trajectories of many teams become apparent. While it’s unlikely that 9 coaches will be served their walking papers this off season, and even more unlikely that I would be right about all 9, the coaches listed below are the best of the best. No. Wait. They’re the worst. That’s right. These coaches are the worst.
9. Tom Cable
Despite his recent string of wins, Tom Cable doesn’t have a lot going for him. His experience coaching at any level in the pros is only 5 seasons, he’s 13-23 in his stint with the Raiders, his personal conduct has been under scrutiny since domestic violence accusations, and most importantly, he works for Al Davis. “Just win, baby” doesn’t seem to be Davis’ mantra over the past ten years, but since the horrible experiment that was the JaMarcus Russell era has officially ended, is there new hope for the Raiders? Maybe, but probably not with these pieces in place. The Raiders culture and management has appeared to be antithetical to success for some time now, so a coaching change may not be all they need with certain pieces in place. (Read: Al Davis.)
8. John Fox
John Fox has had a pretty strong track record over the past decade or so with the Panthers, which is why almost halfway through the season, he’s not higher up on this list. His career record of 72-63 is enough to afford him an awful season, but when discussing the most likely candidates to be served their walking papers, we’d be remiss in not examining the 1-6 elephant in the room. Less-than-stellar appearances from Jimmy Clausen indicate that the Fox should look elsewhere for salvation. That said, this season probably won’t be the end of Mr. Fox unless it happens again and demonstrates a pattern.
7. Norv Turner
While few coaches in the NFL have enjoyed the recent success that Turner has (34-19 in his tenure there), frankly, that’s in the past, and things aren’t looking so hot for the Chargers going forward. The 2-5 start is an easy giveaway to this point, but a fickle fan base that is causing recurring television blackouts also speaks to this point. However, the fickle fan base could also serve as a saving grace, as San Diego sports fans have never been as demanding on their teams as other markets, so while Turner should make the cut this season, this season could be an unfortunate omen of a steady decline, which may be the beginning of the end for Turner.
6. Eric Mangini
Though he’s only been with the Browns for two seasons, the fact remains that he has been the head coach for a team where the life expectancy of a head coach closely resembles the life expectancy of fruit flies. After an abysmal season last year, things are looking, well, similarly bleak this season. Though the unexpected starts from McCoy have shown promise, it’s unclear whether he can a) lead any team on a pro level, and b) work a miracle for the perennially disappointing Browns. The only mitigating factor is that, again, he is only two seasons in, but as a Browns coach, it’s always a good idea to have a resume on hand.
5. Chan Gailey
Gailey, despite his skill set as an offensive coordinator, never seemed completely at ease during his time as a head coach in Dallas from 1998-2000. And that was a fairly established team. With the Bills, he may very well be the captain of a sinking ship, although their crappy record would actually rewarded with the team with the top draft pick (probably Jake Locker, the University of Washington quarterback). While it’s difficult to fault the Bills faithful for wanting to go 0-16 with the promise of a new QB, Gailey could be the victim of his own success if he takes a horrible team and makes them simply crappy, and they lose the rights to #1. Strangely, this is an instance where Gailey can simply do what is probably tacitly expected of him and take a dive with the hopes of turning things around next season. Just lose, baby.
4. Marvin Lewis
While Mangini has time on their sides, Marvin Lewis doesn’t get to enjoy that luxury. Having been the head coach of the Bengals for the past six years, he’s had time to develop a style and team that’s copacetic. Yet he hasn’t, which is why he sits a little higher up the list than the aforementioned coaches. While Palmer showed promise, saying he plateaued would be awfully generous considering his performance in recent years. While he was named coach of the year last year for his impressive turnaround to 10-6, a 4 or 5-win season this year will have a way of wiping clean any apologist’s memory. If the 10-win season a year ago doesn’t come close to being replicated this year, then many Bengal faithful may hurry to chalk the 2009 performance up as an anomaly and start looking to the future.
3. Jim Schwartz
I’ll be the first one to admit that Jim Schwartz walked into a shitty situation with the Lions, but when a record fails to improve after his 2-14 initial season (even though they played like the best 2-14 team in history), especially when you’re promising quarterback has one more year of experience under his belt, it’s telling that the problem may lie somewhere else in the organization, and it’s not unreasonable to look at the head coach and say “Has this guy made this team better?” They’ve drafted well, yet seem to be playing more poorly than they did even last year. Again, a short tenure and the fallout from Matt Millen’s reign of terror might be Schwartz’s saving grace, but with any other team, his work would be a little more transparent and he would be sweating bullets.
2. Mike Singletary
While his 15-18 record over three years isn’t AWFUL, especially given the consistent mediocrity of the team he inherited, it isn’t a pace that anyone wants their team to have. His brash style in handling players and Tony Robbins-like motivational background wouldn’t bat an eye if he had a winning record, but the fact remains that those aspects of coaching are often X factors that bump teams up from 8-8 to the playoffs, but won’t necessarily compel your players to learn the snap counts and run the right patterns. If he can’t show a mastery of the coaching fundamentals by the end of the year, he won’t be able to rest on any past coaching successes, so it may be time to pack his bags.
1. Wade Phillips
Well, this was easy. When a team that many forecasted to be playing in early February is on pace for a 2-win season, such a monumental screw up dictates that you start shaking things up as high on the food chain as you can go. Since the GM is Jerry Jones, and his ego would be devastated if he fired himself, the next man up to the gallows is Wade. Given the talent the team has amassed and the clear lack of discipline and focus the team has demonstrated, it’s not exactly a shocking pick for #1 on this list. However, what will be shocking is if Phillips is able to take the reigns for any other team after his rocky tenure in Dallas.