Line of Scrimmage: Coaches on the Hot Seat, and Who's Next
Line of Scrimmage: Coaches on the Hot Seat, and Who's Next
By Tony Moss, NFL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy:
If your first name is Mike, and you are employed as a head coach in the National Football League, you might be on the hot seat.
Whether your surname is Holmgren, Martz, Shanahan, Sherman or Tice, your job in 2005 will be to win football games, preferably a whole lot of them. Mike Nolan, the new head guy in San Francisco, is the member of the Mikes that gets a break for the foreseeable future, if that's what you want to call working for John York.
The others are among a group of NFL coaches who must meet expectations, or risk being asked to pass the mike. An eager group of skippers is waiting in the wings, quietly hoping that their chance to operate with ultimate authority on an NFL sideline is imminent.
Below we take a look at the coaches that enter 2005 on the hot seat, followed by a glimpse of the possible next generation of league head men:
THE HOT SEAT 1. Norv Turner, Raiders (5-11 in one season with Oakland) - If Turner doesn't just win, baby, in his second year in Oakland, the notoriously quick hook of owner Al Davis is bound to make an appearance. With the additions of Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan on offense, the Raiders expect to challenge in the AFC West, and if they don't, Turner will be seeking employment elsewhere.
2. Jim Haslett, Saints (42-38 in five seasons with New Orleans, 1-1 in playoffs) - Haslett saved his job when the Saints won their final four games and nearly made the playoffs in 2004, but the fact that the organization has yet to give him a multi-year extension is telling. If New Orleans misses the postseason for the fifth straight year in '05, you can expect Haslett's tenure to expire.
3. Dom Capers, Texans (16-32 in three seasons with Houston) - The Texans have made slow and steady improvement in their first three years of existence, from 4-12 to 5-11 to last year's 7-9, but anything less than a prominent place in the playoff picture could spell the end of Capers' tenure in Houston. In a division that includes the Colts and up-and-coming Jaguars, the head coach has a tall order.
4. Steve Mariucci, Lions (11-21 in two seasons with Detroit) - Lions team president Matt Millen is very lucky to be gainfully employed after four years and a 16-48 record under his watch, and by extension, Mariucci is in trouble as well. If the Lions struggle again and Millen gets the boot, Mariucci could be swept away along with him.
5. Mike Martz, Rams (51-29 in five seasons with St. Louis, 3-3 in playoffs) - Though they made the playoffs and even won a postseason game last season, St. Louis was 3-7 against teams not from the worst division in football, the NFC West (and two of the three wins were at the end of the year against the Eagles and Jets, who had already secured playoff berths). Martz's act has begun to wear a bit thin in the Arch city, and a losing season could spell his exit.
6. Mike Tice, Vikings (23-26 in four seasons with Minnesota, 1-1 in playoffs) - Minnesota improved itself by leaps and bounds in the offseason, and Tice's team is expected to be a Super Bowl contender in 2005. If the Vikings continue to underachieve, Minnesota's new ownership doesn't figure to have a great deal of compassion for Tice.
7. Mike Holmgren, Seahawks (50-46 in six seasons with Seattle, 0-3 in playoffs) Holmgren has taken a consistently mediocre franchise and made it slightly less mediocre, raising expectations to the point that many Seahawks fans are fed up with the team's lack of playoff success. Last season's three-game sweep at the hands of the Rams incensed Seattle supporters, with the home playoff loss inciting the most sizeable wrath. If the Seahawks sputter their way through the worst division in football again in 2005, Holmgren would be well-advised to duck and cover.
8. Mike Shanahan, Broncos (101-59 in 10 seasons with Denver, 7-4 in playoffs) - Two Super Bowl rings don't make you untouchable in Denver, and the presence of just one losing season in 10 years isn't doing much to satisfy Broncos fans either. Shanahan's team hasn't won a postseason game since John Elway retired, and many observers are expecting the worst after the team gambled big-time in both the draft and free agency this past offseason. A losing season, which is in no way out of the question in the improving AFC West, could mark the end of the line for Shanahan.
9. Lovie Smith, Bears (5-11 in one season with Chicago) - The Bears took a step back in the first year of the Lovie Smith era, and a similar sophomore campaign for the former Rams defensive coordinator could prompt the Chicago brass to target some change. At the very least, the NFL's worst offense of a year ago has to produce a few more points and a lot more excitement than it did in '04, a directive which the collective presence of QB Rex Grossman, RB Cedric Benson, and WR Muhsin Muhammad should aide.
10. Mike Sherman, Packers (53-27 in five seasons with Green Bay, 2-4 in playoffs) - Sherman was probably as popular in Green Bay last season as he has been during his five-year tenure, as he seized offensive play-calling duties from coordinator Tom Rossley and promptly turned a 1-4 start to a 10-6 finish and NFC North crown. Still, cheeseheads aren't going to offer much leeway for that home playoff loss to the Vikings, and they're not wild about the fact that Sherman has never gotten the Pack as far as the NFC Championship. Green Bay had an awful offseason, and if they drop off as much as some expect this year, there will likely be a new head man patrolling the home Lambeau sideline in 2006.
...and keep an eye on:
11. Marty Schottenheimer, Chargers (24-24 in three seasons with San Diego, 0-1 in playoffs) - Sure, the Bolts were back last year, but if they slip back into the abyss, Schottenheimer will be held accountable.
12. Jeff Fisher, Titans (93-73 in 10 seasons with Tennessee, 5-4 in playoffs) - The Titans have been predicted by some to be the worst team in the NFL this year, and if that happens, Fisher's long history in the Music City could come to an end.
13. Tom Coughlin, Giants (6-10 in one season with New York) - It's the Big Apple (well, close enough), and if the Giants don't make progress, Coughlin could be a two-year wonder a la Ray Handley.
14. Jon Gruden, Buccaneers (24-24 in three seasons with Tampa Bay, 3-0 in playoffs) - Some Bucs fans have taken to giving more credit to Tony Dungy than Gruden for that Super Bowl win, and a third straight losing season would prompt some loud calls for Chucky's head.
15. Herman Edwards, Jets (35-29 in three seasons with New York, 2-3 in playoffs) - He plays to win the game, but if they miss the playoffs and/or are embarrassed by the Patriots again in hostile New York, Edwards could be coaching elsewhere.
WAITING IN THE WINGS 1. Jim Fassel, Offensive Coordinator, Ravens - Fassel probably would have been a head coach this season if there had been more teams in the market for a change, but instead had to settle for the offensive coordinator slot with Baltimore. Fassel was 58-53-1 in seven seasons with the Giants, leading them to a Super Bowl appearance in 2000, and if he can breathe life into the Ravens' stagnant offense, Fassel's star will likely shine brighter. The coach's advancing age (56 when the season starts) could be a possible drawback for teams striving for more youthful enthusiasm.
2. Tim Lewis, Defensive Coordinator, Giants - Lewis lost out to Mike Nolan when the 49ers' job was vacant this past winter, but league insiders feel that it's only a matter of time before the 43-year-old coordinator is a head coach. Lewis' reputation was built in Pittsburgh between 2000 and 2003, when his defenses were consistently among the best in the league.
3. Gregg Williams, Assistant Head Coach/Defense, Redskins - Some felt that Williams received a raw deal in Buffalo, where he went 17-31 and was gone after three seasons. After presiding over perhaps the league's top defense in Washington last year, the 47-year-old Williams figures to get another shot sooner rather than later.
4. Pete Carroll, Head Coach, USC - Carroll has continually claimed that he has no interest in returning to the NFL, but if he wins another national title with the Trojans and receives an intriguing enough offer, who knows? The 54- year-old Carroll had just one losing season in four as an NFL head coach (that coming with the Jets in 1994), and led New England to back-to-back playoff appearances in 1997 and 1998.
5. Cam Cameron, Offensive Coordinator, Chargers - Cameron's scheme was lauded during San Diego's resurgence in 2004, and if the Chargers continue to generate offensive fireworks, the coordinator could get a long look. The 44- year-old Cameron has experience as a head coach, having gone 18-37 in five seasons at Indiana between 1997 and 2001.
6. Greg Knapp, Offensive Coordinator, Falcons - Terrell Owens' opinion of him not withstanding, Knapp has built a reputation as one of the top offensive minds in the game. After turning Jeff Garcia into an effective starter in San Francisco, Knapp followed Jim Mora to Atlanta and helped the Falcons to a spot in the NFC Championship. If Michael Vick improves under Knapp's tutelage this year, the 42-year-old coordinator should see his stock rise.
7. Kirk Ferentz, Head Coach, Iowa - Prior to elevating the Hawkeyes back to their former Top 10 ways, Ferentz was an NFL assistant for six years with the Ravens and Browns. Since setting up residency in Iowa City, Ferentz has guided Iowa to three straight 10+ win seasons despite constructing teams that are considered a tad short on talent. Like Carroll, Ferentz has shrugged off speculation that he might coach in the NFL.
8. Mike Zimmer, Defensive Coordinator, Cowboys - It is testament to Zimmer's talent and popularity that he has served under four different coaches while with Dallas, and Bill Parcells thought enough of Zimmer to keep him in his role as defensive coordinator when taking the head job. An endorsement from Parcells still carries plenty of weight, and if Dallas can move back into the NFL elite, the 49-year-old Zimmer will likely benefit.
9. Brad Childress, Offensive Coordinator, Eagles - Childress, 49, has received a ringing endorsement from pupil Donovan McNabb and went as far as a formal interview with Cleveland in January. The trouble for Childress could be a lack of name cachet, as head coach Andy Reid is generally offered most of the credit for Philadelphia's successes in the west coast offense.
10. Mike Heimerdinger, Offensive Coordinator, Jets - Heimerdinger's genius in Tennessee was his versatility, as he presided over an offense that morphed from a run-first, Eddie George-heavy scheme into an aerial attack dependent upon the arm of Steve McNair. Heimerdinger parlayed that success into an interview with San Francisco in the offseason, but had to settle for a job mentoring Chad Pennington and the Jets attack. If Heimerdinger is marginally more popular than Paul Hackett was in New York, he could get a sniff of a head job somewhere.
...and keep an eye on:
11. Donnie Henderson, Defensive Coordinator, Jets - Henderson could become yet another one-time Ravens' defensive assistant to find himself a head coaching job (Jack Del Rio, Marvin Lewis, and Mike Nolan are the others), after the 48- year-old was credited with keeping the Jets afloat through Chad Pennington's injury-plagued 2004.
12. Russ Grimm, Offensive Line Coach, Steelers - The old-school Grimm, who received a courtesy interview with Browns, has name cachet but no coordinator experience. By the way, Andy Reid had no coordinator experience before taking the Philadelphia job.
13. Jeff Tedford, Head Coach, California - The 43-year-old Tedford has tutored many a future NFL quarterback (Trent Dilfer, Kyle Boller, Joey Harrington, David Carr) within a pro-style scheme, and built something out of nothing with the Golden Bears (25-13 with three bowl appearances in three seasons). Tedford has no NFL experience, however.
14. Scott Linehan, Offensive Coordinator, Dolphins - The Vikings' offense was always potent under Linehan's watch, and if Miami's formerly stagnant attack can make enough strides, the coordinator could reap the rewards.
15. Art Shell, Senior Vice President for Football Operations & Development, NFL - In five-plus seasons as a head coach with Raiders, Shell was 54-38, made three playoff appearances, and never finished worse than 7-9. There is no legitimate reason why Shell never got another job, but now teams can start using his age (58) and time out of the league (he last coached a position in 2000 with the Falcons) as marks against him.
RE: Line of Scrimmage: Coaches on the Hot Seat, and Who
RE: Line of Scrimmage: Coaches on the Hot Seat, and Who
Last year my conspiracy theory was that the Titans would take a major dump, and that Fisher's tenure would finally end as they looked to rebuild. With Haslett being Haslett, I speculated about the possibility of Haslett being gone and Fisher being available... I think I'll keep that hope alive. Can you imagine what Fisher could do with this group? Wow.
One offseason to add talent at DT and, of course, a consistent QB (lol), and the Saints would be a legit SB contender IMO. Keep hope alive guys. :)
Re: RE: Line of Scrimmage: Coaches on the Hot Seat, and Who
RE: Re: RE: Line of Scrimmage: Coaches on the Hot Seat, and
I got new for a lot of you... Hasslett is going to be around for a number of years. He consistanly keeps the Saints near or at the verge of Playoffs elite better than most coaches we have ever had. Also, Benson is taking a page from the Steelers play book. Check this out... you bring in a coach and you tell the players look who will be gone first -player or coach? So preform or bye don't think we'll replace the coach and make every thing better. In my opinion its not a bad move in that reguard.
I thought it was clear I said on the verge or near the playoff elite (making the playoff on a regular basis) I'd take a7-9/8-8 year over a 5-11/4-12 year any day. Everyone is so big on "talent" we have... We don't have the talent that everyone thinks. Aside from a good year or two some of them have had for whatever reason... then a bad year. We don't have the talent that everyone things period. We have a couple of good talented players and with out a supporting cast they all stink. Buildind the O-L and working on D will help improve us... but talent come on... this team and some players or OVER-HYPED.
We have the talent. What we don't have is production. Is that a factor of the players? Maybe, but I doubt it. One or two guys, maybe. A team-wide problem with underachieving... that's coaching. We don't have very good "teachers" that help players develop, and the team definitely does not have a consistent vision of what it should be. The only thing as inconsistent as the team's play over the last few years has been the change in schemes from year to year.
Here are the guys on this team right now that have Pro Bowl caliber TALENT, IMO (that means guys who have the ability to go to the pro bowl if they play up to their potential):
C. Grant, W. Smith, D. Howard, M. McKenzie, D. Smith, and potentially Watson, though I dunno if that will happen. On O, Horn, Deuce, Brooks, Stallworth, Boo (yes he has the TALENT to go), Bentley, Mayberry, and maybe Brown or Karney. Add in Lewis, McAfee, Gleason, and Berger.
That's potentially 20 guys with the talent to be Pro Bowlers. There is talent on this team. The problems stem from A) lack of talent development, B) misuse of the talent (coaching), and C) inconsistent team direction.
same thing every year on has. maybe he is through enough of his contract that if he doesnt produce he will be gone. ill take either.
yeah this year we look good talent wise but to say we have talent before this is none-sense... IMO doesn't cut it. Because so schmuck like me can say we have no talent IMO and cancel you out... lol.
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