HOUSTON (CBS Houston)- While many people are preparing for the joys of the holiday season, a good number of current NFL head coaches are dreading the worst day of the year in their profession: Black Monday.
It’s an NFL tradition like no other, when a group of current coaches will be taken to the guillotine the day after the NFL regular season ends.
With the ever-increasing win now sentiment in the league, there’s a significant number of coaches every year firmly entrenched on the proverbial Hot Seat, feeling the burn of Black Monday approaching.
With Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak already dismissed, here are 9 more current coaches feeling the heat of the HOT SEAT:
Mike Shanahan – Washington Redskins (3-11): The Redskins are a notoriously dysfunctional organization but the continued strange twists and turns coupled with a disastrous season following an unexpected playoff run combine for a combustible situation.
Franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III has a strained relationship, at best, with Shanahan. Meddlesome team owner Daniel Snyder is in RGIII’s corner.
Shanahan made the mistake of rushing RGIII back to the field too fast, and the results have been awful. The young quarterback has regressed terribly, and his mobility is clearly limited after offseason knee surgery and the bulky brace he wears to protect it.
Now, Shanahan has sent his young star to the bench for the rest of the year, allegedly to protect his knee but more likely because Griffin has been terrible. Griffin wants to play, and behind closed doors somewhere, Snyder is fuming.
Kirk Cousins starts the rest of the year as Shanahan openly defies his owner, almost begging to be fired in a season where he clearly deserves it.
Snyder may not want to pay out the final year of Shanahan’s deal, but how long can you allow your franchise player and head coach to not be on speaking terms? Shanahan earned his exit when he refused to sit a clearly injured RGIII in the playoffs last year, and everyone remembers the gruesome sight of Griffin’s knee collapsing.
Snyder may not have a lot of football acumen, but he has plenty of cash.
Shanahan Hot Seat: HIGH
Tom Coughlin – New York Giants (5-9): It’s been a very disappointing season for Big Blue this year. Star quarterback Eli Manning is suffering through his worst season as a pro, the team has no running game, the offensive and defensive lines are in shambles, the defensive secondary is mediocre at best, and the team’s best linebacker was taken off the scrap heap in Carolina.
The bottom line is the Giants just aren’t a good football team. Despite the presence of Eli Manning and star wideout Victor Cruz, this is an aging, injury-riddled team in need of a rebuild.
Tom Coughlin is an excellent coach. At 67, he’s also the oldest coach in the NFL by a wide margin.
The Mara family is one of the classiest in the NFL. They are football royalty. They also have far too much respect for Tom Coughlin and all he has accomplished with the team (he was an assistant on the Super Bowl XXV Championship Team, head coach for Super Bowl XLII and XLVI titles) to fire him outright. However, with only one more year left on his contract, and the Giants needing a serious roster makeover, I would not be surprised if Coughlin and the Giants come to a mutual parting of the ways, with the head coach retiring after the season.
Coughlin Hot Seat: MEDIUM HIGH
Leslie Frazier – Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1): From surprise playoff team to franchise in disarray, the Vikings have been an abomination. Their best wide receiver, Percy Harvin, couldn’t wait to get out of town. It took every one of Adrian Peterson’s 2,097 yards last season to carry the Vikings to the playoffs a year ago.
This year, a banged up Peterson still has a healthy 1,221 yards thus far, but the quarterback position has been a carousel. Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, and Josh Freeman have all taken turns at the helm, and none with any kind of consistent success.
The defense has given up 425 points, second most in the league behind only the putrid Redskins. They are winless on the road.
Frazier has failed to build on last season, failed to develop Christian Ponder, and very well could fail to hold onto his job.
Frazier Hot Seat: HIGH
Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons (4-10): Much like the Texans fall from grace, no one could have predicted the apocalyptic crash of the dirty birds.
After a season in which the offense ran roughshod over the NFL, with quarterback Matt Ryan setting career highs in completions, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, QBR, and quarterback rating, the team’s offense has gone straight backwards.
Ryan has taken a lot of hits behind a shoddy offensive line, the running game, despite the addition of Stephen Jackson to replace the worn out Michael Turner, has gone nowhere, and injuries to Julio Jones and Roddy White have hampered Ryan’s ability to throw the ball when he isn’t picking himself up off the turf.
Last season, Mike Smith finally won his first playoff game, despite the fact he did his best to try to choke it away with terrible decision making late. This team has gone as far as it will go under Smith. To get to the next level, they need a change of leadership.
Some people think a 13-3 season and a playoff win is enough equity for Smith to keep his job. Ask Gary Kubiak about equity when high expectations are met with epic failure.
Smith Hot Seat: HIGH
Greg Schiano – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10): Early in the season it didn’t look like Schiano would make it through the season. However, after jettisoning the failure that was Josh Freeman, and making the switch to rookie Mike Glennon, the team has fared better.
They are still an awful 4-10, in a season which had some strong expectations after they traded for stud cornerback Darrelle Revis and signed hard hitting Dashon Goldson from the 49ers, but the wins haven’t come. Despite having a solid defense, the Bucs have scored the 5th fewest points in the league.
In what is increasing considered a passing league, the Bucs are dead last in passing. Dead Last.
Schaino has hitched his wagon to Mike Glennon for now. Since starting 0-8, they have won 4 of 6. It may have been enough to get Schaino a stay of execution for another year, if the front office can forget how badly Schiano ostracized veteran players earlier this season. Last two games of year could have big effect on how high the flames get.
Schiano Hot Seat: MEDIUM HIGH
Rex Ryan – New York Jets (6-8): Sexy Rexy has actually done a pretty good job at the helm of a team with very little talent. Most pundits (including this one) expected the Jets ceiling to be about 3-4 wins. This team has exceeded expectations, especially defensively, which is where Ryan shines.
None of that is going to help Ryan, however, because he wasn’t the hand picked choice of new GM Jeff Idzik. Ryan was forced on Idzik by team owner Woody Johnson. That kind of thing usually only lasts about one season unless a strong playoff run is involved (see Smith, Lovie 2012).
Idzik wants to bring in his own head coach, as every general manager does. He will point to the Jets failures down the stretch, and the fact Ryan has now failed with two young quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and now Geno Smith. He will want an offensive minded coach. The Jets failure to make the playoffs will seal Ryan’s fate.
He may not deserve to be fired, but Lovie Smith didn’t deserve to be fired either. That doesn’t always matter in today’s NFL.
Ryan Hot Seat: MEDIUM HIGH
Mike Munchak – Tennessee Titans (5-9): This is a team that just doesn’t do much very well. They don’t pass well, they don’t run well, they don’t stop the run either.
Jake Locker is always injured. Chris Johnson hasn’t been anything close to the guy who ran for 2000 yards in 2009. (Yes, it’s been 4 years now!) Kenny Britt was a non-factor. After a 3-1 start, the Titans have lost 6 of 8.
The team has gone backwards under Munchak, from 9-7 in 2011, to 6-10, to now 5-9 with no clear path for improvement, and no up and coming young future star to market. They are in the NFL’s version of No Man’s Land.
The Titans are not only a team without a rudder, they would be in for a major facelift, as oft-injured quarterback Jake Locker and former star Chris Johnson could also be looking for a new team next year.
Munchak Hot Seat: HIGH
Jim Schwartz – Detroit Lions (7-7): The Lions have blown the best opportunity they could possibly have to win the division this season. With Packers star Aaron Rodgers missing half the season, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler also missing time, and the Vikings falling from the sky like a Led Zeppelin, the stars were as aligned as possible for the Lions to take command and run away. They haven’t.
Schwartz is, by all accounts, not popular with the other coaches in the league. He trash talks his counterparts. He is remembered for shouting “Learn the rules!’ at an opposing head coach, and for challenging a play on Thanksgiving last season that he wasn’t allowed to challenge, which ended up in Justin Forsett of the Texans scoring a touchdown he never should have scored, and the Lions losing a game they should have won.
The Lions are maddeningly inconsistent. They’ve lost 2 in a row to lose control over their own destiny to the injury ravaged Packers and Bears.
After winning 10 games and going to the playoffs two years ago, Schwartz got a stay of execution after last season’s 4-12 debacle. Missing the playoffs again when opportunity was so abundant should get Schwartz a ticket to the unemployment line. The only way he saves his job is with a playoff berth.
Schwartz Hot Seat: MEDIUM HIGH (and rising)
Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys (7-7): You know Owner/GM/#1 Fan Jerry Jones wants to make the playoffs. There’s only so many failures he can take.
Despite what Jerry may have said this season about Garrett being his guy and he will be the head coach of America’s Team next season, that’s all subject to change. That change is if the Boys don’t reach the playoffs.
This isn’t even about all of Tony Romo’s past failures, and they have been numerous. It’s more about last year’s failure, that late pick that sent the Cowboys home and the upstart Redskins to the playoffs instead. It’s about this past Sunday’s failures against the Packers, when the defense collapsed and Tony threw two interceptions late in the 4th quarter instead of leading his team to victory.
Tony Romo got a good faith showing when Jerry gave him more guaranteed money for being a loser than the Ravens gave Joe Flacco for a hot streak that culminated in winning a Super Bowl. So Tony isn’t going anywhere.
The same cannot be said for Garrett, who has yet to post a season better than 8-8, and is sitting at .500 again so far this year. Call it stagflation (inflated expectations and stagnant progression).
The truth is the Cowboys aren’t any good. Their defense right now is the worst in the NFL. They couldn’t stop the passing attack of a D3 college team. Jerry doesn’t care. Jerry thinks the Cowboys are rife with talent, and will always support his GM (himself) over the coach.
When the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs (notice I said when and not if) Jerry’s support of Garrett will likely change. In a back room at The House That Jerry Built is a guillotine with a blade being sharpened right now.
Garrett Hot Seat: MEDIUM HIGH
Patrick Creighton is the host of Nate & Creight, along with Nate Griffin, Sundays 2-5pm on Sportsradio 610 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1
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