It’s one thing for a bunch of unwashed idiots (re: bloggers like me) to hold up our little megaphones and scream that Norv Turner is a lousy coach. It’s another thing all together for the greatest NFL player to ever play the game to do it. That’s exactly what Jerry Rice did, while making an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
You know it’s bad when one of the most respected players in the game goes onto arguably the most-watched sports broadcast in the country and calls you out. Even if, as ProFootballTalk points out, it’s not the first time.
Thanks to Rice’s hot words, we have a new #1 in the hot seat rankings.
Blazing hot: Can he survive the season?
1. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers (4-6). Remember when the Chargers were 4-1? Ryan Mathews was running wild, the defense was stout, and only a few disgruntled fantasy owners were grumbling about Philip Rivers? Those were the days, weren’t they, Norv? It looked like you had finally found security in the ground game, and momentum enough to carry your team past its usual sluggish start.
But then a funny thing happened: you stopped running the ball. Mathews hasn’t broken the 60-yard mark or scored a touchdown in the last five games, all of them losses. And as much as we like Mike Tolbert (fat guys running are always entertaining, just ask Vince Wilfork), he isn’t getting the job done either.
Now your team stands at 4-6, tied with a team that has Tyler Palko at quarterback. Can a team be psychologically eliminated from the playoffs? This one might be.
2. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts (0-10). The best thing to happen to Jim Caldwell all year long was staying out of the headlines this week. If the Polians were going to be tempted to separate themselves from the stink of this season by firing Caldwell midseason, they would have done it here at the bye. Caldwell is still no lock to finish out the season, but if the goal is to lock up the Andrew Luck selection, Indianapolis is steady on course.
3. Steve Spagnuolo, St Louis Rams (2-8). The Rams lost badly, but Spagnuolo was able to sidestep the worst of the blame, as a horrendously bad offensive gameplan and yet another boatload of injuries submarined any chance of victory. (The team’s starting left tackle is a guy just signed off the practice squad who admits he was “using the game for practice.”) Meanwhile, his defense acquitted themselves well.
Fox’s Tim Ryan inadvertently summed up Spagnuolo’s tenure in St Louis thusly: “As a head coach, Steve Spagnuolo is a heck of a defensive coordinator.” And if reports from Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune are true, Rams owner Stan Kroenke is ready to clean house.
4. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs (4-6). You can’t put much of last night’s 34-3 loss on Haley, when he’s forced to start the aforementioned Tyler Palko at quarterback, but then you can’t say much more than “they were sort of in it for a half.” Holding a 3-0 lead for the first quarter isn’t going to make it to the first page of Haley’s resume when he goes looking for his next job. If GM Scott Pioli has his way, that time will come soon.
Red Hot: Can he save his job?
5. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins (3-7). Okay, can someone explain the Miami Dolphins to me? Either Chad Henne is the albatross from the Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, or that 0-7 start to the season was just a hallucination. Despite a lack of talent, the Dolphins are doing a lot of the little things that make coaches happy: they are the least-penalized team in the league, and they’re shutting down opponents on 3rd downs, particularly the third and longs that bad teams give up repeatedly.
As Omar Kelly of the Miami Sentinel points out, the Dolphins are the first team in NFL history to win their next three after an 0-7 start. That will help Sparano, especially if he can keep this team pointed improbably upwards.
6. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals (3-7). Overheard somewhere in Phoenix: “Oh God, what am I going to do with 10,000 John Skelton jerseys?”
Lukewarm: Safe unless someone better comes along
7. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings (2-8). The Vikings got demolished by the Packers, as everyone expected they would. Then they gave the Raiders a tough game despite losing Adrian Peterson. The big problem Farzier has might be a perceptual one: the franchise hangs on Christian Ponder, and as a defensive-minded head coach, he will be facing an uphill battle trying to convince Zygi Wilf that he’s the man that can get the most out of the young QB. One need only to look at Sam Bradford’s struggles under Spagnuolo to see a testimony to that danger.
8. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7). Another defensive minded coach whose fate is tied to a rookie quarterback, Del Rio’s job security might be even thinner than Frazier’s, even though his defense is playing better. The reason? Blaine Gabbert is looking pretty awful.
9. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins (3-7). Putting aside the Rex Grossman follies for now, the Redskins did show a lot of fight in taking the Dallas Cowboys to overtime. But not being able to get the 30 yards needed to score the game-winning points still casts doubt on Shanahan’s ability to resurrect the offensive juggernaut he once had in Denver. (Hint: John Elway and offensive line coach Alex Gibbs had a lot to do with that.)
10. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles (4-6). Improbably, the Eagles are still very much in the NFC East. Realistically, there’s little chance of them winning, but a bad playoff race is still a race. Just ask last year’s Seattle Seahawks. Reid’s first goal is to get back to .500. Getting two good defensive games in a row would help a lot with that. From there, he might actually be able to earn his way off this list.