Week 9 Fallout: Coaching Hot Seats Getting Hotter

Your team sucks, and you know it. Sucks bad. Way worse than you expected, or maybe it just hurts more than you expected. Not only does your team suck, but even thinking about your team sucks. In short, if you’re a real fan, right now your life sucks. 

Chances are you hate your quarterback. You’ve been surrounded by Andrew Luck talk that you’re already starting to get sick of it, and wonder how anyone can live up to this much hype. And chances are your team has suffered a ridiculous amount of injuries. The carts keep coming out game after game, to where you hate to start rooting for a player because they might be the next to fall.

There are only two things to talk about among the dwindling number of your friends who still claim to be fans of your team: firing the coach, and who is going to replace him.

If this is you, read on for the hot seat rankings.

Blazing hot: Can he survive the season?

arrow-up-red1. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts (0-9). Another week, another half-hearted loss by double digits that was over well before halftime. The Colts were in this game for a single play. Then on play number two, Delone Carter fumbled deep in his own territory. Touchdown Falcons, and TMQ was not alone in writing “game over” in his notebook.

Colts owner Jim Irsay refused to speculate on firing Caldwell or GM Bill Polian before the game. But the bye week is coming up, and this whole team has so obviously quit it’s disgusting.

arrow-up-red2. Steve Spagnuolo, St Louis Rams (1-7). For every bit of good he did himself by rousing his Rams team to a spirited win over the New Orleans Saints last week, it all dissolved by losing to an awful Arizona Cardinals team yesterday. Even worse, all eyes are on him now with the baseball Cardinals’ World Series run now over and the ticker tape swept away.

The St Louis Blues got the jump on the Rams by firing their coach Sunday after a poor start to the season. They may have been responding to the dictates of a new owner. But it’s worth noting that the Rams’ owner, Stan Kroenke, has just taken majority control a little over a year ago. If this season was Spagnuolo’s audition, he’s failing it. Badly.

arrow-both-gray3. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins (1-7). Sparano hasn’t had much of a chance all season. His offense was gutted, and he was forced to go with Chad Henne as his starter. But that said, he hadn’t done much with what he had, until this week as the Dolphins finally built a lead that they couldn’t blow. Then they just kept piling on to it.

There’s still a strong chance that Sparano is gone after the season in a total house-cleaning. But with another win or two, he may have done enough to guarantee he lasts at least that long. 

Red Hot: Can he save his job?

arrow-down-blue4. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals (2-7). All is not well in the desert, but a division win over a desperate team will make a lot of pain go away, at least for a week. The Cardinals aren’t improving greatly on defense, but a couple of young players there — notably Patrick Peterson — are improving enough to give you the idea that better things might be coming for this team.

On offense, though, the team is stuck with a couple of stumps in franchise positions in injury-prone Beanie Wells and mediocrity-prone Kevin Kolb. The question for Whisenhunt may not be whether he can save his job, it may be whether he wants to keep it after the season is over.

arrow-both-gray5. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers (4-4). Norv has been almost an institution in San Diego, a team that does not change coaches often. But time ran out on his predecessor, Marty Schottenheimer, after five seasons and a failure to perform in the playoffs. After five seasons of Norvdom, you get the sense that the same clock is ticking. Loudly. Miss the playoffs and he’s got to be done, right?

Nick Canepa, columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, certainly hears the voice of the fans, loud and clear. But he believes Chargers owner Dean Spanos still respects Turner, and as Canepa says, the decision is his and his alone.

arrow-up-red6. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs (4-4). Rumors of discord in Kansas City were too quickly and easily spread as the Chiefs got out to an 0-3 start for me to believe they didn’t originate somewhere within Scott Pioli’s office. But they got awful quiet as Todd Haley coaxed a four-game winning streak out of the 2/3 of a team he had left after injuries. Then, Dolphin-gate. 

Losing to an 0-8 team is never good for job security. Getting blown out by them, in your own house, is downright dangerous behavior. And Pioli may not need any more reasons to want to pluck Josh McDaniels from the disarray in St Louis.

Lukewarm: Safe unless someone better comes along

arrow-both-gray7. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings (2-6). As Christian Ponder goes, so goes Leslie Frazier’s short-term job prospects. Say this for the coach, he’s finally hitched his future to the right horse. That nag named Donovan was going nowhere. 

arrow-both-gray8. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6). The Jags’ owners originally pinned Del Rio’s job on a playoff jaunt, but those expectations don’t jibe with the reality of this rebuilding team. There are positive signs: the defense has improved markedly, and Blaine Gabbert is being given tons of room to grow. Now he just needs someone to throw to, and an offense worth running. Those are fixable without firing the head coach.

arrow-up-red9. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins (3-6). Pedigree or not, Daniel Snyder has very little patience for losing. Or for thinking about any one thing for long enough to make a smart decision. Snyder is one of those “when in doubt, do something” type of people, which could be bad news for the brothers Shanny, whose trainwreck of a team just blew up again.