Describing the uncertainty of his coaching future as "that white elephant in the room," Rivera told Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer on Tuesday that he's facing a defining season. Rivera inherited a 2-14 team from John Fox in 2011 but has posted a 13-19 overall record in the two years since.
Rivera's supporters can point to a 5-3 second-half record in 2012 that allowed the team to finish 7-9. His detractors, meanwhile, can sneer at his 2-12 record in games decided by seven or fewer points.
Either way, Rivera knows it's time to produce a winning record if he wants to continue being a head coach in the league.
“[Getting fired] can happen at any moment,” Rivera told the paper. “In the last few years we’ve seen coaches get fired after their first year, after their second year and after successful years. So I don’t think it’s any different. I’m not going to spend time worrying about it.”
Rivera's comments got us thinking: Which other coaches are entering 2013 feeling a bit warm in the seat of their pants? It should be noted that no coaches are in the final year of their contract while a total of 13 coaches are only in the first or second season of their tenures.
Still, there is definitely a handful of others who should be feeling a tad warm in the seat of their pants this fall. Who are they?
Rex Ryan, New York Jets (hired in 2009, 34-30 overall record): Like Rivera, the bombastic coach is signed through 2014. But he's coming off a 6-10 season and will be coaching under a first-year GM in John Idzik who had no hand in hiring him. With that said, Ryan said he's not worried about becoming the Lovie Smith to Idzik's Phil Emery next offseason. "I'm not worried about being a lame-duck guy," he recently told the New York Daily News.
Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions (hired in 2009, 22-42): Schwartz has the security of being signed through 2015, but Lions owner Bill Ford Jr. refused to give him a vote of confidence over the summer. If the top-heavy team experiences another debacle like losing eight straight to end the season (which the Lions did in 2012), Schwartz will be gone.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys (hired in 2010, 21-19 record): Owner Jerry Jones opened training camp by giving Garrett, who is signed through 2014, a strong vote of confidence. But do we really believe he'll be whistling the same tune if Garrett again goes 8-8 and misses a playoff berth in the final game of the season like he did the previous two seasons?
Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders (hired in 2012, 4-12): Allen is the seventh coach in Oakland since Jon Gruden left in 2001. We could see the eighth in 2014 if Allen and Oakland don't make clear progress in 2013. It'll be tough as the team features 14 new starters.
Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans (hired in 2011, 15-17): Owner Bud Adams has traditionally been patient with his head coaches as only three men (Jerry Glanville, Jack Pardee and Jeff Fisher) served as head coach between 1985 and Munchak's hiring in 2011. But could Munchak become the first Oilers/Titans coach since Hugh Campbell to serve for less than four years? Former COO Mike Reinfeldt paid the price for a disappointing 6-10 season in 2012 and maybe the 90-year-old Adams is getting impatient in his old age. He's the only owner the Oilers/Titans have ever known and yet he's never won the Super Bowl. (Heck, the Titans haven't won a playoff game since 2003.)
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals (hired in 2003, 79-80-1): The NFL's version of the "Teflon Don," Lewis would seem to be safe with three playoff appearances in the last four season and a contract that goes through 2014. But he's still never won a playoff game and he has a very talented squad for 2013. If they underperform, Lewis might finally be headed to another job for the first time in a decade.
Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings(hired in 2010, 16-22): The 2012 season was a good one for Frazier as he rode Adrian Peterson and not much else to 10 wins and an unexpected playoff berth. All that got him, however, was the Vikings' quietly exercising his option for 2014 and refraining from talking about a long-term extension. Frazier may not be in jeopardy in the truest sense of the term, but it'll be interesting to see what happens to the relationship if the Vikings can't replicate or surpass what they did in 2012.
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