January 03, 2010
As soon as the curtain closes on the 2009 regular season, heads will start to roll, and a series of Monday press conferences will be called to annound the firings of former coaches, and quite possibly the immediate hirings of new guys. Here is our look at those coaches who should be booking moving vans, and a few names that might be on the bubble.
Jim Zorn, Washington Redskins: Zorn's impending unemployment is the worst-kept secret in the nation's capital, which is saying something. The only question is what happens to Washington's very capable defensive staff -- defensive coordinator Greg Blache and secondary coach Jerry Gray deserve to be retained for the jobs they have done, but impending Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has been working with Bob Slowik as he assembles a new staff. Slowik, for those who may not know, presided over the 2008 Denver defense, which was quite possibly the worst in the last 20 years of Denver defenses. Shanahan doesn't have a great history of picking his defensive coaches, and taking Slowik over Blache and/or Gray in an expanded role might be a major mistake.
Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris has apparently received the dreaded vote of confidence from Tampa Bay ownership, but it's about time for some organization to do some serious backflips for the supposedly returning Bill Cowher, and the Bucs are the latest team on the radar. Morris and first-year GM Mark Dominik had a weird first year -- firing their first offensive coordinator before the season started and firing their defensive coordinator before the season ended -- and the Glazers may decide that the trade-off in the cost of a Cowher for the respectability his name brings is worth it.
Perry Fewell, Buffalo Bills: At this point, according to Yahoo's own Jason Cole, we're looking at Brian Billick, Ron Rivera, and Brian Schottenheimer interviewing for the Bills job. Fewell has been a dynamic interim coach, and the players seem to really like him and play for him, but owner Ralph Wilson probably wants to make a splash here. Guys like Aaron Schobel(notes) are sick to death of the constant rebuilds. A galvanic statements needs to be made.
Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns: It's not that Mangini is a bad coach (though the evidence seems to point in that direction) or that he wouldn't fit in with new Big Kahuna Mike Holmgren's offensive system (he is, after all, a defensive coach). It's more that the Holmgren coaching tree spreads so wide, and there are so many guys Holmgren has worked with who will be looking for promotions or new locations. Holmgren will want good fits on the coaching staff as he begins a radical overhaul of Cleveland's roster. Mangini is not a complementary voice -- he's an intentional irritant.
Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears: General manager Jerry Angelo is on the hook for the fact that the Jay Cutler(notes) trade hasn't worked out so far, and offensive coordinator Ron Turner will most likely be fired for giving Cutler an abysmal system to work in and ignoring Cutler's advice to get Devin Aromashodu(notes) on the field earlier. But it's the formerly great Chicago defense that has to be giving Smith fits -- through 15 games, Da Bears rank 20th in Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings against the pass, and 19th against the run. The extremely conservative ownership will most likely not blow up the entire front office, and the win over the Vikings may have saved his job, but if there is a fall guy beyond Turner, it might be Smith.
Jim Mora, Seattle Seahawks: Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke has put his public support behind Mora, which is indefensible if you actually observe this team. Not only has Seattle been absolutely crushed in its last few games, but the recent public outbursts of receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes), Nate Burleson(notes), and Deion Branch(notes) seem to indicate that Mora has lost the team. As a coach, he's far too reactive and temperamental -- and his seeming need to blame the players for any setback while absolving himself and his coaching staff of any responsibility is a real embarrassment.
Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders: Speaking of guys with delusions of grandeur, how about Cable's recent insistence that the Raiders would have made the playoffs this year if they weren't handcuffed by JaMarcus Russell(notes)? If the Raiders were owned by a guy whose brain resided on its original home planet, such lofty proclamations would be grounds for ridicule, if not outright termination. But Davis probably likes Cable's dime-store toughness, and as long as Cable doesn't dip into the kind of insubordination that got Lane Kiffin canned, he should survive for another season.
Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs/Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans/John Fox, Carolina Panthers/Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars: Haley's been a bit of a disaster in his first year in Kansas City, but he may get another year to turn things around. Kubiak and Del Rio are two guys with patient owners, but a need to show progress to insure continued employment. Fox has presided over a Panthers team that has been dominant late in the season, and the team has said that he'll be back next year, but Fox may have the pull to demand more than a lame-duck situation.
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