The 2 Point Conversion

The Complete NFL Scoop

On the Hot Seat

As I think about the upcoming NFL season, it strikes me how many teams are under tremendous pressure to perform and/or improve. If they fail to meet expectations, the biggest chunk of the blame, as you know, will go to the head coach in most cases. The pressure is only increased because guys like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are available. So, I have compiled a list of coaches who will be heavily scrutinized and second-guessed all season long. Will they respond well?

#5. Mike McCarthy (Packers)

McCarthy is entering his fifth season as head coach of the Packers, and has been fortunate to have an elite quarterback for every year of his tenure. That may be a curse in disguise actually. Having Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers significantly raises expectations, and deservedly so. How many teams with elite passers finish below .500 every year? In today’s NFL, that number is getting closer to zero every season. Competing in a quarterback starved division up until Favre’s arrival in Minnesota last year, McCarthy was only able to bring home the NFC North crown once. He was bested by Brett Favre, Gus Frerotte, and Rex Grossman TWICE. If the Packers miss the playoffs, Green Bay may be thinking they can do better at head coach.

#4. Tom Coughlin (Giants)

The G-men had a disappointing ’09 campaign, and while it was marred by injuries, is nonetheless inexcusable in the demanding environment of New York City. With a franchise quarterback, great talent at skill positions (Steve Smith, Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks), a solid offensive line, and an improved and healthy defense, another football-less January for Big Blue will not go over well. The brutal schedule (NFC East, NFC North, AFC South) will not be an excuse for losing eight or nine games. Even if they miss the playoffs at 9-7, Coughlin may not have the job security many will assume he has.

#3. John Fox (Panthers)

They say a head coach in the NFL is always on a one year contract, but this is literally true for John Fox. Many see 2010 as his lame duck year. Carolina seems to be ready to go after Bill Cowher after this season, and I believe John Fox will need to take the Panthers to the playoffs to convince the organization to keep him around. This will be a tough task if Atlanta and New Orleans turn out to be as good as I think they will. With an inexperienced player under center, it certainly is tough to envision Carolina finishing with more than eight wins. That means Fox is as good as gone.

#2. Jack Del Rio (Jaguars)

If you are entering your eighth year in the same position without ever having won your own division in the NFL, you know you’re on the hot seat. Point to Peyton Manning if you like, but the Jaguars have finished right behind the Colts only three out of seven times. In the last two seasons, Jacksonville has finished dead last in their division behind Kerry Collins, Vince Young, and Matt Schaub with a combined record of 12-20. Del Rio has won a grand total of one postseason game during his tenure. He has allowed a once feared defense to slip into mediocrity. Much of that is the GM’s fault, but Del Rio has also failed to develop a franchise quarterback and his teams can’t sell tickets. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters in a business, even an entertainment business. If the Jaguars can’t turn some heads, fill some seats, or score some touchdowns, Coach Del Rio will find himself unemployed in eight months.

#1. Lovie Smith (Bears)

You can tell by the way the Bears have been spending that the ownership has made it very clear that if improvements are not made, they’re cleaning house. Smith and GM Jerry Angelo will be the first to go. If the Jay Cutler experiment does not take a turn for the best and if Julius Peppers falls short of expectations, there will be many new faces in Chicago. Lovie has won two playoff games in six seasons and has gone 23-25 over the last three seasons. Unlike Del Rio, and Fox, Smith’s team has stars. Unlike Coughlin, Smith doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring to show for anything. It will also be really tough to finish ahead of the Packers or Vikings, and having to play each twice along with Dallas, the Giants, Eagles, Patriots, and Jets makes the odds of winning ten or even nine games pretty slim. If the Bears cannot go to the playoffs after trading the farm for Jay Cutler and spending the other one on Julius Peppers, I think you know who will be blamed for it.


May 31, 2010 - Posted by | Opinion

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