Hope And Change, NFL Style

Here we are at the 6th week of the NFL season and already the rumblings in reference to possible coaching changes are out there in full force. It is part and parcel of any regular season; and despite what head coaches around the league will tell you, I am certain they read their own press clippings regarding their job security – or lack thereof.

Nonetheless, there are some NFL head coaches who are currently in the proverbial “hot seat” – some deservedly. I can think of six who deserve immediate consideration:

1 – Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders (1-4). Lots of things that do not go in Cable’s favor. The team stinks and is in total disarray – although to be fair, Cable inherited a lot of the current mess from last season. Cable allegedly clocked an assistant coach during the preseason. That’s under investigation; while that’s going on, speculation arises as to who may replace Cable should a suspension be handed by NFL corporate.

About the only thing that may help Cable is that the
Raiders gig is the least wanted job in all of professional football. Not that a minor issue like that will stop owner Al Davis into making yet another bone-headed decision – a recurring theme in Oakland these days.

2 – Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns (1-3). Poor Mangini. Strike one against him is that team owner Randy Lerner hastily hired him and heaped Vince Lombardi-like expectations upon him. Then the team’s wheels started falling off. Jamaal Lewis can’t stay healthy. They cannot decide on a permanent starting quarterback between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.

They trade away their best wide receiver in Braylon Edwards. Suffice it to say, the Browns are offensively-challenged. Yet Lerner thinks that Mangini will be like Mighty Mouse and “save the day”. Hardly an ideal scenario for any first-year coach, Mangini or anyone else for that matter. Mangini deserves another year to sort this mess that is the Cleveland Browns out.

3 – Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills (1-4). Maybe it is just me, but it seems that the Bills head coach has the most vanilla offense in the NFL. And the end result seems to validate that point. But then again to be fair, Jauron has to deal with Terrell Owens, which should be grounds for hazard pay for the coach. Also factor in that Marshawn Lynch is fresh from a 4-game suspension and for all intents and purposes, Jauron is starting over.

Let’s also remember that team owner Ralph Wilson is 91 years old and obviously is not getting any younger. So one can safely assume that he would like to see a winning franchise in his lifetime. The chances of that happening do not look very promising; I certainly hope that Wilson has the fountain of youth at his disposal.

4 – Jim Zorn, Washington (2-3). Zorn has to be given some credit here. After all, the Redskins are 2-3 despite that they have arguably the most anemic offense in the NFC, if not the NFL. And to be fair, Zorn hasn’t really been given much to work with in D.C. Jason Campbell has been underwhelming and Clinton Portis hasn’t exactly been awe-inspiring. So you can chalk up their 2-3 record to a solid defense.

Despite it all, their owner is one Daniel Snyder, the Al Davis of the East Coast. I would like to think that the owner would actually listen to the personnel who evaluate talent and quit spending so much money on players who habitually underachieve. But I won’t accuse Snyder of making solid football decisions. There should be a vetting process that does not allow rich kids who have probably never laced up a pair of football cleats in their lives to become NFL owners. Mr. Snyder, do your fanbase and the team a favor: let Zorn do his jobs and perhaps the success that you crave will come. Money doesn’t always buy happiness or playoff appearances – you’re a prime example of that.

5 – Wade Phillips, Dallas (3-2). These days, it has to be no fun on a weekly basis if you’re Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips. Especially when your boss is one Jerry Jones. See, here’s the thing – when you have a meddolesome NFL owner, it makes it doubly difficult to get anything accomplished, both on and off the football field. And not many franchises succeed when their owners are too “hands-on”.

The Cowboys have talent – that’s a fact. Yet this goes back to the owner as opposed to the head coach. Personally, I think that under the circumstances, Phillips has done a heck of a job. And they still have a shot at the very least a wild-card berth. I am of the hope that Jones doesn’t something stupid like fire Phillips and let Jason Garrett take over. Not to minimalize anything Garrett has accomplished, but Phillips deserves a better fate.

6 – John Fox, Carolina (1-3). This is a classic case of when the team regresses after a great year, the owner – whether he admits it publicly or privately – automatically blames the coach. Excuse me Mr. Richardson (the team owner), just because the team, especially quarterback Jake Delhomme, underachieves, you don’t blame the coach. Last time I checked, the head coach does not put on a jersey and play. He’s there for one reason – and that’s to coach the team that’s given to him.

Fox has been a reasonably successful coach while at Carolina. Letting him go just because of one bad year – thanks to Delhomme – is hardly a good reason. If anyone is to blame here, blame the personnel brass. If this was 2010, then that would be a different story.

Now having said all of that, here is who I predict will be retained and who goes either this season or before the 2010 campaign:

IN – Wade Phillips, Eric Mangini, John Fox

ANYONE’S GUESS – Dick Jauron, Jim Zorn

OUT – Tom Cable


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