If – as an NFL head coach – you can’t even compete with the contenders in your division, you won’t be employed for long. Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier and Jacksonville HC Mike Mularkey both could get replaced – in part – for that reason.
The gravity of the situation is that while Frazier was hired with a defensive history, he has to be responsible for the woes on offense. He was the guy who chose offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, and he’s stuck with Musgrave through 2 seasons of futility. Frazier took over as an interim coach in 2010, and has gone 2-10 in NFC North games, with both wins coming against the Lions this season. You would like to believe that there is something riding on these two home games against the Bears and Packers coming up, because losing 12 of 14 in the division – especially with significant injuries to both Chicago and Green Bay squads during in 2011 and 2012 – is rock bottom. The players on defense seem to get their swagger more from defensive coordinator Alan Williams than from Leslie Frazier.
Owner Zygi Wilf needs to galvanize the local fans to eventually pack the new stadium that opens in 2016.
In Jacksonville, the Jaguars hired Mike Mularkey when it looked like Atlanta was going to fire him as offensive coordinator. 2-3 in the AFC South isn’t as bad as the 2-10 for Frazier, but the Jaguars have been defeated by two or more scores in 7 of their last 9 losses. Looking at the macro, the 2 wins in the division aren’t that impressive. They were both by 5-points over teams with quarterbacks who each had under 16 games of experience.
Owner Shad Khan has voiced his disappointment in this team, and wants to get the team turned around in a hurry. He may go “all in” with the biggest hire he can get. Chip Kelly, Jay Gruden, Kevin Sumlin, Bill Cowher, Bob Stoops, and Nick Saban could all be courted.
While – thus far – most of the attention for coaching openings has been geared towards the San Diego Chargers (reports have surfaced that the GM and head coach are both to be fired) and Philadelphia Eagles – two teams whose owners and/or Presidents announced before the 2012 season that status quo was unacceptable -, there should be a lot of openings.
The Carolina Panthers fired their GM during the season. You get the feeling the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Arizona Cardinals might all fire their head coaches as well (each of them likely having missed the postseason for at least the second consecutive season). I wouldn’t be shocked to see a team that didn’t completely underachieve switch head coaches if one of the big names is available and interested (for example, if the Dallas Cowboys finish 9-7, or if the New York Jets lose out, then ownership and/or the front offices for both teams finds out a name they like is available).
Coaching salaries are guaranteed, so – at the end of the day – sometimes the contract keeps them around. The three recent one-and-done coaches were fired after bad divisional records: The Cam Cameron Dolphins of 2007 (sorry to bring this one up, Dolphins fans) were 0-6 in the AFC East, the Jim Mora Seahawks of 2009 were 3-3 but never got close in both games against the only good team in the division, and the Hue Jackson Raiders of 2011 went 3-3 in an AFC West where no teams finished winning records. At the end of the day, being competitive in the division is the bare minimum that can secure you another year. The Vikings and Jaguars want to win now.
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