Many people say coaches coach and players play, so it is often hard to directly blame a coach unless they are outwardly lacking. The criteria for a hot seat have many different variables.
An underachieving team is among the shortest routes to the hot seat. It should not be hard for anybody reading this to figure out an example of one of these teams. Another avenue to the hot seat is a coach who continuously misuses his talent. Being too cute with your play calling or putting your team in a bad position is another one-way ticket out of town. The league is about winning, not about wallowing in mediocrity, and these five coaches are on the cusp of learning that all too well.
5. Marvin Lewis: Perhaps nobody has been posted up on the warm chair longer than Marvin Lewis. Many were sure Lewis was going to be pink slipped after last season, or even the year before. Since Cincinnati posted an 11-5 season in 2005, Lewis saw his troops dip its win total each of the following year until they bottomed out with a 4-11-1 season last year.
Perhaps Bengal president Paul Brown gave Lewis a pass since franchise quarterback Carson Palmer has been dinged off and on the last few years, mainly last season. Personally I was shocked when Lewis was retained after last season. A long time Marvin Basher, I began rooting for him to succeed by the end of this summer after watching the latest season of Hard Knocks, which gave an inside look at training camp with the Bengals. For some reason, I have found a soft spot in my heart for the beleaguered coach. Lewis has done a good job this year. If not for a lucky Brandon Stokley Hail Mary the Bengals would be sitting pretty at 3-0.
4. Wade Phillips: Generally when you fail once as a head coach, it is pretty rare that you succeed later in the NFL. Wade Phillips is flirting with another disappointing season. Some might call going 13-3 two years ago an accomplishment, but when you take into account that they were dispatched in their first playoff game by the Giants at home, that is a cause for concern.
Last season, Phillips and Dallas out did themselves again by losing three of their final four games. The crescendo was a 44-6 in week 17 against Philadelphia. Phillips does very little with a huge amount of talent. His in game coaching has always left something to be desired; most recently on Monday Night Football, his team had second and goal from the one. They had been dominating Carolina at the line of scrimmage all game, but instead of pounding the ball, they threw consecutive fade patterns. For those of you who want to blame offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, you are correct, but Phillips should be insisting on a run. Wade’s “Boys” better buckle down if they want their coach to still have a job.
3. Dick Jauron: This one holds a very special place in my heart, as I am a diehard Bills fan. “Cagey” Dick Jauron as Rich Eisen refers to him, has been the subject of intense scrutiny the past two seasons. As I stated in the first paragraph, wallowing in mediocrity will always get you on the hot seat.
Nobody does this better than Buffalo. Jauron is shooting for his fourth straight 7-9 season. I, like most Bills fans, are fed up with this consistent average play. Almost all of the players are on record saying they love playing for the coach. Jauron has made a career out of getting his team to an average season. I truly believe Jauron is a decent coach, and probably the best on this top five, but he is far too cautious, and has never been able to beat a good team. He is gone after this year.
2. Norv Turner: Turner is the best example of wasting talent on a team. Anybody who has seen the film “A Bronx Tale” remembers the quote, “The saddest thing in the world is wasted talent,” but I digress. Turner appears to be ready to squander San Diego’s deep talent pool again. He has never had more talent to work with, but he has found a way to mess it up.
Turner has the tendency to get too cute with his play calling and often outsmarts himself, I.E. the trap play to Darren Sproles after Rivers had thrown for 400+ yards. He has done better than others on this list in the post-season and regular season but this is not enough for a team of this caliber. I think if San Diego sputters again this season, he may get his walking papers.
1. Jim Zorn: Zorn is a runaway for the number one spot on my list. Week by week this season he is getting closer to the unemployment office. His first mistake was feuding with the team’s best player last season, Clinton Portis. In back-to-back games this year, Zorn made a great case to get fired. In a 9-7 win over the abysmal Rams, the Skins’ coach made one of the more unintelligent decisions of the year. With a 9-7 lead late in the fourth quarter, Zorn elected to go for it on consecutive fourth and ones.
Washington picked up the first attempt but not the second. Now if he picks up both, he looks like the aggressive genius coach, but this was not the time for ego stroking. Your defense had given up only seven points the whole game, so why not knock through a routine field goal and give yourself a five point lead and let the defense finish the job. The following week, Zorn elected to go for the end zone on a fourth and goal from the one instead of putting Washington up 3-0 on the road against a team with a 19 game losing streak. Intelligence is not in the arsenal of this man.