Being an NFL head coach is a tenuous job to say the least. In a league where most owners are only concerned with what you've done for them lately, head coaches are routinely fired after every season and sometimes even during it. Most likely you have already heard that Dick Jauron has been let go from his position as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. After going 7-9 in his first three seasons, and an embarrassing loss to Tennessee last week, Jauron is the first head coach to be fired this season.
Buffalo had hoped to improve their offensive production after signing wide receiver Terrell Owens to a one year contract. But after spending the entire offseason installing a no huddle offense, Jauron fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert on the eve of the regular season, and promoted quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt to the position. The results have been unsatisfactory to everyone, as the Bills rank 29th in total offense. Jauron's failures on the offensive side of the ball most likely doomed him to this fate.
He finishes his stay in Buffalo 60-82 as a head coach, and after signing an extension before the season he still has $6 Million remaining on his contract. The fact that he still has so much money left on his deal will probably prevent Buffalo from going after one of the big name coaches to replace him. The Bills have shown a tendency in the past to give former coordinators an opportunity as a head coach, and that is the most likely move for them in this scenario.
In the interim they have promoted defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to head coach for the remainder of the regular season. Fewell has been the team's defensive coordinator since 2006, and now becomes Buffalo's first African American head coach. The 47 year old has never been a head coach on any level, and he will make his debut this week when the Bills travel to Jacksonville.
While Jauron was the first head coach to get the axe this year, he is certainly not the last. With six Super Bowl winning coaches (Gruden, Dungy, Shanahan, Holmgren, Cowher, and Billick) available for hire, many other coaches around the league are on the hot seat as well, including: Jim Zorn, Tom Cable, and Eric Mangini.
Jim Zorn initially came to Washington to be the Redskins new offensive coordinator, but when Joe Gibbs decided to retire in January of 2008 he was promoted to head coach. Many analysts were skeptical of the move from the outset as Zorn had never even been an offensive coordinator in the NFL, let alone a head coach.
Since being hired, Zorn has gone 11-14 during his up and down tenure as Washington's head coach and he is now sitting on the hot seat of all hot seats after being relieved of his play calling duties in Week 4. Owner Dan Snyder has proven that he's not afraid to make drastic changes, or spend a lot of money. Zorn appears to be in over his head and unless the Redskins win out you have to think that he will be gone at the end of this season. Money is not an issue for Snyder, so he will most likely be replaced by one of the aforementioned Super Bowl champion coaches.
Tom Cable is another example of a coach getting a chance to be a head coach before serving as a coordinator. So far the results have been less than stellar, a 6-15 record and numerous rumors of physical abuse off the field. On the field the Raiders have gone from the NFL's 6th best rushing attack in 2007, when Cable was the offensive line coach, to now being ranked 20th. Basically, the Raiders have gone from being a team that's good at one thing (rushing), to a team that's good at nothing with Cable at the helm. Oakland is ranked 31st in Total DVOA, and they show no signs of improving anytime soon.
In addition to his team's struggles on the field, Cable has come under fire for events in his personal life. In August of 2009, he was accused of punching assistant coach Randy Hanson and fracturing his jaw. While the charges were eventually dropped, surely the bad press could not have endeared Cable to his boss Al Davis. The problems continue to mount for Cable as he has recently been accused of abusing two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend. While I certainly wish him all the best in his personal life, it has becoming clear that Cable just doesn't have what it takes to be a head coach in the NFL, and the swirling allegations against him are not doing the Raiders any favors. However if Oakland does decide to part ways with Cable, who would really want that job? I just can't see Cowher or any of the other marquee names going to work for Davis.
Since taking over as head coach of the Browns, Eric Mangini has been under constant criticism. Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnaski even went so far as calling Mangini, "The worst NFL head coach hire in 25 years." After being let go by the Jets the day after the season ended last year, Cleveland inexplicably rushed out to hire Mangini just nine days later, before they had even hired a General Manager. In New York he alienated just about every person associated with the team with his haughty smarter-than-thou attitude, and he already seems to be doing the same in Cleveland.
Fans have responded to the Browns' constant losing by attempting to organize a boycott of Monday night's opening kickoff against the Ravens. While estranging the fan base, it seems that he is also starting to lose his players. Ten year veteran Jamal Lewis recently fanned the flames by publically stating that he believes the team may be underperforming on Sundays because they are overworked in practice. Mangini's "opportunity period", voluntary workouts conducted after practice, have been especially criticized after defensive end Keith Grennan suffered a season ending injury last week. Grennan is the second Browns player to be lost for the season as a result of the drills.
Mangini stands by his practice regimen, and the one thing working in his favor is that he still has three years left on his contract. It is unclear if the Browns would be willing to buy out his contract and then shell out the additional money necessary to bring in a new coach. However Cleveland has reportedly met with Mike Holmgren, so perhaps "Mangenius" really will be fired from a head coaching job for the second time in as many years.
Who would you include on this list of coaches on the hot seat? Which one of the available coaches do you think as the best chance to be back in the NFL as a head coach next year? Do you think Coach Singletary could be in trouble if the 49ers do not perform well in the second half of the season?