Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Justin's Week 9 NFL Take: The Coaching Hot Seat Edition

Team of the Week: Indianapolis Colts
This Colts team has something very special going for themselves. Most people might have thought their season was over after Chuck Pagano had to leave for the year after being diagnosed with leukemia. But instead of folding up shop, the Colts rallied around it and now have put themselves in a prime position to make a post season run. Sitting at 5-3, the Colts essentially control their own destiny. They still have some tough games left, most notably against the Texans twice, New England and Detroit. But if Andrew Luck keeps up his stellar play, the Colts could snag a Wild Card spot. And if you haven't seen Chuck Pagano's post game speech to his team, go out of your way to see it. Very moving and inspiring.

Game of the Week: Pittsburgh 24  NY Giants 20
This was a good football game for many reasons. First of all, if even for a few hours, it took people's minds away from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and allowed them to have some fun watching a football game. It was also a good football game. I thought the game would come down to who would have the ball last. Big Ben got the ball back, looking to ice the clock. And he never gave it back. Pittsburgh game back from a ten point deficit to win the game. It was game that may have righted the ship for the Steelers. They positioned themselves nicely now for a Playoff spot in the AFC, and they still play the Ravens twice.
The "We Always Give 110%" 3 Stars of the Week

3. Chicago Bears Defense
How good is this Bears defense. At one point during Sunday's game against Tennessee, the Bears defense had more points than the offense. The defense is just running over teams left and right. They get a good test next week with the Texans coming to town. With the Bears defense playing as well as it is, they could carry the team to a very good post season run.

2. Andrew Luck
I thought Luck would play well this season, but he is playing better than I expected. Luck broke the single game passing record for rookies with 433 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, and the Colts won a big game against Miami 23-20. The Colts are now a surprising 5-3 and are currently in strong position for a Wild Card spot in the AFC. And the Colts are doing this without head coach Chuck Pagano. But he gave a pretty heart warming and moving speech after the game in the locker room. The Colts still have some tough games left. They go to New England and Detroit and play Houston twice. But the Colts may have the most motivation to get to the Playoffs out of anyone in the AFC.

1. Doug Martin
Talk about a guy on a hot streak. Last week against Minnesota, Doug Martin ran for 135 yards and a touchdown, and also caught a 64 yard touchdown pass. Didn't think Martin could top that performance? Well you were wrong. Against Oakland on Sunday, Martin ran for 251 yards on 25 carries and also scored FOUR touchdowns. That's an average of 10 yards a carry. Andrew Luck played well, but Martin's performance was great. Kid looks like a future stud.

Instead of doing my three goats of the week, I'm replacing it with The HOT SEAT. Since we are now past the half way point of the season, it is time to take a look at coach's whose jobs may be in jeopardy. These are in no particular order.

Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
There were people in San Diego who said Turner would be fired if the Chargers did not beat the Chiefs on Thursday night. San Diego pulled away late, and Turner's job was saved. But I still think Turner is the most likely coach to be fired at year's end. I was shocked that Turner retained his job as head coach last year. Turner has a great mind for running an offense and has done wonders as offensive coordinator in the league. But the guy is not a great head coach. He's had a lot of talent come in and out of San Diego and he never seems to be able to put together a true contending team. It is Playoffs or bust for Turner in San Diego this year. I'm sure Turner will land on his feet somewhere as an offensive coordinator, and do wonders with whatever offense he takes over.

Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs played very hard under Romeo Crennel to end the season last year. He was retained as head coach and the Chiefs had high hopes going into the year. Well, those hopes were quickly dashed. The Chiefs offense is abysmal. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn are not the answer at QB. The Chiefs are 1-7 and will have every opportunity to draft their next franchise QB in the Draft next year. But will Crennel be around to coach him? Normally you give first year coach's a pass. But if the Chiefs finish 1-15 and Scott Pioli is fired, will a new GM really want to keep Crennel around? I always thought Crennel wasn't a coach willing to take shots and go for the big play. If the Chiefs continue to play like they have been playing, I don't see how Crennel can be brought back.

Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
I actually like what Shurmur is doing with what he has in Cleveland. The Browns don't have a lot of talent but he has them fighting hard in every game. But the man that hired Shurmur, Mike Holmgrem, won't be with the Browns organization next year. Cleveland also has a new owner. So if the Browns bring in a new GM, and have a new owner in place, will they want to keep anything around from the old regime, front office wise? The negative would be giving a handful of young players a new playbook to learn in the off-season. If the Browns continue to fight and hang around in every game, I wouldn't want to shake things up. There weren't high expectations for the Browns going into the season, and I would say they are exceeding them by a little bit.

Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans
I was not going to put Munchak on this list, but Titans Owner Bud Adams statement after Tennessee's embarrassing loss to Chicago made me add him. Adams said that if the Titans play did not improve, he would make changes everywhere in the organization, including head coach. Now I know Bud Adams is a crazy old man, but would he really fire Munchak after two seasons? Sure, Tennessee looked terrible against Chicago. But the Bears are just a very talented team, especially on defense. I personally didn't think the Titans would be better than 8-8 this year. You could argue that they have been playing better with Hasselebeck under center compared to Jake Locker. The defensive side of the ball is under performing, and the offense isn't designed to be in shootouts. I don't think a move will be made, but crazy Bud Adams might do it just for the hell of it.

Chan Gailey, Buffalo
GM Buddy Nix went on record saying that Gailey would be back as head coach next year because he didn't want to go through another coaching search and rebuilding process. But what if Nix isn't back? Buffalo is a disappointing 3-5. Their supposedly improved defense is getting trampled. The way Gailey is running the offense is Andy Reid like. The Bills ran the ball a total of THREE times in the second half against Houston. They were only down 7-6 at the half. They can say that Houston was doing whatever to stop the run. But C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are the teams two best weapons on offense. They have to be utilized more. The team needs a franchise QB. Gailey was suppose to take the team on the next step to the Playoffs this year, but that doesn't look to be happening. Unless Buddy Nix goes as well, Gailey will probably be back next season.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Hopefully the Jets used their bye week to fix the mess they have going on there. The Jets were owned by the Dolphins at home in Week 8. Mark Sanchez hasn't made the strides you would like to see him make as the team's starting QB. Fans want Tebow, but he won't fix the team's problems. The defense, normally good under Ryan, is also having its problems. Not having Darelle Revis hurts, but that doesn't excuse the lapses in the run defense. With the media circus that surrounds New York, will the Jets front office tolerate two years of missing the Playoffs? Ryan seems to be a coach who sticks by his players. If he refuses to move on from Sanchez, will Ryan be forced out the door? My guess is no. Unless they can get Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden, Ryan sticks around.

Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
I really don't know how one team can go from having an explosive offense like the Panthers did to having an offense that has problems scoring. Cam Newton has been shut down by most defenses this year. And the Panthers defense that many people thought would get better is also struggling to stop teams. Carolina squeaked out a win this week at Washington. The win won't do much for Rivera. The Panthers fired their GM a couple weeks ago. And once again, as with any regime change, a new GM usually likes to bring in his own coach. The question the new Panthers GM has to ask himself is this: Can Ron Rivera be the guy that can solve the problems that are going on with Cam Newton? Right now it doesn't look like it. Unless there is some big turn around, I would expect Rivera out at the end of the season.

Ken Wisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
Wisenhunt was on the hot seat at the beginning of the year. But then the Cardinals started a surprising 4-0 with a road win at New England. But the wheels have fallen off the tracks in Arizona. They have lost five straight. The offense looks down right pitiful. John Skelton is challenging Blaine Gabbert for the honor of worst starting QB in the league. The team hasn't had a franchise QB since Kurt Warner left town. So does Wisenhunt get a free pass? I don't know if he should. The team brought in Kevin Kolb and that hasn't helped things. You have to wonder if the Cardinals front office is sitting their and realizing that they are wasting away the prime years of WR Larry Fitzgerald's career. Arizona has had a lot of problems with its offensive line, both tackles are injured. But again, good coaches overcome those obstacles. I think a change is coming in Arizona.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones does not like losing. The Dallas Cowboys are his baby, and he wants them to succeed. But the Cowboys have not succeeded the last couple of years and that could mean problems for Jason Garrett. Some would argue that the Cowboys have regressed under Garrett this year. Tony Romo has been off the last couple of games. The defense still has the tendency to give up big plays. Dallas appears destined to miss the Playoffs again. Not only is Garrett under fire, but Tony Romo may not get a contract extension if he fails to deliver a Playoff appearance. Jerry Jones always loves to make a big splash, and if he fires Garrett, he will go after a big name. Sean Payton's contract was voided by the NFL, and Payton has ties to Dallas. If not Payton, then Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are available. The team locked Jones out of their locker room after their loss to Atlanta. If that doesn't tell you the team is sick of Jones, I don't know what does. I think Garrett gets the boot at the end of the year.

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
The writing is on the wall for Any Reid. The fact that the Eagles could only muster 13 points against a bad Saints defense pretty much sealed Reid's fate. The Eagles have disappointed the last two years under Reid. Watching the Saints game late, it just looked like the team has quit on Reid. Sure they were down 15 late, but the players showed no hussle getting back to the line of scrimmage. It isn't all on Reid, or Mike Vick, for that matter. The Eagles offensive line is in shambles and they cannot protect Mike Vick at all. But Reid also has made numerous time management blunders, and he often forgets that LeSean McCoy is the team's best offensive weapon at times. The Eagles fired Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo, but the defense is still playing as bad as it was before hand. Reid's tenure in Philly is done. It is just a matter of when it will happen.

Random One Liners
-If Jerry Jones the Owner would have fired Jerry Jones the GM, why hasn't he done it yet?

-Hopefully Mike Shanahan's quitting attitude doesn't rub off on his team.

-Watching a full Texans game, they don't impress me like the stats and scores say they should.

-Ryan Clark is starting to get the Dirty Player label, at least from me.

-I guess Jon Skelton does know who Larry Fitzgerald is after all.

-How bad is Chad Henne that the Jaguars won't turn to him over Blaine Gabbert?

1. Atlanta Falcons
2. Chicago Bears
3. Houston Texans
4. New England Patriots
5. New York Giants

The We're So Bad We Don't Deserve a Funny Name Bottom 5
28. Oakland Raiders
29. Carolina Panthers
30. Cleveland Browns
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
32. Kansas City Chiefs

Three Games I'd Like To See Next Week
Houston at Chicago: Two 7-1 teams going head to head? Yeah, that works for me.
Dallas at Philadelphia: Would not surprise me at all if the losing coach is fired after this game.
Atlanta at New Orleans: This is the game that could turn around the Saints season.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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