Friday, September 24, 2010

NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat

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-Digger's Daily-

Sunday marks the beginning of the 2010 NFL's third week of games for all teams. Are all head coaches safe? It's a bit too early in the year for coaches to be on the proverbial hot seat. Or, is it?

A teams bad won/loss record usually isn't the sole reason for NFL coaches getting canned. When teams fail to live up to potential or look horrible in defeat then there's usually something wrong. When teammates can't get along or have discipline problems then be prepared for local sportswriters to highlight in-cohesiveness.

A tell tale sign of a head coach in trouble is when a team owner steps up to the microphone to cast "confidence" statements amid a flurry of public skepticism. This is the first clue that if a team doesn't snap out of it quickly.... then the coach will soon be dismissed.

Here we are today hearing from Dallas Cowboys flamboyant owner Jerry Jones defending Wade Phillips....
"I can just give you a very affirmative 'no,' " Jones told KRLD-FM in Dallas when asked whether he has lost any confidence in his coach, or if Phillips could be fired if the Cowboys fall to 0-3.
Winning is everything to Jerry Jones and Dallas Cowboys fans. Dallas finally shed itself of locker room distractions after years of messy characters ranging from Keyshawn Johnson to Terrell Owens to Packman Jones. The major headaches causing disruption are gone. According to many prognosticators 2010 was supposed to belong to Dallas. Funny, I've heard that in 2009, 2008, 2007 and so on.

Three major problems hound the Cowboys. 1) Offensive line has been atrocious. They can't block and make terrible penalties (remember the holding call on a potential game winning TD pass?). 2) Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett has to go. Dallas has tremendous talent on offense. Speedy WR's, one of the games best pass catching TE, 1 pounding RB, 2 speedster RB's, solid QB. So why does this team have so much trouble scoring from close range? 3) Head Coach Phillips failure to seize control of games when things aren't going according to plan. Instead of standing with a long face on the sidelines how about getting more involved. Over-ride play calls when they don't seem right. Remember opening game vs rival Washington when Dallas ran a horrible final play of the first half? Dallas fumbled, Redskins recovered and returned it for a touchdown. Everyone under the sun was highly critical of the bone headed play selection. Phillips seems like a nice fellow. What he lacks on the surface is a take charge attitude.

Jones needs to shake things up. If he's loyal to Phillips then can Garrett. He's undeserving of Offensive Coordinator status based on lack of credentials for the job. He's learning on the fly while grounding the offense. Game plans are not executed. Plays often come in late from the sidelines. Cowboys do not exploit favorable personnel match-ups.

This is Jerry Jones 23rd year as Dallas Cowboys owner. Here's a well known hidden "fact" rarely discussed. In his 23 seasons Jones has hired only one head coach with a winning NFL resume (Bill Parcells). Jimmy Johnson was Jones first pick which was perfect for a team in transition. Johnson was lured by his pal to make the jump from collegiate success guiding the championship caliber University of Miami (Hurricanes) to NFL ranks. However, the stunning list of coaches that followed leaves many scratching their heads. Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey & Dave Campo covered years 1994-2002 before Parcells stepped in to resurrect the franchise after years of self inflicted damage.

Dallas will have their hands full this weekend facing a red hot Houston Texans team on the rise. Cowboys have managed only 27 points in two games. If they fail again on Sunday and Jones doesn't make a move then one has to wonder, as Dallas papers and talk radio have been doing, when will significant changes take place?

Who's next on the chopping block rumor mill? A brief look at coaches on my radar...
- Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills. What in the world was Buffalo thinking by hiring Gailey? Terrible team will have a very hard time winning a single game all year.
- Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders. 6 coaches in past 9 seasons. Cable is not good. His team is just as bad.
- Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns. Two tough losses against weaker NFL clubs. Next up... Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Jets. My only question is if Holmgren will let this guy go to 0-8 before stepping in?
- Tom Coughlin, New York Giants. Don't blame him if Giants falter. A very solid coach. However, NY media already has TC in their cross-hairs.
- Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers. I like his style and he seems to be the perfect man for the job of resurrecting the Niners. SF should not can him if the team finishes with a losing season. His only fault is poor clock management. Team needs a top flight QB. If SF fails to make the playoffs then he might be gone since NFC West is rather thin on quality teams.

Most other NFL coaches will probably survive no matter how their teams finish up in 2010 barring a squads self destruction or public humiliation. We'll see who goes first. I'd bet it'll be either Phillips or Mangini before week 8.

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