It’s that time of the year again. No, we’re not talking about Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that. It’s almost firing time around the NFL. Black Monday is fast approaching and there’s 2 regular season games left on the schedule. Rumors start flying about which coaches and general managers are in the hot seat and what teams are shopping for which coach to fill their gaps next year. Here is our picks for the top coaches that could be looking for employment elsewhere in 2015:
6. Tony Sparano – Oakland Raiders (2-12)
Oakland fired their coach Dennis Allen after a 0-4 start to the season and deposited Tony Sparano into the head coaching role on an interim basis. He knew when he took the role that, barring a miracle, it would only be for a year. Oakland is rumored to be interested in Jim Harbaugh. This team needs to shake things up. Their GM Reggie McKenzie could be another casualty if the Raiders do clean house at the end of this season. Jon Gruden wouldn’t take the job so why not Harbaugh?
5. Marc Trestman – Chicago Bears (5-9)
The Bears haven’t been their trademark rough and tough defensive selves in the past two years. The offense exploded in 2013 and Trestman was given a lot of credit. In 2014, his high tech offense has done little to impress and QB Jay Cutler has had a backslide in his evolution from a gunslinger to a quality pocket passer. Cutler has now been benched. That’s not going to solve the bears problems. Players haven’t exactly given Trestman their vote of confidence either and that is why he will likely be looking for work elsewhere, maybe as an offensive coordinator.
4. Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons (5-9)
The talent is there and they have the highest paid quarterback in American football in Matt Ryan. Mike Smith is coaching a team in the worst division in football this season. With those two facts alone the Falcons should have been able to separate themselves from the pack and be a standout in the NFC. They showed a glimmer of hope after rebounding from a 2-6 start to win 3 of 4 and take 1st place in the NFC South to then dropping their next 2 and fading away. Their only hope to make the playoffs is if the Saints fall off in the final 2 weeks but that still may not be enough to keep Smith around.
3. Joe Philbin – Miami Dolphins (7-7)
Just a few weeks ago it seemed that Philbin’s job could be saved and the Dolphins on the verge of a playoff berth for the first time under Joe’s watch. Then his team faced the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. They should finish the season at 9-7 but miss the playoffs once again. Philbin has been the head coach through the Richie Incognito bullying scandal. He’s 22-25 overall as a head coach. The Dolphins are rumored to be in the market for Jim Harbaugh but they may have to convince his wife to leave the Bay Area.
2. Rex Ryan – New York Jets (3-11)
Rex has had some success over the years in New York and almost took the Jets to the Super Bowl twice. In the last couple years, though, the Jets have become almost a joke in the NFL. San-chise’s butt-fumble is one play that sums it all up. Rex may have a legacy in Baltimore and New York of putting together some great defensive teams but the offensive side of the ball hasn’t exactly stacked up. They’ve got rid of Mark Sanchez. Geno Smith already seems like a failed experiment. Mike Vick isn’t the Mike Vick of the past. Matt Sims has some sweet salsa dancing moves but he’s not an ‘elite’ quarterback. They may even look to get another new QB in the draft this year. Experimenting isn’t a great way to coach. The 5-year, Rex Ryan experiment may be about over.
1. Jim Harbaugh – San Francisco 49ers (7-7)
After going to the NFC Championship game for 3-straight years and one Super Bowl appearance, a subpar season and disdain growing among key players in the locker room has put Jim Harbaugh on the Hot Seat. It seems that he has lost the confidence of and begun to annoy his team. It’s not like the 49ers are getting rid of him because of incompetence because plenty of other teams have expressed interest. It could be very attractive for Jim to be able to stay in the Bay Area and really stick it to the 9ers by taking a job in Oakland. Miami could use Jim in South Beach. Michigan has made Jim an offer of $48 million over 6 years. That’s $8 million a year. That’s more than any other current college coach. Yes, more than Saban. How does he turn that down? Shop that offer around to NFL teams, that’s how. Honestly, any team that fires their head coach this season should interview Harbaugh. They’d be foolish not to.
Head Coaches on Notice:
- Tom Coughlin – New York Giants (5-9) | He’s always in the discussion. He’s getting close to retirement at 68 years old. When will he go?
- Lovie Smith – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) | He’s probably safe this year, but must improve in 2015 or he’s done.
- Marvin Lewis – Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1) | Marvin could be moved to a new role in the organization.
- Mike Pettine – Cleveland Browns (7-7) | They love getting new coaches.
- Sean Peyton – New Orleans (6-8) | Could be traded for draft picks but fairly unlikely. Then again, just ask Jon Gruden how unlikely it really is.
- Ron Rivera – Carolina Panthers (5-8) | Every coach in the NFC South should be on notice. Ron is one of those guys.
- Jeff Fisher – St. Louis Rams (6-8) | The Rams have had some big wins this season beating the Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos but they’re 6-8. Plus they REALLY want to move to LA.
- Jay Gruden – Washington Redskins (3-11) | He’s probably safe because Snyder won’t want to pay another coach to leave, 2 years in a row. But RG 3-11 isn’t a good record.
- Gus Bradley – Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) | 2-12. That’s really all you have to say but then again it’s Jacksonville. They’re used to it.
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