Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid and five of his former assistants -- Leslie Frazier, John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Pat Shurmur and Steve Spagnuolo -- sat down for dinner at St. Elmo's steak house in Indianapolis on a Friday night during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine. Just a group of old friends, all connected by Reid, all climbing precipitously skyward through the NFL coaching ranks.
That night, at that table, the Reid branch of the Mike Holmgren coaching tree, looked poised to take over the league. The leaves have since withered on those branches.
Spagnuolo was canned by the Rams in January. Shurmur is a lame duck in Cleveland. Rivera might be a victim of change higher up the food chain in Carolina, and Reid himself can't seem to fire staff members fast enough to salvage another disappointing Eagles season.
Reid and his offshoots aren't the only coaches in trouble. Nine weeks into the NFL season, the handful of teams not experiencing the league's remarkable parity want a fix. The degree of trouble varies for each coach. Like most things, there's a spectrum. At one end, there is Pat Shurmur, watching the guillotine fall in excruciating slow motion. On the other side of the line there's Jason Garrett, who will probably be on the hot seat all over again next year.
All together, there are seven coaches currently worried about their jobs, or at least they should be worried.
Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
It turns out Todd Haley might not have been the problem in Kansas City after all. Chiefs fans can only dream of the 5-8 record the team had before the mercurial coach was canned with three games left last year.
Now the Chiefs are 1-7 under Romeo Crennel, hired mostly for getting along with Scott Pioli and not yelling at the players. The kindly old man who hands out peppermints and other assorted hard candy to players and children wandering through the locker room has a plan to fix that. Crennel fired himself as the defensive coordinator and released cornerback Stanford Routt, who the team signed to a $19 million free agent deal in the spring.
The fans' take, from Matt Verderame at Arrowhead Pride:
When the Chiefs get brutalized on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and by Haley's offense, the cleaning of this house should begin. I don't care if it won't accomplish anything for this year. As fans, show us you're fed up with this joke of a team.
Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
Does anyone else regret making predictions of the Bills being a good team this year? Yeah, me too. Mario Williams has been a free agent bust since signing a deal worth $96 million. Of course, Williams isn't so much the problem as he is a very expensive reminder that Chan Gailey doesn't seem to know how to coach a defense or at least hire people who do.
Greatest Hit: Gailey's play calling came under fire after last week's loss to the Texans, specifically a failure to take any deep shots with the short and middle parts of the field closed down and a Crennel-esque decision to limit the duo of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller
The fans' take from Brian Galliford at Buffalo Rumblings:
Instead, we're asking you to critically assess what you perceive to be the relevant factors in whether or not Gailey gets a fourth season in Buffalo, and place odds on his return based on your assessment. Some factors you may consider include his relationship with GM Buddy Nix (not to mention your take on Nix's own job security), his 13-26 overall record (including 2-12 in the AFC East), his stellar work with essentially every facet of the offense, and his inability to field a competent defense throughout his tenure. There are undoubtedly dozens of others that you can point out in the comments section.
Ed. note: 46 percent of fans gave Gailey a "high" probability of being fired.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
This is Garrett's second full season at the wheel in Dallas. Matching last year's 8-8 effort seems like a long shot at this point. Jerry Jones' big blue Star shines dimly in one of the galaxy's more mediocre constellations. What exactly is wrong? Confusion reigns. Is it Tony Romo's offense or does it belong to Redheaded Jesus? It's both, and therein lies the problem, one of them at any rate. Wade Phillips had three and a half seasons in Dallas, and he managed to take the team to the playoffs twice, even winning a Wildcard game the year before Jerry fired him after a 1-7 start.
Garrett received an endorsement from Stephen Jones this week. Just how much patience will they have in January?
Greatest Hit: In a repeat of a 2011 loss to the Cardinals, Garrett and his confused offense burned up precious clock time at the end of a Week 6 loss to the Ravens, rather than attempt to move the ball with another play or two. It left Dan Bailey with a missed 51-yard field goal.
The fans' take, from Tom Ryle at Blogging the Boys:
The only real opinion that matters is that of one Jerry Jones, and he is standing behind his head coach. So far. The question is how long will he do so? I think, as I always have, that Jerry Jones is not going to consider a change in direction until after 2013, when Garrett will have three full seasons under his belt. That is also the last year of Tony Romo's current deal, so this may be a big picture kind of decision. If things do not turn around, then Ithink all bets are off.
Mike Mularkey, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars lost another stinker, at home, by a big margin. Auto parts magnate Shahid Khan knows a lemon when he sees one, and the NFL team he bought in January desperately needs to be recalled. Mularkey got the keys to the '78 Gremlin in January, before the Falcons could chase off the embattled offensive coordinator. Jacksonville's biggest problem is general manager Gene Smith. His drafts have yielded little talent for the hapless head coach. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert doesn't seem to be showing any signs of improvement in his second season with the team.
Khan has promised to evaluate everything after the season ends. He may want to get a head start on the inevitable housecleaning after Thursday night's debacle.
Greatest Hit: The Jaguars own a particularly ugly 0-5 record at home this season. Murlarkey's team looks disinterested, but the coach finally cracked at least after officials failed to review a Colts touchdown on Thursday night. He has a pulse!
The fans' take from JPon at Big Cat Country:
It's not totally Mularkey's fault that this season has become what it has, but this team has been through the half-assed "rebuild", and here is where it has gotten us. Mularkey is Smith's man, his choice, and thus unfortunately his collateral damage so to speak.
A new direction for this team is needed, with a FULLY clean slate from the front office, to the coaching staff, and in my opinion, the quarterback as well.
Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
It's one thing for the Jaguars or the Browns to be a shitty team year after year. When the Eagles stink for two years in a row, just a year after blowing Dan Snyder-like cash in free agency, there's a problem. Under Reid, the Eagles have been to the playoffs nine times in 13 seasons, but have never brought home a Lombardi Trophy.
Unlike Jacksonville, Reid's roster, which he has near total control over, is rich with talent. Reid knows he's in trouble; owner Jeff Lurie promised as much after the team's pitiful showing last year. Reid's insistence on throwing the ball rather than running it against the league's worst run defense in last week's loss to the Saints was a classic example of a desperate coach outsmarting himself.
Greatest Hit: Former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was a laughing stock last season. He's now a folk hero after Reid offered him up as a sacrifice for the team's troubles. A weekly threat to bench your starting quarterback probably doesn't help things either. It's bunker time in Philly!
The fans' take from Eliot Shorr-Parks at Bleeding Green Nation:
The time is running up on Reid's time in Philadelphia. You could feel it in the locker room, in the stadium, and even see it in Reid's face when he spoke after the game. It now seems to be a matter of when, not if Reid will be fired as Eagles coach. The better question might now be, who will he bring down with him?
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers were supposed to be better this year, Cam Newton's follow-up season to an incredible debut. Headlines about sad Cam Newton, emo icon, replaced whatever high hopes the Panthers and the fans had. GM Marty Hurney got the boot following a Week 7 home loss to the Cowboys, a warning sign for the second-year head coach.
Rivera has a touch of the same disease poisoning most branches of Reid's coaching tree: playing not to lose. With just a year and a half under his belt and a win last week, Rivera may survive the season. He'll be on a very short leash in 2013 if he does.
Greatest Hit: Trailing by 2 points with 1:09 to go in Week 4 against the Falcons, Rivera's team found itself at fourth-and-1 at Atlanta's 45-yard line. Naturally, he punts, despite Newton's career-high rushing total and a trio of Hurney's pricey running backs.
The fans' take from James Dator at Cat Scratch Reader:
The Carolina Panthers can preach that Ron Rivera is fighting for his job, but if you look at how these organizations made changes, they all made similar claims of the incumbents. Based on past history, Ron Rivera has a 23% chance of remaining with the Panthers at least one more season, and just a 7% chance of keeping his job moving forward.
Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
Having watched Shurmur dink and dunk the St. Louis Rams to a 7-9 record in 2010, I still struggle with the question of why the Browns hired him to be head coach. Then you remember that this is the Browns, then owned by soccer fan Randy Lerner. Shurmur also traces his origins as a coach back to Reid who stems from the Mike Holmgren tree.
Cleveland has a new owner now, Holmgren is retiring at the end of the season and Pat Shurmur is the lamest of lame duck head coaches in the NFL right now. Cleveland has more talent than the 2-7 record would suggest, but Shurmur's tepid approach to calling games just doesn't line up well with Jimmy Haslam's new direction for the team. It shouldn't. Fans in Cleveland have suffered too long.
Greatest Hit: Pick a fourth down, any fourth down, and chances are Pat Shurmur made the wrong call. My personal favorite happened last week on a third-and-11 at the Baltimore 23-yard line, with Browns trailing the Ravens 14-12 with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Of course Pat Shurmur dials up a run play right up the middle.
Shurmur's passive-aggressive bickering with the local media will be missed.
The fans' take from Ryan Alton of SB Nation Cleveland:
But of course, Shurmur wasn't Haslam's choice as coach and Haslam the businessman comes from a world where the customer is always right. Needless to say, after witnessing an opportunity to seize a turning point in this team's development squandered, followed by all the empty seats as the seconds ticked away on Sunday, Haslam probably knows all he needs to know about the customer's feelings right now. Shurmur has sealed his fate. It's only a matter of time.
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
Give old Norv some credit. It's not easy to take a talented roster and deliver annual results around the .500 mark ... in the AFC West. Turner's greatest accomplishment is keeping his job in light of those results. Oh, and Dean Spanos can't figure out why the tax-averse local populace refuses to build him a new stadium. The Chargers are supposedly on the first train to L.A., but the team is so bad fans up I-5 would rather have the Raiders or the Rams.
Greatest Hit: This season, the biggest feather in Turner's cap has to be blowing a 24-point lead in the second half of a Monday night game against the Broncos in Week 6.
The fans' take from John Gennaro at Bolts from the Blue:
The 2012 San Diego Chargers are poorly coached. That much is obvious. What is also obvious is that the offensive line stinks, the WRs besides Malcom Floyd can't catch a thing, the pass rush is nonexistent and the secondary has to be among the league's least talented and shallowest. When every Chargers fan comes to the conclusion of "This team is just not good" for several years in a row, there is a serious problem with talent acquisition and development. That falls just as much on the GM as it does on the Head Coach, which is why I believe that both should go.