This is a little bit past the half way point of the NFL, which means we have somewhat of an idea as to what direction each team is going to go. The Green Bay Packers are 9-0 and the Indianapolis Colts are 0-10 (surprise, surprise), as the San Francisco 49ers have shown that they are the team of the 80's and 90's that just happened to take a decade's long break. Ultimately, a successful team needs a quarterback in which they can build a foundation and a head coach to ultimately help them head in that right direction. When people don't do their job right, they need to be replaced. Being a head coach in the NFL is no different.
I am going to name the NFL coach that will or at least should be fired, even just an examination about the possibility of being fired. Whether it happens or not, that will be up to the league to decide.
Tony Sparano (Miami Dolphins)- The Dolphins are on a two-game winning streak as I write this post, but I still believe that it will not be enough. They are most definitely not making it to the playoffs and if they're lucky, they may go 5-11, but that's about it. Sparano had time to prove his worth during the 2009 and 2010 season, despite the fact that Bill Parcells, who was making executive decisions, decided to leave the team midway through the 2010 season and before they could even head into the right direction that looked like a possibility in 2008. They need a quarterback to build a foundation around and a new head coach.
Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars)- He should have been fired several seasons ago. Del Rio was hired in 2003 and is in his ninth season with the team. During his time with the team, he had just two playoff appearances and no division wins (it's hard being in a division with the Colts, but still) in 2005 and 2007. He postseason record as a coach is 1-2. The Jaguars have made several executive mistakes and may be the poorest run team in the league. They should have been the team to draft Tim Tebow and they have several games with a lacking attendance. Firing Del Rio would help them head in the right direction, but hiring the right head coach is going to be the task ahead.
Jim Caldwell (Indianapolis Colts)- The Colts are NOTHING without Peyton Manning. There, I said it! Jim Caldwell was not necessarily placed in the coaching position to lead the team, but at least he should have some kind of ability to coach. Losing Peyton Manning is an event in which the head coach has to take the lead and do everything he can to pick the right person to fill in for Manning and make it so they can continue to win games. When Tom Brady's season ended with an injury in 2008, the Patriots replaced him with Matt Cassel and went 11-5. They missed the playoffs in a year that was incredibly competitive in the AFC (the south and north in particular). The job the Colts are doing is inexcusable for the fans and the team needs to realize that Peyton Manning will not be around forever. Maybe it's time to build the next generation with a "do something" coach.
Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans)- *but only if he misses the playoffs* Gary Kubiak is in his sixth season with the Texans and has failed to reach the playoffs. They would be the #1 seed in the playoffs if the season ended today, but Matt Schaub suffered a season-ending injury that will force Matt Leinart to take the role of quarterback. There really shouldn't be anything to worry about, because the AFC South is the Texans division to lose. Only the Titans have any chance of contending for the division if the Texans slip. I don't see it happening, though.
Norv Turner (San Diego Chargers)- The Chargers were doing just fine with Marty Schottenheimer, but due to management issues, he was fired and replaced with Norv Turner. He has lead the team to three playoff seasons with a 3-3 postseason record, including a trip to the AFC Championship in 2007. On the flip side, there were many mistakes that were made this season and the AFC West has become anybody's division. If it isn't the Chargers, Turner's days may be numbered.
Mike Shanahan (Washington Redskins)- If Shanahan isn't on the hot seat, under Snyder's circumstances, he should be. Snyder brought Shanahan in to rebuild a struggling team. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened and there hasn't been any direction in which it could happen. Snyder made Jim Zorn look like a disaster, when he delivered decent results in the 2008 season, starting out well, but going into an 8-8 slump. It was in the 2009 season when his lame duck status throughout cost him his job. Shanahan's taking this experience for granted, and is causing more friction than anything. Having Rex Grossman and John Beck as your quarterbacks is not doing you any good, thus the best thing the Skins could do is draft a quarterback and build the team around him. It doesn't look like you're going to find your Elway gold with what you have!
Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles)- Reid has been fairly fortunate to have a team that has been able to come together and make a run into the playoffs year after year, only missing the playoffs in 1999, 2005, and 2007 during Reid's tenure. Ultimately, it isn't Reid that's contributing to the team, but instead it's Marty Mornhinweg, his offensive coordinator. Picking Juan Castillo, who has never coached defense, as his defensive coordinator, is laughable. He's unpopular with the fans and just making the playoffs has saved him. It will take a few seasons of crumbling, though, to watch him get fired.
Tom Coughlin (New York Giants)- *but only if he misses the playoffs* The Giants are currently winning the division, but have a hard stretch up ahead. The Giants have a problem with the long stretch and falling into a slump. The last three seasons are prime examples, the last two of which ended in missing the playoffs. The Giants need the motivation that they had in 2007, when they went on to win the Super Bowl. Otherwise, but Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will be on the hot seat. If they reach the playoffs, Coughlin will have a chance are retaining his job. If not, questions will need to be answered.
Steve Spagnoulo (St. Louis Rams)- Spagnoulo is in his third season with the Rams, which have unfortunately been three lacking seasons. They were 1-15 in 2009, 7-9 and short of the playoffs in an incredibly weak NFC West, and this season could very well have a weak record. Spagnoulo has unfortunately not delivered and the Rams may be better off looking for someone else.
Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals)- The Cardinals are returning to regular form, but Whisenhunt and his status with the team will depend on whether or not he could come out with a decent record. If he could do this and John Skelton could demonstrate potential, then he might very well be saved.
Now that the coaches who are on the hot seat have been named, here are the potential replacements that could very well be the best nominees for head coach.
Rob Ryan (Dallas Cowboys DC)- The defensive coordinator is outspoken like his brother, Rex, and sometimes he hasn't been able to put his money where his mouth is. However, he is just the right coaching material, coming from a family that includes his brother Rex and his father Buddy. His brother has also been able to turn the New York Jets into an interesting team that's a powerful force against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Ryan will most definitely have a coaching job during this decade, but putting him on a team like the Dolphins would be incredible, making the AFC East the most exciting division in the league. Even the Colts would be able to benefit with a defensive mind like Ryan's. John Harbaugh has been successful with the Baltimore Ravens, and his brother, Jim, is currently having equal success with the 49ers. Ryan should see some similar brotherly success.
Mike Zimmer (Cincinnati Bengals DC)- The Bengals are a dark horse team this season. I thought they would go 1-15, due to the gaps that made up the team. However, Andy Dalton is an underrated rookie quarterback and the defense is mighty. Zimmer is the mastermind behind this defense and this should be the time that teams look for him to take over the head coaching reigns. While the Jaguars will likely stick to someone currently on their staff, they should look at a strong coordinator like Zimmer. He will most definitely be a contributor to success.
Perry Fewell (New York Giants DC)- I'm positive that Fewell will most definitely receive several head coaching interviews. You have the "Rooney Rule," in which teams must interview minorities. However, Fewell is an extremely talented coordinator who put the Giants back on the right track after Bill Sheridan couldn't fill Steve Spagnoulo's empty space when it took the Rams coaching job. The Giants have produced several head coaches who were defensive coordinators for the team. You had Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick among many others that can support such a statement. Fewell will surely have himself a new run that was not like his interim with the Bills.
Winston Moss (Green Bay Packers LBC)- He would be the second option for the Rooney Rule and would be a good option. While the Packers aren't doing incredibly strong on defense, they are still winning games and the defense is still expressing their presence. The Packers Super Bowl run last season has a lot to do with their defense, and AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews are forces to be reckoned with. Moss will be the guy who comes out of the woodwork and maybe strike big in the league.
Dom Capers (Green Bay Packers DC)- Speaking of the Packers, Dom Capers is the man behind the defense. If the Packers have themselves a strong run deep into the playoffs, there will be many candidates from the team, unless teams make quick decisions. Capers was the first coach of the Carolina Panthers and the Houston Texans. In his second season with the Panthers, he led them to the NFC Championship. While his time with the Texans ended on a sour note, he deserves another chance at simply rebuilding a team. He is definitely the one to perform the job of rebuilding a team.
Gregg Williams (New Orleans Saints DC)- Williams coached the Buffalo Bills from 2001-2003, but has proven that he is a defensive coordinator to be reckoned with in the league. He proved his worth with the Washington Redskins during Joe Gibbs return to the team and with the Saints, he has created something explosive. There are several coordinators such as Marty Mornhinweg, Rod Marinelli, and Cam Cameron that are better off as coordinators, but Williams could probably do well with another coaching stint if he's granted the opportunity to do so. Though I do feel that Eagles fans would like Mornhinweg as their head coach.
Wade Phillips (Houston Texans DC)- Wade Phillips is one of the top defensive coordinators in the league. He injected life into the Texans struggling defense, just as he did with the San Diego Chargers defense. He's also a decent head coach if you could get over some of the decisions he has made (such as the "Music City Miracle"). He's led the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys to the playoffs. With the Cowboys, they won their first postseason game in thirteen seasons during his time with the team. If a team needs some rebuilding, they should give Phillips another chance.
Jeff Fischer (Former Tennessee Titans HC)- Fischer is intending to return to the league somehow, unlike Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden, who are having a fine time up in the commentating booth. Even Brian Billick looks content with his commentating job. Jeff Fischer, on the other hand, is more likely to coach on the sidelines again. He has the record to do so. Despite not winning a postseason game since 2003, he did lead the Titans to their first Super Bowl (even though he did lose). The team that picks him up, we'll have to see.
Tom Cable (Seattle Seahawks OLC)- While his run with the Raiders was cut short, he was coaching the Raiders. You don't get much of a chance if Al Davis is your boss. Cable led the Raiders into the right direction with an 8-8 season. While he fell short in the playoffs, he was bringing the team somewhere, somewhere they haven't been since 2002. Hue Jackson will likely get the credit, as he was brought in to reform the team.
Marty Schottenheimer (Former San Diego Chargers HC)- If anybody deserves one more chance, it's Marty Schottenheimer. While it'll be tough for him to claim it if he even wants a position, the way things ended with the Chargers were rough. Another thing going against him is his age, as he'll be sixty-nine next season. George Halas and Marv Levy were the oldest coaches to coach a game, and they were seventy-two. However, he could very easily inject some life into a struggling team.
In the event that they are let go, there's a good chance that Norv Turner, Andy Reid, and Tom Coughlin could get head coaching positions (at the very least coordinator positions) elsewhere. Granted, Turner is the only one with a strong chance of being let go. Even if he is let go, he'll be a head coach or offensive coordinator next season.
There are surely other coaching nominees, but they are generally coaches that are the hottest coordinators on the hottest teams. The carousel at the end of the season should remain interesting, and the coaches that are chosen will surely be chosen wisely... or at least should be chosen really wisely.