The two coaches with the biggest challenges facing them are Bills coach Dick Jauron and Cowboys coach Wade Phillips.
Jauron fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert last week in an effort to simplify the offense and to give his players a chance to relax. A source said Schonert was aloof and rubbed several players the wrong way. Alex Van Pelt, the new offensive coordinator, and running backs coach Eric Studesville are both well liked and respected in the locker room.
Yet, the Bills have to get off to a fast start to possibly save Jauron's job. A season opener at New England poses a big test; the Bills are expected to lose, but the next two are at home. Tampa Bay and New Orleans are winnable games, but the Saints' high-powered offense is a problem for anyone.
|Coaches on the Hot Seat|
|Reason: Time for the Panthers to make another deep playoff run|
|Reason: It's been a long-time in Cincinnati, a 8-8 finish might save him|
|Reason: He put his coaching status on the line by signing Brett Favre|
|Reason: Texans' owner said his team should make the playoffs|
|Jack Del Rio||Jaguars|
|Reason: Jags need to reach postseason, if not, changes could occur|
|Reason: Consecutive seasons without a playoff berth puts him here|
|Reason: He's calling the defensive plays and he's got a strong-armed QB|
|Reason: Needs a fast start, and a healthy LT|
|Reason: It's the Raiders, come on|
|Week 1 Games to Watch|
|Miami at Atlanta|
|Why: Two playoff teams meet in the opener and we get to find out who has really improved. Jason Taylor moves back into a starting role with the Dolphins and Matt Ryan gets to prove he's not a fluke.|
|New York Jets at Houston|
|Why: Rex Ryan talks a good game, now we get to find out just how much that mouth of his helps with his team on the road. Texans need this win to avoid a slow start.|
|Chicago at Green Bay|
|Why: Big test for Jay Cutler and the Bears. A victory could set the tone for the rest of the season in the NFC North.|
Over the weekend, Bills owner Ralph Wilson held a summit at his Detroit home to discuss the offensive changes. Jauron said the meeting went well.
"I felt like he was pretty comfortable before we got there," Jauron said. "He's known Alex for a long time, but he hasn't known him as his offensive coordinator and he wanted to talk to him, he wanted to talk to Eric and he wanted to talk to me and [GM] Russ [Brandon]. It was really a good day."
Another coach under the gun is Phillips. It's not surprising because Phillips is in the final year of his three-year deal and the Cowboys have made no indication that they are willing to give him an extension. The Cowboys went 13-3 in his first season but finished 9-7 in 2008 -- missing the playoffs. Before the season, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said this was the best coaching staff he's ever assembled.
After last year, the Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and special teams coach Bruce Read. Things are different now with Phillips calling the defensive plays. The Cowboys are geared to a fast start, but it's December and January that will define them.
NOT ANNOUNCING A DECISION HURTS BROWNS: Browns coach Eric Mangini said he will not announce who his starting quarterback will be until, well, maybe game time. Mangini said he will speak to Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn this week, probably today, and reveal the secret. Mangini is a smart football coach but doesn't look good in not announcing his starter.
Mangini is over thinking, which is what most NFL coaches do, regarding this decision. He wants the Vikings to prepare for two quarterbacks.
"I understand the excitement, but it will be something that will be internal," Mangini said Monday. "Being on the other side of this as defensive coordinator, I know the problems that not knowing who the starting quarterback will be can cause."
NOTHING NEW FOR CRABTREE: 49ers first round pick, Micheal Crabtree still isn't signed and doesn't appear ready to make a move. Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker, told FanHouse no talks are being scheduled. Crabtree wants to play this season and doesn't want to sit out the year, but his year is wasted the longer he sits.
FOURTH DOWNS: The Raiders' trading for DE Richard Seymour helps in the locker room in terms of leadership -- if he reports and if he's not upset with the move from the Patriots. Too many "ifs" for this to work ... Dolphins LB Matt Roth (groin) missed 95 percent of training camp with his injury -- or lack of injury. So, it appears his time with the Dolphins is over ... Cowboys say they like their young WRs in Sam Hurd and Miles Austin. But both battled injuries during the pre-season.