Thursday-and-Long: Wade Phillips, Mike Singletary On Hottest Coaching Seats
The Dallas Cowboys are an irretrievable mess -- a 1-5 train wreck that probably needs something like a 9-1 finish to have a shot but doesn't appear capable of such because it doesn't appear to be any good. The quarterback is hurt. The defense is a penalty machine. And the coach doesn't appear to have any control over anything. There's a theory going around the league that the only reason Wade Phillips might be back in Dallas next year is because he has a contract and Jerry Jones wouldn't want to be paying two coaches during a year that might not happen because of labor strife. When people are theorizing that way about your job security, you don't have much.
There are a lot of bad NFL teams out there right now, and more than a few of them had high hopes. That means more than a few coaches are feeling the heat. We take a look at some of those coaches and just how hot their seats are at the moment:
• Mike Singletary, 49ers (1-6): As discussed above, hard to see this ending well. Heat Index: 10 (of a possible 10).
• Wade Phillips, Cowboys (1-5): Jerry Jones doesn't fire coaches midseason. Wonder if he's re-thinking that policy: Heat Index: 9.
• Josh McDaniels, Broncos (2-5): They're calling for his head in Denver after Sunday's pasting by the hated Raiders. McDaniels is only in his second year, and he came with big expectations in spite of his youth as a former Bill Belichick protege. But since he's arrived, he's traded Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall out of town (mainly because of personality conflicts) and gone 4-13 after last year's fluky 6-0 start. He's not exactly a stabilizing force there, and that could mean he doesn't get as much time as someone else might. Heat Index: 7
• Brad Childress, Vikings (2-4): This year seems to hinge on Brett Favre, and his 41-year-old ankle is making that a very questionable bet. This was a win-now year for Minnesota, and if it doesn't work out, they might just assign the rebuilding project to someone else in 2011. Heat Index: 7.
• Norv Turner, Chargers (2-5): Much like the Cowboys, Turner's team looks undisciplined and sloppy, and that's the kind of stuff that gets coaches fired. Turner's poor playoff history already had him on shaky ground. If he doesn't even make the playoffs this year, the fault line underneath him could open up. Heat Index: 6.
• Jack Del Rio, Jaguars (3-4): As they did a year ago, the Jags have started out better than people expected. But it's going to be tough for them to hang in a very tough AFC South, and outside observers often say Del Rio is overmatched on the sidelines. With all the uncertainty surrounding this team and its future in Jacksonville, Del Rio can't be confident. Heat Index: 5.
• Eric Mangini, Browns (2-5): Many were surprised that Mangini was brought back for this year, after Mike Holmgren took over the Browns late last season. And given his history and the team's bleak prospects, it's been assumed that he might not have a shot at sticking for 2011. But he does seem to have toned down his act, and beating the Super Bowl champion Saints in New Orleans can only help his chances. Heat Index: 3
• John Fox, Panthers (1-5): His contract is up at the end of this year, and he's still well regarded around the league. No matter how bad things get in Carolina this year, he's certain to last the season. No matter how good they might get, he's certain not to be back next year, as he'll be a popular guy on the coaching free-agent market. Heat Index: 1
• Chan Gailey, Bills (0-6): Yeah, they're winless and could stay that way for a while. But Gailey's a first-year coach and not likely to be in any trouble anytime soon. Besides, the biggest problem with this team was supposed to be quarterback, and Gailey is getting great production out of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He doesn't have the personnel to succeed in Buffalo, but it's not his fault and he's not likely to be blamed for it. Heat Index: 1.
Three for the Road
NFL road teams went 6-8 last week and fell to 45-59 for the year. That's the second straight 6-8 week, which is actually pretty good. What's not good is my record picking three road teams to win every week. This past week, I went 0-3, losing with the Rams in Tampa Bay, the Cardinals in Seattle and the Vikings in Green Bay. And no, it doesn't help that two of those games were lost at the very end. Fact is, I should have picked the Redskins in Chicago and at some point I may need to stop doubting the Giants. Not there yet, but maybe soon.
Anyway, I'm 8-10 this year picking three road teams to win every week, so there's little if any reason you should be paying attention to this portion of the column anymore, but here you are. So here are this week's three:
1. Miami at Cincinnati. A battle of two AFC teams that had higher hopes. The loser is probably cooked, considering their divisions. The Bengals' secondary could make life tough on Chad Henne and the Dolphins' passing game, but Cincinnati doesn't have enough elsewhere on defense this year.
2. Redskins at Detroit. Washington improves to 5-3? Believe it. At least one of my NFC East predictions still has a shot to come true. Mike Shanahan's Redskins are going to contend for a playoff spot.
3. Buccaneers at Arizona. The Cardinals don't score, which means the score will stay close, which means Josh Freeman will have a chance to win it at the end, which is what he does. Raheem Morris says his Bucs are the best team in the NFC. I don't think he's right, but he could be. After all, somebody has to be.
It's Just a Fantasy
(Or, Three Guys I Wish I Had on My Fantasy Team This Week)
1. Adrian Peterson at New England. This has less to do with the matchup than the player. I've never had Peterson on my team, nor have I ever been able to swing a trade for him, but I do love watching him run. With the old man at QB banged up, I think you're going to see a lot of Peterson on Sunday.
2. Pierre Garcon vs. Texans. Let's see. Dallas Clark is out. Austin Collie is out. Anthony Gonzalez is hurt because, well, he's Anthony Gonzalez. Do you think Peyton Manning's going to throw every pass to Reggie Wayne and nobody else? Against the Houston secondary? Come on. I'd take a flyer on Blair White. Garcon will have a monster game.
3. Matt Schaub at Indianapolis. Because I already have Peyton Manning, but I think it'd be fun to have both QBs in this week's Monday night game, where the only thing that will stop the scoring is the sound of a whistle.
The traveling man is back to his baseball roots this week, currently in San Francisco covering the World Series for FanHouse TV. But since the World Series moves to Texas over the weekend, I'm going to double-dip in Sunday. Before heading over to the World Series game Sunday night, I'm going to the Jerry Dome to check out Jaguars-Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. Yeah, that's right. Jags-Cowboys. Let's just say I'm not expecting to bump into Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.