The smoke seems to be clearing following the end of the 2008 regular season and, unless there are any last second surprises, the coach firings seem to be done for the year.
That doesn’t mean everyone left standing following a season that saw 11 of the 32 teams fail to finish at .500 or better can enter next year feeling confident in their job security.
Here is a look at the men who might find themselves on their way out at the end of next season if they don’t find a way to win.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals – Detroit Lions fans wondered how general manager Matt Millen seemed to keep his job year after year despite the constant losing and were finally rewarded for their patience with his firing early this season. Lewis seems to be the Bengals version of Millen; only as a coach rather than a GM. If you subtract his 11-5 season in 2005, he has averaged just 7 wins each year. Chances are, he could do the same next year too and still keep his job but I’m not betting on it.
Herm Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs – There’s still a chance Edwards won’t last until next season, depending on who the Chiefs pick as their next general manager. Depending on how long that search takes, the new GM might elect to keep him around; just to avoid the headaches involved with a late coaching change but, unless he has the best season of his career, he will likely find himself unemployed.
Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills – The Bills took some time to think things over before electing to keep Jauron for a fourth season. That’s usually not an indication the team is really sold on the coach; just they don’t think they can do better right now. Jauron has a 21-27 record with the Bills heading into next season. If they fail to make the playoffs, there’s a good chance he won’t get another chance.
Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars – Del Rio plays in one of the tougher AFC divisions, which is likely why he manages to hang on to his job. But, while he is above the .500 mark with a 51-48 record his last place finish in the AFC South this year likely has him watching over his shoulder.
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans – The Texans are starting to show improvement and has had two 8-8 seasons in a row. But, this is a team that has never made the playoffs and, if Kubiak can’t show he’s the guy to change that soon, the team might choose to go in a different direction.
Jim Zorn, Washington Redskins – Zorn finished 8-8 this season, his first with Washington. But, he took over a team that was a playoff contender last year and finished dead last in the division. Owner Dan Snyder is known to have a quick hook when it comes to coaches and I have to think he expected more.
Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings – Childress saved his job this year because of a playoff appearance. But, the team has arguably the biggest playmaker in the NFL right now with Adrian Peterson and I’m not sure an early playoff exit is enough to guarantee his job security beyond next year.
Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears – A couple seasons ago, Smith was the toast of the Windy City after winning an NFC Championship and going to the Super Bowl. But, the team has failed to make the post season two seasons in a row, still hasn’t decided on a long-term quarterback and isn’t as dominating on defense as they once were.
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers – In a way, McCarthy put himself on the hot seat this year. The Packers’ 6-10 record didn’t help him but, ultimately, it will be his decision to fire most of his defensive staff and start over that will determine whether or not he has a future in title town. The Packers have an offense that can score points. If changing the defensive staff and overall defensive scheme doesn’t prove to be the way back into the post season, he might find himself looking for work as an offensive coordinator again.