Eventually, the blame moves up the ranks. A lot of bad teams this year have coaches in their first or second year with the organization. The problems pre-date them. When you look over the landscape of the league, it looks like it could be the men who hire them facing a more tenuous offseason-men who can no longer scape goat coaches because they have had opportunities themselves.
Last year, we saw the regime change in St. Louis after a dreadful stretch of years, as they went to Jeff Fisher. Oakland had the turnover in management following Al Davis’ death, and Indianapolis went a different direction after a long successful period with Bill Polian came to a crashing halt.
We should see more changes than those this offseason. Among the candidates for GM’s, presidents and other key decision makers (regardless of title) who could find themselves in trouble:
1. Marty Hurney, Carolina. Hurney survived when John Fox did not, but has continued to make some unusual decisions (devoting lots of money to running back, kicker, and Charles Johnson, for example). He’s had two more years with his next hire, Ron Rivera, but could be facing pressure if they don’t improve soon.
2. Mike Holmgren, Cleveland. The new owner comes in this week. Holmgren’s tenure doesn’t exactly scream “retain me”. He’s a strong personality and a big name, but Jimmy Haslem will likely want someone else.
3. Gene Smith, Jacksonville. The Jaguars stink, I’m not sure there needs to be any more explanation than that. Smith is a holdover, and new owner Shahid Khan has been patient, so far, but Smith is likely living on borrowed time. Blaine Gabbert better start looking like a starting caliber quarterback soon.
4. A.J. Smith, San Diego. Right now, they are 3-2. They also play Denver this week, and in a season where the Broncos had a way tougher schedule (thanks, Tebow for getting them New England and Houston), they’ve played those games, and can already catch the Chargers. How many 8-8 type seasons of just missing the playoffs can Smith and Turner survive? It’s seems they have to be a package deal at this point, and there were grumblings last offseason.
5. Jeff Ireland, Miami. The heat is off a little with Miami playing competitively with rookie Ryan Tannehill, and if the Dolphins continue to improve he’ll be an afterthought on the GM hit parade. He was among the hottest of seats coming in, though, so he’s not that far from getting right back on it and turning back into the number one A-hole in the state.
6. Buddy Nix, Buffalo. He’s not young, and he’s been there for four more years of non-playoffs, and the moves this offseason don’t appear to be working so far. He is younger than the owner, though, so he’s probably okay.
7. Mike Tannenbaum, New York Jets. Jason McIntyre has been banging the Tannenbaum drum for a while, but the roster has no doubt gone backwards in recent years. No longer can any old quarterback come in and have team success. The massive star injuries, most notably Darrelle Revis, may provide an excuse.
8. Scott Pioli, Kansas City. There’s no indication that Clark Hunt is unhappy with Pioli (there are even rumors of an extension), but his local popularity couldn’t be any lower. A group of fans even purchased a sign to fly over the stadium on Sunday asking for Pioli to be fired. He’s probably safe for 2012 no matter what happens, but the tide has decidedly turned in KC.
Stories about his managerial style continue to come out in the press, and he tied himself to Matt Cassel, season after season, and the fan base is done with it. His draft picks haven’t exactly been booms, either. He might survive year four, but the honeymoon is most assuredly over. Winning cures all, but he may have to do that by early next year (and with a different quarterback ready to succeed right away) or the din will become louder.
[photo via US Presswire]