Joe Paterno wants Andy Reid's job security.
As the longest-tenured coach in the NFL, and the only remaining "power coach" in the league with both coaching and GM duties, Reid is essentially an institution unto himself. (Officially, his title is Executive Vice President of Football Operations, but let's not quibble.) That means that essentially only one person can fire Reid: Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.
After losing pitifully this weekend to the 2-win Arizona Cardinals, who have only three players on defense, Lurie might have to seriously consider it. But as angry as the Philadelphia populace is, and they are angry, that blue-blooded Pennsylvania ethic seems to override the fans' bloodlust.
Look across the state: the Pittsburgh Steelers have only had three coaches since the 1970 merger. It took the biggest scandal in college sports history to end Joe Paterno's grip on Penn State. And Reid appears to be cemented into the Eagles' power structure, like it or not.
Nevertheless, he deserves a spot on these rankings. If he doesn't at least feel the heat, he has no business running a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Blazing hot: Can he survive the season?
1. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts (0-10). The Colts continue to look like they're actively trying to be the worst team in the league. This is the tank job to end all tank jobs, and Caldwell is being left out there to twist in the wind. His decision to bench Curtis Painter for Dan Orlovsky (who shows up prominently in the list of dumbest NFL plays ever) is either hilarious or the saddest thing I've ever heard.
GM Bill Polian, however, is eerily optimistic: "You're never as bad as you look when you lose, even when you're 0-10."
As someone who grew up watching the 1980s Bucs and 1990s Rams, I beg to differ. This team might be the most pathetic yet. The Colts' bye week is here. Judgement day for Caldwell.
2. Steve Spagnuolo, St Louis Rams (2-7). The Rams got a much-needed win, but they did so with little help from their coaching staff. Sam Bradford finally broke his touchdown drought, and the defense did their part for the most part, but the best either team could do was trade field goal attempts in the second half of an ugly game. Cleveland missed their last one, and that was the difference.
Unless Spagnuolo had "Alex Mack steps on the Browns' snap" drawn up in his playbook, there's little credit he can take from this win.
3. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers (4-5). Norv Turner's job security has been tied to his team's ability to salvage bad seasons and win bad divisions, making the playoffs and getting that extra playoff home game. Having just dropped a critical game to the Oakland Raiders, and making Carson Palmer's comeback look legitimate, those odds of another salvage job just went down. There's a stink in this franchise, and everyone knows it.
4. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins (2-7). Give Sparano this, he isn't going down without a fight. He has Reggie Bush playing inspired football, he has Matt Moore playing remarkably decently, and has now won two of his last three games. Granted, both of those wins came against coaches that also reside in these rankings, but hey, you've got to beat someone.
Red Hot: Can he save his job?
5. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs (4-5). Rumors of discord in Kansas City were too quickly and easily spread as the Chiefs got out to an 0-3 start for me to believe they didn't originate somewhere within Scott Pioli's office. But they got awful quiet as Todd Haley coaxed a four-game winning streak out of the 2/3 of a team he had left after injuries. Then, Dolphin-gate.
Losing to an 0-8 team is never good for job security. Getting blown out by them, in your own house, is downright dangerous behavior. And Pioli may not need any more reasons to want to pluck Josh McDaniels from the disarray in St Louis.
6. Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals (3-6). After demolishing the last fragment of hope held by Philadelphia Eagles fans, Ken Whisenhunt opened his post-game comments by saying "Well, we exercised a lot of demons today." He might also have saved his job in Arizona. While few think John Skelton is the long term answer in the desert, especially with Kevin Kolb carrying a very expensive clipboard, Whisenhunt has Skelton's head screwed on straight -- and laser-locked on his best receiver, Larry Fitzgerald.
Lukewarm: Safe unless someone better comes along
7. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings (2-6). We'll know more after tonight's showdown with the Packers. If he has his team ready to play in prime time, he could do a lot to take himself off this list altogether.
8. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins (3-6). Shanahan continues to play mind games at quarterback, doing his best to illustrate the old college football maxim: "If you have two starting quarterbacks, you don't have one." The smartest thing Shanny could do at this point would be to tank the rest of the season and choose from Matt Barkley or Landry Jones. benching Roy Helu at the start of this one seems to show that he is right on track.
9. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6). Del Rio's hold on the head coaching position is now tied to the development of his young quarterback, Blaine Gabbert. Through his first several weeks as a starter, that development hadn't gone far, but he played coolly and efficiently in a win over the hapless Colts. Meanwhile, Del Rio is doing what he can to support the rookie -- namely, recharge his defense, which is playing very well.
10. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles (3-6). We'd love to believe that this hot seat ranking is real. But ESPN's Dan Graziano throws a cold shower on the idea.
"No matter how often or how strongly I answer the question, people keep insisting on asking me if the Philadelphia Eagles will fire coach Andy Reid if the team misses the playoffs. The answer is no, has always been no and will continue to be no, regardless of how many games this team loses this season. The Eagles' front office and owner have no interest in firing Reid and rebuilding a coaching staff, no matter how upset the fans are, and it's not really even something for which it's worth holding out hope."
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