Hot Seat (cont.)
2. Rod Marinelli, Detroit -- At 0-6, with the schedule about to turn tougher and inexperienced backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky leading the offense, it's getting harder to see how Marinelli survives into a fourth season in Detroit. He keeps talking about the importance of going back to work and correcting the problems, but then the Lions go out and fall behind 21-0 every other game, rendering Marinelli without any explanation for his team's lack of competitiveness.
This is just a very bad Lions team, and that's saying a lot by Detroit's dismal standards. They're ranked 27th in points (16.2 per game), 27th in total yards (265.0), 30th in rushing (77.7), and 22nd in passing (187.3). And the defense is even worse: last in points allowed (31.2), last in yards (418.7), and 31st in both rushing (167.5) and passing (251.2). While the Lions ownership might like and respect Marinelli's coaching skills, something's not working. And having already given in to fan unhappiness in dismissing general manager Matt Millen, it's tough to see how the Ford family can continue to sell anyone on Marinelli in 2009.
Pink slip potential: 75 percent.
3. Brad Childress, Minnesota -- The 3-4 Vikings are on their bye week, and that means Childress has nine more games to make the case that he deserves to keep his job. By my math, he needs to go either 7-2 or make the playoffs at 9-7 (which requires a 6-3 finish) to get it done. While the Vikings are just a game behind first-place Chicago and Green Bay (both 4-3), they've lost to both teams on the road and have yet to show any consistency -- let alone dominance -- on either side of the ball.
Minnesota's special teams play has been a weekly debacle, and its Jared Allen-led defense has to be rated a disappointment thus far. With preseason expectations that were lofty based on their big offseason acquisitions, the Vikings have a fan base that has officially grown restless for a change on the sideline. Minnesota returns after its bye to play home games against Houston and Green Bay. Childress better win both to get to 5-4, or the pressure on him will build exponentially.
Pink slip potential: 70 percent.
4. Herm Edwards, Kansas City -- Edwards returns to the Meadowlands this week to lead the Chiefs against the Jets, and could you blame him if he wonders why he ever tried to get out of New York? He didn't win all the time when he was the Jets head coach, but he didn't suffer through any 1-14 skids either -- which is what Kansas City happens to be since the eighth game of 2007. The Chiefs have scored an NFL-low 75 points, their quarterback position has been declared a disaster site and their young defense has regressed after showing promise last year.
And we haven't even mentioned the Larry Johnson fiasco. As I've written before, Edwards' fate would seem tied to Carl Peterson's. If team owner Clark Hunt finally lowers the boom on K.C.'s long-time general manager, then Edwards is almost certainly out too. If Peterson survives, Edwards is likely to stick around as well. None of which will sit well with Chiefs fans.
Pink slip potential: 60 percent.
5. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati -- At 0-2, Lewis was at No. 3 on my hot seat rankings, with a 75 percent chance to get the axe at some point. But I've dropped him down into a slight more secure slot because there have been some extenuating circumstances involved in Cincinnati's plummet to 0-7. Like Carson Palmer's balky elbow, and all the Chad Johnson and Chris Henry distractions at receiver. And now Lewis has lost top rookie linebacker Keith Rivers for the season with a broken jaw.
The truth is, with new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer making the most of what he has to work with, the Bengals defense has played pretty well most of the time and kept the team in games. It's the offense that needs fixing, and here's one suggestion that might get Palmer's game back in shape: What if Lewis were to hire current UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, and re-unite the former USC coordinator with Palmer, who won the Heisman under Chow? Getting Palmer healthy and playing like a top five quarterback again is job one in Cincy, and that project should buy Lewis another season.
Pink slip potential: 40 percent.
6. Eric Mangini, New York Jets -- Mangini was No. 10 on our last list, so he's a riser at No. 6. After their huge offseason (and preseason) shopping spree, and getting the break of Tom Brady being lost for the year, New York is only a middling 3-3, a game behind second-place New England and two games back of first-place Buffalo. That overtime loss at Oakland last Sunday might just be a real killer to their playoff hopes in the long run, because upcoming games against Buffalo, New England, Tennessee and Denver loom.
The Jets don't seem to know who they are as a football team just yet, and Brett Favre's transition has been a bit of rollercoaster ride. Other than that explosive first half at home against Arizona in Week 4, the Jets have yet to put together much in the way of consistent quality performances.
Pink slip potential: 30 percent.
7. Romeo Crennel, Cleveland -- The Browns just don't have a good vibe surrounding them this season, and that wasn't supposed to be the story in Cleveland this year, was it? It looks like everything's going to be a struggle for Crennel's team, and stuff like the Kellen Winslow controversy only detracts and distracts the Browns from their ultimate goals. My feeling is that Crennel's job is relatively safe this year -- barring a complete meltdown from here on out -- but the reality is that 2-4 Cleveland is closer to last-place Cincinnati (0-7) than it is to first-place Pittsburgh (5-1).
Pink slip potential: 20 percent.