Through two seasons as Buffalo Bills head coach, Chan Gailey has made a lot of positive changes to the team's offense, but the Bills are just 10-22 in that time frame. Mired in a 12-years-long stretch without a playoff berth and facing increased expectations stemming from a very successful off-season, Gailey is under more pressure than ever to produce a winner.
A reader by the name of Jeff asked me via email to rank Gailey against his NFL head coaching counterparts in terms of which coach is on the hottest "hot seat" - and we'll use that request in our latest string of posts stemming from reader inquiries.
After the jump, I'll look at eight coaches - representing a quarter of the league - that are on the hot seat. Yes, Gailey is among that group.
As I see it, there's only one coach squarely in "playoffs or bust" territory, and that's Norv Turner of the San Diego Chargers. After three straight playoff seasons (one of which was a by-the-skin-of-their-teeth 8-8 season) to start his tenure, the Bolts are just 17-15 in the past two disappointing seasons and haven't made the post-season either year. Many thought Turner would get the boot after last season, but he's back for a sixth season - and if he wants a seventh, he'll need a playoff berth.
An argument can be made, however, that Andy Reid isn't far behind with the Philadelphia Eagles. He's been in Philly for 14 years and has come agonizingly close to championships numerous times, but has yet to hit pay dirt. The Eagles are coming off of a monumentally disappointing 8-8 season, and there has been some locker room turmoil to go with it. Even with excellent coaches like Reid, messages get stale, and if Reid can't get the Eagles deep enough into the playoffs this year, the time may become ripe for a change.
Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints makes the cut for me, even though the Saints are 37-11 over the last three seasons and have a Super Bowl win under his leadership. This bounty scandal that, whatever his involvement, happened on Payton's watch automatically qualifies him for a list like this. I'm not saying that Payton will be or should be fired, but it's not unfair to ask the question - especially if they keep humming under interim coach Joe Vitt.
When you're as bold as Rex Ryan of the New York Jets is (and you can certainly use other adjectives to describe the man), you're going to make a list like this coming off of a poor season. The Jets aren't far removed from two AFC Championship Game appearances, but if Rex can't get the Jets deep into the playoffs after a year off and a tumultuous off-season filled with coaching changes and Tim Tebow, things could heat up quickly.
Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys could belong to a list like this annually simply because a) he's not winning the Super Bowl every year, and b) he works for Jerry Jones. Their 1-4 finish to the 2011 season ruined a playoff bid, and the Cowboys are now 13-11 with Garrett as head coach. Ask Gailey how patient Jones is - though Jones, to his credit, hasn't given any indication that Garrett is on thin ice. As with the Jets, the Cowboys job will always be one prone to heating up quickly.
Now entering his third season without the benefit of coaching Kurt Warner, Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals has some work to do to bolster his job security. The Cardinals are 13-19 in the last two years post-Warner, they're in the middle of a potentially epic conundrum at quarterback, and though the team showed improvement last year, they're also now afterthoughts in a division likely to be dominated by San Francisco for the foreseeable future.
Pat Shurmur of the Cleveland Browns sneaks in ahead of Gailey for me, too, largely because his fate is tied entirely to Mike Holmgren's. The Browns are 9-23 since Holmgren took over the football operation, and they've made a lot of curious decisions on his watch, starting with keeping Eric Mangini for a lame duck season and, most recently, turning the franchise over to a soon-to-be 29-year-old rookie quarterback. It may not be fair to Shurmur, but things are not ideal in Cleveland right now.
All of these guys are under more pressure than Gailey this season, in my opinion. Is there anyone else that you'd add to the list, Bills fans? Anyone from my list that you'd subtract?