Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
Probability of Returning in 2011: Very High
All signs thus far point to Kubiak staying on as Houston’s head coach. Owner Bob McNair has all but assured him that he’ll be back because he’s a good guy and he loves Kubiak’s high powered offense. However, the same can’t be said on the defensive side of the ball. As of now, all signs point to Wade Phillips being signed on as the defensive coordinator. They actually do have some familiarity with each other as Kubiak was backing up John Elway when Phillips was defensive coordinator. Overall, I think it’s a solid move. Wade isn’t a good head coach but knows how to build a defense. Time will tell if the defense was the problem this season or if it’s Kubiak.
John Fox, Carolina Panthers
Probability of Returning in 2011: Very Low
I hate to say it, but I don’t think there’s any chance that John Fox returns. He’s in the final year of his contract and he’s constantly butted heads with the owner, Jerry Richardson. He has had some success with Carolina, but too often do they flame out and have a terrible season after making the playoffs. With Carolina set to finish as the worst team in the NFL, it’s time for change in Carolina. His contract is set to run out and if Carolina wanted to keep him, they would have extended him already. Fox should get another chance as a head coach elsewhere.
UPDATE: Today, the Carolina Panthers announced that John Fox and his coaching staff will not return for the 2011-2012 season.
Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
Probability of Returning in 2011: Moderate
Sparano got off to a hot start with the Dolphins taking them from 1-15 the previous season to 11-5 the next season winning the AFC East. However, the Dolphins have slipped back into mediocrity the past two seasons finishing at or right below 8-8. Word out of Miami has been mixed thus far. Players like Brandon Marshall have stepped up to speak in favor of him. What’s definitely not helping is Bill Cowher saying he would like to coach in Miami. Personally, I think they should keep Sparano but the ability to upgrade at the head coaching position may be too tempting for Miami to pass up.
Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
Probability of Returning in 2011: High
Jack Del Rio seems to be in a rhythm with the Jaguars. They always seem to go from a terrible season, to mediocrity, to making a playoff run which makes it hard to get rid of him as a coach. He’s a players coach and has the vote of confidence from the players. Jacksonville could see what else is out there, but it’s probably best that they stick with Del Rio and see where it takes them. As a small market team, Del Rio is a good fit with them and has proven this season that he’s still a good coach in the NFL.
Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns
Probability of Returning in 2011: Low
I don’t even know what to say about the Cleveland Browns anymore. They beat the New England Patriots one week, and lose to Cincinnati the next. The team has shown more promise this year than it has in the past, but the truth is they will most likely finish 5-11 just like they did in 2009. Word out in Cleveland is that he will be fired after their week 17 game against Pittsburgh. I hate to say it, but Mangini has always been mediocre at best as a head coach so I agree with the Browns if they decide to move on. I could see Mike Holmgren going after someone from his coaching tree like Jon Gruden.
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Probability or Returning in 2011: Moderate
Marvin has been the head coach of the Bengals since 2003. Despite the positive image he’s had with the organization, he’s only posted 2 winning seasons and failed to record a playoff win. A good amount of his seasons with Cincy have ended in mediocrity. 2 of his last 3 seasons have been 11 loss seasons as well. Word is he will soon know his job fat next Tuesday. The only thing keeping me from putting his fate from lower is because who would the Bengals sign who would work better? I’m not sure if they have any viable options so they may be best off sticking with Lewis for at least 1 more season.
Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans
Probability of Returning in 2011: Low
As a Texans fan, I’ve been familiar with Jeff Fisher for several years. Despite his ups and downs during his tenure ant Tennessee, he’s always had a grip on the team. This is the first season that I’ve felt that he’s lost control of the team. It could be he’s burned out or just ready for a change of scenery; at the same time the Titans could use a change at head coach as well. However, it’s like breaking up with a longtime girlfriend; it’s going to be messy because they’re so cemented into everything. Despite all this, there’s no given that Bud Adams will get rid of Fisher. Just like the other situations, he would be a tough coach to replace.
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Probability of Returning in 2011: ???
I always find it laughable how demanding and impatient fans and teams in the northeast are. They are the reason why I have to put Coughlin on this list, because realistically there is a chance Coughlin could get fired (and I still don’t know why). Since taking over the Giants in 2004, he’s only had 1 losing season in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Not only that, he won the Super Bowl in 2007 against the undefeated Patriots. The only way he gets fired is if Bill Cowher takes over, and even then I don’t know how much better he will make them.