With eight full weeks under our belts it’s time for the best part of any analyst’s job – the cuts. Half the season is gone and everyone has had enough time to prove whether they should keep their job or not. Here is a list of everyone on the hot seat, both coaches and players.
Andy Reid – Everyone wants to see Reid get the boot at this point, but we have to examine the facts first. The Giants, Bears, Falcons, and 49ers are looking to run away with their respective divisions, and behind them are the dangerous Packers who are coming on strong at 5-3 – let’s call them the top 5 playoff teams. But after them who do you like to grab the final wild card spot? Seattle? Minnesota? Detroit? Dallas? Tampa Bay? The fact is at 3-4 Philly has just as good of a chance as any of those teams at making the playoffs. To hit the reset button at this moment wouldn’t make total sense. Reid has produced for this franchise in the past and he deserves a shot at turning this season around. Besides, who is Philly going to replace him with? Their offensive coordinator is the legendary Marty Mornhinweg. They just fired the defensive coordinator. It sure doesn’t sound pretty but Andy Reid is the best they’ve got right now. STAY
Michael Vick – The case for Vick looks a lot like the case for his head coach. It sounds great to say he needs to be replaced, but who do you go to? Their best option is rookie 3rd round pick Nick Foles and it would be a stretch to assume he can improve on Vick’s performance. The Eagles play three of their next five within the division and next week they are on MNF against the Saints where they will have to put up mega points to come away with a victory. With the Eagles still very much in the playoff hunt it would be a big mistake to bench Vick right now. If the season slips away these next five weeks then I would be in favor of finding out what kind of player they have with Foles. But for now Vick has to STAY.
Ron Rivera – Rivera is now a combined 7-16 in just a season and a half as the Carolina head coach. The record might not be pretty, but it is the lack of improvement from last year that is the real eye-sore. All of the tricks that Carolina utilized for the 2011 season are being re-run this year with poor results. The option offense that was a surprise to defenses last year is now predictable and often counter-productive. The results are in the stats, too, where the Panthers have fallen from 4th in the footballoutsiders.com offensive rating at the end of 2011 all the way to 23rd this season. The glaring lack of production from each of the teams high-priced running backs highlights this team’s lack of toughness more than anything. And that is why I think Rivera has to go. This team has taken a giant step backwards and it is because of their inability to control the line of scrimmage and that is inexcusable for a team that is supposed to be all about the run. The lack of toughness has shown up right from day one when they rushed for only 10 yards on opening day against the Buccaneers and it has continued into their late game collapses these last four weeks. At 1-6 all the hope is gone for Carolina and we have seen all we need to from Rivera. He has got to GO.
Norv Turner – Anyone who reads this column regularly already knows the answer to this one. Norv has got to GO. When he had one of the most talented teams in the league he made sure they were also one of the most inconsistent and ultimately never lived up to their ability. Now that he has an average team he has made sure to make them into one of the worst. “Lowered expectations” is the name of the game for Norv and it is shocking he continues to be employed as a head coach. This season Norv’s vintage offense, which is really his calling card, has fallen off the map and that’s how we know it is really time to move on. The offense has finished in the Football Outsiders top 5 each of the last four seasons, but this year they are all the way down to 25th. See ya.
Mark Sanchez – Sanchez seemed to get by just fine when the Jets sported a strong run game and a wrecking crew on defense. Now that the burden of winning has been placed on the passing game Sanchez has struggled. Even during the “good” years Sanchez amassed a record of only 26-20 with a great D behind him. This season alone the Jets have embarrassing home losses to San Fran and Miami where they have combined for only 9 points total – the offense simply isn’t working. With the bye week upon the Jets it is time to turn their attention to their back-up option, and you know what that means. Regardless of what your think of Tim Tebow it is hard to argue the Jets are better off with Sanchez under center. The Jets have a severe lack of passing options that even a strong QB would struggle playing with, and now only have one hope. What they need is to turn to the ground game to eat up clock and to help out their defense. There is no one better for that game plan than Tebow. The Jets can continue forcing Sanchez out there but we know what the results will be. Tebow deserves a chance. Sanchez has to GO.
Phillip Rivers – Stay – there is no one else to go to.
Cam Newton – Stay – the Panthers have other bigger worries.
AJ Smith (SD GM) – Go – he has as much to do with the collapse as Norv.
Ryan Tannehill – Go – he looks good, but this Miami team is legit and Matt Moore can play. Not “Go” from the team, just from QB1 position to give Moore a shot.
Christian Ponder – Stay – but if they struggle their way out of the race then i wouldn’t hesitate.
Ken Whisenhunt (ARI Coach) – Stay – without him they don’t have the four wins they do.
Nnamdi Asomugha – Go – he gets burnt deep a minimum of once a game.