Which NFL coach will be the first fired this year?

September 14, 2010

Smith looking shaky

Sam Farmer

Los Angeles Times

With the looming possibility of a work stoppage when the collective bargaining agreement expires in March, NFL owners will be hesitant to lock into long-term deals with coaches. So any coach fired this season probably will be replaced on an interim basis.

That said, the Bears' Lovie Smith is likely the first to go. He has been on shaky ground the past couple of seasons, and judging by a first glimpse of the Bears, this could be a long one. They survived their opener against the Lions only because of a wrong-headed rule about what is and isn't a reception.

Smith will be shown the door before the Raiders' Tom Cable, the Browns' Eric Mangini or the Jaguars' Jack Del Rio, who need not check their mail slots for pink slips quite yet.

sfarmer@tribune.com

Fox set up to fail

Dan Pompei

Chicago Tribune

We are 15 games away from the end of the regular season and four months away from firing season, so it's a little early to determine whose failures will result in pink slips.

But one coach who looks like he has been set up to be fired is the Panthers' John Fox. He is in the last year of his deal, and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is allowing Fox to be a lame duck.

Richardson has made it difficult for Fox to look good this year by slashing the player budget. He didn't give him enough money to re-sign Julius Peppers, and he forced Fox to purge other solid veterans such as Chris Harris, Maake Kemoeatu, Damien Robinson and Keydrick Vincent.

dpompei@tribune.com

Cable may get shut off

Joseph Schwerdt

Sun Sentinel

The Bills could be the worst team in the NFL, but Chan Gailey is in his first year as head coach, so it's reasonable to believe he will survive at least this season.

The Browns' Eric Mangini and the Buccaneers' Raheem Morris are starting their second seasons but could be in the hot seat if their teams show no progress. Mangini was 5-11 last year and now has President Mike Holmgren looking over his shoulder. Morris was 3-13 in 2009 with little hope for much improvement.

But the Raiders' Tom Cable could be the first to see the door. After getting smoked 38-13 on Sunday at Tennessee, Cable is 9-20 since taking over in Week 5 of 2008.

The only thing keeping him on the sideline is that Al Davis might not be able to find someone to coach for him.

jwschwerdt@tribune.com

Phillips' days numbered

Kevin Van Valkenburg

Baltimore Sun

After watching the Cowboys- Redskins debacle Sunday, I've decided it matters very little that Jerry Jones gave Wade Phillips a contract extension in the offseason. This Dallas team is a mess, and someone must be the fall guy. The Redskins are atrocious, and if you can't get your team mentally ready to play a season opener against your biggest rival, your days are numbered.

Besides, we all know Jones wants a shot at coaching this team at some point. That's how megalomania works. Remember when Ted Turner briefly managed the Braves in 1977? Let's say the Cowboys start this season 2-5 and Jones can't lure Bill Cowher out of retirement. Wouldn't it be fitting to see Jones, headset on and drink in hand, on the sideline demanding Tony Romo throw to Roy Williams?

kvanvalkenburg2@tribune.com

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