Tuesday's question: Which NFL coach is likely to be the most surprising off-season firing before next season?
Reporters from the Tribune family tackle the question of the day, then you get a chance to chime in and tell them why they are wrong.
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
Minnesota’s Brad Childress made a Super Bowl-or-bust wager in hitching the Vikings’ future – and his own – to Brett Favre. If that bet doesn’t come through, he’s likely to be looking for work. The fissures have formed, with Favre looking all too mortal over the past three weeks in cover-your-eyes losses at Arizona and Carolina. He had three interceptions in his first 11 games, and four in the past three. Childress tried to bench him in the third quarter against the Panthers – an unimaginable situation earlier this season – but Favre refused to come out of the game. That made it clear to everyone who’s boss (and who isn’t). It’s not as if all hope is lost. Minnesota still has an elite running back in Adrian Peterson, an offensive-rookie-of-the-year favorite in Percy Harvin, a smothering defense – and a 40-year-old quarterback who’s still capable of flashes of greatness. But it ratchets up the pressure that there’s something more than a single game, or even a Super Bowl, on the line. The Vikings have been angling for years for a new stadium and were convinced Favre was the ideal player to ignite the fan base and lift the team to the next level. Remember, this is a team that needed two deadline extensions to avoid a playoff blackout last season. Favre was the answer. A year earlier, Eric Mangini and the New York Jets thought the same thing.
Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant
The vultures are circling around the obvious candidates – Jim Zorn, Eric Mangini, Tom Cable, Lovie Smith and even first year coaches such as Todd Haley and Josh McDaniels. Then there’s the perpetual drama surrounding Wade Phillips in Dallas, where Jerry Jones is apparently itching to make a change.
We won’t be shocked if any of those guys are handed pink slips after the season. But one name said to be on the hot seat does surprise us: John Fox in Carolina.
Coming off a 12-4 season, Fox has always been a steady hand for the Panthers. In Fox’s seven seasons, Carolina has been in the playoffs three times and has never had fewer than seven wins.
The Panthers are 6-8 this year, saddled with the inept Jake Delhomme at quarterback. Delhomme got a five-year contract extension, so Fox has stuck with him and that may cost him his job.
What the Panthers should be doing is finding another quarterback, not another coach. There are plenty of coaches in the NFL who deserve to their walking papers, but Fox isn’t one of them.