Question of the day: Who will be the first NFL coach fired this season? [Updated]
Reporters from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
With all the labor uncertainty and the looming possibility of a work stoppage when the CBA expires in March 2011, NFL owners are going to be reticent to lock into long-term deals with coaches. So I think any coach fired this season will be replaced by an interim leader.
That said, Chicago’s Lovie Smith is most likely the first to go. He has been on shaky ground the last couple of seasons, and going by a first glimpse of the Bears, this could be a long one. Chicago survived its opener against Detroit, but only because of a wrong-headed rule about what is a reception and what isn’t.
Smith will be shown the door before Oakland’s Tom Cable or Cleveland’s Eric Mangini or Jacksonville’s Jack Del Rio, who need not check their mail slots for pink slips quite yet.
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
We still 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 be determine whose failures will result in pink slips. But one coach who looks like he has been set up to be fired is Carolina’s John Fox. He is in the last year of his deal, and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is allowing him to be a lame duck.
By slashing the player budget, Richardson has made it difficult for Fox to look good this year. Richardson didn’t give Fox enough money to re-sign Julius Peppers, and he also forced Fox to purge other veterans who had been solid contributors, such as Chris Harris, Maake Kemoeatu, Damione Robinson and Keydrick Vincent.
[Updated at 12:31 p.m.:
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 off-season. This Dallas team is a mess, and someone is going to have to 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 Jerry Jones wants a shot at coaching this team at some point. That's how megalomania works. Remember when Ted Turner briefly managed the Atlanta Braves in 1977? Let's say the Cowboys start this year 2-5, and Jones can't lure Bill Cowher out of retirement. Wouldn't it be fitting to see Jones, with a headset on and a drink in his hand, on the sidelines demanding Tony Romo throw to Roy Williams?]
Photos, from top: Lovie Smith. Credit: Jerry Lai / US Presswire. John Fox. Credit: Jim O'Connor / US Presswire