It’s a new week in the NFL, and that means the spotlight shines on a few more NFL head coaches who better win now or will find their heads on the chopping block. In my Week 8 specials preview, I touched on the futures of Carolina’s Ron Rivera and Cleveland’s Pat Shurmur, and both of those guys are likely gone. Rivera’s Panthers blew a chance to pull an upset in Chicago on Sunday, while Shurmur’s Browns did pull a 7-6 home upset of San Diego. And that leads me to Chargers coach Norv Turner.
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I am writing this story before Thursday night’s Chiefs-Chargers game, and I am going to assume the Bolts win that one because Kansas City is almost historically bad – it had yet to have a lead this season entering Thursday’s game. San Diego had dropped three straight entering and they all have been extremely ugly.
In Week 5 at New Orleans, the Chargers were up 24-14 late in the third quarter, but Philip Rivers had two turnovers in the fourth and the Saints won, 31-24. The following week, San Diego had a 24-point halftime lead at home to Denver, only to see the Broncos outscore the Chargers 35-0 in the second half. It was the biggest comeback ever for Peyton Manning and tied for the fourth-biggest regular-season comeback in NFL history. Rivers was intercepted four times -- three in the fourth quarter -- and lost two fumbles. Last week, the Chargers couldn’t find the end zone despite having a week off to prepare for one of the NFL’s worst defenses. And Turner is considered an offensive guru?
So now Bovada offers a prop on Turner’s future: fired before the end of the season (even), fired after the regular season (+125) or stays Chargers’ head coach to start 2013 (+300). There is really no point in firing Turner during the season, especially with the team already having had its bye week. Again, presuming San Diego won Thursday night, it could be tied for the AFC West lead with the Broncos by Sunday evening. If the Chargers lost, look out! But take the end of regular season prop as Turner won’t be back barring a spectacular second-half run for the Chargers.
There are two NFC East coaches also feeling the heat: the Cowboys’ Jason Garrett and Eagles’ Andy Reid. Dallas is 3-4 heading into its Sunday night game at Atlanta, so 3-5 and a third straight missed postseason appear likely. Garrett is 16-15 as coach and has made some very questionable in-game decisions this season. Jerry Jones has said Garrett is safe, but Jones is probably tired of seeing his team lose in his $1.2 billion stadium. Garrett also is an offensive guy, and Tony Romo is regressing much like the Chargers’ Rivers.
The Bovada prop on Garrett’s future is: will be the Cowboys’ coach to start next season (-160), will be fired after the 2012 regular season (+200) or will be fired during this season (+300). Garrett can’t finish under .500 and keep his job, in my opinion. The good news is that after Sunday, five of the Cowboys’ final eight games are at home. Of course, Dallas is just 1-2 there. Overall, Dallas only faces one team after the Falcons that currently has a winning record: Pittsburgh in Week 15. So Dallas could still get to 9-7 and give Garrett one more chance next season.
We all know what the future holds for Eagles coach Andy Reid. If Philly doesn’t make a playoff run, Reid will not be back. And now it seems Reid is desperate. He already has replaced his defensive coordinator and was poised to bench Michael Vick for rookie Nick Foles, although Vick will start Monday in New Orleans. For some reason, Reid lied through his teeth Thursday when saying he never considered benching Vick; the QB himself said it was true.
Here is the prop on Reid’s future: fired after the regular season (-140), is the Eagles coach for 2013 (+200) or is fired during the 2012 season (+250). Owner Jeffrey Lurie has too much respect for Reid to dump him during the year, but his time will be up after the season.
That brings me to a former Eagles offensive coordinator: Jon Gruden. There could be as many as nine coaching jobs this offseason and “Chucky” probably will be rumored for all of them. But the former Super Bowl winner with the Bucs will only leave the cozy confines of the “Monday Night Football” booth for a perfect situation and likely where he can either call the shots or hand-pick a general manager. And ownership in San Diego and Kansas City might let Gruden do that, not to mention a return to Philadelphia. Jones would love to have Gruden in Dallas, but the Cowboys’ owner isn’t about to cede power after the Jimmy Johnson days.
Gruden would seem a perfect fit for the warm-weather Chargers, especially amid rumors the team will be headed to Los Angeles. Gruden would be an even bigger star in L.A., and all coaches have egos. The Gruden-to-Chargers rumors are nothing new.
Here is the prop on Gruden’s status for Week 1 of the 2013 season: will stay in broadcast booth (-150), will coach in the NFL (+200) or will coach college football (+250). Forget the NCAA as Gruden already has had chances to take high-profile gigs there. Maybe if Notre Dame opened up, but that’s clearly not going to happen with Brian Kelly’s success. Tennessee probably tries to get him after dumping Derek Dooley, but Gruden won’t be going to Knoxville and have to deal with the Nick Saban Crimson Tide powerhouse every year.
It will be NFL or MNF next season for Gruden. Not too long ago on HBO’s “Real Sports,” Gruden said: “If the right opportunity presents itself, I will come back.'' I think he takes the Chargers job.
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