Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat. Questions, comments, casserole ideas? Hit us up on Twitter at @ryanwilson_07.
Bears' run defense resembles hot garbage
The offense, even without Jay Cutler, did enough to win Sunday against a hapless Vikings outfit. But what most people will remember from this game is that Robbie Gould, one of the best kickers in NFL history, honked a 47-yarder in overtime.
And while coach Marc Trestman faced a barrage of questions after the game about why he was so quick to send Gould onto the field (it was second down) the reality is that the Bears lost because Adrian Peterson steamrolled them up and down the field all afternoon.There were no 75-yard runs -- Peterson's longest gain of the day went for 23 -- but the game plan was effective nonetheless; death by a thousand Purple Jesus collisions, often with safety Chris Conte in the unfortunate position to have to make a tackle several yards down the field.
When it was over, Peterson had a team-record 35 carries for 211 yards, but to hear him tell it he was just getting warmed up.
"I could have went for 50, maybe 55 carries," he said, according to the Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer, who added:
The Bears' run defense was hot garbage coming into the matchup, allowing 145.2 yards per game (they ranked 26th, according to Football Outsiders). After Peterson inflicted his damage, the total increased to 153.6 YPG.
"Holes that normal backs wouldn't see, he's hitting and taking advantage of them every time," Bears linebacker Jon Bostic said. "You have to make sure you're gap sound."
That's our nomination for Understatement of the Season.
"We're doing everything we can," Trestman added. "We had good fits. Sometimes we hung on and he dragged us."
And that's the problem: The Bears just don't have the players to slow up a good running game. Yes, losing Henry Melton and Lance Briggs hurts, but the Packers would like a word on what it means to be without key players. Put another way: Every team in the league deals with injuries. Some manage and make the playoffs. Others struggle, and spend January and February on the couch watching football with the rest of us.
Now, after losing to one of the league's worst teams, not only are the Bears 6-6 and a game behind the division-leading Lions, they're ninth in the conference, three spots removed from the final wild-card berth. (The Eagles and Cardinals, both 7-5, are ahead of them.)
With regular-season games remaining against Dallas, Cleveland, Philly and Green Bay, the Bears will need to win three of four to have a chance at the playoffs. But even if they do make it, and Jay Cutler is completely healthy down the stretch, is there any reason to think this team can win in January? It won't be easy with that defense.
Is Rex Ryan back on the hot seat? Did he ever leave?
Remember back in August, Rex Ryan was already a lame-duck coach? All that was left was for him to lose his first eight or nine games, limp to a three or four-win finish, and wait for new general manager John Idzik to unceremoniously dump him.
The storylines had pretty much written themselves after Mark Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury in a meaningless Week 3 preseason game ... and then the regular season started.
On Nov. 3, the Jets had just defeated the Saints to move to 5-4 and they were one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East. Three demoralizing losses later -- the latest included a Geno Smith halftime benching -- and the Jets are who we thought they were.
"This was an awful performance by us," Ryan said after New York was manhandled by a mediocre Dolphins team, 23-3. ... "We did absolutely nothing in the first half, offensively, so I was just trying to give us a spark somehow," the coach said of replacing Smith with Matt Simms.
For an idea of how bad things are, Ryan was asked if he regretted playing Sanchez in the aforementioned preseason game.
"It's easy when you look back on things," he said Sunday. "Injuries are part of the game. Anytime a player gets hurt, you regret that. There's no question about it. If I focus on what's behind us, it's not going to help us right now. No matter what my personal opinion is on that ... all I know is what's in front of us right now. We have to find a way. I'm not going to dwell on this or that. We just have to look forward and do what's best for the team right now."
Now the question becomes: Has Ryan, who appeared to save his job midway through the season, again landed on the ol' hot seat?
And whatever the answer is, there's still the matter of what the Jets are going to do with Smith. He was Idzik's guy back in April and it's reasonable to think that the team will stick with him not only this season but in 2014, too. But what if New York ends up with a top-10 pick and are in position to take one of the latest "franchise quarterbacks" (you know, sort of like they did last draft with Smith), do they do it?
So, yeah, welcome to Jets football, everybody.
How long can Andrew Luck overcome that O-line?
No matter what the organization may have said publicly about not regretting the decision to give up a 2014 first-round pick for running back Trent Richardson, the fact that he was benched last Sunday for Donald Brown tells you all you need to know. We thought the Colts were fleeced at the time of the trade and our opinion obviously hasn't changed.
But after watching quarterback Andrew Luck take a beating Sunday against the Titans it's fair to ask how, exactly, the Colts will be better to start next season with Richardson instead of the interior offensive lineman they could've drafted with that first-rounder.
Look, a legit franchise quarterback can overcome plenty of offensive shortcomings, but letting opponents tee off on Luck only shortens his career. Then again, maybe owner Jim Irsay has some grand plan to convert Richardson into a guard.
Stevie Johnson, Scott Chandler fumble in Bills loss
Their record might not reflect it, but the Bills are a much better team under Doug Marrone. But they'll forever be afterthoughts in the AFC East as long as they continue to bumble their way to losses like they did Sunday.
The latest evidence of this phenomenon came against the Falcons in Toronto. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel hit wide receiver Stevie Johnson on what should have set up a game-winning field-goal attempt. Instead, Johnson was stripped, the Falcons recovered and the game went to overtime ...
... where Bills tight end Scott Chandler removed all doubt about the outcome when he fumbled.
But as Johnson explained afterwards, it wasn't that he or Chandler were careless with the ball it was ... just one of those things (that always seem to go against the Bills at the worst possible moment).
“Just given the situation I was frustrated,” Johnson said via BuffaloBills.com. ”Not necessarily with the (fumble) play because it's the NFL, he's in the NFL also. Initially I got off and beat him and he came back and made a play on me. That's football. He made a good play and I've got to live with it. I saw it on the big screen and you've got to chalk it up to a good play and hustle.
“Once again with those plays, mine and Scott's you catch the ball 100 times and tuck it the same way. It's not like the ball was loose from our bodies and Scott's was up here. It just happened to be a good play by the defender.”
Either way, Rob Ford would have been very, very disappointed if he knew where he was.