What NFL coaches had the hottest seats before the season started? Most people would've thrown out Ron Rivera, Jim Schwartz and Jason Garrett. How'd that work out? Not so well -- as of today, all three of those guys are in the playoffs. The point here is that things can change pretty drastically over the course of a season, or even half a season when it comes to coaches.
Let's look at five guys who are up and five guys who are down 13 wonderfully arbitrary weeks into the season.
Ron Rivera, Panthers -- "Riverboat Ron" is, without a doubt, the top coaching story of the 2013 season. He was nearly fired this past offseason and looked dead in the water with the Panthers sitting at 1-3 after a brutal loss to the Bills. Rivera flipped the script by basically rolling the dice on every fourth down and short. This led to the nickname "Riverboat Ron" which is actually something Rivera doesn't embrace entirely.
The irony here? He is Analytical Ron. Going for it on fourth and short when you have Cam Newton on your team -- not to mention eleventy billion invested in running backs -- the smart move. Too bad it doesn't have the same catchiness as the alliterative, gambling nickname he's been given. Fortunately for Ron, he'll probably be alright with it once he ends up landing an extension this offseason.
Even if it doesn't work out, at least he's the second-most popular "Riverboat" Google search:
Jim Schwartz, Lions -- Detroit's a classic example of warped expectations. The Lions were horrible, no one expected them to win, Schwartz came to town, the Lions made the playoffs and suddenly bad season weren't acceptable anymore. That's a good and bad thing -- Schwartz led Detroit to their first double-digit win season since 1995 (!) in 2011. More off-field incidents than wins (4) in 2012 later and suddenly Schwartz is all over the hotseat. Detroit adding Reggie Bush has done wonders for their offense. They should win the NFC North this year and that should mean Schwartz is safe again. That defensive line is beasty and it's Schwartz' specialty.
Chip Kelly, Eagles -- Wasn't that long ago (just a month or so actually) where people were wondering if Kelly even belonged in the NFL. The college game had an opening (USC ...?) for him and the Eagles offense wasn't working. Then Nick Foles took flight, non-intercepting his way into the secondary MVP conversation. Since failing to score an offensive touchdown in two November games against the Cowboys and Giants the Eagles are averaging 31 points per game over their last four -- all wins -- and are just a tiebreaker back of the NFC East division lead. Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago stand in the way before a Week 17 matchup against the Cowboys looms as a blatant division-winner game. Kelly making the playoffs in Year 1 would be a major statement.
Gus Bradley, Jaguars -- Well this feels weird. Bradley and the Jaguars are 3-9 so you'd think that would be terrible, right? Wrong! Well, kind of wrong. The Jags were 0-8 before their bye and have ripped off a 3-1 stretch since then. Credit Bradley for keeping this team engaged and getting young guys like Jonathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz to play up to their potential early on.
Andy Reid, Chiefs -- Obvious picks are obvious but that's OK. Reid's got the Chiefs at 9-3, which means they've already won seven more games than they did last year. KC's lost their last three games and that should have Chiefs fans concerned but let's remember where expectations were before the season. Even the most optimistic of us out there couldn't have predicted this big a turnaround.
Leslie Frazier, Vikings -- Boy. This really got out of hand quickly didn't it? The irony of Frazier's failing this year -- and the likelihood of his departure after this season -- is that his success in 2012 probably did him in. The Vikings had no business making the playoffs last year but did so anyway. Similar expectations were heaped on Frazier this year and they've vastly disappointed. Christian Ponder couldn't progress, Josh Freeman is a massive waste of money and even if Minnesota wasn't ever going to be great this year, they're still falling short of expectations.
Greg Schiano, Buccaneers -- I actually considered putting Schiano in the Bull market based on the Buccaneers winning three consecutive games recently. Give him credit for keeping Tampa Bay involved in this season, because they could've folded tents and moved on. But let's not forget what a trainwreck this year has been. The Josh Freeman debacle was bad, losing that many games in a row is terrible and the MSRA thing doesn't help. Tampa Bay was completely freefalling for much of the season. Some of the issues don't look as bad now -- Schiano chased off his "franchise" quarterback (that looks much smarter now) and inserted his "not ready" rookie quarterback (also looks smarter). The locker room problems are solved, somewhat, by actually winning games. Still, it's hard to imagine Schiano surviving.
Mike Munchak, Titans -- Looked like Munchak could find himself on the other side of the deal a few weeks ago. But Jake Locker's injury, coupled with an inability to get going on the offensive end, coupled with a season that will ultimately end up being disappointing, will probably cost him his job. He could stick around, for sure, but there hasn't been anything ultimately inspiriting about this Titans season. They've had multiple shots to get back into the AFC playoff hunt -- not to mention the AFC South divisional hunt -- and couldn't capitalize.
Mike Shanahan, Redskins -- Was Shanahan on the hot seat coming into this year? No, because he made the playoffs. But yes because you're always on the hot seat. We forget that he packed it in when the Redskins were 3-6 last year, only to have them go on a seven-game winning streak that propped up expectations for this year. Add in a disastrous PR nightmare with Robert Griffin III's injury, contentious public back and forths with RG3 throughout the year and the team's struggles on defense and you have the recipe for Shanahan possibly departing before turning Washington around. If they hand the Rams a top-five pick in next year's draft it's basically whatever the complete opposite of a cherry on a sundae is.
Rex Ryan, Jets -- Well. this is a weird rollercoaster. Ryan's the other guy you would stick on the hot seat before the season began, he promptly worked his way off said hot seat and now he's right back on it. Geno Smith hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since October and the offense can't manufacture points. That's not Rex's strength, but maybe that's the point? The Jets don't sport a good roster and weren't ever going to be a playoff contender. Rex got the most out of them early on but his magic's fading and that's why his stock's dropping like Enron. At one point it looked like he would figure out how to return in 2014. Now it would be a massive upset if he made it back next year.