Time For NFL Coaches To Get Nervous

As the regular season winds down this weekend in the NFL, some coaching changes are likely. Teams that failed this season like the Falcons, Lions and Chargers have already begun working on improving their teams in 2004.

In the weeks leading up to the end of the 2003 season, the question of how many coaches will find themselves on the unemployment line has been prevalent. With many teams having disappointing seasons, a far number of teams fall in this category which never expected to be in this position.

As the head coach usually feels the wrath of such team failures, in a limited number of cases, assistant coaches or front office types may take the hit for the organization.

  • Some moves have quicker than expected. Look at Dan Reeves in Atlanta. Heading into the 2003 season, the Falcons had grand expectations. With quarterback Michael Vick, Atlanta and Reeves expected the team to be a serious contender for the NFC South division crown and a run at the Super Bowl. When Vick went down with a broken leg in training camp, the Falcons, not only Reeves didn't have a plan or personnel in place to replace the gifted player.

In Atlanta, Falcons' team owner Arthur Blank is making moves within the organization that were expected. Veteran General Manager Rich McKay has been brought in from Tampa Bay to oversee the organization and lead the efforts to secure a talented, established head coach to lead the Falcons into the 2004 season.

Just to throw a couple names out there that have been leaked,  Dennis Green and Herman Edwards are at or close to the top of the Falcons wish-list.

  • Speaking of Edwards, the situation in New York rivals that of a circus sideshow gone bad. Again in the 2003 season, the Jets got off to a slow start and have not shown the ability to recover for a playoff berth, as they did in the 2002 season.

Someone will face the axe in New York, whether it is Edwards or front office type Terry Bradway, Jets' owner Woody Johnson is not going to stand pat following the disappointing 2003 season the Jets have played.

  • In Cleveland, the talk of head coach Butch Davis heading out the door will not come to fruition. Davis will be on the sideline for the Browns heading into the 2004 season.

Due to his underachieving and disappointing team, Davis will not get off unscathed in Cleveland. Basically having the final say in personnel matters, Davis will be forced to deal with a revamped personnel department, with additional player personnel evaluators brought aboard in Cleveland to "help" the front office secure talent and improve a poor draft and free agent signing track record.

  • Marty Schottenheimer, Oh Marty, how you have fallen. Sure, Schottenheimer is a proven winner at this level, but questions about his style and demands on a young team are an issue.

General Manager A. J. Smith and Schottenheimer have been hard at work evaluating the roster and some major changes are in store in the off-season for the Chargers. Just as an example, look for the Chargers to changes faces along the offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, and quite possibly at quarterback.

Schottenheimer is on a short leash in San Diego, but Chargers' team owner Alex Spanos and Smith have bought into the immediate notion that Schottenheimer can turn this fumbling organization around. Only time will tell, as a good portion of the current roster are not behind the veteran coach.

  • There is no coach-watch in Detroit, but rather a Team President of whatever title Matt Millen wears these days. Contrary some reports, the Lions and Millen have not conducted negotiations to end his run with the Lions.

The Ford family does not want to show or admit to the instability of the organization, but Millen has proven he is not a quality front office personnel executive. With head coach Steve Mariucci solidly in place as the head coach of the team and quietly seeking additional input in player personnel decisions, the time has come for Millen to depart.

As late as last week, Lions' owner, Mr. Ford had not come to the final determination in terminating Millen, as the organization continues to evaluate the possibilities, which includes Millen staying on with added personnel support. Right now, it doesn't look good for Millen, which should be enough to get Lions fans excited.


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