|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. (Getty Images)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
Todd Haley, Chiefs head coach. Week 1 of the regular season looked a lot like the previous four weeks of preseason football for Kansas City's offense. Which is to say: it existed in name only. And it's not like the Chiefs were facing the Patriots on the road. They had the Bills -- the Bills -- at Arrowhead Stadium. Instead of playing like the defending AFC West champs, Kansas City instead looked like the sad-sack outfit that won six games in the final two seasons of Herm Edwards' tenure.
|Todd Haley wants you to know that he blames Todd Haley. (Getty Images)|
Buffalo led 14-0 after a quarter, went up 34-7 after three quarters, and ended up winning 41-7. And the Chiefs are left to wonder where to go from here.
Yes, it's only one game -- the first game of a long season -- but Sunday's offense looked a lot like the one that got steamrolled by the Ravens in the AFC Divisional Game last January.
It's easy to blame quarterback Matt Cassel, especially after you take a gander at his stat line from Sunday: 22 of 36 for 116 yards. That works out to 3.2 yards per attempt, which means that if the Chiefs threw on every down, they'd go three-and-out every series (which isn't far from the truth). But Cassel isn't calling the plays or assembling the roster. The latter is Scott Pioli's job, but since he's pretty high up on the org chart, that leaves Todd Haley, who puts together the game plan (if you want to call it that).
“I’m taking 100 percent responsibility for our team not being ready to go,” he said after the game. “OK? You can point the finger right at Todd Haley. OK? I’m taking 100 percent responsibility.”
Uh oh. Haley went Costanza on us and started referring to himself in the third person. Not a good sign.
And while it's swell that he's holding himself accountable, that won't do much to keep him gainfully employed. The Chiefs look completely lost without offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who left for the University of Florida before the Ravens playoff game. Maybe it's coincidence, or perhaps there's a correlation, but it's not like Haley didn't get the head-coaching gig because of his ability to -- and apologies in advance to Hank Stram -- matriculate the ball down the field.
Either way, if the Chiefs don't find a way to score points, Haley won't make it to Halloween.
Jim Caldwell, Colts head coach. It's simple, really. Caldwell, who took over for Tony Dungy after the 2008 season, is only as good as his quarterback. Yes, that holds for most coaches (most notably Bill Belichick and Tom Brady -- although Belichick went 11-5 with Cassel in '08), but Caldwell can't use that as an excuse when Bill Polian inevitably calls him into his office and asks why he shouldn't be fired.
|Week 1 in Review|
For the sake of discussion, let's say Manning shuts it down for the season, and Indy wins five or six games with some combination of Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter, Brett Favre and/or David Garrard (joke!). Isn't Caldwell ultimately responsible? (Of course, Caldwell might point out that Polian should've found a competent backup QB long ago, but he can't very well say that out loud.) Put differently: if Caldwell's coaching skills are directly related to whether his Hall of Fame quarterback is on the field, he's not bringing much to the table. Belichick, with or without Brady, is worth , what, three wins a season all by himself? Same with Mike Tomlin or Mike McCarthy.
That said, we don't expect Caldwell to lose his job no matter how bad things turn out for Indy this season. The man did go 14-2 in his first season and take the Colts to the Super Bowl. And Indy was 10-6 a year ago. Then again, his detractors are quick to point out that Caldwell was 26-63 during his eight years as the Wake Forest head coach. That's not exactly something you put at the top of the resume.
Pete Carroll, Seahawks head coach. Carroll has talked about "the plan," presumably one that entails making the team better. But based on some of his offseason moves -- notably, signing Tarvaris Jackson a year after trading for Charlie Whitehurst and weeks after letting Matt Hasselbeck walk -- we're starting to think that this plan involves positioning the team for a run at Andrew Luck. (Which, technically, will make the team better, just not this season.)
Seattle did win the NFC West last season, but they also went 7-9. That's like being the prettiest ugly girl or the skinniest fat dude. When people say, "They won the division by winning just seven games!" it's not a compliment. They're mocking you. So, no, it's not something to brag about, especially since this year's team somehow looks worse.
The Seahawks lost to the 49ers, 33-17, Sunday, but the game was out of reach well before that. San Francisco led 16-0, and Seattle appeared to be running some version of the Chiefs' offense. And things don't get any easier because the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh this week. We joked yesterday that the Steelers could play the same sloppy game they did against the Ravens and have little trouble beating this Seattle team. That's how bad it was. Maybe somebody should ask Carroll what his deal is.
|Jack Del Rio is quite familiar with the hot seat in Jacksonville. (Getty Images)|
Whatever, life after Garrard got off to a good start: Jacksonville, with Luke McCown under center, outlasted the Titans, 16-14. But this is the NFL, where fortunes change weekly, and it's not a stretch to think that the Jags' success could be short-lived. Partly because they haven't had a winning season since 2007, but also because their quarterback of the future is currently a rookie sitting behind McCown on the depth chart.
Not only that, it's not like Del Rio hasn't been in the "you're almost certainly getting canned" crosshairs in previous seasons. And his dilemma in 2011 is that if McCown plays just well enough to keep the gig, the Jags might again finish 8-8. But if McCown stumbles and Blaine Gabbert gets the keys to the offense, then it's a rebuilding year. While not an official stat, we think Del Rio is all out of "rebuilding year" mulligans. As it stands, his job security rests with McCown's ability to play better than he has at any point in his NFL career. We wonder if Del Rio will get to keep that black leather jacket as a parting gift.
Tony Romo, Cowboys quarterback. In general, this list will be populated with players who single-handedly torpedoed a team's chances or underachieving units (like the Chargers' special teams any week last season). So it's unusual that the first four names above are all coaches. But Haley, Caldwell, Carroll and Del Rio are as responsible for the fate that awaits them than any miscue their players might make that would ultimately reflect poorly on them.
And that brings us to Romo, who admitted after Sunday night's loss to the Jets, that the blame was his and his alone. That's not completely true, although a fumble at the Jets' goal line and that pass intended for a hobbled Dez Bryant that found Darrelle Revis on the next-to-last drive didn't help matters.
On Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, we talked about how the perception is that Romo's a choker, and Sunday night was the latest example. We don't actually believe that; if anything Romo's unlucky. Look no further than his counterpart in Week 1; Romo outplayed the Jets' Mark Sanchez but Sanchez has a knack for avoiding mistakes at critical junctures while Romo seems drawn to them. And it's not solely a function of his style of play or decision-making process. It genuinely seems like the gods of chance hate Romo. We think this has something to do with that whole Jessica Simpson thing.
But could his ill-timed miscuses be enough to cost Jason Garrett his job? Nah. Partly because we've seen what the Cowboys look like without Romo, but also because he's a top-10 quarterback. Does he take chances? Yeah, sure. Does he sometimes get burned? Yep. But he has the ability to put a ton of points on the board, and that overrides the occasional mistakes.
Now there's no doubt in our minds that Jerry Jones will some day fire Garrett. But it won't be because of Romo. In fact, Romo will probably end up saving Garrett's job a couple times before it's all said and done.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.