NFL Hot Seat: Head Coaches Andy Reid, Rex Ryan and Ken Whisenhunt Have Jobs On The Line In Week 17

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Dec 28, 2012 01:40 PM EST
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid (R) and Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos (46) call for a two point conversion while playing against the Carolina Panthers in their NFL football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania November 26."

The NFL coaching carousel doesn't usually start spinning until after the season is over, but there are a large crop of coaches working on a hot seat as the page turns to Week 17.

There have been a number of disappointing teams in the NFL this year, including the New York Jets, Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles, all of whom have coaches that could be let go after this year. There has also been a number of teams that were just plain awful, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals. All these teams could have new voices next season depending on how Week 17 goes.

Here is a look at the hottest seats in the NFL and some ideas on who is likely to be let go at the end of the season.

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles

Reid is the longest tenured head coach in the NFL, but he is the most likely candidate to be fired at the end of the season. He has been with the franchise since 1999, but owner Jeffry Lurie said before the season started that if there wasn't a significant improvement in the team, there would be big changes for next year.

The Eagles entered the year with high expectations after finishing 8-8 in 2011 and had a great offseason that kept a number of players with the team for the long-term, including Trent Cole, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson/ The team traded for DeMeco Ryans and was going to have Michael Vick back at full strength.

Things did not go as planned for the Eagles, as the team started 3-1, but lost the following eight games in a row, including a 31-6 defeat against the Washington Redskins. Vick suffered a concussion and was benched for rookie Nick Foles, while McCoy and Jackson dealt with injuries.

During his time with the Eagles, Reid led the team to the playoffs nine times in 14 seasons and made five NFC championship games, including four consecutive appearances from 2001-2004, and to Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004. Reid's success in Philadelphia was part of his own downfall, as expectations always seemed to get higher no matter what the team looked like. The past two seasons have been particularly difficult, as the franchise has dealt with mediocre play and injuries.

Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb spoke about the 2012 season for the Eagles in general and about Reid on Friday.

"You look at everything he's been able to accomplish, I think it outweighs what you've seen the last two years," McNabb said. "Making it to the NFC Championship is not easy, and I think they're starting to see that right now, that getting to the playoffs and going to the NFC Championship consistently, it's just not that easy," McNabb said. "There are teams right now who have winning records, like the Atlanta Falcons, they've done it for so many years, and they get to the playoffs and all of a sudden they're one-and-done."

Reid has a 130-92-1 regular season record over 14 seasons and has gone 10-9 in the playoffs. The Week 17 game against the New York Giants isn't likely to help save Reid's job, but a win would help soften the blow. The Eagles are in last place in the NFC East with a 4-11, the worst finish for Reid since he became head coach in 1999.

HOT SEAT STATUS: Burning up. Reid is likely fired after the season no matter what happens on Sunday.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets

The Jets truly can be a mystery, so it wouldn't be a surprise at all if Ryan keeps his job after the season, but he sure made it interesting along the way.

The quarterback issues have been the biggest problem with the team and part of that is due to Ryan. While he publicly has supported Mark Sanchez through his tenure as coach, he did the fourth-year quarterback no favors by bringing in Tim Tebow and has allowed the offense to completely implode on itself. New York ranks 30th in the league in passing yards and is scoring just 18 points per game, ranked fifth-worst in the NFL.

The team has dealt with numerous injuries this season, but the Jets have also just been plain awful. There seems to be no chemistry on offense and apart from the passing defense, the team doesn't rank in the top 11 of the NFL in anything. The Jets have lost two straight games and did it in embarrassing fashion, as Sanchez fumbled the final snap in a 14-10 loss to Tennessee, ending the game and eliminating their playoff hopes.

The Jets were only able to beat the Cardinals-who had lost eight in a row-by a score of 7-6 and that only came after Ryan benched Sanchez in favor of backup third stringer Greg McElroy. The blame doesn't completely fall on Ryan for the Jets this year, but when a player like Sanchez has a $17 million cap hit (meaning he won't be cut) someone will have to take the fall. The Jets finish the season with a road game against the Buffalo Bills, a team they blew out in Week 1 behind three Sanchez touchdowns.

HOT SEAT STATUS: Heading towards a boil. If Ryan keeps his job, it is likely that GM Mike Tannenbaum will either be gone or removed from his position.

Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals

It feels like it's been 100 years since Whisenhunt led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Amazingly enough, it was just four seasons ago. The Cardinals won the AFC West the following year, but since then, the Cardinals have been anything but "Super", especially this season.

The team started off a surprising 4-0 to take an early lead in the NFC West, but then proceeded to lose the next nine games in a row before defeating Detroit 38-10 two weeks ago. The team went back to its losing ways last week against the Bears and has now dropped 10 of 11 games. The lowest point for the team this season came against Seattle in Week 14 when they were blown out 58-0 behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.

Whisenhunt has an offensive background, but this season the Cardinals were atrocious behind quarterback Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley, scoring just 15 points and gaining 263 yards per game, the worst in the NFL.

Wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who is seen by many as the most talented receiver in the game not named Calvin Johnson, has been basically marginalized because of the issues at quarterback, while the running backs have done nothing all year, averaging 76 yards per contest.

HOT SEAT STATUS: White hot. As in WHITE HOT. The memories of the Super Bowl appearance have long since faded away. Unless Whisenhunt and the team truly show something amazing in Week 17 against the 49ers, he is likely gone at the end of the year.

Bonus Hot Seat:

Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans

HOT SEAT STATUS: Pretty dang hot. Even though it's just Munchak's second season as head coach, Tennessee hasn't shown much improvement from last year. The team is 5-10 in the AFC South and has been a disappointment on offense and defense, ranking 20th in the NFL or lower in every category. The Titans must win against Jacksonville on Sunday for any chance of Munchak staying.

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