Seats getting hot for coaches and GMs


Seats getting hot for coaches and GMs

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Titans owner Bud Adams laid down the challenge to his entire organization after Tennessee's brutal loss to Chicago, creating the latest NFL hot seat for coaches and general managers.

Things aren't any more comfortable in Kansas City, San Diego, Cleveland, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Dallas halfway through the season. And, of course, in Philadelphia, where there always seems to be a campaign to get rid of Andy Reid, and the shouting has become louder this year.

Although Adams may have gone overboard by saying in his 50 years as a team owner he couldn't remember a worse home loss, his message rang loud and clear from the Grand Ole Opry to the Smoky Mountains: everyone is on the clock.

Nowhere is the clock ticking louder than in the AFC West, particularly in KC. Romeo Crennel inherited the head coaching spot on an interim basis in 2011 when Todd Haley was fired after 13 games and the Chiefs won two of their last three, handing Green Bay it's only loss of the season, falling in overtime to Oakland, then beating playoff-bound Denver on the road.

General manager Scott Pioli, reasoning the team was ravaged by injuries to key starters throughout the season, gave Crennel the full-time job. Now, with most of those important players back, the Chiefs are 1-7, ranking at the bottom of the AP Pro32 for good reason. They are last in the league in turnover margin at a ludicrous minus-20, with 29 giveaways, including 15 lost fumbles.

And get this: Kansas City has not led in regulation all season. Not for one tick of the clock.

Crennel, who fired himself as defensive coordinator Monday, has little chance of keeping his coaching position. The same, perhaps, for GM Pioli.

``Well, hey, I grade my performance by the record, and the record's not very good, so you'd have to say I haven't been very good,'' Crennel said.

San Diego is 4-4 and only one game behind Denver in the division. But does anyone give the Chargers a reasonable shot at beating out the Broncos?

More likely is yet another mediocre record, just bad enough to miss the postseason. With that could be the end for Norv Turner as coach, despite a 56-38 record with the Chargers, and A.J. Smith as GM.

One major problem with the Chargers is their talent base has been eroded in recent years. Once considered on a level with New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Indianapolis, the Chargers no longer keep company with the most skilled rosters of the AFC.

Offseason moves seemed to upgrade the talent level in Buffalo, but that hasn't materialized. The defense, even with Mario Williams, is a sieve under new coordinator Dave Wannstedt - only the Titans' historically bad numbers are worse, and they've played one more game. The offense is sporadic despite a solid running game. That falls on coach Chan Gailey, considered an offensive wizard.

GM Buddy Nix, who gave Gailey a vote of confidence last week, signed Williams to the richest contract in NFL history for a defensive player. Few of his other moves have panned out, either, and the Bills have that embarrassing string of non-playoff years, 12 and counting, longest in the league.

``I hope I can put that to rest,'' Nix said of supporting his coach. ``It's the age-old thing, and they've done it around here for years. They start over about every three years. What that does is make sure that you don't make it.''

Nix might not be around to protect Gailey or Wannstedt if the losing continues.

Some progress has occurred in Cleveland, but the Browns have a new owner, new president and, in 2013 likely a new coach. It might be unfair to Pat Shurmur, who in his third season in charge has a roster filled with youngsters, some of them very promising: Trent Richardson, Joe Haden, Brandon Weeden, Josh Gordon. Barring a second-half surge into contention - two matchups with Pittsburgh and one with Denver say it won't happen - a whole new management team will be hired.

The same thing could happen in Tennessee and Jacksonville, even though Mike Munchak is in only his second season as coach of the Titans, and they went 9-7 in 2011. Mike Mularkey is in his first season at the Jaguars' helm, but they could be headed for their worst record since entering the NFL in 1995.

Adams has quickly forgotten the work Munchak, one of the franchise's greatest players and a Hall of Famer, did last year. He's the same owner who pretty much forced out Jeff Fisher, the most successful coach the team has had since the AFL days.

Mularkey benefited from new ownership in Jacksonville when Shad Khan hired him. Now, with a 1-7 mark and an abysmal offense (117 points, by far the league's lowest) he was supposed to fix, Mularkey could have a very short tenure.

And Khan might sweep GM Gene Smith out the door, too.

Perhaps the diciest situation is in Dallas, where prevailing opinion is the Cowboys have tons of ability on the field, very little of it away from the field. Owner Jerry Jones comes under fire every year for also acting as general manager, whether it concerns his draft picks or his coaching choices.

The draft selections in recent years don't look so bad: DeMarco Murray, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Dez Bryant (if he ever matures). The coaching decisions are getting the most attention and pretty much have since Jimmy Johnson feuded with Jones and left - with the exception of Bill Parcells' four-year reign.

Now, as Dallas does all the little things - and plenty of big ones - to lose close games, there's extra attention on Jason Garrett's sideline decisions, especially clock management and play calling. The owner won't be going anywhere, which leaves Garrett on shaky ground.

Maybe not as shaky as Reid's status. Of all the management folks mentioned here, no one has a track record close to Reid during his 13-plus years in Philadelphia. But this season's struggles have a different feel to them, almost as if Reid himself is befuddled by such a talented group being muddled in mediocrity. Maybe, like Fisher two years ago in Nashville, he senses it's time to move on.

And don't think some of the clubs looking for head coaches in January won't pursue him.


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AP Sports Writers John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y., and Dave Skretta in Kansas City contributed to this report.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been declared day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury, the Caps announced Saturday afternoon.

He will not play Sunday against the Flyers, marking the first time in four seasons that the durable 25-year-old center will have missed a game.

Kuznetsov, the Caps’ assists leader and first line pivot over the past week, was injured in the second period of Friday’s 6-3 win over the Islanders. On the play, he slashed on the arm by New York defenseman Thomas Hickey before he tumbled awkwardly into the end boards.


Kuznetsov did not return to the contest.

The Caps did not practice on Saturday as they made their way to Philadelphia, where they'll look to extend their winning streak to five games.  

The team, per usual, did not elaborate about the extent or nature of Kuznetsov’s injury. But it does seem to be a good sign that he was not listed as week-to-week—the designation the Caps typically reserve for more severe injuries. And with a two point lead on Pittsburgh in the Metro Division standings—and a game in hand—they can actually afford to be cautious with one of their most important players.


The injury does, however, come at a time when Kuznetsov appeared to be hitting his stride. Including the two assists he had racked up prior to leaving Friday’s game, Kuzy has amassed five goals and 11 assists in 10 games.    

Without Kuznetsov on Sunday, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle will be the team’s most experienced centers. Travis Boyd and/or Chandler Stephenson figure to be deployed as the fourth pivot.

Coach Barry Trotz is expected to meet with reporters prior to Sunday’s game. It’s possible he’ll shed some more light on Kuznetsov’s outlook at that time.

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News, notes and observations from the first week of NFL Free Agency

News, notes and observations from the first week of NFL Free Agency

A whirlwind week in the NFL, but that's come to be the norm when free agency opens. Actually, not even when free agency opens, rather the legal tampering period opening two days before the actual start of the new league year. 

A lot happened, and more to come, but let's try to make sense of it all. 

  • The worst keep secret ever finally got revealed when the Redskins held their press conference to announce Alex Smith as their new starting quarterback. Everybody knows about the trade, and losing Kendal Fuller, but this trade makes a ton of sense and Smith was a homerun at the presser. He doesn't care about image or perception, a refreshing angle from the passer, and seems quite prepared for his new role. Smith was great in Kansas City in 2017. If he can replicate that in 2018 for the Redskins, the move will be loudly applauded. 
  • We still haven't gotten total clarity on Smith's contract. My intel says three years are really guaranteed, so Smith will be on the payroll through 2020 at least. Doug Williams joked at the presser that Smith could maybe play until he's 40, and since he's 33 right now, that would be a long time from now. 


  • Smith was the headline, but the Redskins also held a press conference with new WR Paul Richardson. He was possibly more impressive than Smith, just because the young speedster was more of an unknown. Smith has talked at a ton of podiums and faced a ton of reporters. I don't know, but that might have been Richardson's first ever press conference with a room that had probably 100 or more people in it. Check out the video above. 
  • Richardson had a great line when asked about the dangers of big hits on passes over the middle: "They gotta catch me." He's right. He will get a lot of opportunities for the Redskins, and he should make things better for Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. The Redskins wideouts did not get great separation in 2017, there are Pro Football Focus stats to back that up, and the offense got bogged down because of that. In 2018, with Richardson in place as a deep threat, defenses will need to react. 
  • The key to the Redskins offense truly succeeding in 2018: Jordan Reed. If he can stay healthy, the Washington air attack looks dangerous. 
  • Smart contract structure for the Redskins with Richardson. 
  • Zach Brown's contract is a 10/10 for the Redskins. A tackling machine that can actually improve from a strong 2017 season. Getting him back changed the entire tenor of Redskins free agency, as the team went from quietly sitting out the spending sprees (minus the Richardson move) to locking up their most important defensive player. 
  • Brown back, along with Mason Foster, gives the Redskins two strong inside linebackers. It's hard to remember now, but last September, that Redskins defense looked fierce. Injuries robbed the unit of a chance to completely gel and improve, but 2018 brings a new opportunity for that.
  • Offensively, the Redskins had to invest at wide receiver in free agency. The money for Allen Robinson got crazy and the team was smart to move forward with Richardson. He fits their desired profile: Young player coming off a rookie contract on a career upswing. 
  • The Redskins did not invest at running back, despite Jay Gruden and Doug Williams saying the team must improve at the position. Frankly, the Isaiah Crowell contract with the Jets was quite affordable, and he's a player some team sources had interest in. The Redskins do not have the luxury of taking a running back early in the draft, and I'd argue they shouldn't even look at RB in the second round. The Redskins should be focused up front on the offensive and defensive lines. A dream scenario: A player like Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne at 13, and then Ohio State interior offensive lineman Billy Price at 44. Price would have been a first-round lock but for a pectoral injury at the Scouting Combine. Medicals say he should be fine for training camp. Washington has shown a proclivity to draft players that slip due to injury concerns (Kendall Fuller in 2016, Fabian Moreau in 2017) and Price could fit the same mold. 
  • The vacancy at left guard has not been addressed, and wasn't going to be addressed in free agency, or at least not in the early days where the big money gets paid out. Washington has more than $26 million invested this season in just three players on their offensive line (Trent Williams at $14M, Morgan Moses at $5M, Brandon Scherff at almost $7M) and the team knows Scherff will cost more money soon. The Jaguars just gave Andrew Norwell $30 million guaranteed; the guard market has arrived. The 'Skins will want to keep Scherff, and to do it, they need to keep some cash on hand. That means the new left guard will either be a budget free agent find, or come from the draft.
  • To that point, the team viewed Spencer Long expendable. He was well liked by players and coaches, but has never played a full 16-game season and missed half the year in 2017. Also, the emergence of Chase Roullier helped the team move forward without Long. 


  • A bit of a surprise to see Trent Murphy leave, but he got good money from the Bills. Washington liked Murphy, and wanted to keep him, but not at the price Buffalo paid. 
  • What happened to Ryan Grant is complete junk. The Ravens are a first-class organization, but that was a bush league move. The guy has never missed a game in four years and now he can't pass a physical?!? C'mon man. Hoping the best for Ryan and will be interested to see if his represenatives seek retribution from Baltimore. 
  • Bashaud Breeland sure likes to keep it interesting. Why sign a contract if you know you have a hurt foot and can't pass a physical? Why would the agent not disclose that? Maybe it was disclosed, but that situation just seems so weird. The Redskins were never bringing Breeland back, something I reported as far back as December, but now it seems Breeland's next NFL team will have to wait to see when his foot can pass a physical. Bree is a good and funny dude, hope he heals up. 
  • Two crazy things from one draft class: The 'Skins NAILED their 2014 draft haul. Without a first round pick, they got five solid contributors in Murphy, Moses, Long, Breeland and Grant. But now, after their rookie contracts have all expired, only Moses remains with the team. Bizarre. 

  • Credit where it's due: The 2014 Draft belonged to a certain Bruce Allen. That was the year after the Shanahan crew was fired and the year before Scot McCloughan was hired. Credit where it's due. 
  • I think a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deal gets done. I think a Junior Galette deal might get done. 
  • Ndamukong Suh is still out there. Just saying. 
  • So is Bennie Logan. Just saying. 

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