With the 2011 NFL Season in it's second half (already?), the playoff picture will be coming into focus over the next few weeks. For a handful of teams... well, let's just say that they can start planning for their offseason vacations to begin on January 2, 2012. And some coaches may want to start working on their resumes, if they haven't done so already.
The Dolphins have been on a steady decline the past few seasons, and in early January, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross flew to California to interview Jim Harbaugh after the Orange Bowl game while Sporano was still in Ross's employ. That spoke volumes about what Ross thought of his coach (either that, or Ross is just clueless). Sporano received the dreaded "vote of confidence" from Ross, and a two-year extension at the beginning of 2011, but I'm sure Ross would be willing to write off the second year of that deal and consider that $$$$ as a parting gift.
Jack Del Rio
Jack was pretty much saved by the lockout. If there hadn't been any threat of a work stoppage, the Jags would be in their first season in rebuilding now. The Jags could win five of their remaining games, but unless that does indeed happen, that re-building period will start at the beginning of 2012.
Norv was gifted a championship-caliber team, and he hasn't been able to capitalize on it, even with homefield advantage for an AFC title game a couple of season's ago. Now Phillip Rivers is playing poorly, and this might be the death knell for Norv's time in San Diego. I'd bet that he gets picked up as an OC or QB coach, or maybe he gets a nice college HC gig. One way or the other, Norv won't be out of a job for long. (A.J. Smith should be shown the door soon as well...aside from Matt Millen, when was the last time a GM got fired? Seriously... does anyone know?)
Indy still has a chance to win a game or two before the end of the season, but I don't see Caldwell in the HC chair next season regardless. That team's collapse has been fairly thorough, and it's been on both sides of the ball. With the prospect of drafting Andrew Luck as their QB of the future, Indy might just decide that a fresh start is in order. If the Colts do manage the reverse oh-fer, then Caldwell's exit will all but be assured. There's only been one other 0-16 HC in the league, and he was shown the door right after the season ended.
On The Bubble
Right now, he's the longest tenured coach with any team in the league, and some folks think this might be his last stand with the Eagles. The Eagles seemed to go all-in with their free agency acquisitions, and the nice deal they gave Michael Vick. But installing Juan Castillo as the DC left just about everyone wondering "WTF" and the Eagles team as a whole is in free-fall mode right now. Have players begun tuning out Andy Reid's message? The Eagles front office might have a difficult decision to make at the end of the season.
Maybe Safe for 2012, but Beyond That...
Shanny might get one more season to see if he can straighten things out in D.C. He'll have to come up with a solution at QB that makes the Redskins faithful forget about McNabb, Grossman, and Beck; and he'll have to find a capable OC to replace his son.
Right now, Marvin is one of the luckiest coaches in the league. Arguably, he kept his job for the same reason that Jack Del Rio did, and he has Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Mike Zimmer, and maybe even Carson Palmer to thank for the success that he's had up to this point in the 2011 season. The only thing that would change his status is an epic collapse to end this season, or a losing season next year to make it seem like the 2011 season is a fluke.
Pete Carroll bolted USC when it was clear that the poop was going to hit the fan. He got into the 2010 playoffs with a losing record... yes he did capitalize on that playoff berth, but the USCHawks aren't progressing upward, and if the 2012 season were to resemble this one, Pete might be tempted to test the NCAA waters again, and Paul Allen might be willing to accommodate him.
I had high hopes for Spags, even though I'm not a Rams fan. I liked the hire and Sam Bradford had a decent enough season for a rookie QB to make it seem like the Rams were going to turn the corner. That hasn't been the case, but injuries have had as much of a negative impact as one might expect. I think Spags will be back for the 2012 season, but unless the Rams show improvement, he'll likely be out of a job after the season ends.
Rex gets at least another season with the J-E-T-S. After 2012 it's a crapshoot. Rex needs to solve the QB situation, being that Mark Sanchez is not he long-term answer. The same could be said for Brian Schottenheimer and the OC position, but I'm thinking that Brian will be released before the Jets completely give up on Sanchez. Rex might have the best chance to stay employed, but he's got work to do.
Just a Gut Feeling...
I like Ken Whisenhunt, but the Cardinals QB situation could end up costing him his job, unless John Skelton turns out to be the answer at QB. It doesn't look like it's Kevin Kolb, and that apparent free agency misfire comes on the heels of 2010's Matt Leinart/Derek Anderson QB-Fest.
In my opinion Haley might have been over his head from the start. I hadn't heard of the guy before the Cards made their playoff run to the Super Bowl a couple of seasons ago, but having Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to scheme around could make just about any coach seem like a capable OC, but hardly ready for the HC chair.