Roundtable - Week 8
Updated 10/29 by FBG Staff, Exclusive for Footballguys.com
Welcome to this edition of the 2009 Footballguys Roundtable. Feel free to eavesdrop as various staff members share their views on a range of topics in discussion format. This week, they touch on the following:
- 49ers Offense
- Miles Austin
- Titans QBs
- Jets RBs
- Chiefs RBs
- Week 8 Sleepers
- Coaches on the hot seat?
The 49ers got production from some new faces on Sunday as they mounted a nearly successful comeback attempt against the Texans.
In particular, Alex Smith took over for Shaun Hill in the second half and played very well. Did Smith's performance last Sunday impress you enough to think he could be a decent fantasy play down the stretch this season?
JASON WOOD: Smith has displaced Shaun Hill has the 49ers' starter, and it's hard to argue against that given the need to invigorate their passing game. As for whether Smith impressed me enough to consider him for fantasy purposes, that depends on my current roster. I would hope anyone on 10- and 12-team leagues wasn't relying on Shaun Hill. But if you're in a deeper league (or a start 2-QB league), Smith is definitely worth rostering.
ANDY HICKS: Smith gave the 49ers offense a massive spark last week, and as the new starter he'll have the job for at least the next few weeks. Let's see how he does against the Colts. The pressure of starting, combined with the 49ers playoff aspirations going down the tubes, could cause Smith to revert back to Mr. Bust. The 49ers have shown remarkable patience in developing Smith while many other franchises would have shown him the door by now. We'll see if that patience bears fruit in the coming weeks.
MARK WIMER: I think Smith has put his turbulent past in the rearview mirror now. (Remember, his best friend committed suicide last year, which profoundly affected Smith during training camp, and then he hurt his surgically repaired shoulder on the eve of the 2008 season.) He looked much more decisive and focused against Houston than in the past when he's been under center. I think he's aware that this is his last chance to salvage his pro football career. I'm making a play for Smith in all my dynasty leagues in which he is available - he's worth a roll of the dice if you have roster space.
AARON RUDNICKI: Smith looked very impressive in the second half and I think the 49ers organization would love nothing more than to have him finally live up to some of the expectations they had when taking him #1 overall. Hill is a reliable option they could always go back to at some point, but they have a lot more invested in Smith and the offense needed to change things up anyway. I do think the pieces are in place for the 49ers to be a productive offense as long the playcalling isn't too conservative. Hard not to be excited from what we just saw from Smith, but I'm skeptical that he can play that well consistently.
Smith's favorite target in the second half last week was Vernon Davis, who is having a breakout season. If you had to pick right now, for the rest of the season, would you rather have Vernon Davis in your starting lineup each week, or Jason Witten?
ANDY HICKS: That's a very good question and it all comes down to weekly matchups, especially in the fantasy playoffs at this stage. Davis' matchups of Arizona, Philly, and Detroit just edge those of Witten's with San Diego, New Orleans and Washington. Witten would be the safer way to go as Alex Smith hasn't been the most reliable guy to date, but Davis leads all Tight Ends with 6 touchdowns and is clearly demonstrating the talent which saw him picked high in the first round a few years ago. I'm going to remain on the fence here.
JASON WOOD: Assuming Witten is healthy, of course I'd rather have Witten. Witten's body of work is too impressive to think he won't have normalized numbers by year end which put him solidly among the top at his position. With Miles Austin emerging as a real deep threat, I expect Witten's opportunities underneath will explode from here on out.
MARK WIMER: I'm not a big Vernon Davis fan, but he is clearly simpatico with Smith. Given that coach Singletary is on the record saying that the 49ers won't be a "flavor of the month" type of team when it comes to the QB position, I think that the Smith-to-Davis connection could be very live for the rest of the year. Witten has been displaced by Miles Austin down in Dallas as the #1 target, so I guess I'd rather roll with Davis.
AARON RUDNICKI: I think I'd stick with the proven Witten. Davis is finally enjoying his breakout season, but Witten has proven himself over the past few years. I agree with Jason that Miles Austin should help open things up more for Witten. The one factor in Davis' favor is the schedule but I'd probably rather rely on Romo than Alex Smith.
Michael Crabtree made his debut on Sunday, and was impressive for a rookie in his first NFL action. What's his upside potential for the rest of this season? Will he be the 49ers leading receiver from the WR position the rest of the way, or will that be Josh Morgan?
JASON WOOD: I think he'll be the leading receiver the rest of the way. The fact that San Francisco was willing to come to terms and then get him on the field so quickly is a testament to both Crabtree's raw abilities as well as the 49ers lack of productivity at the position. Josh Morgan was a very popular sleeper among the staff this year, yet he really didn't live up to the billing. To my mind, both Ike Bruce and Crabtree are better plays than Morgan the rest of the way.
ANDY HICKS: No fence-sitting here. Crabtree walked into the starting role and will be there for many years to come. He probably is a WR3/flex kind of option right now until we see if Alex Smith is more than a one-week wonder. I'd easily rate him ahead of Morgan and Bruce. Vernon Davis would be the only guy I'd consider as a rival to become leading receiver. Morgan could be another Brandon Lloyd: all ability, but rarely seen. Bruce has no upside at this stage of his career, but will be a wonderful mentor for Crabtree.
MARK WIMER: I'd be more comfortable with Morgan on my roster than Crabtree. Soon, teams will have tape on Crabtree to break down and they'll start to figure out his tendencies and weaknesses to exploit. Look at how Mario Manningham has tapered off as teams have begun to game plan for him: Arizona basically neutralized him last week (4/47/0) and used his route-running tendencies against him. I expect that Crabtree will run into the same difficulties in a couple of weeks.
AARON RUDNICKI: Crabtree was unstoppable as a freshman in college and he looked great on Sunday despite missing all of training camp, the preseason, and nearly two months of the regular season. He's just an extremely gifted athlete and I don't think there's any doubt that he'll be a superstar in the league. Morgan is a nice player but Crabtree looks special. I do think he'll be the leading receiver in San Francisco going forward.
Is the offense still going to revolve around Frank Gore this season, as was originally planned, or will an improved passing attack take away some of his opportunities? Where would you draft Gore if a new (twelve-team, non-PPR, start 1/2/3/1/1/1) league held a draft tomorrow? Is he a first-rounder?
JASON WOOD: Remember that NFL offenses need some semblance of balance. If opposing defenses don't respect the passing game, it becomes much easier to bottle up the running game. The best thing that can happen to Gore is for the passing game to improve. Not only will defenses loosen up, but the 49ers will sustain drives which should mean more red zone opportunities. And let's also not forget that Gore is an excellent pass-catcher. I think he's absolutely a Top 8-10 fantasy RB the rest of the way; assuming he stays healthy of course.
ANDY HICKS: Gore is still a first round pick, but he needs to get healthy immediately. The 49ers would prefer to dominate with the running game, as long as Frank Gore is the driving force. Glen Coffee just doesn't have the ability to lead this offense. I also wouldn't trust Alex Smith to lead from the front, either. Smith looked great when the team was behind 21-0. Let's see if he gets the same opportunities at 0-0. Gore owners need to be patient here, but have options up there sleeves should he still be less than 100 percent.
MARK WIMER: Gore hasn't lived up to they hype this year. NFL teams play to their strengths, and if Smith can continue to produce as he did last week, the 49ers' team strength on offense appears to be the passing game. I think Gore will be a marginal fantasy RB2 from here on out, not a first rounder by any stretch.
AARON RUDNICKI: In a non-PPR league, I'd say that Gore is probably a second-round pick. I think he'll be a pretty reliable option going forward though. Improving the passing attack will result in fewer 8 and 9 man fronts so he should be able to find more room to run and break more big plays. The season-ending injury to RT Tony Pashos is certainly a concern though.
Are we all now convinced that his performance against the Chiefs two games ago wasn't a fluke?
How good can we expect Austin to be the rest of the way? Would you rank him among the top 20 WRs going forward? Or is a two-game performance still too small a sample to get overly excited about?
JEFF HASELEY: The situation for a WR to emerge in Dallas was very ripe, in my opinion. The recipe for success there included a strong armed QB, a good offense in general, a slumping or ineffective WR high on the depth chart, and an eager, upstart, talented WR with the tools needed to be successful. Austin, at 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, presents a big target for Tony Romo, and let's face it: he has come through in the opportunities he's had. Romo has shown he has confidence in him, which will keep the targets coming. Will he be this good all year long? That's very doubtful, especially because teams will realize his presence in the offense and will adapt. Going forward, I see Austin continuing to be a big part of the offense, but I would be surprised to see him with many 100-150 yard games. Regardless, he's a great WR pick up for those who may have been fortunate enough to acquire him on the waiver wire and an even better find if you drafted him on an inkling, hoping for success.
JASON WOOD: I'm a believer. Austin has been one of those guys who Cowboys beat writers and talent evaluators have always praised, but like dozens of other talented players, just because you practice well doesn't make you a viable NFL starter (are you listening David Clowney?). But in this case, Austin needed only to stay healthy long enough to earn his shot. We all knew Dallas had nothing at WR this year; and I thankfully didn't drink the Roy Williams Kool-Aid. So if fantasy success comes down to ability plus opportunity, as I think it does, Austin has both in droves. He clearly has chemistry with Tony Romo, has no real competition for WR1 status, has unreal deep speed, and will likely be in my Top 20-25 every week from here on out.
MARK WIMER: Jeff and Jason nailed it: Austin is Tony Romo's new number one wide receiver. Look for Roy Williams to gain a little ground (say, 4 receptions for 50ish yards per game) as he settles into his natural number two role. Austin will be the star in Jerry World this year.
ANDY HICKS: I'm still not entirely convinced. His stats are insane the last 2 weeks and if I had him, I'd start him for sure, but I need to see a little more before I'm ready to anoint him as the new Dallas number one receiver. Everything looks good, from his performance to the lack of a suitable alternative, but defenses are going to try to take him out to avoid the big play. This may benefit other receivers such as Witten or Williams, but if Austin is truly good enough then he'll still get his. I'd like to revisit this in two weeks after he has faced the Eagles.
AARON RUDNICKI: I'm completely on board. I think he's always had the talent and ability to be this type of player but it took awhile for him to develop like it does for most young WRs. He had a great opportunity in the preseason to take over a starting spot, but struggled and was beaten out by Patrick Crayton. Now that he's gotten another opportunity, it doesn't look like he's going to let it go to waste. We already know that offense can be explosive when all the pieces are working well together. Roy Williams simply does not look like a true #1 WR, but Austin may be one. I'd definitely rank Austin among the top-20 WRs going forward.
Kerry Collins led the Titans to 13 wins last year, but has been pretty awful so far this season.
Vince Young is 18-11 as an NFL starter, but it's been a while since people were generally optimistic about his future.
What's the answer here? Would the Titans be better off giving Young a chance to start this season?
If Young does get a few starts, does his running ability boost his fantasy potential enough to make him roster-worthy in most leagues?
MARK WIMER: Young should probably get a shot at redeeming himself at this point - the Titans are out of contention by any yardstick and the team needs to formulate a plan at QB heading into the 2010 season. They'll have a high draft pick in next year's lottery, and may need to select a new quarterback-of-the-future if Young falls on his face or freaks out under pressure again.
I see no useful reason to keep plugging in Collins at this point unless Young implodes again.
That said, I am not optimistic about Young's ability to get back to an NFL caliber of play. He has shown us nothing (literally, 0/5 passing) in his relief appearances this year, and doesn't really appear to have much desire to take over for Collins.
Bud Adams, the Titans owner, has made it clear in comments to the local media that he wants Young in the lineup, but I haven't seen Young showing any sparks that would warrant him being inserted into the lineup. We'll see what happens.
I guess if I were desperate at QB and had a hunch that Young will turn his career around all of a sudden, then I'd find a spot on the bench and wait to see how the situation shakes out. But I am not desperate at QB in my leagues and I don't have such a hunch about Young, so I plan to stay away from him.
ANDY HICKS: I don't really have too much more to add to what Mark said, but it does seem kind of pointless for the Titans to play Collins at this point in the season. They have no shot at a playoff run and really need to throw Vince Young in and see if there is any possibility of a productive future in their former starter.
As far as picking him up off the waiver wire, I'm not concerned about Young's physical skills; it's his head that's the problem. It's probably best for him to start afresh in a new city. Starting for the Titans is likely to shake his already-brittle psyche. Does anyone honestly think the Titan fans are going to be gentle if he struggles? If you have the roster space you can hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.
JASON WOOD: Mark and Andy said it all. What incentive do the Titans have keeping Kerry Collins in the lineup? He's a below average QB who had the rare opportunity to manage the game in an uber conservative manner last year, basically staying out of the way. But that's an abnormal situation and every time Collins has had to throw in his career he's been less than stellar. At his age, he has no future with the team. Meanwhile, Young does have potential, but is also a massive risk. Fisher should be in good enough standing that he can afford for this season to get completely out of hand (3-4 wins type of season) and still survive, but to do that he has to keep the owner happy. So when Bud Adams is making it known that he wants to see Vince Young, you can bet we're going to see Vince Young.
AARON RUDNICKI: I don't really understand why they are sticking with Collins. I don't think he's the main reason for their struggles this year, but the team is clearly headed in the wrong direction. It's time to make a major change, especially if the owner is calling for the change himself. If Fisher wants out of Tennessee, I guess sticking with Collins might be the way to achieve that goal.
I think Young as a starter would be worthy of a roster spot, but it would probably take a great matchup or a run of injuries to ever start him.
With Leon Washington out for the year, Shonn Greene will get a chance to shine. He performed extremely well last Sunday against the Raiders.
Which RB -- Thomas Jones or Shonn Greene -- would you rather have the rest of the way in redraft leagues? Can they both be top 24 RBs from here on out? Is the Jets' offensive line really as good as it looked against the Raiders?
JASON WOOD: Thomas Jones certainly. He's been the lead dog and done nothing to lose that. Now Jones may not have much of a future in New York with Greene looking ready to handle the ball 20+ times; but THIS YEAR, Jones is a part of that team and doing too well to bench.
MARK WIMER: I agree with Jason, Jones is likely to be the bell-cow now that Washington is out of the picture. Greene performed well against a demoralized opponent and bottom-of-the-barrel defensive front (30th in the league allowing 169.7 rushing yards a game), but he has a lot to learn at this level. I'd expect a 70-30 split of carries most weeks going forward, with Jones doing the heavy lifting against quality opponents, while Greene's confidence is built up in garbage time situations and also spelling Jones when he needs to get a few snaps of rest on the sidelines.
ANDY HICKS: I've been a big fan of Greene since he was drafted by the Jets. Before the season started, I figured Greene would at least push Jones to be the primary ballcarrier for the Jets. Now he'll get his chance. Thomas Jones is, however, still performing magnificently. I still do expect Greene to nail down the No. 1 spot by the end of the year, but I'd be happy owning Jones as well.
AARON RUDNICKI: I think Jones is going to remain the primary back in the offense. After watching him run for two 60+ yard carries against the Bills, he clearly has plenty of burst left to be an every-down threat. I think they'll give Greene consistent work to avoid overloading Sanchez, but Jones is the better blocker and that should help keep him on the field. Greene will provide a change of pace, but I don't think he'll be consistent enough from week to week to rely on as an every-week starter. I think the Raiders make a lot of teams look better than they are, but the Jets offensive line is very good.
Larry Johnson got himself into the dog house in Kansas City, and his days as a Chief might be over. He's suspended for two weeks (one game), and his future after that is uncertain. If he is released, will he end up catching on with another NFL team and making a fantasy impact this season, or should fantasy owners essentially be writing off his season already?
JASON WOOD: Who knows? He's still relatively young which helps his situation, but it's been a long time since he was an elite player. If he is released, a lot of people are going to suggest the Patriots as a potential destination because of Belichick's willingness to roll the dice on guys whom most teams would avoid as part of his system. But that seems too obvious. I'll tell you what, I wouldn't be shocked if the Eagles looked at him. Johnson's Penn State roots will help as Andy pays close attention to local collegiate talent.
MARK WIMER: Johnson has imploded once again. I think the guy is radioactive at this point after clashing with two successive coaching regimes. Even though Mike Vick got a second chance in the NFL, I'm not sure that Johnson will: there have been too many damaging off-field incidents involving women, and too little production on the field.
ANDY HICKS: Johnson's value now plummets because he'll be a 30-year-old big back with a history of attitude problems. Maybe the right coach can channel that and get another year or two out of him, but youth tends to triumph in these situations. I think he's done with the Chiefs. His best bet is to land on a team with a rookie RB or a weak starter and fight to get his reputation back. The right coach will be crucial, however, if he is to get another chance.
What are Jamaal Charles' fantasy prospects for the rest of 2009?
JASON WOOD: The Chiefs are such a mess that I have trouble viewing Jamaal Charles as a viable fantasy commodity, but I've been proven wrong before. Remember he's actually been inactive at times this year in his own right. One DEEP sleeper I think is worth taking a look at is Kolby Smith, who was on the PUP but should be ready to go when the Chiefs come off their bye. He could be the surprise option there, but only in deep, deep leagues is he worth rostering in advance of that.
MARK WIMER: I am not a Jamaal Charles fan: he's a scat back who can't carry the load. Kolby Smith might be a surprise of the second half, as Jason indicated. We'll know more if and when he actually takes a snap or three in a live, regular-season game.
ANDY HICKS: I'd consider Jamaal Charles only if I were desperate, but some forward planning could be vital. The Chiefs aren't scaring anyone, but in the crucial fantasy playoff weeks 14 and 15 they do face Buffalo and Cleveland. If you need help at RB and think Larry Johnson has worn out his welcome, then Charles or Kolby Smith could be the surprise story during the fantasy playoffs.
AARON RUDNICKI: If Charles does well over the next couple weeks, LJ will remain on the bench or be released. Charles probably isn't a guy you can count on for consistent production playing in that offense, but it looks like he has a decent chance to be the feature back for the rest of the year and that's obviously worth something. Maybe a top-30 RB with a little more upside in PPR leagues.
Week 8 Sleepers
Pick one QB you wouldn't consider an every-week starter, but you'd feel pretty good about putting him in your starting lineup this week.
MARK WIMER: If you are in need of a bye-week filler QB this week with six teams on bye (Cincinnati, Kansas City, New England, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington), I'd suggest taking a look at Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Bills. He and Lee Evans are very simpatico (two TD hookups in the last two weeks) and the Houston pass defense is unimpressive this year (they are near the bottom of the NFL in interceptions and sacks generated). He's got a good shot to impress the home crowd this week.
AARON RUDNICKI: David Garrard is the obvious choice. Many owners drafted him as a bye-week option to pair up with guys like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer. The Titans pass defense was never expected to be this awful, but they are among the worst in the league. Plus, with Mike Sims-Walker emerging and Mike Thomas starting to contribute, the Jaguars now have some pieces in place to take advantage of a poor pass defense.
JASON WOOD: I'm not sure whether David Garrard qualifies, but certainly you have to like his matchup against the woeful Tennessee Titans. If you're talking about a deeper sleeper who might be available on waivers, I wouldn't panic about starting Alex Smith this week. The Colts defense can be had, and Smith has mobility, which can go a long way to making a bye week fill-in relevant at the QB position.
ANDY HICKS: Marc Bulger. The Lions are bottom three in passing yards and TDs allowed, and their defense has been abused by all but Washington. Of course, Bulger could kill your squad with three interceptions, but if you are struggling with a bye and the waiver wire is shallow, Bulger is in a decent position to post good stats.
AARON RUDNICKI: I'd agree on Bulger. Even Jason Campbell threw for 340 yards and 2 TDs against that Lions defense. They've given up 17 passing TDs in just 6 games.
How about a sleeper RB for this week?
MARK WIMER: LeSean McCoy has to be a favorite for a solid game. Brian Westbrook is probably out due to his concussion incurred last week; head coach Andy Reid doesn't want to put him at risk. The Giants have just an average run defense, and they have given up 10 rushing TDs to date. McCoy is likely to shine this week, assuming that Westbrook is held out (and I think he will be).
JASON WOOD: LeSean McCoy is the obvious pick here as Mark eloquently stated, but to be fair he's well owned and most of his owners view him as an every week starter if Westbrook can't go. Looking a bit deeper, I would highlight Justin Fargas, who gets an advantageous matchup against the Chargers.
MARK WIMER: Jason is right: Fargas has surpassed Michael Bush on the depth chart, and with McFadden likely to be out, Fargas is in position to put up solid numbers against the Chargers.
AARON RUDNICKI: I agree on Fargas. Even in a blowout loss to the Jets, he looked impressive and Michael Bush appears to be an afterthought at this point. Chris Wells also looked very good against the Giants and should be able to do some damage against the Panthers this week.
ANDY HICKS: LenDale White has been a victim of the Titans' disappointing season this year, but Jacksonville is capable of imploding and Tennessee could abuse them if they can get on top early. With the Titans at home, fresh, and against a run defense that scares no one, look for White to finally get some carries under his belt and more importantly a touchdown or two.
How about a WR?
MARK WIMER: Indianapolis' Pierre Garcon could be worth a roll of the dice as Anthony Gonzalez is iffy to return to the field this week and Reggie Wayne is day-to-day with his injured groin. The Colts face San Francisco's below-average secondary this week in Lucas Oil Stadium. If neither Gonzalez nor Wayne can go (check our Players in the News for late-week practice status on these two), then Garcon may be in line for a 'boom'-type game.
JASON WOOD: At wide receiver, I like a number of lower-tier guys this week: Donnie Avery at Detroit, Austin Collie against the 49ers, and Lance Moore versus the Falcons.
AARON RUDNICKI: I like Donnie Avery, given the Lions struggles on pass defense. Lance Moore might also be worth a gamble this week because the Falcons corners are just not very good.
ANDY HICKS: I'm going with Keenan Burton. Donnie Avery no longer counts as a sleeper, in my view. Burton, on the other hand, definitely qualifies, and has a good chance of scoring against the woeful Lions. He has gotten at least 5 targets in every game since Laurent Robinson went down and at worst will get a handful of fantasy points.
Coaches on the hot seat?
If we got a pool going regarding which coach will get fired first this season, would anybody not pick Jim Zorn right now? If Zorn does get the axe, would Sherm Lewis would take over?
MARK WIMER: Zorn's a fired coach walking right now; he's just playing out the string. I don't think that Sherm Lewis is the solution. I think he was a desperation move on the part of the front office to try and salvage something out of this year. He's a Band-Aid, not a cure for what ails the Redskins.
JASON WOOD: Cerrato and Snyder look bad enough as it is, I can't see them publicly coming out and saying Zorn is safe and then firing him. He'll be safe until the offseason, when obviously he's going to be replaced. Considering most players didn't even know Sherm Lewis by name until the day he got the play-calling duties, I hardly think he would be given the HC job in any circumstance.
AARON RUDNICKI: Jim Zorn does seem like the most likely candidate to be fired, but I think they give it a few more weeks at least to see how things work out with the playcalling switch.
Apart from Zorn, what other coaches are most likely to be let go before next season?
MARK WIMER: Jeff Fisher looks increasingly vulnerable to me. He's lost that team completely, somehow, and I'm sure the Peyton Manning jersey stunt didn't sit well with Bud Adams. John Fox may go down with Delhomme's sinking fortunes.
I think there's been enough injury carnage in Buffalo to save Dick Jauron, while Jack Del Rio, Wade Phillips and Norv Turner still have time to turn their teams' seasons around. They're somewhat vulnerable, but not in imminent danger right now, in my view.
ANDY HICKS: There is likely to be plenty of head coaching movement at the end of the season, but after only 6 or 7 games it is premature to red light anyone, barring the terminal Zorn. Marvin Lewis looked a lost cause last year at this stage until his solid finish. Look at Cincinnati now. Conversely, coaches who look safe now could perform awfully over the next 9 or 10 games.
Onto the right here and now, I think Zorn will likely be replaced by Sherm Lewis within the next five weeks. Over that span, he faces teams with a combined record of 24-6, including two unbeaten teams. If he makes it past them, he'll make it to the end of the year.
Regarding the other contenders, Dick Jauron gets a reprieve after winning the last two games, and it would be a shock to see him go before the year is out. Raheem Morris will get to see the year out and be evaluated soon thereafter. John Fox will get a pass until the seasons' end due to his previous performance. Wade Phillips has the Cowboys at 4-2. He may go before the year is finished, but I'd bet against it. Norv Turner also probably gets to see the year out before getting sacked. Jack Del Rio is an interesting one who gets a dream schedule with Tennessee and Kansas City next. Two losses there and it could get interesting. Jeff Fisher, however, is the one who has fallen the furthest, going from 13-3 to 0-6. If Jeff Fisher wants to dig his heels in about playing Kerry Collins over Vince Young, he could get his leave pass early, but he has had such a great record with the Oilers/Titans that I doubt he goes midseason. He would, however, be my second or third favorite behind Zorn and possibly Del Rio.
AARON RUDNICKI: Most people are probably surprised that Dick Jauron still has a job, but it likely has to do with money as the team gave him a 3-year, $9 million extension early last season and he's only in the first year of that deal. Ralph Wilson isn't the type who would enjoy paying a guy $7+ million to leave. The two-game winning streak the Bills are on now has likely bought him some extra time, but he has no chance of keeping the job unless the Bills find a way into the postseason. If the team goes on another miserable losing string, I could certainly see them making a move before the season is over to appease the angry fans.
Bonus question calling for wild speculation: Could you see any currently out-of-work coaches taking over midseason.? Or if someone like Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, or Mike Holmgren return to coaching, would it definitely be at the beginning of next season rather than midway through this one?
AARON RUDNICKI: I don't think any of those big name coaches would be interested in taking over midseason. I think they'd rather get a bidding war going for their services. I suppose if a great situation opened up, they'd have to consider it but I'm not sure which of the messy situations right now would be very attractive to any of them.
MARK WIMER: I don't think any good coach will take over a sinking franchise in midstream. As Shanahan noted publicly a few weeks ago, that just doesn't work. Why risk your guru reputation on a sure loser? It's much better to wait for the draft and free agency to remake a roster in the new coach's image (or at least, start to move it in that direction) than be stuck with some loser coach's leftovers.
ANDY HICKS: It is almost unheard of to recruit from outside the organization should someone be replaced midway through the season. If a coach or two lose their jobs before the end of the season, an in-house replacement is almost certain. Cowher, Shanahan, Gruden, and Holmgren will return to coaching, but it would be foolish of them to jump in right now. These guys want some semblance of control, and taking over halfway through would negate a lot of that influence.
JASON WOOD: As you guys know, I write the Coaching Carousel article for the site each year and always play close attention to the coaching vacancies and potential hires. Even though we had massive turnover this past offseason, I expect we'll get quite a bit again this year. While it's normally cyclical (thus this offseason would be relatively quiet), the combination of some really awful teams, an uncertain salary cap and labor situation, and the availability of several high-profile coaching candidates will likely make this a tumultuous offseason.
Bill Cowher is coming back, in my opinion, which puts John Fox and Raheem Morris in trouble. Even if they don't deserve to be fired, I think either would lose their gig if Cowher makes it known he wants into either situation. Mike Shanahan will coach next year, as will Mike Holmgren. And I'm sure Jon Gruden would return to the right situation. There are even some rumblings that Tony Dungy is quietly making it known he isn't done with coaching forever. If all those guys actively want to coach in 2010, very few NFL teams will avoid talking to them.
That will do it for this edition of the Roundtable. Enjoy the games this weekend, and we'll see you back here next week!