Last chance? NFL players, coaches on hot seat in 2013


New York Jets coach Rex Ryan doesn't "give a (bleep) about last year," and he doesn't accept the notion he's a lame-duck leader in Gotham.

Others around the NFL aren't so sure.

One accomplished NFC general manager told's Adam Schein: "Rex is a confident guy with a big ego. When he got to the Jets, the personnel was pretty good. For some reason, their talent level has fallen off, and it will most likely get him fired. How involved was he in picking the players? Plus, he attached himself to (Mark) Sanchez."

Said the source: "I don't think (Ryan) gets another (head-coaching gig). I think he ends up as a defensive coordinator."

The NFL is a fluid operation. Fortunes rise and fall. Ryan still has a chance to secure his future in Florham Park, but will he?

Here's a look at seven players and coaches on their last chance in 2013:

Rex Ryan

It's trendy to predict doom for Rex, but his talent is genuine. Ryan remains one of the most creative defensive minds in football. Before general manager John Idzik arrived, the problem in New York was a roster-building philosophy -- partly driven by Ryan -- that burned away talent and left the Jets with the worst offensive lineup in the NFL.

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Schein's front-office friend is correct that failure will be pinned on Ryan unless the Jets surprise. I predicted Ryan's demise in 2012. I was one year early.

2014 prediction: Defensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys

Josh Freeman

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano is tired of the inquiries. Yes, Freeman will open the season as the team's starting quarterback. But will he finish it? Rookie Mike Glennon is a strong-armed, daring passer drafted by this regime, not the last one. Freeman has shown flashes of brilliance, but he's too inconsistent. The Bucs have surrounded their fifth-year arm with plenty of talent, and Freeman needs to make it count.

2014 prediction: Stays put

Philip Rivers

Rivers is one of the NFL's toughest passers, but he enters a prove-it season on a San Diego Chargers team in transition. The positive is new coach Mike McCoy, who brings the skills to milk success out of Rivers. The negative is new coach Mike McCoy, who might wilt at paying $13.8 million in 2014 and $15.75 million in '15 for a quarterback trending downward.

2014 prediction: Cleveland Browns Week 1 starter

Troy Polamalu

The Pittsburgh Steelers must take a long look at their once-dominant safety. Polamalu's achievements speak for themselves, but he's injury-prone and expensive. Troy missed nine games with a calf injury in 2013. He's a shoe-in Hall of Fame defender, but how do you pay $8.25 million in 2014 for a guy who can't stay on the field? In Troy's favor, Pittsburgh has shown fierce loyalty to its aging stars.

2014 prediction: Stays put.

Jason Garrett

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Like Ryan, Garrett makes his own bed. The Dallas Cowboys coach has loyally abided by Jerry Jones, the team's owner and untrained general manager, who's responsible for a string of shoddy drafts and questionable decisions. Still, Garrett soldiers on. A strong-minded leader looking to run the show doesn't fit in Big D. That could save Garrett, unless Dallas crumbles hard in 2013.

2014 prediction: Stays put.

Tony Gonzalez

I won't buy the Gonzalez retirement parables until he's mowing lawns with Brett Favre in the wilderness of the South.

2014 prediction: Quality time with the Ol' Gunslinger.

Jay Cutler

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Cutler won't win a contract extension from the Chicago Bears before the end of the season, but I don't see him going anywhere. Coach Marc Trestman is wise to take a wait-and-see approach with the quarterback he adopted, but Cutler has all the tools to thrive in Chicago's new pass-heavy system. I believe he will.

2014 prediction: Stays put.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.