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THE INSIDE TRACK | COMMENTARY

The Future Is Cloudy for Many NFL Coaches

August 25, 1996|DAVE GOLDBERG | ASSOCIATED PRESS

The coaching careers of Dan Reeves and Bill Parcells run parallel to each other. They started in the early '80s and they may end together after the 1996 season.

It started in 1979, when Reeves was runner-up to Ray Perkins for the New York Giants' coaching job. Two years later, he was hired by Denver.

The same year, 1981, Parcells became New York's defensive coordinator and got the head coaching job in 1983 when Perkins quit to go to Alabama.

Parcells' Giants beat Reeves' Broncos in the Super Bowl following the 1986 season.

After his second Super Bowl victory, Parcells quit in 1991, resurfacing in New England in 1993. That was the year Reeves became the Giants' coach after being let go by Denver after the 1992 season.

Unless the Giants and Patriots do better than expected this year, both Reeves and Parcells could be out of a job in 1997.

They won't be the only ones.

Here's a rundown:

DAN REEVES, New York Giants: After going 11-5 and 9-7 in his first two seasons, the Giants slid to 5-11. Reeves isn't comfortable with the front office, which isn't comfortable with him. The Giants are likely to be bad again, and Reeves stubbornly sticks to his old ways, even when they don't work. They'll eat $1 million for the last year of his contract.

Odds to go: 3-5.

BILL PARCELLS, New England: Built from nothing to 10-6 and playoffs in 1994, then slipped to 6-10 and was stripped of his personnel responsibilities. Not a favorite of owner Robert Kraft, who overrode him to take wide receiver Terry Glenn in first round this year. Has always coached year-to-year, and health is a factor.

Odds: 3-2.

WAYNE FONTES, Detroit: A survivor. Seemed set to go when Lions were 3-6 last season and owner William Clay Ford issued a "playoffs or else" ultimatum. Won seven straight, made playoffs, then lost 58-37 in Philadelphia. Needs to go farther in playoffs.

Odds: 2-1.

JIM MORA, New Orleans: Longest tenure with one team (11th season) and may have outlived his welcome. Only Saints coach with winning seasons and playoff berths, but has never won playoff game. Contract is up after the season.

Odds: 5-2.

MIKE WHITE, Oakland: Started 8-2 in his first year and declared everything was peachy with Al Davis. It wasn't peachy when the Raiders finished 0-6. Joe Bugel is coach-in-waiting there, although the real coach is up in the owner's booth.

Odds: 5-2.

DAVE SHULA, Cincinnati: How many coaches survive with a four-year record of 18-46? The Bengals are getting better, but Bruce Coslet is a potential replacement in place and less than a .500 season may mean the end.

Odds: 3-1.

MARV LEVY, Buffalo: Can stay as long as he likes, but at 71 how long is that? Bills could make fifth Super Bowl trip in seven years, and a win would let Marvelous Marv step down in style.

Odds: 4-1.

GEORGE SEIFERT, San Francisco: Eddie DeBartolo's philosophy is "win or die." After 11-5 season that ended with playoff upset by Packers, DeBartolo brought back Bill Walsh as a "consultant." Has any coach with two Super Bowl wins and a .760 career winning percentage been in such constant jeopardy?

Odds: 5-1.

DAVE WANNSTEDT, Chicago: ... A defensive genius under Jimmy Johnson, the Bears have improved on offense, but eroded on defense, and his four-year record of 26-24 isn't what Chicago fans expected after Mike Ditka.

Odds: 6-1.

DENNIS GREEN, Minnesota: Last year was the first in four seasons that he missed the playoffs, and he's 38-29 as head coach. But he's had off-field problems that have hurt his image, and his team looks mediocre at best.

Odds: 6-1.

JUNE JONES, Atlanta: Anonymous coach on an anonymous team. The last proponent of the run-and-shoot is a good guy with 16-16 career record that accurately reflects Falcons' treadmill. Safe if he makes playoffs again, but the owners need fans in the Georgia Dome and they're not getting them.

Odds: 6-1.

RICH KOTITE, New York Jets: He's 3-20 in last 23 games -- seven straight losses in final season in Philadelphia and 3-13 with Jets last year. With Jets the NFL's biggest off-season spenders, he can probably stay if he doubles win total.

Odds: 8-1.

BARRY SWITZER, Dallas: Even after winning the Super Bowl, there are still memories of "Bozo The Coach" of last year. But any collapse is likely to be blamed on outside influences, free agency and aging. He lets Jerry Jones have his say, which is what Jerry loves.

Odds: 10-1.

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