Coaches Jim Schwartz of the Lions and Jason Garrett of the Cowboys chat before… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
Gary Kubiak is gone, fired by the Houston Texans on Friday, and he won't be the last of this season's NFL coaches to be asked to hand over his headset.
So who else will be gone after this season?
A look at the candidates who could be kaput:
JIM SCHWARTZ, Detroit: The Lions, who play at Philadelphia on Sunday, have a one-game lead over Chicago in the NFC North. Detroit probably needs to do more than simply win the NFC North to save Schwartz's job. Matthew Stafford has been healthy all season, whereas Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota have used multiple quarterbacks. That's not going to happen too often. Schwartz has got an enormously talented team that has been inconsistent and largely underachieving. He probably needs to win at least one playoff game.
REX RYAN, New York Jets: The Jets beat New England and New Orleans this season, and rookie quarterback Geno Smith looked as if he was making significant strides. He's been lousy lately, though, prompting a few benchings, and Ryan is dangling by a thread. New York has been blown out three weeks in a row. Unless the Jets run the table in their final four — Oakland, Carolina, Cleveland and Miami — Ryan probably will be looking for work.
LESLIE FRAZIER, Minnesota: Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is loyal to Frazier, and pushing him out the door won't be easy. Still, Frazier has presided over a quarterback mess — the Vikings have three, none of which they're thrilled about — and last season's playoff team is a fading memory. The team has made up some ground in the last four weeks — beating Washington and Chicago, and tying Green Bay — but that might not be enough to save Frazier.
MIKE MUNCHAK, Tennessee: Munchak got a prove-it season after a disappointing 6-10 finish last fall, and that looked to be the right move after the team got off to a 3-1 start this season. Then, quarterback Jake Locker got hurt — he's missed almost half his possible starts since getting the job in 2012 — and the Titans lost five of six. Longtime owner Bud Adams died in October, and nobody on the outside knows for sure what Tommy Smith, the head of the new ownership group, plans to do.
DENNIS ALLEN, Oakland: The Raiders have been a revolving door of coaches since they returned to Oakland in 1995, so few would be shocked if Allen were shown the door. General Manager Reggie McKenzie wants to build some stability, so he'll probably fight for his hire. Then again, owner Mark Davis is calling the shots, and wouldn't even let McKenzie keep the team's public relations man last spring. At 4-8, Oakland is guaranteed its 11th consecutive non-winning season. Only Davis truly knows what the Raiders have in mind.
MIKE SHANAHAN, Washington: Tensions are high in the Redskins organization after last season's promising run to the playoffs. Owner Dan Snyder isn't known for his patience, and his team is 3-9. Despite Shanahan's faded Super Bowl credentials, the coach is not on solid ground. Robert Griffin III is less than a year removed from reconstructive knee surgery, and the club might not want to reboot its offense entirely. If Shanahan survives, the Redskins are likely to clean house on the defensive side of the ball.
JASON GARRETT, Dallas: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently made public assurances that Garrett will be the team's coach in 2014. That promise is looking good now that Dallas is 7-5 and tied for first with Philadelphia in the NFC East. But if the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs, Jones might change his mind. The season probably will come down to a home finale against the Eagles. If Dallas were to lose that, few would be surprised if Jones went coach shopping.
MIKE SMITH, Atlanta: The Falcons went from 13-3 and the NFC's No. 1 seed last season to an abysmal 3-9 this season. Yes, they have had significant injuries. However, they also have had Matt Ryan, a top-10 quarterback, throughout the season. Smith is on shaky ground, and will be in an even more tenuous spot if his team looks as if it's shutting it down in the final four weeks. Still, according to an NFL.com report, Falcons owner Arthur Blank has already assured Smith he will be the coach next season.
GREG SCHIANO, Tampa Bay: Schiano looked doomed after his team started 0-8 and was on the verge of mutiny. The Buccaneers were jolted back to life, though, with a three-game winning streak that proved they hadn't given up. That probably saved the coach. The Glazer family, which owns the team, is notoriously cheap and wouldn't want to go through the expense of firing (and paying off) one coach to hire another.
All is not lost
Fifteen times this season teams have overcome deficits of at least 14 points to win. That's tied for the most through 13 weeks since there were 16 such comebacks in 1987.