Coughlin, Del Rio hanging by a thread

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

It's the NFL's version of playing hangman.

At least a half dozen head coaches have their futures dangling by a thread; just one more stroke of the pen in the loss column from getting the push.

Like Tom Coughlin and Jack Del Rio.

Even former players are dissing Coughlin now while Del Rio's fate may be in the hands of David Garrard and Trent Edwards -- and that's not a comforting place to be if they handle it anything like they've been protecting the football.

First we take you to the theatre of the bizarre, also known as New York City where Tiki Barber gets inducted into the New York Giants ring of honour this weekend.

But the only ring Coughlin might like to see him in is one that fits nice and snug around Tiki's neck. Anything to make his former running back shut up.

Coughlin is being buffeted from all sides for the Giants 0-3 start and Barber -- who hasn't ever been shy of being critical of his former team-mates -- is being called for a piling on penalty after joining the chorus line of critics.

"I don't know if he's completely lost control of the team, but it's definitely slipping away," Barber said. "Right now, Tom Coughlin is at a crisis. His job is certainly in jeopardy."

Most people acknowledge Coughlin is walking a fraying tightrope. What has people wondering is Barber's timing. Not to mention when the ESPN NewYork.com host told Tiki maybe he should come out of retirement because the Giants don't have a running game, he replied:

"I can't tell you how many people have told me that."

It's a little like being asked back for supper by an old roommate; then telling the host to get lost -- and, by the way nobody stunk up the house like this when I was around.

Whether Del Rio survives the season depends on whether the Jaguars can turn things around, quickly. Outscored by a total of 50 points in two weeks, things get no easier with the Colts in Jacksonville this weekend.

Even if he survives the season, he is at a crossroads. He staked the franchise's future on Garrard in 2007 when he cut Bryon Leftwich. They won 11 games and beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs but there have been two losing seasons since and this year Garrard has been so bad that Del Rio had to bring in Edwards, who couldn't get the job done in two tries in Buffalo.

League sources tell ESPN that losses in the next two games could see offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter or QBs coach Mike Shula take over.

In San Francisco, Mike Singletary is on the hot seat, although given the head coach's volatile nature, management might not be able to fire him until a SWAT team becomes available to deliver the message.

The Browns are 0-3 and bye week could have a whole other meaning for coach Eric Mangini. Already winless in three Cleveland pays the Bengals, Falcons, Steelers, and Saints before their bye. That gives the Browns every chance to be 0-7 with the Patriots and Jets waiting in consecutive weeks after the bye. Mangini might be the only head coach who, in comparison, makes Tom Cable's job in Oakland look secure and cushy.

QUICK HITS

Jets coach Rex Ryan has confirmed that New York placed a claim on Edwards after the former starter was released by the Bills. Edwards was awarded to Jacksonville because the Jaguars have a worse record ... Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been wearing a knee brace in practice but coach Sean Payton says he's not injured and just "has soreness," after he took a hit from Falcons' defensive end John Abraham ... Darrelle Revis' strained hamstring will prevent him from playing against the Bills on Sunday ... Bengals' Mike Nugent went 8-for-8 on field goals, and was named the AFC special teams player of the month. Nugent's longest field goal was 54 yards. No other NFL kicker who has tried more than five field goals this season has made them all ... Giants receiver Mario Manningham missed practice with a concussion ... Cleveland's Jake Delhomme is expected to be able to return Sunday. Not that it matters. Seneca Wallace has played just as well, maybe better ... Maurice Morris is expected to start if Lions' Jahvid Best (turf toe) is sidelined Sunday. Best said yesterday he expects to play. Morris was the starter three times in 2009, averaging 17 carries for 76 yards and 4.6 receptions per game ... Bills defensive end Marcus Stroud has a sore ankle and may not play against the Jets ... Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller was named AFC special teams player of the week after scoring on a 95-yard kickoff return. Saints return man Courtney Roby won the NFC award.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


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