Sitting with identical 4-7 records, odds are the winner of Sunday’s game at the Meadowlands between the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals still won’t be headed for a late-season playoff run.
The news, however, might be gloomier for the losing team.
Since coming to the Valley in 2007, Ken Whisenhunt has led the Cardinals to four seasons with a .500 record or better, two NFC West Division titles and a Super Bowl Appearance back in February 2009.
However, Arizona is on the verge of missing the postseason for the third consecutive year, and has already found itself on the wrong side of history in 2012 by becoming the first NFL team to start a season 4-0 only to go on a subsequent seven-game losing streak.
For the Jets, the on-field performance has been only part of the problem for Rex Ryan. Ryan took New York to consecutive AFC Championship games during his first two years in the Big Apple, but has since watched his team go a combined 12-15 over the past two seasons.
In addition to his team’s recent mediocre record, Ryan has had to deal with several locker room incidents over the past few seasons, including a New York Daily News’ article earlier this year which quoted unnamed players bashing backup quarterback Tim Tebow.
Needless to say a loss Sunday inevitably makes the hot seat that much hotter for Whisenhunt or Ryan.
While ESPN NFL insider John Clayton told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Thursday that he hopes both will be back in 2013 with their respective teams based on prior merit, he’s not so sure wishful thinking will make it so for Sunday’s losing coach.
“I know that both coaches could put themselves in a position where they wouldn’t be there next season,” Clayton said. “I know Rex’s position is that he’s telling his coaches that basically ‘we better pick it up or we aren’t going to be here.'”
Although Clayton suggested that New York may lean towards making changes in the management department rather than at the head coach position, the same may not be true in Arizona.
“You look at Ken Whisenhunt and you know how good of a coach he is,” said Clayton. “He’s a fantastic coach, but somebody might have to take the fall for this season. And if somebody does it’ll probably end up being him. Which would be a shame.”