The quickest path to becoming an NFL head coach is to be a successful offensive or defensive coordinator.

Yet, as many coordinators soon discover, it's much more difficult succeeding as a head coach.

The road is littered with one-time coordinators whose shining star extinguished under the strains of a head-coaching job. It won't be long before the likes of Norv Turner (Chargers), Romeo Crennel (Chiefs) and Chan Gailey (Bills), if not more, join the heap.

Ron Rivera (Panthers), Jason Garrett (Cowboys), Mike Mularkey (Jaguars) and Pat Shurmur (Browns) also are on the hot seat as their seasons go south and their respective owners' patience wanes.

The Raiders' Dennis Allen is in his first season as an NFL head coach. He got here after spending nine seasons as an assistant coach and 2011 as the Broncos defensive coordinator.

He said the transition to being a head coach is a daunting one.

"It's obviously a huge challenge," Allen said. "When you're a position coach, you're just in charge of your little group. When you're a coordinator, you're in charge of your side of the ball -- offense, defense, special teams. When you're the head coach, you're in charge of it all and have your hand in all of it."

Many coaches are adept at specializing at one thing, be it teaching blocking technique, working with receivers or overseeing the defense.


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Being a head coach requires a rare talent to juggle many tasks, oftentimes simultaneously.

Assistant coaches don't have to worry about things such as daily media interviews, the salary cap, personnel moves, making schedules, regular meetings with the owner and general manager and presiding over the entire roster.

"There are a lot more things that you're either responsible for or have your hand in," Allen said. "There is not a whole lot of decisions that go on within the building that the head coach and the general manager aren't involved in."

Turner has turned into the poster boy for the good coordinator/bad head coach contingent.

In 2007, he inherited a San Diego Chargers team that went 14-2 the previous season under Marty Schottenheimer. Many believed that Turner had the most talented team at the time.

It's hard to argue when you consider he had running backs LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Turner and Darren Sproles, tight end Antonio Gates, up-and-coming quarterback Philip Rivers and a defense led by then-dominant linebacker Shawne Merriman and defensive tackle Jamal Williams.

Entering Sunday's game against the Bengals, the Chargers are 4-7 and all but out of the playoff picture once again.

They are 53-38 on Turner's watch, with no playoff appearances since 2009.

Turner has a way of surviving season after season, for whatever reason. Few think he emerges with his job intact this time.

He had seven seasons to rebuild the Redskins and failed to win as many as 10 games all but one season. He left with a 49-59-1 record. The Raiders went 9-23 in his two seasons there.

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    Sayers never was the same explosive back. Peterson is playing at a jaw-dropping level. It's all about medical advances and determination, according to Leon Popovitz, a leading orthopedic surgeon and the co-founder of New York Bone and Joint Specialists.

    "What he's doing is a testament to the advances of medicine and his extraordinary drive," Popovitz said.

  • As Andrew Luck churns along in his rookie season, the victories mount and records fall.

    With a win against the Lions on Sunday, Luck would become the only quarterback drafted No. 1 overall in the Super Bowl era to win more than seven games as a rookie.

    He also is well within striking distance of eclipsing Cam Newton's record for most rookie passing yards.

    Luck enters Sunday's game with 3,205 yards, 846 behind Newton's total from 2011.

  • History says that teams with fewer than four victories right now can forget about making the playoffs.

    Since the league expanded the playoffs to 12 teams in 1990, 15 teams with a losing record through 11 games ended up making the playoffs. All 15 of those teams were 4-7 or 5-6.

    Only two of those 15 made it as far as the conference championship game.

  • Talk about needing a victory in the worst way. The Eagles and Cardinals haven't won a game in almost two months.