Level Two: Outpost 31
Two kinds of horror stories are better than the rest.
The first is when the bad guy, or villain, or creature of the night stays in the shadows as long as possible to amplify its invincibility and the audience’s dread. The second is when there’s an inexplicable background to something–either a character, location, or event, or some combination of the three–that really never gets explained, adding to the overall mystery, or aura, of the story.
John Carpenter’s The Thing fits into both categories. It’s the story of an alien life form that arrived on earth a long time ago and finally woke up only to be chased to Outpost 31, an American base in Antarctica. The thing about the Thing in The Thing is it just wants to survive.
Does it succeed? Maybe. The ending, perhaps inadvertently, leaves the story open, even leaving the audience to wonder if one of the two human survivors is actually the thing once again in disguise.
So who’s coaching seat is lodged into a chunk of ice in the far north?
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton’s already survived two stints of when he could very well have been fired. If he wasn’t fired after BountyGate or after three consecutive seasons of finishing 7-9, what makes you think he’ll get canned anytime soon?
He brought New Orleans the Super Bowl in his fourth season at the helm, and he’s taken the team to the playoffs each of the past three seasons, finishing no worse than 11-5. Sure, the Saints have come up short in the playoffs each of those three seasons, but Payton’s job status seems as solid as anyone’s.
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
For a while there, between 2015-2017, it didn’t look like Harbaugh was long for Baltimore. Several years after capturing the Super Bowl, his Ravens fell to 5-11 and then failed to make the playoffs the next two seasons.
But then Lamar Jackson took over for the injured (and soon exiled) Joe Flacco, and the tides have turned. With Harbaugh calling the shots and Jackson the team’s explosive leader, the Ravens are the Chiefs’ biggest threat in the AFC. That’s good enough for some very solid job security.
Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Putting Bruce Arians in this section is more about the upcoming two seasons than anything else down the road. Arians coached the Cardinals for five years before retiring, but then he came out of retirement before the 2019 season to coach the Bucs.
Now he’s got Tom Brady as his new starting quarterback. The duo should be considered to be connected at the hip. When Brady’s done in Tampa, look for Arians, currently 67, to hang ’em up, too. But he won’t be fired.
Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders
A few things about Gruden in his second stint with the Raiders:
- The team hasn’t been good, going 11-21.
- He seems to be making the personnel calls just as much as Mike Mayock, the team’s GM.
- He’s just now entering year three of a 10-year, $100 million contract.
Really, it’s all about that last one, the length and amount of money left on his deal. No owner would be willing to bite that bullet after just two years, but Mark Davis especially won’t, not with trying to win over a new city at the same time. Gruden’s safe.