Chiefs, Dolphins fire their coaches
Kansas City's Todd Haley and Miami's Tony Sparano on Monday were the latest NFL coaches to be shown the door in the midst of subpar seasons.
In Kansas City, the losses kept mounting, the tension kept growing and ultimately Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli decided the status quo was no longer good enough.
It was time to part ways with Haley.
In Miami, the Dolphins will immediately begin a search for a successor. Todd Bowles, the Dolphins' defensive backs coach, was named the team's interim coach for the final three games.
They are the second and third coaches to get the ax. Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio was fired last month.
Kansas City fired the combustible Haley with the team he led to a surprising AFC West title last season stuck at the bottom of the division following a series of devastating injuries and discouraging blowouts.
The Chiefs dropped to 5-8 after Sunday's 37-10 loss the New York Jets, their fifth loss in six games. Kansas City committed 11 penalties for 128 yards in the dismal performance, including a 15-yarder on Haley for unsportsmanlike conduct that may have sealed his fate.
"Timing in these situations is always difficult. There never seems to be a right time," Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. "We just felt the inconsistent play the team has experienced throughout the season, including yesterday's game, made today the right day to do it."
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will serve as the Chiefs' interim coach for the final three games, and Pioli said he will be considered for the permanent job.
"I don't perceive Todd Haley as a mistake," Pioli said. "Todd Haley is a good football coach. I'll say that. What we need to do is figure out what direction we're headed in and how we're going to continue to make progress, how we can get some consistency back."
Haley took over a team that won six games the previous two seasons under Herm Edwards, and he leaves with a 19-27 record in his first NFL head coaching job. But despite winning the AFC West last season, it's hard to tell if the team improved under his watch.
The quarterback situation was a mess, even when Matt Cassel was healthy, and the offensive line has three players in Ryan Lilja, Barry Richardson and Casey Wiegmann who may not be back next season. Despite a background on offense, Haley only managed to coax the unit into an average of 293.8 yards, which ranked 28th in the league, and 177.4 yards through the air — 30th out of 32 teams.
Hunt and Pioli met late Sunday to discuss Haley's future, and again Monday morning. They met with Haley after coming to their decision and then informed the rest of the coaching staff.
Crennel met with the players shortly afterward.
"Romeo is going to do things the way Romeo knows how to do them," Pioli said while seated alongside Hunt in a crowded interview room. "I know Romeo is very similar to Todd. Todd was very passionate about football, Todd was very passionate about this football team, these players, and he was very passionate about winning. Romeo has a lot of those very qualities."
In Miami, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said speculation about Sparano's job status had become a distraction.
"It's with a lot of regret I feel that it is in the best interest of the Dolphins to replace him at this time," said Ross.
During his Monday morning news conference, Sparano declined to address a Miami Herald report earlier in the day that he would be fired. The decision to dismiss Sparano — who was 29-32 in nearly four years as Dolphins coach — was made and relayed to him in the hours after that news conference.
The priority now is hiring a star coach, regardless of what side of the ball is his specialty.
Though Bill Cowher said Oct. 30 on CBS that he does not plan to coach next season, the Dolphins are not convinced that he's adamant about that and are expected to contact him once the job is open, according to an associate of Ross.
If Cowher declines Miami's overtures, Ross is expected to turn his attention to ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, former Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher and former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick. Gruden won a Super Bowl in Tampa, Billick won one in Baltimore and Fisher lost one with Tennessee.