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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Santa's Sackings
January 1, 2009

PREVIOUS SIDELINE NEXT SIDELINE

It seems what a lot of NFL owners want for the new year is a new direction. Players on some teams had barely toweled themselves dry from the post–game shower before their coaches had been sacked, with three — Eric Mangini (Jets), Rod Marinelli (Lions) and Romeo Crennel (Browns) — vacating their jobs within hours of the final gun.

With Mike Shanahan's head rolling within 48 hours, Jim Mora succeeding Mike Holmgren in Seattle, interim coaches already finishing out the season for the Raiders, Rams and 49ers, and Herman Edwards' future not assured in Kansas City, 2009 looks like being a big year of coaching changes. Which is hardly surprising when 2008's new coaches went 11–5, 11–5, 11–5, and 8–8 — two of those with rookie quarterbacks.

Change, it seems, is not to be feared.

Here, then, are some closing thoughts on all of the 'sackable' coaches — those who didn't make the playoffs, both those that went and those that didn't:

Eric Mangini (Jets): GONE
The coach formerly known as Manginius was given Brett Favre to play with, and as Favre faded, so did the team's playoff hopes, from knocking off the no.1 team in the league to getting knocked out by the QB they junked, all in a span of six weeks. Considering Mangini's Jets won FIVE more games in 2008 than 2007, the sacking seems like a knee–jerk reaction to the embarrassment of losing to Chad Pennington in the finale.

Dick Jauron (Bills): STAYS
It's hard to see why Mangini goes, yet Jauron stays. In 2001, Jauron guided the Chicago Bears to a 13–3 season. None of his other eight seasons as a head coach or interim head coach resulted in a winning record, and in Buffalo he has managed a 7–9 record each of his three years. This is not progress.

Bill Belichick (Patriots): STAYS as long as he wants
Obviously Bill's going nowhere. Shame the same is true of the Pats this postseason, despite their 11–5 record.

Marvin Lewis (Bengals): STAYS
They went 0–8, then went 4–3–1, pushing the Browns below them in the division. And the team that never admits it's in a mess can blunder on with the same distractions, the same off–field interruptions, the same coach, the same haphazard approach to personnel decisions. Marvin Lewis could easily see out the final two years of his contract with Carson Palmer back next season.

Romeo Crennel (Browns): GONE
The Browns stopped playing football a long time ago, scoring no offensive touchdowns through their final six games, and winning just one of their last nine. General manager Phil Savage was also axed after a massively disappointing season. Owner Randy Lerner probably thought he was in with a chance of landing Bill Cowher as his next head coach, but that looks unlikely. Whoever coaches the team next will have some interesting offensive toys, if he can get them to work.

Gary Kubiak (Texans): STAYS
The Texans won five of their last six, including a win over Tennessee, and Kubiak stays for another year. The third best offense in the NFL still couldn't secure the first winning season in the history of the franchise, and the defensive coaching staff is already being overhauled. Patience with Kubiak is warranted: he is still a comparatively inexperienced coach and 8–8 remains the high–water mark for the Texans.

Jack Del Rio (Jaguars): STAYS
With an apparent rift between Del Rio and LB Mike Peterson this season, Del Rio's reputation as a players' coach took a knock. Whether such things were cause or effect in relation to their 5–11 record is open to debate, but such rifts rarely end well. If Del Rio didn't cost so much to sack, the Jaguars might have looked elsewhere for 2009. As it is, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is expected to leave, and Del Rio will have to bounce back in 2010 after falling to a .500 record with the Jags.

Mike Shanahan (Broncos): GONE
Everybody is saying how Shanahan didn't win a Super Bowl after John Elway retired. But it's equally true that John Elway didn't win a Super Bowl until Shanahan was made head coach. Shanahan was 146–91 with Denver, and only had two losing seasons from fourteen. But Shanahan the coach wasn't fired so much as Shanahan the GM was; the Broncos' personnel moves have been questionable these last few years, and it was probably Shanahan's unwillingness to give up that control that sees Denver's head coach job open for the first time since 1994. If Shanahan isn't a coach in 2009, he'll be back somewhere in 2010.

Tom Cable (Raiders): INTERIM
Despite the fact that other names are already swirling, Cable had his moments as a fill–in, including away wins over Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden. If that isn't enough to endear him to Al Davis, nothing will be. We may not have seen the last of Cable if none of the big names want to work for Al.

Herman Edwards (Chiefs): PENDING
There's been no confirmation yet that Herm's headed out. KC will be finding a successor to GM Carl Peterson first — New England's Scott Pioli is in the frame — before deciding what to do with Edwards, who went 4–12 last year and 2–14 this year. However, to my mind, when they sent Jared Allen away and made 12 selections in the draft (including zero QBs), they'd already committed to a rebuilding project for 2008. What was Edwards to do?

Wade Phillips (Cowboys): STAYS for now
Wade comes across as soft, and the big egos on the team hijacked the season. I can't help but wonder whether Phillips would have been confirmed for another season had his successor in Denver, Mike Shanahan, been on the market 24 hours earlier.

Jim Zorn (Washington): STAYS
Washington slipped out of sight when the season got cut–throat, losing six of their last eight, and Zorn started to seem a little like an interim coach. However, in amongst the detail, Jason Campbell's QB rating, pass yards, rush yards and TDs were all career marks. If nothing else, Zorn completed the task of turning Campbell into a legit starting QB. Still, next year, Zorn will have to show he's head coach material and not just a position coach promoted a step too far.

Lovie Smith (Bears): STAYS
An 'almost' year, their 9–7 record was a win shy of the playoffs. The defensive staff will pay the price this offseason, but entering the third year of his four–year contract, the pressure will be on Lovie alone to make the playoffs.

Mike McCarthy (Packers): STAYS
The Packers' 6–10 record was nothing to do with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay navigated those rapids just fine, only to beach themselves on the sands of their defense. Only one year removed from the NFC Championship game, McCarthy isn't in danger for now...

Rod Marinelli (Lions): GONE
...and in any case, there's always somebody worse off in the NFC North. What do you need me to say about the 0–16 manifestation of everything Matt Millen has been working towards these past few years? Worst. Team. Ever. (Probably). Marinelli should be commended for turning up for work every day, even if he couldn't motivate the team to do the same.

Jon Gruden (Buccaneers): STAYS
The Lions were awful throughout, the Broncos let the Chargers in the back door, and the Cowboys were slapped silly by the Eagles to finish the season. And yet, the Buccaneers choked worst, losing four straight in December to miss the playoffs. It might be time for the overly–patient Glazers to start warming Gruden's seat.

Sean Payton (Saints): STAYS
To have the no.1 offense in the league is a good thing, to have the no.1 offense and miss the playoffs, less so. Yet the ride to 8–8 was entertaining, and only two of the losses were by more than a touchdown. Last–place teams have never looked so good.

Mike Singletary (49ers): PROMOTED
The 'interim' tag has been removed and Singletary will stay on in San Francisco, after earning wins (a 5–4 record) and some headlines. From the outset, it was clear that things weren't going to be dull with Mike Singletary in charge, but it quickly became clear that the 49ers are going to be competitive again now. Singletary's appointment will be solid gold for San Francisco.

Jim Haslett (Rams): INTERIM
While Singletary lost the 'interim' part of 'interim coach', Haslett probably lost the other part, leading the Rams to 10 straight losses to finish the season, scoring more than 20 points only once during that span. It was an effort every bit as futile as what Rod Marinelli was accomplishing in Detroit. It's hard to imagine Haslett being a serious contender for the full–time position.

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