The first Monday after the NFL regular season is commonly referred to as Black Monday, a reference to the often long list of head coach firings.
Well, Black Monday came a little earlier this year, as two more head coaches bit the dust. The Chiefs fired Todd Haley the day after his team fell to 5-8 after a 37-10 drubbing against the Jets. Later in the day, the Dolphins fired Tony Sparano after his team fell to 4-9 following a 26-10 home loss to the Eagles.
Jack Del Rio was already fired two weeks ago as the Jacksonville head coach.
And the list of firings figures to swell considerably in the coming weeks. Also on the hot seat: Norv Turner in San Diego, Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis, Steve Spagnuolo in St. Louis, and Raheem Morris in Tampa Bay. Andy Reid of the Eagles and Tom Coughlin of the Giants have also been mentioned as potential casualties, although there have been indications in recent days that Reid is safe in Philly and Coughlin's win over the Cowboys last night takes the heat off for now.
The Chiefs were 19-27 under Haley, who was hired in 2009. His team won the AFC West last year with a 10-6 record, their first divisional title since 2003. But the Chiefs lost five games by 27 or more points this year.
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, the former Browns head coach, has taken over on an interim basis and will be considered for the permanent head coaching job in Kansas City.
“This was a difficult decision but one that we feel is best for the future of the Chiefs,” chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement. “Although there have been bright spots at different points this season, we have not made meaningful progress and we felt that it was necessary to make a change. We appreciate Todd’s contributions during his time with the club, and we wish him well in the future.”
Said GM Scott Pioli: “Todd helped this team in many valuable ways over the past three seasons, and I am thankful for his contributions. Unfortunately, we have not been able to establish the kind of consistency we need to continue to build a strong foundation for the future and we believe a change is important at this time.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced Sparano's firing at a hastily arranged news conference. He was joined by general manager Jeff Ireland. Assistant head coach Todd Bowles, a former NFL defensive back, will take over on an interim basis.
Ross said he wanted to find "a young Don Shula" as his next head coach, but the Dolphins may have interest in one of the three experienced head coaches who may be on the market: former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, former Steelers head coach BIll Cowher and former Titans coach Jeff Fisher.
The Dolphins are assured of their third consecutive losing season, their longest losing streak since the 1960s. They have missed the playoffs for nine of the last 10 seasons.
"The results speak for themselves," Ross said. "We're looking to becoming a winning organization, and I thought this was the best time to make the change and let us go in a direction that will allow us to become that."
Dwindling attendance may be a driving force in prompting the Dolphins to go after a big-name coach.
"Certainly when you're winning, it's a lot easier to sell tickets," Ross said. "If you win, everything takes care of itself, and that's what we're really trying to bring back."
Sparano was hired in 2008 by former director of football operations Bill Parcells. He won the AFC East with an 11-5 record in his first season, and leaves with a career record of 29-32. Ross attempted to hire former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh after last season, but Harbaugh was hired by the 49ers. Ross then gave Sparano a contract extension.