Kansas City’s Todd Haley and Miami’s Tony Sparano had something in common as NFL coaches. They both enjoyed early success, briefly putting their teams on an upward trajectory, before those clubs leveled off and began to decline again.
Haley and Sparano now have something else in common.
Both were fired Monday, three weeks before the end of the regular season.
They were the second and third firings this season, coming on the heels of Jacksonville dismissing Jack Del Rio two weeks ago.
“Timing in this situation is always difficult,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said at a news conference. “There never seems to be a right time. We just felt the inconsistent play the team had experienced, really throughout the season, made today the right day to do it.”
The Chiefs had a 10-6 record last season, won the AFC West and made the playoffs for the first time since 2003, a dramatic turnaround from Haley’s 4-12 record in his first season.
Sparano made an even bigger splash at the start of his career with the Dolphins. He took over a 1-15 team and led it to an 11-5 finish and a postseason berth. No coach had ever led a one-win team to the playoffs the next season.
The Dolphins were 7-9 in each of the next two seasons, however, twice finishing third in the AFC East. This season’s team lost its first seven games before blowing out the Chiefs, 31-3.
Miami went on to win three of its next four games — its only loss coming by a point to Dallas on Thanksgiving — and suddenly was among the league’s hottest teams. But Sunday’s 26-10 home loss to Philadelphia was evidently the last straw.
The Dolphins have promoted assistant head coach Todd Bowles to be interim coach for the remainder of the season.
The Chiefs will hand the reins to defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, who coached the Cleveland Browns from 2005-08
Colt McCoy is still recovering from his concussion, and the way the Cleveland Browns dealt with their quarterback’s head injury remains fuzzy, vague and confusing.
On Monday, coach Pat Shurmur maintained that the team’s medical staff followed NFL guidelines before McCoy was cleared to go back into Thursday night’s game at Pittsburgh after he suffered a concussion following a nasty hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
The NFL is considering suspending Harrison, the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, one or two games for the hit, ESPN reported.
LEONARD LYLES DIES
Former NFL defensive back and reliable return man Leonard Lyles, who helped break football’s color barrier as one of the early black players, has died. He was 74.
The San Francisco 49ers said Monday that Lyles died Nov. 20 at Louisville Jewish Hospital. No other details were provided.
Lyles was selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1958 draft out of Louisville and spent 10 of his 12 seasons with the Colts, interrupted by a two-year stint with the 49ers in 1959 and ‘60.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy says wide receiver Greg Jennings will miss two to three weeks with a knee sprain but is expected back for the playoffs. … Jets coach Rex Ryan says safety Jim Leonhard will miss the rest of the season with a torn patella tendon in his right knee after being injured in Sunday’s victory over the Chiefs. … Tennessee coach Mike Munchak says Matt Hasselbeck is sore but walking around despite a left calf injury. Whether the veteran quarterback is strong enough to start against winless Indianapolis remains to be seen. … Bills defensive lineman Torell Troup will have back surgery this week to repair what he called “a minor fracture” in his spine.