Wed, Dec 31, 2008 - Page 19 News List

NFL: Heads roll in NFL following end of regular season

AFP , NEW YORK

Former Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli stands on the sidelines during a game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Rod Marinelli was fired on Monday as coach of the Detroit Lions after the worst season in American football history while Cleveland and New York Jets also dumped coaches after missing the playoffs.

Marinelli’s ouster came a day after the Lions completed the first winless season in National Football League history with a 31-21 loss at Green Bay, finishing 0-16.

“You can’t go 0-16 and expect to keep your job,” he said. “You’re ashamed. I held myself responsible, nobody else.”

He was joined by Romeo Crennel, who guided Cleveland to a 4-12 season, and Eric Mangini, whose Jets went 9-7 but faded late in the season and missed the playoffs.

The Lions, losers in 23 of their past 24 games over two seasons, went 10-38 in three seasons under Marinelli, who said it took two years to establish good meeting and practice routines.

“You’ve got to get these guys to play to a high standard,” Marinelli said. “They don’t fire players. They fire coaches.”

Lions owner William Clay Ford also fired executive Dave Boller and four assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Joe Barry, Marinelli’s son-in-law.

Matt Millen, the team’s former president and general manager, had been fired earlier in the season.

Ford promoted Tom Lewand to president of the Lions and Martin Mayhew to general manager, tasking them with rebuilding the first winless club since Tampa Bay went 0-14 in 1976, two years before the schedule went to 16 games.

The Lions will have the first selection of new talent in April’s NFL Draft and have three extra draft picks from a prior deal with Dallas.

The Jets dropped four of their last five games to miss the playoffs, including a 24-17 loss to Miami on Sunday. The skid prompted owner Woody Johnson to end Mangini’s three-year run as coach.

The Browns fired Crennel and general manager Phil Savage one day after being blanked 31-0 by Pittsburgh, losing their last six games in a row without their offensive unit producing a touchdown over that NFL-record span of 24 quarters.

Cleveland won 10 games last year and Crennel, who went 24-40 in four seasons with the Browns, signed a two-year contract extension after the end of last season.

New England coach Bill Belichick, whose Patriots went 11-5 but still failed to reach the playoffs after losing the Super Bowl last February, saw two of his former defensive coordinators, Mangini and Crennel, fired.

“It’s a tough day I think for all coaches when those things happen because we have all been a part of those in one way or another and you don’t like to see that happen to anybody, but you know it’s going to happen,” Belichick said.

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