The sacking of San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary is likely to be followed by more changes of regime in the NFL after Sunday’s final round of the regular season.
Singletary was fired after Sundays’ 25-17 loss to the St Louis Rams meant San Francisco missed the playoffs for an eighth consecutive year and the always expressive coach bowed out with a very public sideline row with one of his players.
The normal protocol is for club owners to wait until the 17th week of the season is over before calling the head coaches in for one final chat, but 49ers president Jed York did not let the festive season put him off starting the changes at a club who badly underperformed this season.
York also said he would hire a new general manager, a role left empty since the departure of Scot McCloughan for personal reasons in March.
Whoever takes on that responsibility will have no shortage of available coaches to choose from and, if the pundits are right, the applicants will include a number of men just about to lose their jobs.
Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins will not be enjoying the unusually chilly Christmas break in South Florida after a 34-27 loss to the Detroit Lions that he described as “embarrassing.”
The result left the Dolphins with a dismal 1-7 home record this season and Sparano’s mood will not have been helped by comments from owner Stephen Ross who, after the game, said he felt “as frustrated as any fan” and would wait for an evaluation before discussing the future of his coach and staff.
John Fox of the Carolina Panthers is widely expected to move on and, despite his team’s disappointing 2-13 campaign, he could well find himself moving straight into another job given his reputation.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’ contract runs out at the end of this season and his future is unclear.
Gary Kubiak got off to a great start with an exciting Houston offense this year but the team and their hopes faded quickly and he is another coach facing the official process of “evaluation” from the team’s ownership.
Jeff Fisher, who has done such a strong job with the Tennessee Titans since taking over in 1994, is heading into the final year of his deal and, after a below-par season which has been soured by conflicts with quarterback Vince Young, he might be tempted -elsewhere or owner Bud Adams might make his move.
Then there are the interim coaches whose futures are uncertain. Jason Garrett has certainly made an impact with the Dallas Cowboys and it would be no surprise if he were given a chance to carry on.
The picture is less clear for Lelie Frazier at the Minnesota Vikings and Eric Studesville at the Denver Broncos.
The end of the season always brings some shocks, though, as owners of teams who fail to make the playoffs search for the fresh face they believe can turn it all around and create some confidence