Todd Haley and Tony Sparano were dismissed by the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins despite having had success in the recent past.
An NFL coach's short life span
Both were dismissed on Monday, the latest examples of the fleeting nature of success in the NFL.
The Chiefs got rid of Haley less than one year removed from their AFC West championship, after a 5-8 start marked by devastating injuries and discouraging blowouts.
The Dolphins parted company with Sparano after a 4-9 start that included a frustrating loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.
"The results speak for themselves," Stephen Ross, the owner of the Dolphins, said. "We're looking to becoming a winning organisation, 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."
The same lines were delivered in Kansas City, where friction between Haley and Scott Pioli, the general manager, finally reached boiling point. The Chiefs were penalised 11 times for 128 yards in a 37-10 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, with Haley getting a 15-yarder for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"Timing in these situations is always difficult. There never seems to be a right time," Clark Hunt, the chairman and chief executive of the Chiefs, said. "We just felt the inconsistent play the team has experienced throughout the season … made today the right day to do it."
With Jacksonville having dismissed Jack Del Rio on November 29, three teams are now looking for a coach. Former coaches Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher already have been connected to each of the openings, although decisions probably will not be made until the end of the season.
Until then, Todd Bowles will coach the Dolphins on an interim basis after serving as assistant head coach and secondary coach, while Romeo Crennel, the defensive coordinator, will lead the Chiefs.
Sparano and Haley both presided over impressive turnarounds.
Sparano became the only NFL coach to take a one-win team to the play-offs the following year, capping an 11-5 campaign in 2008 by reaching the franchise's first play-off game since 2001.
That wound up being the high-water mark for Sparano, who went 7-9 each of the past two years. The Dolphins lost their first seven games, and losses in the last two left Sparano with a 29-32 record as the Miami coach.
Shortly before he was dismissed, Sparano held his regular news conference on Monday. When asked if he wanted to comment on reports his contract would be terminated after the season, he said no.
"I want to coach against the Buffalo Bills this week. That's my sole focus," he said.
"Everybody recognises there's a great foundation here to build upon," Ross said. "It's not starting all over again. This isn't the way the team was when [Bill] Parcells came and they had to rebuild the entire roster."