- The Washington Times - Monday, December 29, 2003


Dave McGinnis, Gregg Williams and Dick Jauron learned yesterday just how precarious NFL head coaching positions are.

All three were fired on the day after disappointing seasons ended with losing records. McGinnis was released by the Arizona Cardinals after going 4-12. The Buffalo Bills let go of Williams after a 6-10 record, while the Chicago Bears dismissed Jauron, who was 7-9 this season.

Left dangling was Oakland’s Bill Callahan, less than one year after he led the Raiders to the Super Bowl. And Washington’s Steve Spurrier had not yet committed to returning to the Redskins, even though owner Daniel Snyder said he expects the Ball Coach to be back.

The three firings yesterday meant five head coaches are out of work: Dan Reeves was fired by Atlanta and Jim Fassel by the New York Giants during the season.

McGinnis, 16-32 in three full seasons in Arizona, went from the thrill of a last-second victory over Minnesota, preventing the Vikings from making the playoffs, to the anguish of being unemployed hours later. His entire staff was released, too.

“Dave McGinnis is an exemplary man, making today’s action all the more difficult,” owner Bill Bidwill said in a statement released by the team. “But we need to change. Our slide to 4-12 this season and the noncompetitive nature of many of the losses was not acceptable.”

The Cardinals were 0-8 on the road, which didn’t help McGinnis, who was extremely popular with his players.

“He’s the best coach and one of the best people I’ve ever been around,” offensive tackle L.J. Shelton said.

Williams’ Bills fell from an encouraging 8-8 last season to 6-10 this year and their offense often was inept. He was 17-31 in three seasons and finished his stint in Buffalo with a 31-0 loss at New England.

Bills president Tom Donahoe hired Williams to replace Wade Phillips as his first major move in Buffalo. But Williams never turned the Bills into winners.

“We have regressed, and I didn’t have confidence we could turn that around,” Donahoe said.

“We weren’t able to do as well as I thought this year, but Tom has put the team in the right position,” Williams said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to take it to the next level.”

Jauron took the Bears to the next level in 2001, when they were 13-3 and won the NFC Central. But that was Chicago’s only winning record with Jauron, and the Bears lost in the first round of the playoffs to Philadelphia.

Otherwise, Jauron was 22-43, including the playoff defeat.

“Simply put, expectations weren’t met,” general manager Jerry Angelo said. “Looking at Dick’s overall career record, I just didn’t feel that the hope we need to move on to the next level was there.”

Angelo, who was hired after Jauron was in place as coach, and CEO Ted Phillips had their contracts extended through the 2008 season.

Among the oft-mentioned candidates for the many openings are offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel of New England; defensive coordinator Lovie Smith of St. Louis; offensive coordinator Brad Childress of Philadelphia; and former NFL head coaches Tom Coughlin and Dennis Green.

The NFL has in place guidelines for teams to interview minority coaches, and the Giants plan to speak with Crennel and Smith, who are black. They already interviewed Coughlin, a former assistant in New York who was fired after the 2002 season as coach of the Jaguars.

Atlanta also will interview Crennel and Smith, as well as San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora, son of the former Colts and Saints coach.

Arizona could be interested in Fassel, who was its offensive coordinator in 1996 before joining the Giants.

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