- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From combined dispatches

Mike Shanahan became the latest and most stunning victim of the NFL coaching purge when he was fired Tuesday by the Denver Broncos after a late-season collapse knocked the team out of the playoffs for the third straight year.

Shanahan joined Eric Mangini, Rod Marinelli and Romeo Crennel on the unemployment line after going 24-24 over the last three seasons, including three straight losses in 2008 that turned a three-game division lead to an 8-8 record.

Despite that, and the 52-21 loss to the Chargers that ended Denver’s season Sunday, this was a shocker: the ouster of a 14-year coaching veteran who won two Super Bowl titles for Denver and was considered my many in this town to be a lifer.

“After giving this careful consideration, I have concluded that a change in our football operations is in the best interests of the Denver Broncos,” owner Pat Bowlen said.

Shanahan’s record was 146-89, but the Broncos remained stuck at only one postseason victory since John Elway retired in 1999 after Denver’s second championship.

This season was especially ugly. It included a historic collapse that saw Denver become the first team since divisional play started in 1967 to blow a three-game lead with three games left.

BROWNS: Cleveland interviewed fired New York Jets coach Eric Mangini, a person with knowledge of the meeting told the Associated Press.

Mangini, dismissed Monday by the Jets after they collapsed down the stretch and missed the playoffs, will meet with Browns owner Randy Lerner in the New York area, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Lerner has set up an interview for Wednesday with Scott Pioli, New England’s vice president of player personnel, the person said.

Lerner also received permission to interview Atlanta president Rich McKay. Falcons owner Arthur Blank granted the request as his team prepares for a wild-card game Saturday.

JETS: New York will talk to Bill Cowher about its vacant coaching job, a person familiar with the search told the Associated Press.

While no formal discussions have been scheduled yet, the team plans to speak soon with the former Super Bowl-winning coach, according to the person who requested anonymity because the individual was not authorized to discuss the search.

The Jets will also meet with New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on Saturday, according to another person familiar with the coaching search. New York is also expected to interview a pair of in-house candidates: offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Bill Callahan.

Also, quarterback Brett Favre reportedly has a torn biceps tendon in his right arm that will not need major surgery to repair, ESPN said.

The 39-year-old Favre routinely underthrew receivers and appeared to lose some velocity on his throws late in the season as the Jets went 1-4 down the stretch and failed to make the playoffs. ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported that Favre would need arthroscopic surgery to repair the injury, but could also play without having an operation.

BILLS: Coach Dick Jauron will return to Buffalo next season after owner Ralph Wilson decided a shakeup wasn’t necessary despite a third consecutive 7-9 finish that left fans demanding change.

While acknowledging the fans’ dissatisfaction, Wilson said the “team played hard all year long and there are many positives to build on.”

The Bills owner announced he had decided to retain Jauron and the entire coaching staff after meeting with the coach at Wilson’s home in suburban Detroit.

“I believe that this team, at this time, is better served by continuity in the coaching staff rather than a disruptive overhaul,” Wilson said in a three-paragraph statement released by the team.

49ERS: Mike Martz, who took St. Louis to the 2002 Super Bowl, was fired after one season as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator.

San Francisco coach Mike Singletary announced Martz’s third dismissal in less than three calendar years after an afternoon meeting with the veteran offensive mastermind.

FALCONS: Running back Michael Turner was involved in a “domestic dispute” Monday night in Atlanta with the mother of his infant child, Gwinnett County Police Cpl. David Schiralli said.

Police made no arrests and do not plan to file charges.

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