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Coaches Receive Walking Papers

Capers, Haslett, Martz and Sherman join Tice as they are fired by their NFL teams, and Turner of the Oakland Raiders could be next to go.

January 03, 2006|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

They had hoped to be preparing their teams for postseason play. Instead, at least five NFL coaches will be updating their resumes.

Between Sunday's season-ending losses and Monday afternoon, five coaches were fired -- Houston's Dom Capers, Minnesota's Mike Tice, New Orleans' Jim Haslett, Green Bay's Mike Sherman and St. Louis' Mike Martz -- and Kansas City's Dick Vermeil called it a career.

More changes could be in the works. Oakland's Norv Turner could be on his way out, and Detroit is not expected to keep interim Coach Dick Jauron, who replaced Steve Mariucci, a late-season firing.

One of the more interesting dismissals was also the most predictable. The Texans got rid of Capers after finishing a league-worst 2-14. They also have the No. 1 pick in the draft and are said to have their heart set on USC running back Reggie Bush. So he may be going to a team that, as yet, doesn't have a coach.

In four years under Capers, the expansion Texans averaged only 4 1/2 victories.

"We want to see improvement every year. That didn't happen this year," said owner Bob McNair, who reportedly will interview Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak this week. "I thought it was in the best interest of the team to let Dom Capers go."

All of the openings could once again spark speculation that a deep-pockets NFL owner could make a play for USC Coach Pete Carroll, whose team Wednesday will play for a third consecutive national championship.

But Carroll, who reached agreement on a contract extension last week, made it clear after practice Monday evening that he's not interested in a new job.

"I can't have said anymore than I've said, or done anything more than I've done, to make it clear that I'm not interested," he said. "I was kind of hoping that these questions were over, but it's OK. It's OK, I understand. I get it."

Less than an hour after Minnesota's 34-10 season-ending victory over Chicago, Tice was told by Viking owner Zygi Wilf that his contract would not be renewed. After getting off to a 2-5 start and losing Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper, the Vikings won six in succession before consecutive losses knocked them out of playoff contention.

Tice's coaching career was sullied by scandal. He was fined $100,000 by the league last summer for scalping Super Bowl tickets, and four of his players were charged with misdemeanors after a wild boat party during their week off.

Haslett, who had a year remaining on his contract, was fired after six seasons -- this the most tumultuous by far. Because of the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, the displaced Saints never had a true home, splitting their time between Baton Rouge, La., and San Antonio. After upsetting Carolina in an emotional opener, the Saints won only two of their next 15 games.

"I think Jim performed really well under some adverse conditions, unprecedented conditions," General Manager Mickey Loomis said. "But unfortunately, we haven't had the results the past five seasons that you come to expect in this league. It wasn't based just on this season."

Green Bay's firing could also have an effect on the future of quarterback Brett Favre, who had indicated that a future without Sherman as coach would hasten his retirement.

General Manager Ted Thompson, who fired Sherman after a 4-12 season, said he wants Favre to return but that the team needs a coach who can bring long-term success.

"Eventually, Brett Favre's going to retire and go back to Mississippi," Thompson said. "But that didn't have any sway in this particular decision."

Martz, who led the Rams to the Super Bowl in 2001, was fired after a 6-10 season in which he was absent for the last 11 games because of a heart ailment. St. Louis did not qualify for the playoffs for only the second time in Martz's six seasons.

John Shaw, the Rams' general manager, said he hoped to find a replacement within a month. The team has asked permission to interview Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Others possibly under consideration are Gregg Williams, Washington's defensive coordinator, and Kubiak.

On Saturday, the night before the Chiefs played against Cincinnati, Vermeil tearfully told his players he would retire after this season. His players won the finale, 37-3.

"It's the right time for me to go," an emotional Vermeil said afterward. "It's the right time for me to leave the Chiefs."

*

Times staff writer Gary Klein and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Coaching carousel

Dom Capers, Jim Haslett, Mike Martz and Mike Sherman were the latest NFL coaches to get fired. Coaching changes since the regular season ended:

Detroit Lions...Steve Mariucci* (fired)

Green Bay Packers...Mike Sherman (fired)

Houston Texans...Dom Capers (fired)

Kansas City Chiefs...Dick Vermeil (retired)

Minnesota Vikings...Mike Tice (fired)

New Orleans...Jim Haslett (fired)

St. Louis...Mike Martz (fired)

* Mariucci was fired on Nov. 28 and Dick Jauron took over as the Lions' interim coach.

Source: Associated Press

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