Mike Shanahan became the latest and most stunning victim of the NFL coaching purge, fired yesterday by the Denver Broncos after a late-season collapse kept the team out of the playoffs for the third straight year.
Shanahan joined Eric Mangini, Rod Marinelli and Romeo Crennel in the unemployment line after going 24-24 over the past three seasons, including three straight losses to end this season that turned a three-game division lead into an 8-8 record.
Despite that, and the 52-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers that ended Denver's season Sunday night, this was a shocker: the ouster of a man who coached the Broncos for 14 seasons and brought two Super Bowl titles to a city yearning for a championship and was considered by many to be "coach for life."
Shanahan, 56, who also coached the Raiders in the late 1980s, was 146-91 with the Broncos, including playoff games, but they remained stuck at one postseason victory since quarterback John Elway retired in 1999 after Denver's second consecutive title.
Offensive Rookie of the Year:: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was a landslide winner for the Associated Press award in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters.
Ryan became the third quarterback in five years to win the award; before that, no quarterback took the honor. He joins Ben Roethlisberger (2004) and Vince Young (2006) as top rookie quarterbacks.
Ryan, who led the Falcons (11-5) to the playoffs, had 16 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.
He collected 44 votes, far in front of Titans running back Chris Johnson, who had three. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn't receive a vote.
For voting results, see For the Record on Page 2.
49ers: : Mike Martz, who as head coach took St. Louis to the 2002 Super Bowl, was fired after one season as San Francisco's offensive coordinator. Coach Mike Singletary, a former Ravens assistant, announced Martz's third firing in less than three years.
Browns:: The team scheduled an interview with fired Jets coach Eric Mangini, the AP reported.
Mangini, dismissed Monday by the Jets after the team missed the playoffs, was to meet with Cleveland owner Randy Lerner in the New York area.
Lerner also set up an interview today with Scott Pioli, Patriots vice president of player personnel. The team fired general manager Phil Savage this week.
Jets:: Bill Cowher is out of the running for the team's coaching job.
New York planned to sit down soon with the former Steelers coach, and Cowher had expressed interest in the job, a person familiar with the search told the AP earlier yesterday. But the negotiations never advanced to scheduling a formal meeting.
"After reaching out to Coach Cowher's representatives, we were informed tonight that he is not a candidate," Jets spokesman Bruce Speight said last night.
The Jets will meet with Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on Saturday.
More Jets: : Quarterback Brett Favre, 39, reportedly has a torn biceps tendon in his right arm that will not need major surgery to repair, ESPN reported.
Et cetera:: The Ravens signed linebacker-special teams player Robert McCune and put wide receiver Marcus Maxwell (hip) on injured reserve. ... Bills owner Ralph Wilson said coach Dick Jauron will return next season. ... The Texans fired defensive coordinator Richard Smith, secondary coach Jon Hoke and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin. ... Falcons running back Michael Turner was involved in a "domestic dispute" Monday night with the mother of his infant child, Gwinnett County (Ga.) Police Corp. David Schiralli said. Police do not plan to file charges. ... No evidence backs claims that three Houston police officers brutally assaulted Marvin Driver Jr., the father of Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, during a traffic stop last month, the department said. ... Retired wide receiver Andre Rison was cited for public intoxication after a disturbance at a San Antonio hotel.