Job vacancies pop up from Buffalo to San Diego

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Overnight, the NFL went from X’s and O’s to ex-coaches and whoas.

In a head-spinning blizzard of pink slips, seven head coaches were fired Monday, leaving openings in Philadelphia, San Diego, Buffalo, Chicago, Arizona, Cleveland and Kansas City.

The dismissals included three coaches who led their teams to Super Bowls in the past eight years: Andy Reid of Philadelphia, Lovie Smith of Chicago and Ken Whisenhunt of Arizona.

Also shown the door were San Diego’s Norv Turner, Buffalo’s Chan Gailey, Cleveland’s Pat Shurmur and Kansas City’s Romeo Crennel.

Five general managers were fired: San Diego’s A.J. Smith, Cleveland’s Tom Heckert, Arizona’s Rod Graves, Jacksonville’s Gene Smith and the New York Jets’ Mike Tannenbaum.

Most of the moves were long anticipated, but the Bears raised some eyebrows by dumping Lovie Smith after a 10-victory season that failed to produce a playoff berth.

The Eagles parted ways with Reid, the league’s longest-tenured coach, who had been there for 14 seasons. Philadelphia was 4-12 this season.

“When you have a season like that, it’s embarrassing. It’s personally crushing to me and it’s terrible,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a news conference.

Lurie said he didn’t fire Reid after last season because the Eagles had always bounced back after a down year.

“That was the history,” Lurie said. “I really believed that this season, with our talent, that we would be a strong contender and a double-digit win team. Nobody is more disappointed or crushed than myself because I fully believed that that’s exactly where we were at in August as we started the season.”

Although the firings came fast and furious Monday, the turnover has yet to match that of 2010, when there were 10 new coaches put in place, nearly a third of the league. The day after the season ends has come to be known as Black Monday.

“You hope that those guys that obviously were victims of Black Monday land on their feet,” St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said. “You’ve got guys that have been to Super Bowls and won championship games and all of a sudden they’ve forgot how to coach, I guess.”

There were no shocking firings. Everyone who was dismissed had been on the hot seat. But the mass dismissals underscored the win-now impatience so prevalent in the NFL, an attitude only validated by turnarounds such as the one in Indianapolis, where the Colts went from 2-14 to the playoffs in one year.

In San Diego, Turner got a standing ovation from his players in a final team meeting. He handed out game balls and then said his goodbyes.

“The last three years have been an awful lot of work because we’ve had continuously changing lineups,” he said in a news conference. “That’s the hardest thing to coach. We’ve lost a lot of players to injuries and free agency. That’s the hardest thing on players. It caught up to (quarterback Philip Rivers) this year and had a real effect on him. The coach who comes in here will be impressed with the work ethic. The way these guys work on a daily basis, how much football means to them.”

San Diego has hired former Packers general manager Ron Wolf to help in its coaching search. Chargers president Dean Spanos conceded that the empty seats at Qualcomm Stadium factored into the decision to make a change, if only as a symptom of the bigger problem: losing.

“Obviously if you don’t win, fans aren’t going to come,” he said. “I think this is part of our business. As I said earlier, our goal is to put a winning product on the field and we haven’t done that in three years.”

Smith and the Bears went 10-6 this season and just missed a playoff spot. But Chicago started 7-1 and has struggled to put together a productive offense throughout Smith’s tenure. His record was 81-63 with the Bears, and he took them to one Super Bowl defeat and to one NFC title game defeat.

Receiver and kick return standout Devin Hester was bitter about Smith’s firing.

“The media, the false fans, you all got what you all wanted,” Hester said. “The majority of you all wanted him out. As players we wanted him in. I guess the fans — the false fans — outruled us. I thought he was a great coach, probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around.”

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said no determination has been made on general manager Scott Pioli’s future, but the team’s organizational chart will have the new coach answering to Hunt, not the general manager.

“I’m going to hire the head coach, and he’s going to report to me,” Hunt said.

The Associated Press and Kansas City Star contributed to this report.

Black Monday for coaches
NFL coaches who were fired Monday:
Coach, team 2012 season Career record
Andy Reid, Eagles 4-12 130-93-1
Norv Turner, Chargers 7-9 114-122-1
Lovie Smith, Bears 10-6 81-63-0
Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals 5-11 45-51-0
Chan Gailey, Bills 6-10 34-46-0
Romeo Crennel, Chiefs 2-14 28-55-0
Pat Shurmur, Browns 5-11 9-23-0