Hours after the 5-8 Chiefs handed Todd Haley a pink slip, the 4-9 Dolphins have followed suit and put their head coach out of his misery with three weeks remaining in another lost season.
The Dolphins have fired Tony Sparano, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.
This one reminds me a bit of the Raiders’ decision to fire Tom Cable one year ago despite the fact that Cable’s players hadn’t given up on him and the team was making progress after underachieving previously.
I have no idea how Sparano’s Dolphins managed to start 0-7 despite having a defense capable of winning a Super Bowl and an offense with enough weapons to support a playoff run. And I don’t understand how Sparano was able to stay employed despite losing 12 out of 13 home games between the end of 2009 and the start of 2011.
I suppose that’s how long your leash becomes when you take a team from 1-15 to 11-5 and a playoff berth in your first season as head coach. But Sparano couldn’t live off of that somewhat magical 2008 campaign forever. Since then, he’s endured three straight losing seasons, the last of which was clinched when the Dolphins dropped their ninth game of the year Sunday against Philadelphia.
In Sparano’s defense, he was never given much to work with at the quarterback position. And in a league in which winning and passing are conjoined twins, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen and Matt Moore didn’t help Sparano’s cause.
That said, you just can’t afford to follow up back-to-back 7-9 seasons with a 4-9 start when your defense has athletes like Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby, Vontae Davis, Sean Smith and Kevin Burnett. I understand that the personnel hasn’t lived up to expectations, but it was partly Sparano’s job to get the best out of his players.
And if you want to get technical, it’s also quite discouraging that a man who has made his millions as an offensive line guru was coaching a team that has surrendered a league-high 44 sacks through 13 games.
Sparano has a good football mind, but he was never fit to be an NFL head coach. Dating to the start of 2009, he’s been the NFL’s unofficial leader in boneheaded coaching decisions. That ’08 playoff run was something else, but it had become obvious by the start of this season that Sparano was probably in the right place at the right time when he fell one vote short of landing the AP coach of the year award as a rookie head coach.
In their last six games, the Dolphins are 4-2 with 149 points for and 80 against. It says a lot about the guy that his players kept fighting in a season already well down the drain.
But it doesn’t say enough to merit another chance.