Rarely are head coaches fired this early in the season. In fact, since 1970, it has happened only five times, and not once since 1989, when Raiders owner Al Davis fired his head coach Mike Shanahan after the team started 1-3.
Yet Monday could turn out to be an unprecedented day in NFL history. St. Louis’ Scott Linehan and Oakland’s Lane Kiffin are coaching for their jobs. If either team loses Sunday — St. Louis hosts unbeaten Buffalo, Oakland hosts resurgent San Diego — either coach could be out Monday.
It is easy enough to imagine. Both coaches are dealing the perfect storm of timing — the Rams and Raiders each have bye weeks next weekend.
In St. Louis, there is a mounting feeling within the organization that Linehan will be fired within the next few weeks if St. Louis cannot get its first victory of the season. The situation there has done just what owner Chip Rosenbloom did not want to see — it has deteriorated to where there is now inter-organizational bickering.
In Oakland, Kiffin has been on the clock since last winter, when there was rampant speculation that Davis intended to fire his head coach. The Raiders insisted last week that it was all rumor, but the disconnect between Kiffin and Davis is as real as the discord in St. Louis. Oakland has a bye week next week and if it is going to make a coaching change, this would be the ideal time.
But another fact: Linehan and Kiffin could combine to make Monday an historical day in the NFL. Each coach is scheduled to have a bye next weekend. But each could be getting ready for prolonged byes.
Coaches Released Before 5th Game since 1970
1989 Shanahan, Los Angeles Raiders, four games (1-3)
1985 Kay Stephenson, Buffalo, four games (0-4)
1982 Jack Patera, Seattle, two games (0-2)
1974 Howard Schnellenberger, Baltimore Colts, three games (0-3)
1971 Jerry Williams, Philadelphia, three games (0-3)
In 2000, Bruce Coslet resigned as Bengals coach after 3 games — was not fired/released
In 1978, George Allen was fired by the Redskins two weeks into preseason