Black Monday in NFL: 7 coaches, 4 GMs fired

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Black Monday in NFL: 7 coaches, 4 GMs fired

After a season in which no coaches were fired during the season, the NFL exploded in a spasm of dismissals Monday.

No fewer than seven head coaches and four general managers were given the axe, and the carnage may not be over. The status of some others -- like Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey and Chiefs GM Scott Pioli -- are still up in the air.

A complete list of coachGM firings, listing alphabetically by team:

Coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves, Arizona Cardinals (NBC's Pro Football Talk)
In the end, this move mostly comes down to the inability of Graves and Whisenhunt to find a competent starting quarterback.

Coach Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills (AP)
Buffalo finished 6-10, and Gailey leaves with a 16-32 record. There was no immediate word on the status of general manager Buddy Nix.

Coach Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears (CSN Chicago)
Hired in 2004, Smith led the 2006 team to the Super Bowl, but he also saw his team collapse in the second half of the past two seasons. He was let go with a year left on his contract, ending a nine-year run that produced an 81-63 record, three division titles and two appearances in the NFC championship game. (ALSO FROM CSN CHICAGO: Bears players angry, stunned, reeling in aftermath of Smith firing)

Coach Pat Shurmer and GM Tom Heckert, Cleveland Browns (AP)
One day after another dismal season ended with a loss in Pittsburgh, the Browns fired coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert, the first moves in an expected overhaul by new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner.

GM Gene Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars (AP)
The Jaguars fired general manager Gene Smith on Monday after four disappointing seasons, including the worst year (2-14) in franchise history in 2012. Coach Mike Mularkey could be next; owner Shad Khan is waiting to decide Mularkey's fate until he hires a new general manager, which could happen this week.

Coach Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs (AP)
The Kansas City Chiefs fired coach Romeo Crennel on Monday, but made no move on embattled general manager Scott Pioli -- though owner Clark Hunt warned "there may be additional changes to come" -- despite a 2-14 season marked by blowout losses, fan rebellion and a murder-suicide involving one of their players.

Coach Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles (CSN Philly)
The man who had benefitted from so many good decisions in his first dozen years made one poor judgment call after another. Instead of making another Super Bowl run, the Eagles spiraled downward and missed the postseason in each of the next two years, leaving owner Jeffrey Lurie no choice but to dismiss Reid with one year left on the coachs contract. (ALSO FROM CSN PHILLY: Owner Jeffrey Lurie explains reasons for Andy Reid's firing)

GM Mike Tannenbaum, New York Jets (AP)
The Jets fired Tannenbaum, their general manager for the last seven years, after a dismal 6-10 season, but owner Woody Johnson announced that Rex Ryan will be back for a fifth season as the team's coach.

Coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith, San Diego Chargers (AP)
Coming after a season of stunning come-from-ahead losses and increasing fan anger, the firings complete a startling fall for a team that won the AFC West from 2006-09. The Chargers are the third team to fire Turner, who has an overall head coaching record of 114-122-1.

All signs point to Rodriguez returning to rotation Sunday, Buchholz to bullpen

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All signs point to Rodriguez returning to rotation Sunday, Buchholz to bullpen

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It won't be made official until Thursday, but all signs point to Eduardo Rodriguez returning to the Red Sox' starting rotation Sunday night against the Kansas City Royals.

That, in turn, should also result in Clay Buchholz going back to the bullpen after three spot starts recently.

Rodriguez, who pulled himself out of his last scheduled start Sunday in Detroit when he wasn't confident that he could compete with a strained left hamstring, threw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday and emerged from that session convinced that he was heading toward a return to the rotation.

But just to make sure, the Sox want Rodriguez to test himself physically Thursday morning before the Sox complete their road trip with a game here Thursday afternoon.

"He went through some aggressive long toss today,'' said John Farrell of Rodriguez, "and came out that feeling fine, no restrictions in the hamstring. We'll take this each work day at a time. Once we get through tomorrow, we'll have a little bit more clarity going forward.''

Buchholz threw 94 pitches while allowing a run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings Tuesday night, so he wouldn't be available out of the bullpen for a few days.

"He's going to need a couple of days down regardless,'' noted Farrell.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

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Gronkowski returns to practice; Mason, Branch still missing

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury. 

Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills. 

The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago. 

Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012. 

Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing. 

Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session. 

Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.