INDIANAPOLIS, NOV. 5 -- Cleveland Browns Coach Bud Carson became the first coaching casualty of the 1990 NFL season when he was fired early today, one day after the Browns suffered their worst home loss in franchise history.

He was replaced on an interim basis by Jim Shofner, Cleveland's first-year offensive coordinator. Shofner has 20 years' experience as an NFL assistant, including three as the Browns' quarterbacks coach from 1978 to 1980.

His chances of getting a one-year contract extension, according to the sources, hinge on whether the Browns win their next three games, all at home.

For the only AFC team to go to the playoffs each of the past five seasons, the Browns' 2-7 record this season marks their worst start since 1984 when they went 1-8. Sam Rutigliano was fired as coach when they were 1-7 that year.

"I was praying Bud would turn it around," Browns owner Art Modell said.

Carson, 59, discussed the possibility of resigning after Sunday's 42-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The last six weeks have been troubled times for all, with constant speculation that Carson's days as head coach were numbered. The Buffalo loss was the last straw.

"I would say it was the icing on the cake," Modell said of the loss. "It was embarrassing for all of us. It was embarrassing to see 32,000 yellow seats open up with 12 1/2 minutes left in the game.

"I never remember the fans giving up on us so early. The only people remaining were the Buffalo fans. It never has been like that before."

After Sunday's loss, Carson said: "It is an embarrassing loss for me and it is an embarrassing loss for this football team. I have to go home and think about it myself. The last thing I want to do is be a part of a football team that cannot win. It's not fun for them."

Modell has agreed to buy out the final year of Carson's contract, estimated at about $400,000. Including playoff games, Carson was 12-14-1 with the Browns.

The problems started early for Carson this season. The Browns went 1-2 in their first three games when Modell expected the team win all three, especially since two of them were against the rebuilding New York Jets and San Diego Chargers.