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Chargers’ Anthony Lynn and Jaguars’ Doug Marrone join NFL’s fired coaches on Monday

Anthony Lynn was fired by the Chargers even after they ended the season on a four-game winning streak to finish 7-9. (Peter Joneleit/AP)
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The first head-coaching dismissal of the NFL offseason that hadn’t been considered a foregone conclusion came Monday when the Los Angeles Chargers fired Anthony Lynn.

The team announced the move with a statement by owner Dean Spanos.

“This morning I informed Anthony Lynn that we have made the decision to part ways with him as our head coach,” Spanos said. “I’m not sure there is another person in this league more respected as a human being than Anthony, and I want to sincerely express my deepest gratitude for his leadership during a time of great change for our organization. As we all know, this is a results-driven business and, simply put, the results of the past two years have fallen short of expectations.”

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The Chargers had a record of 7-9 after finishing the season on a four-game winning streak. There had been speculation for much of the season about Lynn’s job security. But the Chargers’ recently improved on-field results made it less than a certainty that he would be fired. Some observers wondered whether retaining Lynn might provide some continuity for quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns in a superb rookie season.

Herbert set NFL rookie records for completions and touchdown passes. He was taken with the sixth selection in last year’s draft and became the starter in the season’s second game after Tyrod Taylor suffered a punctured lung while receiving a pregame painkilling injection. Lynn had pledged to go back to Taylor as the starter when Taylor was able to play but changed course after Herbert excelled. Seven of the Chargers’ nine losses came by eight points or fewer.

But this was the Chargers’ second straight losing season after he began his head coaching tenure with back-to-back winning seasons. Lynn had an overall regular season record of 33-31. He led the Chargers to a 9-7 record in 2017 in their first season after moving from San Diego, then directed them to a 12-4 mark and a first-round playoff victory in the 2018 season. But they went 12-20 over the past two seasons.

Lynn’s firing leaves the NFL with only three minority head coaches: the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Miami Dolphins’ Brian Flores and the Washington Football Team’s Ron Rivera. The move comes with the league making an attempt to improve its minority-hiring results this offseason.

Elway says Broncos will add a GM

John Elway no longer will be the roster architect of the Denver Broncos.

The Hall of Fame quarterback, who assembled the Broncos’ Super Bowl-winning team in the 2015 season as a front-office executive, announced Monday that he will hire a general manager for the team and give final say over player-related decisions to that new GM.

Elway said he will remain an executive with the team. The Broncos also are retaining Vic Fangio as their coach, Elway said.

“Working in this role for the last 10 years and going back to my playing days, I’ve always tried to do everything I can to help the Broncos win and get better,” Elway said in a statement. “As part of a transition I’ve thought about for a long time, I have made the decision to step up into an elevated role and hire a general manager to lead our personnel and football staff.

“While I'll continue to be President of Football Operations in 2021, the GM will have final say on the draft, free agency and our roster. This person will be empowered to make all football decisions, working in partnership with Vic. I will be there to support our GM and Vic, providing my perspective, helping with the big decisions and being a sounding board whenever needed. With all that goes into the day-to-day responsibilities of a GM and how the job has grown, this structure will set us up for success and allow me to focus on the big picture.”

The Broncos went 5-11 this season and missed the playoffs for a fifth straight year. Elway said Fangio and Joe Ellis, the team president, will assist in the GM search.

“This is a great place with all the resources to win,” Elway said. “We have a lot of good people on the football side, and I’ll be there for them in any way possible. The relationship between the GM and Head Coach is very important — Vic is going to be involved in this hiring process. We’ll cast a wide net, and I will start the search immediately with input from Vic and Joe. I’m excited to begin this chapter and find the next general manager of the Denver Broncos.”

Elway has struggled in recent years to put a franchise quarterback in place, with the Broncos hopeful that Drew Lock is the solution to their issues at the position.

“John Elway is the most important and impactful person in the history of the Denver Broncos,” Ellis said in a statement. “I have nothing but gratitude for how he accepted this challenge 10 years ago and helped us accomplish great things as an organization. In recent weeks, he and I have had a number of very positive — and honest — conversations about improving the team as well as his own future. John arrived at this decision, and I am fully supportive of him and this new structure. With all of his experience and competitive fire, I know John will be a tremendous resource for the Broncos in this role.”

Jaguars fire Doug Marrone

The Jacksonville Jaguars, to no one’s surprise, fired Doug Marrone as their coach Monday morning.

The Jaguars made the move official by releasing a statement from owner Shad Khan. The dismissal comes on the heels of a 1-15 season that closed with 15 straight losses.

“I am committed and determined to deliver winning football to the City of Jacksonville,” Khan said. “Realizing that goal requires a fresh start throughout our football operations, and with that in mind I spoke this morning with Doug Marrone to express my gratitude for his hard work over the past four seasons as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. I'll always appreciate Doug's passion, grit and class, and I'm confident he will enjoy success in the next chapter of his career. As the search for our new general manager continues, now the quest begins to find a head coach who shares my ambition for the Jacksonville Jaguars and our fans, whose loyalty and faith are overdue to be rewarded.”

Marrone had the Jaguars in the AFC championship game in the 2017 season. They pushed the New England Patriots to the limit in that game and nearly reached the Super Bowl. But the Jaguars went 12-36 in the three seasons since. They began this season with a victory over the Indianapolis Colts, then didn’t win again. They already have a general manager vacancy after ousting Dave Caldwell.

The new regime will inherit a relatively promising situation. The Jaguars have the top choice in the draft and presumably will use it on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They’ll have a favorable salary cap situation, and Khan is considered a patient boss. The NFL Network reported Urban Meyer, the former Ohio State and Florida coach, could be a leading candidate.

Marrone had a record of 23-43 in four-plus seasons with the Jaguars.

Bengals keeping Zac Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals are retaining Zac Taylor as their coach after a four-win season.

If there was any doubt about that, owner Mike Brown erased it with a statement of support released Monday morning by the team.

“Our fans wanted a fresh new direction two years ago, and that is what we aimed to do in hiring a bright, energetic head coach in Zac Taylor,” Brown said. “We remain bullish on the foundation Zac is building, and we look forward to next year giving our fans the winning results we all want. In Zac’s two years, we have added many new starters and contributors through the draft, we have invested heavily in free agency, and we have acquired a talented young quarterback with a bright future.”

The Bengals seemed to make progress with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, the top selection in last year’s draft. But Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury in November and now must work his way back. The Bengals finished 4-11-1.

Previous firings

New York Jets: The inevitable became reality for the Jets on Jan. 3 when they fired coach Adam Gase.

Christopher Johnson, the franchise’s chairman and chief executive, announced the move hours after the Jets finished their season with a 28-14 loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. The defeat ended an unfortunately timed — to Jets fans, at least — two-game winning streak that cost them the top selection in the draft. The Jets finished with a 2-14 record.

The Jets had a record of 9-23 in two seasons under Gase. He went 23-25 in three seasons as coach of the Miami Dolphins. Gase immediately was given a second chance as an NFL head coach, but he has had four straight losing seasons for the two franchises and he had acknowledged that he failed to develop young quarterback Sam Darnold with the Jets.

Quarterback Justin Fields’s terrific performance for Ohio State in its College Football Playoff semifinal triumph over Clemson on Friday night was a promising development for the Jets. Many people within the league have considered Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence a virtual lock for the No. 1 pick. Even if that remains the case, the Jets are in good position now with their second overall choice.

Justin Fields put No. 1 Alabama — and the NFL — on notice with a masterful Sugar Bowl

Detroit Lions: Fired coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn on Nov. 28, after a 4-7 start.

Atlanta Falcons: Fired Dan Quinn as coach and Thomas Dimitroff as general manager on Oct. 11, after an 0-5 start to the season.

Houston Texans: Fired Bill O’Brien as its coach and general manager on Oct. 5, after an 0-4 start.

Other coaches at risk …

It’s unclear how many other head coaching changes there might be. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said Mike McCarthy will return for a second season. The Minnesota Vikings’ Mike Zimmer and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Doug Pederson reportedly are safe as well. The Chicago Bears’ late-season run to an NFC playoff berth, clinched Sunday, has quieted talk that Coach Matt Nagy’s job could be in jeopardy.

It is believed that Coach Ron Rivera could add a general manager to the Washington Football Team’s front office.