The San Francisco 49ers reached into the recycle bin, hiring Chip Kelly just two weeks after he was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles. Some coaches blossom in their second job, others flame out -- again.
A look at some notable second-chance successes and failures:
Bill Belichick (Cleveland, 1991-1995; New England, 2000-current): He’s the patron saint of recycled coaches. He was utterly mediocre during a five-year run with the Cleveland Browns (36-44), alienating the fan base and media with his paranoid ways and dull personality. Some of his own players called him “Captain Sominex.” New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft gave him another chance. Four Super Bowl titles later, Belichick belongs on the Mount Rushmore of all-time coaches.
Pete Carroll (New York Jets, 1994; New England, 1997-1999; Seattle, 2010-current): Technically, Carroll received a third chance. He was a two-time failure in the NFL, getting axed by the Jets and Patriots (combined record: 34-33). After rebuilding his reputation at USC, Carroll returned to the NFL, where he has made the Seattle Seahawks a perennial playoff team. He has one Super Bowl title and two NFC championships … and counting.
Andy Reid (Philadelphia, 1999-2012; Kansas City, 2013-current): Reid quickly turned around the Chiefs (31-17 in three seasons) after the fiasco with Romeo Crennel. They made the playoffs as a wild-card entrant in his first year and again this season, when they broke an eight-game postseason losing streak with last weekend’s victory over the Houston Texans. Reid was 130-93-1 with the Eagles, including six NFC East championships, one trip to the Super Bowl and four other trips to the NFC title game.
Tom Coughlin (Jacksonville, 1995-2002; New York Giants, 2004-2015): No general manager had Coughlin’s number on speed dial when he was fired by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2002 season. He sat out a season and was hired by the Giants, with whom he won two Super Bowls over a 12-year span. Coughlin had success in Jacksonville (68-60), but his draconian ways chafed people in the organization and his stay ended with three consecutive losing seasons.
Tony Dungy (Tampa Bay, 1996-2001; Indianapolis, 2002-2008): He won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts after a good, but not-good-enough run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (96-54). Dungy transformed the Bucs from a laughingstock into a perennial playoff team, but he couldn’t win the big one. He made the playoffs four times in six years, but won only two games in the postseason and the owners became impatient. In Indianapolis, he was the perfect fit. Naturally, having Peyton Manning helped.
Marv Levy (Kansas City, 1978-1982; Buffalo, 1986-1997): Levy was run out of Kansas City after five seasons. Then he took over the moribund Buffalo Bills, led them to four consecutive AFC championships and landed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mike Ditka (Chicago, 1982-1992; New Orleans, 1997-1999): Iron Mike should have stayed in retirement after his Super Bowl-winning run with the Chicago Bears, but he was lured back by the New Orleans Saints. Bad decision. He went 15-33, an inglorious tenure best remembered by the Ricky Williams debacle.
Mike Shanahan (Los Angeles Raiders, 1988-1989; Denver, 1995-2008; Washington, 2010-2013): Shanahan never came close to duplicating his Rocky Mountain high with the Washington Redskins. After winning two Super Bowls during a 14-year run with the Denver Broncos, Shanahan discovered that LAJE (Life After John Elway) wasn’t so good. He went 24-40 in Washington, where dysfunction and the RG III controversy became a daily soap opera.
Steve Mariucci (San Francisco, 1997-2002; Detroit, 2003-2005): Mariucci looked like the coach who might pull the Lions out of their historic doldrums. He posted four winning seasons in his six years in San Francisco, including two NFC West titles and a 57-39 record. Then Mariucci went to Detroit. It did not go well. He lasted less than three seasons, losing 10-plus games in both 2003 and 2004 before being fired midway through the 2005 season. He finished 15-28. He hasn’t coached since and has a 72-67 career record.
Lovie Smith (Chicago, 2004-2012; Tampa Bay, 2014-2015): Smith enjoyed a mostly successful run in Chicago, where he won one NFC championship. He did it with Rex Grossman at quarterback, making it all the more impressive. He seemed like an ideal fit in Tampa, but managed only eight wins in two seasons and was unexpectedly fired after this season.
Wade Phillips (Denver, 1993-1994; Buffalo, 1998-2000; Dallas, 2007-2010): Say hello to America’s (Recycled) Coach. In addition to his three permanent gigs, Phillips also has served as an interim coach for three teams. He posted an 82-64 record, making the playoffs five times, but never had much staying power. He’s proof that good coordinators don’t always make the best head coaches.
Art Shell (Los Angeles Raiders, 1989-1994; Oakland Raiders, 2006): Al Davis admitted he fired Shell, the first African-American head coach in the modern NFL, too soon after a 9-7 season in 1994. But bringing Shell back in 2006 was a disaster. With an offensive coordinator in Tom Walsh who had been out of football for a few years and running a bed-and-breakfast in Idaho, the Raiders went a league-worst 2-14, and Shell, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman, again was fired after complaining about in-house leaks, saying there was a “fox in the henhouse.” And with the No. 1 overall pick Oakland “earned” from that folly, the Raiders drafted … JaMarcus Russell. Enough said.