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NFL teams set to break tradition in coaching hunt

The NFL coaching carousal is greased up and ready to go.

No less than seven head coaches have been fired in-season since 2010, and those totals are almost certain to grow this year. Where teams go from there is another story.

Albert Breer's latest piece for NFL.com notes that shifting power to an interim coach is a "final-straw" for a franchise. Hiring those coaches can lead to an even bigger mess.

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Eight of 22 interim coaches since 2000 have been handed the keys to the kingdom. Jason Garrett, Leslie Frazier and Romeo Crennel are still toiling away, but the other five are gone. The entire group has produced just one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins -- and five have been fired.

"They can go from being inclusive and getting the most out of people (as interim coach) to not wanting to fail," one owner told Breer. "How's he gonna do when it's his job and the s--- hits the fan? Is he gonna fight and compete? Everyone's gonna hit that patch somewhere. That's a reason why you don't see a lot of the interim coaches get hired. They were part of the problem to begin with, and having the job full-time is different."

Candidates are materializing not inside the old-boys network of the NFL, but from the college ranks -- shunned in recent years. Teams see the success Greg Schiano's enjoyed in Tampa Bay and want it duplicated. Oregon's Chip Kelly is generating buzz -- along with Penn State's Bill O'Brien, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Alabama's Nick Saban -- but some league executives haven't warmed up to giving a college coach the reins.

"I'd be scared of Kelly," one general manager told Schein. "Does he understand the pro game? (Former Washington Redskins coach Steve) Spurrier had no idea. He (Kelly) would not be my first choice, but I'd interview him."

Another established GM disagreed: "Schiano has changed the perception," he said. "Kelly is innovative enough to do it. He's a bright guy. I think he would understand the hierarchy in the NFL."

Kelly hasn't said a word. He doesn't need to. The interest is there and he's about to face an interest choice as December flips to January.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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