Three NFL clubs fired coaches yesterday, less than 24 hours after the regular season ended. Out were the New York Jets' Eric Mangini, the Cleveland Browns' Romeo Crennel and the Detroit Lions' Rod Marinelli.

Lofty expectations did in Mangini and Crennel, as their teams' seasons crumbled from high hopes to demoralizing finishes.

Little was expected of the Lions, though no one expected them to finish with the worst season in NFL history. That cost Marinelli his job, too.

"You can't go 0-16 and expect to keep your job," Marinelli said.

Now, two interim coaches who breathed some life into downtrodden clubs - the St. Louis Rams' Jim Haslett and the Oakland Raiders' Tom Cable - await word on their fates.

Only Mangini's firing came as a bit of a surprise. The Jets harbored Super Bowl aspirations after an 8-3 start that followed an offseason spending spree, including the trade for Brett Favre. But they didn't even make the playoffs, losing four of their last five games.

"I don't think it was one thing," owner Woody Johnson said. "We had to go in a different direction. There's nothing specific. It's just a call we made. Hopefully, it's correct."

The Browns' search to replace Crennel is already off to a disheartening start: Bill Cowher told owner Randy Lerner on Saturday that he doesn't intend to coach in 2009. However, sources told ESPN Radio in New York yesterday that Cowher is willing to talk to the Jets about replacing Mangini.

Three coaches were fired during the regular season: Mike Nolan in San Francisco, Scott Linehan in St. Louis and Lane Kiffin in Oakland. Mike Singletary replaced Nolan and will be retained after the 49ers went 5-4 in their final nine games.

Oakland (5-11) won the final two games of the season under Cable, giving him a 4-8 record since taking over for the fired Lane Kiffin on Sept. 30. Cable and Raiders owner Al Davis are expected to meet this week to discuss the full-time coaching job. Davis has to interview at least one minority candidate to comply with the Rooney Rule before making a decision, but Herrera said the team hopes to resolve the situation

ESPN reported yesterday that the Raiders were going to request permission to speak with New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride about the head coach position. The Giants have a bye for the opening round of the playoffs and Gilbride is expected to interview for the job.

However, Raiders sources told ESPN that Cable has a good chance of being retained.

Haslett went 2-10 with the Rams. On Sunday, team general manager Billy Devaney said he and Haslett will talk about things in the "next couple of days." *