Colts Fire Mora After 6-10 Season
Tuesday, January 8th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Jim Mora was fired Tuesday after four seasons as he wanted to stay in the job.
Team president Bill Polian said Mora was fired for refusing to replace defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who had worked for Mora in each of his head coaching stops since 1983.
Polian acknowledged that the Colts were not talented enough this past season, finishing 6-10, but said he thought a change in defensive philosophy also was needed.
``We have to focus on the future,'' Polian said. ``My feeling was that we needed a change in defensive approach.''
The Colts have given the expansion Houston Texans permission to interview Fangio for a position on their staff, Polian said.
The Colts had been picked as a playoff team in most preseason predictions, but their season went bad. Players started getting hurt, including a season-ending knee injury to two-time NFL rushing champion Edgerrin James, and a porous defense finished the season ranked 29th.
Mora, 66, finished with a 32-32 regular-season record and an 0-2 playoff mark with the Colts.
In addition to James, the Colts were without No. 2 wide receiver Jerome Pathon for 12 games and their top defensive player, linebacker Mike Peterson, for seven of the final eight games.
Mora also had a public feud with quarterback Peyton Manning, a two-time Pro Bowler, after the coach criticized his team for committing five turnovers in a 40-21 loss to San Francisco on Nov. 25.
Manning thought Mora's comments were directed at him, and three days later he responded.
``I was fully responsible for that loss. (But) to be called out in front of the whole country, where that press conference is going to be played over and over again ... that bothers me. It really does,'' Manning said then.
The two later met and said they patched up their differences. But the failures on the field were too much for Mora to overcome.
On Sunday, after the Colts defeated Denver 29-10 in the season finale, the questions came about Mora's uncertain future and the tears flowed as he insisted he should remain the team's coach.
``I will not quit. I will not quit,'' Mora said. ``I want to coach here, I should be the coach here.''
Mora leaves the Colts with a 125-106 career record in 15 seasons as an NFL head coach. His 125 victories were third among active coaches, behind only Dan Reeves of Atlanta and Marty Schottenheimer of Washington, and are No. 18 all-time.
He arrived in Indianapolis in 1998, replacing Lindy Infante and taking over a team that had gone 3-13 in 1997. The Colts' rebuilding project, however, began with the selection of Manning as the No. 1 overall choice in the '98 NFL draft.
In Manning's rookie season, Indianapolis went 3-13.
But in 1999, Mora led the Colts to the largest turnaround in NFL history as they went 13-3 and won the AFC Eastern Division.
The next season, Mora became the first Colts coach to post back-to-back 10-win seasons since Ted Marchibroda in 1976-77, as Indianapolis went 10-6 and earned a wild-card spot. Both years, however, the Colts lost their opening playoff game.
Before coming to Indianapolis, Mora spent 10 1/2 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, where he was 93-74. He resigned eight games into the 1996 season after guiding the Saints to their first four playoff appearances _ but never won a playoff game.
Mora also was head coach of the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the defunct USFL. He led the Stars to three straight league title games, winning championships in 1984 and 1985.