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Coaching carousel started spinning early

Judging by the jump start, it looks like we’re headed for a ninth consecutive season with at least a half-dozen NFL head coaches getting canned.

The coaching carousel began whirling earlier than usual this season with Jay Gruden getting fired by the Washington Redskins in October after an 0-5 start and Ron Rivera getting dumped this week by the Carolina Panthers (5-7) in the midst of a four-game skid.

They could be joined soon by Jason Garrett in Dallas (6-7), Dan Quinn in Atlanta (3-9), Doug Marrone in Jacksonville (4-8) and Pat Shurmur, whose New York Giants are 2-10, and maybe even by rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens in Cleveland (5-7) and second-year coach Matt Patricia in Detroit (3-8-1).

Rivera was 76-63-1, the most successful of the four head coaches in the Panthers’ franchise history. Like John Fox, he guided the Panthers to a Super Bowl only to come up short.

Gruden’s six-year run in Washington was the longest for any coach in Daniel Snyder’s two decades of ownership, but that run produced a 35-49-1 record, two winning seasons and one playoff appearance.

“Welcome to the club, bro,” remarked Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who was fired by the Buccaneers in 2008.

The club will soon be accepting more members. Some strong possibilities:

JASON GARRETT, Dallas Cowboys, 83-66 (.557) in 10th season: The Cowboys have lost seven of 10 since a 3-0 start but still lead the middling NFC East by a half game over Philadelphia, which hosts the last-place Giants on Monday night.

DAN QUINN, Atlanta Falcons, 39-37 (.513) in fifth season: Last year’s 7-9 collapse was blamed on injuries, but this year’s 3-9 stumble could cost Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff their jobs because of all those empty seats at glittering Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

DOUG MARRONE, Jacksonville Jaguars, 20-26 (.435) in fourth season: The Jaguars have been blown out in four straight games, lopsided losses that crushed the team’s playoff hopes and turned December into a debate about the futures of Marrone, personnel chief Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and quarterback Nick Foles.

PAT SHURMUR, New York Giants, 7-21 (.250) in second season: Expectations in East Rutherford, New Jersey, weren’t high, but a return to respectability and a .500 record was a realistic goal for the Giants. Instead, the team might fail to even match last year’s five-win total, and that puts Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman on notice.

FREDDIE KITCHENS, 5-7 (.333) in first season: Kitchens created a stir when he wore a shirt Friday night at the request of his daughters that read, “Pittsburgh started it” before the rematch with the Steelers, which they lost 20-13.

MATT PATRICIA, 9-18-1 (.321), second season: The Lions have lost eight of nine since their 2-0-1 start and they’ve dropped five in a row.

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