By Craig Ellenport | Aug. 13, 2018
When Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson told his assistants in last week’s episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” that he once sat in their seat, perhaps he forgot that there are three guys on his staff who have sat in his seat before. Jackson was trying to make the point that, as head coach, he has to see things differently than his assistants. “I get to watch from a different lens,” he said.
The thing is, three of the coaches on his staff – offensive coordinator Todd Haley, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and senior offensive assistant Al Saunders – have experience as NFL head coaches.
In fact, there are 27 former NFL head coaches currently serving as assistants on 20 teams throughout the league. The Browns are the only team with three former head coaches on staff. Five teams have two former head coaches.
Veteran coaches like Saunders in Cleveland or Rod Marinelli, the defensive coordinator in Dallas, might be content in their current roles, but certainly a majority of these former head coaches aspire to get back to that top spot. Does that mean head coaches like Jackson should be looking over their shoulder?
On the contrary, current head coaches can benefit from the experience and leadership on their staff. If the head coach really does need to see things through a different lens, it can only help to have other coaches on staff who have looked through that lens before. There was no better example of that last season than Los Angeles Rams’ rookie HC Sean McVay, who got the most out of having Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator. Phillips’ experience and wisdom as a three-time head coach (Cowboys, Bills, Broncos) played a key role in McVay’s 2017 success.
Here’s a rundown of the 26 former head coaches currently on NFL staffs:
|Team||Coach (title)||Head Coach Experience|
|Arizona Cardinals||Mike McCoy (OC)||Chargers (2013-16)|
|Atlanta Falcons||Raheem Morris (WR)||Buccaneers (2009-11)|
|Baltimore Ravens||Marty Mornhinweg (OC)||Lions (2001-02)|
|Buffalo Bills||Leslie Frazier (DC)||Vikings (2011-13)|
|Terry Robiskie (WR)||Browns interim HC (2004)|
|Carolina Panthers||Norv Turner (OC)||Redskins (1994-2000)
|Cincinnati Bengals||Jimmy Haslett (LB)||Saints (2000-05)|
|Cleveland Browns||Todd Haley (OC)||Chiefs (2009-11)|
|Gregg Williams (DC)||Bills (2001-03)|
|Al Saunders (sr. off. asst.)||Chargers (1986-88)|
|Dallas Cowboys||Scott Linehan (OC)||Rams (2006-08)|
|Rod Marinelli (DC)||Lions (2006-08)|
|Green Bay Packers||Mike Pettine (DC)||Browns (2014-15)|
|Joe Philbin (OC)||Dolphins (2012-15)|
|Houston Texans||Romeo Crennel (DC)||Browns (2005-08)
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Perry Fewell (secondary)||Bills interim HC (2009)|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Gus Bradley (DC)||Jaguars (2013-16)|
|Ken Whisenhunt (OC)||Cardinals (2007-12)
|Los Angeles Rams||Wade Phillips (DC)||Broncos (1993-94)
|New England Patriots||Josh McDaniels (OC)||Broncos (2009-10)|
|New Orleans Saints||Dennis Allen (DC)||Raiders (2012-14)|
|Oakland Raiders||Tom Cable (OL)||Raiders (2008-10)|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Jim Schwartz (DC)||Lions (2009-13)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Mike Munchak (OL)||Titans (2011-13)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Smith (DC)||Falcons (2008-14)|
|Washington Redskins||Bill Callahan (Asst. HC/OL)||Raiders (2002-03)|
|Jim Tomsula (DL)||49ers (2015)|