By Juan Lozano | June 25, 2020
We generally start seeing the coaching carousel rotate at full speed late in the NFL season. Disappointed fan bases are eager to move on from their team’s current head coach in favor of another head coach with a different approach or skill set.
The pool of head coaching candidates mentioned is generally limited to popular coordinators that are on playoff -bound teams or that play an exciting style of football. Certainly there’s benefit to hiring a head coach with a good scheme. However, the head football coaching career graveyard is full of headstones of those coaches that had a great scheme. Great scheme isn’t enough to sustain success in the NFL.
NFL head coaches have a difficult time managing a team all by themselves. They need help from members of their coaching staff. Head coaches need to demonstrate leadership qualities but also hire coaches that also possess those qualities. We think there is benefit in hiring a head coach or an assistant coach that has head coaching experience.
We decided to take a look at NFL assistant coaches with either college or pro (outdoor football) head coaching experience on a coaching staff. We think there is some value in having a former head coach on staff that knows how to deal with difficult situations, if not chaotic organizations.
Consider that two of the longer tenured NFL head coaches, the Patriots’ Bill Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll started their NFL head coaching careers in chaotic organizations. Belichick coached the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1995 and Carroll was the Jets head coach in 1994. Winning games was a challenge. Bill Belichick’s Browns winning percentage was .450 while Pete Carroll went 6-10 in his lone season as Jets head coach.
Both Belichick and Carroll recovered from their first NFL head coaching experience to not only get additional head coaching opportunities but win Super Bowls.
Three of the five head coaches (Mike McCarthy, Matt Rhule, Ron Rivera). hired after the 2019 season were previously head coaches. More frequently NFL teams with vacancies have hired coaches without head coaching experience. If that trend continues, then young head coaches would be wise to look at coaches with prior head coaching experience to help them learn to be head coaches.
We decided to take a look at NFL teams that have former head coaches on the coaching staff. As part of our methodology, we did not include coaches that were named an interim but had not been ever named a head coach. (Example: Dan Campbell, current Saints tight ends coach who took over when the Dolphins fired Joe Philbin). But we did include a coach’s interim record if he was ever named a full-time head coach.
The overwhelming majority of those coaches named on this list won’t receive another head coaching opportunity because of the decision maker desire to hire newer coaching talent. However, some of these coaches deserve a closer look by teams and even new head coaches that are looking for experienced leadership.
In this list below, there are a few interesting takeaways:
- Super Bowl coaches: There are two coaches that participated in Super Bowls as head coaches: Cleveland OL coach Bill Callahan and Minnesota OC Gary Kubiak.
- Professional outdoor leagues (not NFL): Some coaches received head coaching experience in outdoor leagues, not the NFL. Here is a list of those coaches: Barrett (CFL), Gailey(WLAF), Hamilton (XFL), Gruden(UFL), Haslett (UFL), Tomsula (NFL Europe)
- Black coaches: We identified these black coaches that are former head coaches. They are in bold.They are: Vance Joseph, Raheem Morris, Leslie Frazier, Stump Mitchell, Romeo Crennel, Danny Barrett, Pep Hamilton, Andre Patterson, Curtis Johnson, Jon Embree, Todd Bowles. Only Joseph, Morris, and Bowles are current coordinators. Only Barrett, Hamilton, Mitchell, Johnson, and Embree are offensive coaches. Only Pep Hamilton coaches quarterbacks.
- Coaching Alumni: There are some teams that have a number of former head coaches in the league.
- Carolina: Capers and Rivera
- Houston: Capers and Kubiak – Both are on the same staff in Minnesota. Kubiak replaced Capers in Houston.
- Cleveland: Crennel, Kitchens, Shurmur
- Jacksonville: Bradley, Del Rio
- Detroit: Marinelli, Mornhinweg, Schwartz- Both Mornhinweg and Schwartz are on the Eagles staff.
- Oakland: Allen, Cable, Callahan, Del Rio
- Tampa Bay: Koetter and Morris
|’20 TEAM||NAME||TITLE||HC TEAM||YEAR||WIN %|
|AZ||Joseph, Vance||DC||Denver (NFL)||2017-2018||0.344|
|AZ||Kugler, Sean||OL||UTEP (NCAA)||2013-2017||0.333|
|ATL||Brock, Dave||WR||Delaware (NCAA)||2013-2016||0.463|
|ATL||Koetter, Dirk||OC||Boise State (NCAA)||1998-2000||0.722|
|Arizona St. (NCAA)||2001-2006||0.541|
|Tampa Bay (NFL)||2016-2018||0.396|
|ATL||Morris, Raheem||DC||Tampa Bay (NFL)||2009-2011||0.354|
|ATL||Sutton, Bob||Def. Analyst||Army (NCAA)||1991-1999||0.44|
|BUF||Babich, Bob||LB||North Dakota St. (NCAA)||1997-2002||0.676|
|BUF||Boras, Rob||TE||Benedictine (NCAA)||1998||0.3|
|BUF||Frazier, Leslie||DC||Minnesota (NFL)||2010-2013||0.398|
|CAR||Foley, Ed||Ass’t ST||Fordham (NCAA)||2004-2005||0.227|
|CIN||Duffner, Mark||Sr. Def Ass’t||Holy Cross (NCAA)||1986-1991||0.909|
|CIN||Golden, Al||LB||Temple (NCAA)||2006-2010||0.443|
|CHI||Pagano, Chuck||DC||Indianapolis (NFL)||2012-2017||0.552|
|CLE||Callahan, Bill||OL||Oakland (NFL)||2002-2003||0.469|
|CLE||Mitchell, Stump||RB||Morgan St. (NCAA)||1996-1998||0.25|
|Philbin, Joe||OL||Miami (NFL)||2012-2015||0.462|
|Green Bay (NFL)||2018||0.5|
|Tomsula, Jim||DL||Rhein (NFL Europe )||2006||0.6|
|San Francisco (NFL)||20102015||0.353|
|DEN||Munchak, Mike||OL||Tennessee (NFL)||2011-2013||0.458|
|Shula, Mike||QB||Alabama (NCAA)||2003-2006||0.531|
|Shurmur, Pat||OC||Cleveland (NFL)||2011-2012||0.281|
|NY Giants (NFL)||2018-2019||0.281|
|GB||Pettine, Mike||DC||Green Bay (NFL)||2014-2015||0.313|
|HOU||Crennel, Romeo||Associate HC||Cleveland (NFL)||2006-2008||0.375|
|Kansas City (NFL)||2011-2012||0.211|
|Barrett, Danny||RB||Saskatchewan (CFL)||2000-2006||0.456|
|JAX||Gruden, Jay||OC||Florida (UFL)||2010||0.625|
|JAX||McAdoo, Ben||QB||NY Giants (NFL)||2016-2017||0.464|
|KC||Spagnuolo, Steve||DC||St. Louis (NFL)||2009-2011||0.208|
|NY Giants (NFL)||2017||0.212|
|LV||Cable, Tom||OL||Idaho (NCAA)||2000-2003||0.239|
|Guenther, Paul||DC||Ursinus College (NCAA)||1997-2000||0.581|
|Marinelli, Rod||DL||Detroit (NFL)||2006-2008||0.208|
|LAC||Bradley, Gus||DC||Jacksonville (NFL)||2013-2016||0.226|
|Hamilton, Pep||QB||D.C. Defenders (XFL)||2020||0.6|
|Scherer, Rip||SR. Consult.||James Madison (NCAA)||1991-1994||0.604|
|LAR||Bonamego, John||STC||Central Michigan(NCAA)||2015-2018||0.431|
|MIA||Gailey, Chan||OC||Troy (NCAA)||1983-1984||0.792|
|Georgia Tech (NCAA)||2002-2007||0.579|
|MIN||Capers, Dom||Def. Spec. Ass’t||Carolina (NFL)||1995-1998||0.468|
|MIN||Kubiak, Gary||OC||Houston (NFL)||2006-2013||0.488|
|MIN||Patterson, Andre||Co-DC||Cal Poly (NCAA)||1994-1996||0.515|
|NO||Allen, Dennis||DC||Oakland (NFL)||2012-2014||0.222|
|Johnson, Curtis||Sr. Off. Ass’t||Tulane (NCAA)||2011-2015||0.204|
|Rizzi, Darren||STC||New Haven (NCAA)||1999-2001||0.517|
|Rhode Island (NCAA)||2008||0.25|
|NYG||Bielema, Bret||Arkansas (NCAA)||2013-2017||0.46|
|NYG||Dooley, Derek||Sr. Off. Ass’t||LA Tech (NCAA)||2007-2009||0.459|
|NYG||Dooley, Derek||Tennessee (NCAA)||2010-2012||0.417|
|Garrett, Jason||OC||Dallas (NFL)||2010-2019||0.559|
|Kitchens, Freddie||TE||Cleveland (NFL)||2019||0.375|
|NYJ||Williams, Gregg||DC||Buffalo (NFL)||2001-2003||0.354|
|PHI||Briner, Andrew||PG Analyst||Fordham (NCAA)||2016-2017||0.545|
|Mornhinweg, Marty||Sr. Off. Cons.||Detroit (NFL)||2001-2022||0.156|
|Pannunzio, Joe||Team Dev.||Murray St. (NCAA)||2000-2005||0.448|
|Schwartz, Jim||DC||Detroit (NFL)||2009-2013||0.363|
|SF||Embree, Jon||TE||Colorado (NCAA)||2011-2012||0.16|
|TB||Bowles, Todd||Def. Coord.||Miami (NFL)||2011||0.667|
|NY Jets (NFL)||2015-2018||0.375|
|Christophel, Rick||TE||Austin Peay (NCAA)||2007-2012||0.303|
|TEN||Haslett, Jim||ILB||New Orleans (NFL)||2000-2005||0.469|
|St. Louis (NFL)||2008||0.167|
|Florida Tuskers (UFL)||2009||0.857|
|WAS||Del Rio, Jack||DC||Jacksonville (NFL)||2003-2011||0.489|