Almost Every NFL Head Coach Fired in the Past Three Seasons Has a Job in the League
By: The Football Girl | Posted: August 16, 2012
As soon as a new head coach is hired it seems like just nanoseconds before he is on some kind of hot seat, whether real or self-created. Just months after winning his second Super Bowl as head coach of the Giants, Tom Coughlin recently said he felt like this season was yet another one with no guarantees.
Maybe being an NFL head coach really is just a series of one-year renewals (even with a multiyear contract). It certainly must be discombobulating to know that 3-4 (minimum) of the 32 head coaches will be fired each season, and one of them could easily be you. The profession even has its own day – Black Monday, the day after the regular season concludes – dedicated to the onslaught of firings. Talk about a hard knock life.
But is it really?
Imagine holding a job for many years and finally getting that shot to be the boss, as in a V.P. or even a CEO, the type of job where you’re so busy you never get to relax on the plush Italian-imported sofa gracing your office. Obviously you’re going to jump at the opportunity even if you happen to be in over your head. It's more money. It's more prestige. It’s a no-brainer. But if you happen to do a terrible job you won’t be kept around in some reduced position because of shareholders and morale and did I mention shareholders. At that point you are on your own and have to claw your way back to respectability in a new venue.
This real life scenario doesn’t happen in the company known as the NFL. Assistants are hired every year and if they fail they simply have the option of going back to being an assistant. It doesn’t matter how bad their clock management skills were or if they secretly filmed an opponent’s practice. They always have a good job waiting for them.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a fact for you: Almost every NFL head coach fired in the last three years currently holds a coordinator or position coach job in the league (see below). Exceptions are Eric Mangini, an NFL analyst for ESPN, John Fox, the current head coach in Denver Broncos, and Jim Mora, now the head coach at UCLA. The point is if you make it to te head coaching level, you are pretty much set.
This astonishing reality is due to multiple reasons. 1) Fired coaches are often times replaced by coordinators, leaving those coordinator jobs open for the, you guessed it, fired coaches. 2) Positional coaches and coordinators are really really important, arguably moreso than the head guy, and the fired guys did once excel in these roles. 3) In addition to mastering a position or one side of the ball, a former head coach is going to bring an added swagger and confidence when dealing with players. A perfect example was shown on the latest episode of "Hard Knocks" when former Packers head coach Mike Sherman turned Dolphins offensive coordinator (with a few stops along the way) threw down the gauntlet on his underperforming tight ends.
Obviously every head coach wants to be the next Bill Walsh or Vince Lombardi (or in some cases simply have a winning season). But if the move up fails, he gets to go back to the confines of what he knows best. And unless he’s convicted of a crime, it’s seems pretty automatic.
Talk about a low risk, high reward situation.
Then: Head coach, Oakland Raiders (2008-2010)
Now: Offensive line coach and assistant head coach, Seattle Seahawks
Then: Head coach, Indianapolis Colts (2009-2011)
Now: Quarterbacks coach, Baltimore Ravens
Then: Head coach, Minnesota Vikings (2006-2010)
Now: Offensive coordinator, Cleveland Browns
On to a calmer life as a coordinator
Jack Del Rio
Then: Head coach, Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-2011)
Now: Defensive coordinator, Denver Broncos
Then: Head coach, Kansas City Chiefs (2009-2011)
Now: Offensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers
Then: Head coach, Oakland Raiders (2011)
Now: Assistant coach, Cincinnati Bengals
Then: Head coach, Buffalo Bills (2006-2009 - fired in November)
Now: Defensive coordinator, Cleveland Browns
Then: Head coach, Cleveland Browns (2009-2010)
Now: ESPN NFL Analyst
Then: Head coach, Denver Broncos (2009-2010)
Now: Offensive coordinator, New England Patriots
Then: Head coach, Seattle Seahawks (2009-2010)
Now: Head coach, UCLA
Then: Head coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-2102)
Now: Defensive backs coach, Washington Redskins
Then: Head coach, San Francisco 49ers (2008-2010)
Now: Linebackers coach and assistant head coach, Minnesota Vikings
Once a linebacker, always a linebacker
Then: Head coach, St. Louis Rams (2009-2012)
Now: Offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints
Then: Head coach, Miami Dolphins (2008-2011)
Now: Offensive coordinator, New York Jets
Then: Head coach, Washington Redskins (2008-2010)
Now: Quarterbacks coach, Kansas City Chiefs
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