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You may recall that two years ago — after the 2013 season — there were eight head coaching vacancies, and all eight were filled by white coaches.  One explanation given was that all but Gus Bradley (Jacksonville) were offensive coaches, and black head coaches were more prominent on the defensive side of the ball.

Last year, the pendulum swung: all but one of the seven vacancies were filled by defensive coaches. The lone offensive-minded hire was Gary Kubiak in Denver, which has worked out precisely because Denver has the best defense in the NFL (though Kubiak deserves full credit for hiring Wade Phillips).

This year, there were seven head coaching vacancies, and all seven were filled by offensive coaches.  Let’s review in chronological order:

  • The first hire was Adam Gase to the Miami Dolphins. Gase is a first-time head coach but with pretty strong credentials. His Broncos had a record-setting offense in 2013, ranked in the top four in both points and yards in 2014, and then he helped Jay Cutler have his best year yet as a Bear this past season. That does overlooked Chicago’s 21st-place ranking in yards and 23rd-place finish in points, but Gase has a strong resume for an offensive coordinator.
  • The next was Hue Jackson to  Cleveland.  Jackson did a great job with Andy Dalton this season, and has generally earned rave reviews from the media.  He was also the lone minority hire this season.
  • The New York Giants promoted Ben McAdoo from offensive coordinator to head coach; the Giants also kept Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator and Jerry Reese as general manager, so you can infer what this means management thought of outgoing head coach Tom Coughlin and his role in the team finishing 6-10.
  • Chip Kelly, after being fired by the Eagles, has landed in San Francisco. Kelly has an offensive background, of course, and after being unusually fired given his tenure and winning percentage, it’s not surprising to see him land on his feet so quickly.
  • To replace Kelly, Philadelphia brought in Doug Pederson, who has been on Andy Reid’s staff since 2009.  He spent four years with Reid in Philadelphia, before joining him as offensive coordinator in Kansas City the last three seasons.
  • Dirk Koetter joins McAdoo as offensive coordinators that were promoted to take over for fired head coaches. Koetter did a nice job in Tampa Bay this year, after three generally (but not always) productive seasons as the Atlanta offensive coordinator. Of course, those followed some very unproductive seasons in Jacksonville.
  • Finally, we get to the most offensive hire yet: Tennessee’s decision to retain Mike Mularkey.  After going 2-7 as the team’s interim head coach down the stretch, it was not expected that Mularkey — who has spent time as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and tight ends coach — would return. I’ll let Titans expert Thomas Gower take it from here.


Seven new head coaches, and seven coaches with offensive backgrounds.  What are your thoughts on the new hires?


  • Richie

    I always confuse Mike Mularkey and Mike Muchak. When Mularkey was named as interim, I was thinking it was the guy who was their coach a few years ago.

    How many other coaches have had losing records with 2 other franchises and got a third head coaching gig? Although, to be fair, those 2 franchises only consisted of 3 seasons.

    • Johhny Ohrl

      Norv the smurf comes to mind… Oh god. You spoiled my day.

      • Richie

        Oh yeah. And, he actually had a winning record in his 3rd gig.

        • Johhny Ohrl

          Oh yeah, and he inherited the most talented roster in the NFL… As Rex once put it (and there is no doubt in my mind he´s right) “I´d have won 6 SBs with that team” :-p
          Wrong time to flak me: Even the vets like Burke and FO proved that Norv the smurf was the worst of em all. Which is a tough task with the NFL laden timid coaches… They come in bunches!
          Imagine this: In 2010 he managed his club to a 9-7 record while leading both in Y/PP and Defense Y/PP with a 2.5 differential. That´s what overly timid play-calling and punting/kicking wins away do for you…
          Normally such impressive teams go 12-4 at minimum (with a few exceptions in the earlier NFL years), and most of them went to the SB.