By Jim Weidner. When the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos named Anthony Lynn and Vance Joseph their head coaches this past month, it increased the number of minority head coaches in the NFL to eight. That is a step in the right direction, but the NFL still has work to do in regards to minority hiring.
Minority head coaching candidates have been helped out by the Rooney Rule since it was put together by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney back in 2002. With the NFL now having eight minority head coaches (25% of teams) it ties the high for minority head coaches, which was set back in 2011. But still, there is room for growth in the NFL even before considering the percentages of minority players to minority coaches.
One of the obstacles that faces minority coaching candidates is that most are from the defensive side of the football. Out of the eight minority NFL head coaches, only three having offensive coaching backgrounds. These are the Cleveland Browns’ Hue Jackson, the Detroit Lions’ Jim Caldwell, and the Chargers’ Lynn. Out of these three, only Jackson has more than one year of offensive coordinator experience. Although Caldwell served multiple seasons as a quarterbacks’ coach, he only served as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator for one season. Anthony Lynn, whose background is as a running backs coach, has only a partial season as a team’s offensive coordinator. This past season, he took over calling plays for the Bills when offensive coordinator Greg Roman was let go by then head coach Rex Ryan.
Currently in the NFL, there are only three minority offensive coordinators: Tennessee Titans’ Terry Robiskie, Green Bay Packers’ Edgar Bennett, and Arizona Cardinals’ Harold Goodwin. However, only Robiskie calls the offensive plays for his team. For the Packers, head coach Mike McCarthy is responsible for the play calling and for the Arizona Cardinals it is their head coach Bruce Arians. Not only do minorities need to get more opportunities as offensive coordinators, they need to be allowed to call their team’s plays, showing they can handle the responsibility.
The NFL is looking into expanding the Rooney Rule for coordinator positions. In expanding the Rooney Rule for coordinators, the league would maintain that in looking to replace one of their coordinators, they must interview a minority. This wouldn’t include new head coaches that are hiring for their first staff. At the very least, this would allow minority candidates to get experience interviewing for coordinator positions.
The NFL should be happy to see eight minority head coaches, but they shouldn’t be satisfied. The NFL needs to keep moving forward with equality. The Rooney Rule for head coaches and coordinator positons will help, but NFL owners shouldn’t need to be forced to interview quality candidates, minority or not. Hopefully, the league is moving in the right direction.