The Perfect Pro Football Coach
WHO SHOULD BE THE NEXT TEXANS' COACH?
THE NFL COACHING GAUNTLET
Who's running in? Who's running out?
Who's in the middle getting beat up?
|CATEGORY 1||EXCELLENT||ABOVE 85|
Although most head coach terminations occur logically and appropriately at season’s end, every so often an impulsive owner sends a coach packing after only a few games. I suppose the reason for this ridiculous move is the scant hope that an interim coach will somehow save the season from a horrible start. I do not want to dwell on the stupidity of this move except to say that interim coaches never do well. Five wins, maybe. Moreover, these irrational owners don’t see that they have really fired at least a dozen coaches, all but one of which they expect to stay on and perform well knowing they are out in a few months. Dumb. Already, Dan Quinn in Atlanta and Bill O’Brien in Houston have been sent packing after only a few games in the crazy “co(n)vid oluted” 2020 season.
If history rings true, these two teams and four or five others will need new head coaches for next year. I have spent the past decade studying head coaching patterns in the NFL and have written two books, which discus my observations and conclusions. “The Perfect Pro Football Coach” sets forth a system I developed for ranking the effectiveness of every NFL head coach since the merger in 1960. I have assigned every one of the more than 300 head coaches a competitive score and ranked them from the best ever (Belichick, of course) on down. I redo the rankings every year.
In “Tackling the Perfect Pro Football Coach”, I used the data I assembled ranking the coaches to devise a standard for searching for a new head coach. It is called the “Chance of Success Total (COST)” whereby I assign a point total to prospective coaches, before they are hired based on their resumes. Using the resulting scores, I then forecast the chance a new coach, if hired, will be successful or not. Over the past ten years, in round numbers, had the NFL owners followed my advice the hiring decisions would have been right more than 65% of the time. As it stands, they were right only a dismal 15 % of the time. My forecasts outpaced their very poor decision making by almost four to one.
I do want to very clear that consideration of my COST scores are but one part of a very complicated and multi-faceted hiring process. It is very limited and strictly a incorporates hard historical data. No personalities, leadership, organizational skills, or visceral considerations are considered. Pro football is, of course, a very emotional occupation. I would never recommend that my scores be used alone in hiring decisions.
All the above, notwithstanding. I have processed a number prospective coaches through my COST analysis matrix as they might be suited to become the next new head coach for the Houston, Texans. I selected twenty-five possibilities, gathered mainly from media discussed sources. Each has been assigned a COST score and then grouped as to how I believe their likelihood of success should they become the next Texans head coach. The list includes mostly current NFL assistants, former head coaches, and a few college coaches.
In theory, a coach with a COST score of 100 would be the “perfect” candidate. I have yet to find him. In practice, a COST score of 75 or above indicates that coaches have as good chance to succeed, if hired. The success predictability declines rapidly with the score. Below 65, chances of failure are more likely than success, although these forecasts are not absolute. The calculated scores in the target group of 25 range from a high of 85 to a low of 30.
Two specific credentials, which weigh heavily in my analysis, evolved out of my study of the on-the-filed performance of the 300 some coaches. The first is that I penalize the score of any hot-shot very successful college head coach jumping straight into the NFL, never having been there before. They just don’t do well. Do they, Chip Kelly? Perhaps a more surprising negative bias in my numbers is that I downgrade candidates who have been NFL head coaches in the past. My numbers substantiate the fact that fully two-thirds of pervious NFL coaches, who are rehired, perform worse in their subsequent jobs. This situation is hardly absolute (e.g. Don Shula). One final comment is that I have found that it is simply not necessary that a prospective coach has ever been a head coach anywhere else ever before to be successful. Before I studied the coaches, I would have felt otherwise.
Another factor that can significantly impact a COST score is what I have called “winning tradition”. I traced every stop in each coach’s football career including as a player to determine a measure of success of the team he was associated with each year. Winning begets winners. I measured both his overall career record in terms of wins and losses and also in winning seasons. A prospective coach, who was consistently around losers lost points on my analysis.
In order to understand the specific categories and weighting of the COST calculations, the reader is referred to “Tackling the Perfect Pro Football Coach”, which is available through Amazon. I do plan to analyze the Atlanta search as well.
The following table sets forth the 25 coaching candidates on whom I ran COST analysis scores. They are mainly assistant coaches who occupy either offensive or defensive coordinator positions, which I consider a vitally important job as a stepping stone to head coach. There are also several former head coaches and two highly successful college coaches. I also fully understand that the inclusion of Romeo Crennel, Raheem Morris, and Wade Phillips might be summarily discounted for considerations due to age, previous association with the Texans’ program, or current job, but I opted to include them anyway for comparison purposes.
|CATEGORY 3||POSSIBLE SUCCESS||65-74|
|Bieniemy, Eric||74||Solid choice, light coord exp|
|Frazier, Leslie||74||Respected, failed in MIN|
|Daboll, Brian||73||Good prospect, 5 yr coord|
|Moore, Kellen||73||A winner, age and exp hurt|
|Crennel. Romeo||71||Been there, part of existng problem|
|Martindale, Wink||70||In the hunt, not always a winner|
|Sirianni, Nick||67||Lack of coord experience|
|Morris, Raheem||65||ATL interim HC, too inexp as TAM HC|
|1||Allen, Dennis||New Orleans Saints||Defensive Coordinator||NFL ASST/FHC|
|2||Bieniemy, Eric||Kansas City Chiefs||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|3||Bowles, Todd||Tampa Bay Bucs||Defensive Coordinator||NFL ASST/FHC|
|4||Brady, Joe||Carolina Panthers||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|5||Carmichael, Pete||New Orleans Saints||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|6||Crennel, Romeo||Houston Texans||Interim Head Coach||NFL ASST/FHC|
|7||Daboll, Brian||Buffalo Bills||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|8||Eberflus, Matt||Indianapolis Colts||Defensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|9||Fassel, John||Dallas Cowboys||Special Teams Coach||NFL ASST|
|10||Frazier, Leslie||Buffalo Bills||Defensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|11||Leftwich, Byron||Tampa Bay Bucs||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|12||Martindale, Wink||Baltimore Ravens||Defensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|13||Mc Daniels, Josh||New England Pats||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST/FHC|
|14||Moore, Kellen||Dallas Cowboys||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|15||Morris, Raheem||Atlanta Falcons||Interim Head Coach||NFL ASST/FHC|
|16||Phillips, Wade||Unaffiliated||Out of Football||NFL ASST/FHC|
|17||Riley, Lincoln||Oklahoma||Head Coach||College Coach|
|18||Roman, Greg||Baltimore Ravens||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|19||Saleh, Robert||S F 49ers||Defensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|20||Sirianni, Nick||Indianapolis Colts||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|21||Smith, Arthur||Tennessee Titans||Offensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|22||Staley, Brandon||La Rams||Defensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|23||Swinney, Dabo||Clemson|| Head Coach||College Coach|
|24||Toub,, Dave||Kansas City Chiefs||AHC/Special Teams Coach||NFL ASST|
|25||Woods, Joe||Cleveland Browns||Defensive Coordinator||NFL ASST|
|CATEGORY 5||LIKELY FAILURE||BELOW 55|
|Saleh, Robert||53||Should be ranked higher, coached losers|
|Staley,Brandon||53||No coordinator experience, associated with losers|
|Bowles, Todd||49||Til recently, never a winner, flop with NYJ|
|Smith, Arthur||42||Slim coord experience, infrequent winner|
|Fassel, John||36||Never a coordinator, short on experience|
|Riley, Lincoln||33||Hot shot college HC, No NFL experience|
|Swinney, Dabo||30||Hot shot college HC, No NFL experience|
After running the individual COST scores, I grouped them by five Success Forecast Categories according to the following chart:
|5||Likely Failure||Below 55||E|
HERE ARE THE PROSPECTIVE COACHES LISTED BY DESIRABILTY BASED ON THIER COST SCORES:
|CATEGORY 2||VERY GOOD||75-85|
|Phillips, Wade||85||Deep experience, done it all, a winner|
|Allen, Dennis||80||Won everywhere but Oakland|
|Carmichael, Pete||78||11 years a coordinator, a winner|
|Eberflus, Matt||77||Strong in all categories, a winner|
|McDaniels, Josh||75||Big winner, very experienced, DEN was too soon|
|CATEGORY 4||PROBABLE FAILURE||55-64|
|Toub, Dave||61||After 20 NFL yrs, never a coord|
|Woods, Joe||60||No coord exp, with losers|
|Roman, Greg||59||Probably should be higher, career loser|
|Leftwich, Byron||56||Short on exp, bright future|
|Brady, Joe||55||Scant exp, up and coming|
So, who do I believe the Texans should hire? If the decision were solely based upon my COST analysis, which is patterned on the best coaches in the past, the “Very Good” group would be the best, although political considerations might immediately remove Wade Philips and Josh Mc Daniels, leaving Dennis Allen, (a Texan, by the way), Pete Carmichael, and Matt Eberflus as prime candidates.
With the exception of Romeo Crennel, who is serving as interim head coach, and Raheem Morris, who is doing the same at Atlanta, any of the “Possible Success” group might be suitable, especially Eric Bieniemy and Brian Daboll, although I would be mindful of Leslie Frazier’s poor experience in Minnesota. The rest, in my opinion could lead to failure mainly due to lack of experience as coordinators or poor winning tradition. Robert Saleh deserves a comment. By all other measures, except that he has most often be associated with losers, he grades out as an acceptable candidate. Stay away from the college hotshots.
In reality, of course, there is so much more that goes into the decision that my COST score, which is just one measure or data point of many. I suspect the hired coach will come from among my top ten or so.
Who have I left out? Who would you like to se evaluated?