NFL

NFL hires in the Rooney Rule era

As a new round of head coaches is hired this offseason, we look at the league’s push for equality and what the data reveal

NFL hires in the Rooney Rule era
As a new round of head coaches is hired this offseason, we look at the league’s push for equality and what the data revealBY LUKE KNOX


What the hires tell us

And then there were four.

The only minority head coaches in the NFL are Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers, Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers and now Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins.

Marvin Lewis, Todd Bowles, Vance Joseph and first-year coach Steve Wilks were all let go the day after the 2018 regular season ended. Hue Jackson was fired earlier in the season. And questions persist about whether some, like Wilks, were given sufficient time to turn their teams around.

The upheaval brings added attention to the Rooney Rule, which since 2003 has mandated that NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate for any head coach opening. But is the Rooney Rule working? We analyzed all 108 offseason hires since the rule went into effect to find out how well minority coaches have performed and whether they are put in positions to succeed as often as their white counterparts.

(Note: This does not include the hirings this offseason.)

Here are four of the metrics we used:

Overall win percentage: The overall win percentage during a coach’s tenure in one position.

Futures wins: The official Las Vegas projection for wins by a team. In this case, a quick indicator of how viable a coaching position is for a new hire, if we focus on first-season totals.

Average +/- wins: This measures the difference in per-season wins compared to the same time span before a coach is hired. If a coach averages eight wins in five seasons, and the previous five seasons the average was seven wins, the value would be +1.0.

Average hot-seat percentage: A metric created by Brian Burke of ESPN, this measures the likelihood of a head coach getting fired for going 4-12 based on his resume, historical data and other factors. A way to measure how precarious a coaching tenure really is.

Below are the most relevant questions that can be answered using data. One caveat: The sample size isn’t large enough to be too definitive. Still, the numbers are the best way to evaluate where things stand. There’s no denying that the gap between minority coach hirings (21) and white coach hirings (87) remains wide.

Are minority coaches leading winning teams more often than white coaches?
Yes.
Percentage of hires who recorded a winning percentage of .500 or greater during tenure:
Minority
8 of 21

38.1%

White
28 of 87
32.2%

Are minority coaches leading losing teams more often than white coaches?
Yes.
Percentage of hires who recorded a losing percentage of .250 or less during tenure:
Minority
5 of 21

23.8%

White
14 of 87
16.1%

Are minority coaches improving their teams more often than white coaches?
No.
Percentage of hires to improve their 
team by at least one win per season:
Minority
5 of 21

23.8%

White
26 of 87
29.9%

Are minority coaches landing on the hot seat more often than white coaches?
Yes.
Percentage of hires with a hot-seat rating of 40% or higher:
Minority
11 of 21

52.4%

White
25 of 87
28.7%

Are minority coaches securing a playoff berth more often than white coaches?
No.
Percentage of hires with at least one playoff appearance:
Minority
8 of 21

38.1%

White
42 of 87
48.3%

Are minority coaches staying in a job long term more often than white coaches?
No.
Percentage of hires with at least four seasons in one position:
Minority
4 of 21

19%

White
21 of 87
24.7%

Are minority coaches getting hired a second time more often than white coaches?
Yes.
Percentage of hires to get hired twice 
during the Rooney Rule era:
Minority
4 of 21

19%

White
12 of 87
13.8%

Are minority coaches landing the least viable jobs more often than white coaches?
Yes.
Percentage of hires with first-season futures win totals of five or less:
Minority
3 of 21

14.3%

White
7 of 87
8%


All Rooney Rule era hires

Explore the data for yourself — all 108 hires are shown below. Sort by the four metrics outlined above (overall win percentage, average +/- wins, futures wins and average hot-seat percentage), and click the filter button to view only the minority hires.

Sort coaches by:

Coach

Tm

W%
Imp
Fut
HotSt

Marvin
Lewis

CIN

.518
2.7
5.5
35.9%

Mike
McCarthy

GB

.618
-0.15
6
13.1%

Tom
Coughlin

NYG

.531
0.6
6
20.2%

Mike
Tomlin

PIT

.654
0.7
9
9.2%

Sean
Payton

NO

.615
3.4
7
14.6%

John
Harbaugh

BAL

.591
1.1
6
14.9%

Lovie
Smith

CHI

.563
2.4
6.5
25.5%

Jack
Del Rio

JAX

.489
0
7
39.4%

Pete
Carroll

SEA

.622
1.4
7
13.2%

Jason
Garrett

DAL

.566
-0.1
10
30%

Gary
Kubiak

HOU

.488
3.1
5.5
30.7%

Ron
Rivera

CAR

.559
0.6
4.5
25.6%

Mike
Smith

ATL

.589
2.1
4.5
20.2%

Norv
Turner

SD

.583
0.5
10.5
23.8%

Chuck
Pagano

IND

.552
-1.7
5.5
23.9%

Rex
Ryan

NYJ

.479
0.5
7
38%

Ken
Whisenhunt

ARI

.469
2.2
7
30.6%

Andy
Reid

KC

.677
6
7.5
13.1%

Bruce
Arians

ARI

.619
2.4
5.5
18.6%

Jim
Schwartz

DET

.363
1.6
4.5
40.5%

Jeff
Fisher

STL

.409
3.2
6
42.3%

Brad
Childress

MIN

.527
0.4
8
18.7%

Mike
Zimmer

MIN

.594
2.2
6
20.1%

Bill
O’Brien

HOU

.525
0.6
7.5
19.6%

Jay
Gruden

WSH

.444
1.4
7.5
33.7%

John
Fox

DEN

.719
4.8
6
11.1%

Jim
Harbaugh

SF

.695
4.5
7.5
11.2%

Jim
Caldwell

DET

.563
2.3
8.5
21.4%

Bill
Parcells

DAL

.531
2.8
7.5
25.3%

Joe
Gibbs

WSH

.469
0.5
9
22.6%

Mike
McCoy

SD

.422
-2.5
7.5
42.6%

Mike
Shanahan

WSH

.375
-0.5
7.5
36.9%

Romeo
Crennel

CLE

.375
-0.3
5
41.3%

Gus
Bradley

JAX

.226
-2
5
57.6%

Tony
Sparano

MIA

.475
3.3
5.5
34.1%

Dick
Jauron

BUF

.421
-1
7
40.2%

Wade
Phillips

DAL

.607
0
9
9.6%

Dan
Quinn

ATL

.563
0.8
8.5
15.2%

Todd
Bowles

NYJ

.388
0
7.5
43.1%

Mike
Nolan

SF

.327
-3.3
4.5
37.9%

Leslie
Frazier

MIN

.398
-2.3
7
41.9%

Jim
Mora Jr.

ATL

.542
1.7
9
22.2%

Jim
Caldwell

IND

.542
-3.7
10
25.8%

Jack
Del Rio

OAK

.521
4.7
5.5
16.7%

Mike
Munchak

TEN

.458
-1.7
6.5
31.4%

Raheem
Morris

TB

.354
-1.7
6.5
44.5%

Chan
Gailey

BUF

.333
-1.3
5
46.8%

Dennis
Green

ARI

.333
0
5.5
42.3%

Herm
Edwards

KC

.313
-5
9.5
48.5%

John
Fox

CHI

.292
-3
6.5
46.9%

Steve
Spagnuolo

STL

.208
-1
5.5
51%

Rod
Marinelli

DET

.208
-2
7
50.2%

Chip
Kelly

PHI

.553
1.3
7.5
23.9%

Todd
Haley

KC

.422
1.3
6
28%

Tom
Cable

OAK

.386
2.3
6
39.3%

Steve
Mariucci

DET

.349
0.3
6
41%

Mike
Mularkey

TEN

.488
7.5
6
31%

Mike
Singletary

SF

.450
3
7
32.4%

Hue
Jackson

CLE

.088
-3.7
4.5
53.9%

Doug
Pederson

PHI

.604
0.7
6.5
14.9%

Adam
Gase

MIA

.479
0.3
7
25.6%

Dirk
Koetter

TB

.396
2.3
7
33.5%

Scott
Linehan

STL

.306
-1.5
7
40.1%

Dennis
Allen

OAK

.222
-4.3
7
53.2%

Gary
Kubiak

DEN

.656
-2
10
5.7%

Doug
Marrone

BUF

.469
1.5
6.5
20.3%

Nick
Saban

MIA

.469
0.5
5.5
22.6%

Mike
Mularkey

BUF

.438
0
7.5
26.5%

Marc
Trestman

CHI

.406
-2.5
8.5
34.2%

Jim
Zorn

WSH

.375
-1
7.5
37.1%

Greg
Schiano

TB

.344
-1.5
6
30.9%

Mike
Pettine

CLE

.313
0.5
6.5
38.3%

Eric
Mangini

CLE

.313
-2
7
47.1%

Pat
Shurmur

CLE

.281
-0.5
6.5
44.5%

Norv
Turner

OAK

.281
-3
7.5
43.7%

Dennis
Erickson

SF

.281
-6.5
9.5
43.8%

Lovie
Smith

TB

.250
-1.5
7
45.5%

Rex
Ryan

BUF

.484
0
8.5
24.4%

Ben
McAdoo

NYG

.464
0.5
8.5
34.1%

Josh
McDaniels

DEN

.393
-2
6.5
35.8%

Doug
Marrone

JAX

.471
3.5
6.5
34%

Sean
McVay

LAR

.750
6.5
6
12.1%

Anthony
Lynn

LAC

.656
6
7.5
11.9%

Sean
McDermott

BUF

.469
0
6.5
26.8%

Vance
Joseph

DEN

.344
-5
8
36.5%

Kyle
Shanahan

SF

.313
1.5
5
21.1%

Ken
Whisenhunt

TEN

.130
-5
7
67%

Lane
Kiffin

OAK

.250
-0.5
5
26.4%

Romeo
Crennel

KC

.211
-3
8
62.7%

Jim
Tomsula

SF

.353
-2
6.5
44.3%

Hue
Jackson

OAK

.500
0
6.5
17.6%

Jim
Mora Jr.

SEA

.313
1
7.5
38.9%

Rob
Chudzinski

CLE

.250
-1
6.5
43.1%

Chip
Kelly

SF

.125
-3
5.5
63.3%

Mike
Mularkey

JAX

.125
-3
5.5
61.6%

Art
Shell

OAK

.125
-2
6.5
56.9%

Cam
Cameron

MIA

.063
-5
7
67.6%

Bobby
Petrino

ATL

.231
-4
7.5
47.3%

Jim
Haslett

STL

.167
-1
6.5
57.5%

Mike
Vrabel

TEN

.563
0
8
12.9%

Frank
Reich

IND

.625
6
7.5
6.7%

Pat
Shurmur

NYG

.313
2
7
25%

Steve
Wilks

ARI

.188
-5
6
61.1%

Matt
Nagy

CHI

.750
7
7.5
6.8%

Matt
Patricia

DET

.375
-3
7.5
34.2%

Jon
Gruden

OAK

.250
-2
7.5
47.1%

Eric
Mangini

NYJ

.479
1
6.5
29%

Joe
Philbin

MIA

.462
-1.8
7
28.9%


Who’s next?

According to the data, white hires are twice as likely to be offensive coordinators (35.6% compared witih 19%), while minority hires are almost twice as likely to be defensive coordinators (47.6% compared with 24.1%).

Who are the assistants worth watching? The Undefeated’s Jason Reid, who has written a series of stories about the Rooney Rule, identified the top five most viable candidates below.

Previous jobs of head coach hires, broken down by percentage
MINORITY HIRES
WHITE HIRES

Offensive
coordinator
19%

35.6%

Defensive
coordinator
47.6%
24.1%
NFL/CFL
head coach
9.5%

16.1%

College
coach
4.8%

11.5%

Offensive
assistant
9.5%

8%

Defensive
assistant
9.5%

4.6%

Eric Bieniemy
Offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs

Although head coach Andy Reid calls the plays on offense, Bieniemy is getting a lot of love for his work with second-year star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Reid is grooming Bieniemy for big things.

Spencer Ware on Bieniemy: “I think the biggest thing Coach Bieniemy [brings] to our offense is his intensity. … Having an entire offense with that same mentality is pretty exciting.” More on Bieniemy

George Edwards
Defensive coordinator, Minnesota Vikings

With five years in the gig, Edwards has experience. Last season, the Vikings had the league’s No. 1 defense statistically.

Mike Zimmer on Edwards: “He helps with the game plan. He runs a lot of the meetings, the defensive meetings. Him and I really sit down and talk about all the different things that are going on.” More on Edwards

Kris Richard
Passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach, Dallas Cowboys

There’s a lot of buzz around him because of what the Cowboys’ D is doing.

Richard: “Guys respect you when you’re consistent each and every single day. They love you when they know it’s real. That it’s who you really are. That’s the point.”More on Richard

Duce Staley
Assistant head coach and running backs coach, Philadelphia Eagles

Staley has the rep of being great working with players and getting them to buy in.

Staley: “I’m still driven by passion. I catch myself sometimes, even out here in practice, trying to make a cut. … Being able to play through them vicariously, it’s a great feeling for me.”More on Staley


Where does NFL go from here?

Hiring head coaches is far from an exact science, and the Rooney Rule is not a perfect solution to the NFL’s pre-2003 diversity concerns. But the available data suggest that minority coaches aren’t given tenures as long as their white counterparts, although they win more frequently. And while minority hires also lose more frequently, they take over a higher rate of bad teams in Year 1.

Which brings us back to this offseason. Eight head-coaching spots opened up at the end of the season. Six teams hired first-time NFL head coaches: The Cleveland Browns promoted offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to head coach, the Green Bay Packers hired Matt LaFleur, the Arizona Cardinals went with 39-year-old Kliff Kingsbury, the Denver Broncos tapped longtime assistant Vic Fangio, the Cincinnati Bengals named Zac Taylor, and the Dolphins just introduced Flores. The New York Jets, meanwhile, hired former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went with a known quantity in Bruce Arians.

Seven of the eight coaches are white.

And Bieniemy, Richard and other minority candidates will have to continue waiting for a chance to take the reins of a franchise.

Is there still work to be done when it comes to diversity among NFL coaches?

Yes.


Illustrations by Josue Evilla, photos by Getty Images