Here we go again, the annual ritual of head coach bloodletting for 2020 seems to be over at this point in January. Every year about 20% of NFL head coaches are shown the door, which usually means the Browns and six other teams bring in a new head coach. This year has been a bit lighter with only five replacements announced. Included, of course, are the Browns, who hired Mark Stefnaski. The Cowboys, who finally parted ways with Jason, Jones, err Garrett for Mike McCarthy. The Panthers tapped Baylor’s Matt Ruhle and ousted Ron Rivera. The Redskins decided the Panthers must have made a mistake and grabbed Ron Rivera. Finally, the Giants, who continue to confound by bringing on Joe Judge from the Patriots staff. The Wonderkid Search continues. These five new coaches represent a diverse assortment of credentials, backgrounds, and philosophies. So, how will they do? No one knows but optimism reigns supreme. I think I have an idea who may be successful and who will not.
I have been studying NFL head coaches for many years. In 2012 I published a book, “The Perfect Pro Football Coach,” in which I ranked every one of the 300 some head coaches since the AFL-NFL merger from best to worst. In doing so, I developed an unpretentious system for rating coaches, strictly based on their performance on the field. I know who was good, and I know who was not. I have now taken my studies one step further and come up with a rating system that forecasts success based on the parallels a new candidate has with the successful coaches in recent history. It is called the Chance of Success Total (“COST”) system. This approached is detailed in my latest book, “Tackling the Perfect Pro Football Coach.”
Here’s how these new guys shake out in order of predicted success
My scores are strictly based upon on-the-field performance of their teams once they take over. I do not consider personalities, ownership peculiarities, the existing team roster, etc. The “perfect pro football coach” would score an even 100 points under the COST system. A score in the 80’s and above is very good. High 60’s and 70’s are possible successes. Below that, success is unlikely.
In this group Ron Rivera scored high because of his extensive experience as a successful NFL head coach and coordinator. He has also been a winner almost everywhere he has ever been. In general, I downgrade coaches who have been head coaches before since almost two-thirds of them fare worst in their subsequent gigs. In Rivera’s and Mike McCarthy’s case, I actually up graded them because they performed very well in the former jobs. Ken Stefanski has good credentials, although he lacks experience has not been a coordinator very long. Joe Judge has never been a coordinator, which is the kiss of death for me. Matt Ruhl has some impressive accomplishments, but I have discovered that it very rare for a big-time college head coach to jump right into the NFL and be successful, although Matt did have a cameo with the Giants a few years ago. Interestingly, my research indicates that having been an NFL head coach anywhere before is not a requirement. There have been many successes who had never been a head coach anywhere before.
I have been predicting success of future NFL head coaches for the past eleven years. I am certain of one thing: NFL ownership has done an abysmal job in finding new coaches. In fact, their success rate is under 20%. Had they followed my COST predictions their batting average would have gone up by about three times that figure. I am not perfect but I am batting over .600. Best of luck to the new guys. They are going to need it.
There is much more detail information about COST forecasts in my latest book, “Tackling the Perfect Pro Football Coach”, which is available through Kindle and Amazon.