As usual the end of the 2016 regular NFL season saw the termination of about one fifth of the head coaches in the league. In fact, from 2012 through 2015 exactly seven coaches were fired each year. So far this year the number is six, but we may not be done yet. Like many things in life it is not hard to determine when you are unhappy with something, but fixing it is quite another matter. Maybe there is a way to guard against the frequent poor hires that occur so often?

Since 2009, we have been tracking new head coach hires and applying their credentials against a set of standards, which we have developed after closely studying the attributes and detracting characteristics of the almost 300 coaches who have run NFL teams over the past fifty years. We then use our “Success Predictably Gradient (SPG)” to forecast the likelihood of success for each new hire. We are not perfect, but our batting average has been much better than the NFL Owners have achieved.

We look only at a hard data comparison of how a new coach compares with the best and worst that have gone before him. We do not measure personalities or what is in his heart. These factors are ,of course, critical to any hiring decision. We also do not attempt to provide an explanation for why certain factors apply, only that the better coaches seem to have them. Our reasoning is very straightforward, the more your new man compares favorably with the best in the past, the more likely he will work out for you.

As of this writing five of the six vacancies have been filled with only the 49’ers coach-less at this point. Perhaps they are waiting for the playoffs to be complete before they hire someone like Josh McDaniel’s of the Pats or Kyle Shanahan of the Falcons. That said, based on our SPG scores we feel that the first five selections have been unusually good by historical standards, with one glaring exception.  A perfect SPG score is 100 points based on about fifteen key factors.  As in the classroom, 90+ is excellent, 80’s are very good, 70’s are okay, and then the trouble begins.

Here are the SPG scores of the five hires and two contenders so far:

img_20170123_0005 Both Marrone and McVay are graded down because they have not been around winners for most of their football careers. We also tend to score down new coaches who have done it before, since about two-thirds of them do worse the second time around. McVay suffers from his tender age and lack of time (only two years) as a coordinator. He simply has not paid his dues as yet. All the others have considerable time on NFL staffs, particularly as coordinators.

Remember Josh McDaniels in Denver?

For more on how we rate head coaches visit our website- .

The Perfect Pro Football Coach by Robert DeLuca is now available at most other national booksellers.


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