Career-ographic data of the 2021 NFL coaches
by Jason Pauley
I researched and visualized some data on NFL coaching staffs in 2021. I explored data on the number of coaches who played in the NFL (and what positions); whether Head Coaches come from an OC/DC background, and what each coach’s last coaching role was before being hired into their current role.
- Exactly half of the Head Coaches came directly from an OC/DC role, while 16% came from another NFL HC role, and 13% were college Head Coaches.
- If we look at if the HCs were ever an OC or DC at some point in their careers, 27 of the 32 were. Of those 27, 63% came from the OC side, and 37% from the defense. The five that did neither were D.Campbel, Urban Meyer, Brian Flores, and two Special Teams Coordinators, J.Judge and J.Harbaugh.
- About 1 in 5 head coaches played in the NFL, which is lower in comparison to the rate for OC/DC’s which is greater than 1 in 4. Of the 6 head coaches who played, 50% of them were QBs (Reich, Payton, Kingsbury)
- The last role defensive Coordinators had before being hired were predictably position coaches. What stands out, is how few have come from the DL coaching position. LB and DB coaches outnumber DL coaches by 17 to 2.
- 4 DCs are previous head coaches. Three of the 4 led some of the better defenses in the NFL this year (T.Bowles of TB, V.Joseph of AZ, and D.Quinn of DAL). J.Del Rio of the Commandos was the 4th.
- Almost one-third of DCs played in the NFL. This is the highest rate between OCs, DCs, and HCs. They were split evenly between DBs and LBs. Interestingly, like position coaches, DL is underrepresented here.
- QB coach/Passing Game Coordinator is, by far, the role(s) that have the biggest influence on reaching the next level between HC, DC, and OC. No previous role for HC or DC is as heaviy of a contributor than the 50% of Offensive Coordinators that came directly from QB Coach and/or Passing Game Coordinator.
- Three OCs were a laterall move from another OC position, and three were previous head coaches who were fired (P.Shurmer of DEN, J.Garret of NYG, and A.Lynn of DET).
- 25% played in the NFL, most of them were QBs (6) and the remainder were RBs (2).
- Like DCs, the line is non-existent at the top. No Offensive Coordinaotors came directly from OL coaches or from players who played on the OL. Additionally, no OCs were direct promotions of WR coaches, and none played WR.