When Arizona filling their head coaching job by hiring Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator and likely coach of the year Bruce Arians, shortly after Jacksonville hired Gus Bradley, the coaching carousel was complete. Seven of the new hires were first time NFL head coaches. None of them were African-American candidates. In addition, with only the Jets GM opening remaining after the Lombardi hire, none of the GM/front office decision maker openings has gone to an African-American candidate.
Individually, you cannot criticize any particular hire, and teams are free to make decisions for their own organization. Lovie Smith was available after a 10-6 season in Chicago. The hottest African-American candidate was Ray Horton, the Arizona defensive coordinator, but that franchise chose not to retain and promote him though he had a stellar year coordinating that side of the ball.
Collectively, the issue appears to be something that Mike Silver talked about a month ago, the stunning dearth of candidates on the offensive side of the ball. Jim Caldwell is the only African-American coach calling offensive plays in the NFL, and that is after Cam Cameron was fired. The best candidates on the offensive side of the ball may be in college, where David Shaw and Kevin Sumlin come from offensive backgrounds and are presiding over top ten programs this year. The NFL, meanwhile, is doing a poor job within its ranks of identifying African-American offensive candidates to move up the ranks. College football has not exactly been the beacon for hope when it comes to racial progressiveness in the coaching ranks, but those numbers have shot up in the last five years. Even with the Rooney Rule in place, colleges may have now overtaken the NFL, and it is all because of the offense. Seven of the eight teams opted for coaches with offensive backgrounds this year, with Jacksonville hiring the coordinator for the team ranked #1 in points allowed as the only exception.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]
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