Times are changing in the ranks of NFL head coaches. A group of young coaches from top to bottom are a part of the league, and owners and general managers aren’t shy about hiring them.
Although Lane Kiffin didn’t work out (he was 31 when hired as the youngest coach in Oakland Raiders history in 2007), the trend currently appears to be leaning towards hiring younger coaches as head coaches or coordinators.
Mike Tomlin, 37, guided the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl title last season. Raheem Morris, 33, is Tampa Bay’s new coach after being promoted from secondary coach. Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, also just 33, got his job after spending three years as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. And Eric Mangini, 38, is the Cleveland Browns head coach, after holding the same job with the Jets, where he led them to the playoffs in 2006.
But hiring young isn’t such a new idea…
Tomlin took over for Bill Cowher, who was 34 when hired in 1992. Jon Gruden was just 35 when he coached the Raiders in 1998 and 39 when he won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay after the 2002 season. Don Shula, the NFL’s all-time wins leader, was 39 when he became head coach of the Miami Dolphins after the 1969 season.
And don’t forget John Madden, who was hired at the age of 32 by the Raiders in 1969 and had a 70-21-7 record in his first seven seasons. Madden won a Super Bowl at the age of 40 with Oakland.
More youthful coaches might be considered in the near future, as nine NFL teams have coordinators under the age of 40.
Whether it’s their ability to relate better to the younger players, their energy or willingness to take on lower-paying salaries, young coaches seem to have an advantage lately when it comes to the top jobs.
But what matters the most is a coach’s record. And if that goes south, there are older guys like Gruden, Mike Shanahan, Brian Billick, Cowher, Jim Haslett, Mike Martz and Herm Edwards who might be looking for work again in the NFL some day.
Here are some facts about the ages of head coaches in the NFL:
Age 30-39: 4 coaches
Age 40-49: 13 coaches
Age 50-59: 13 coaches
Age 60-69: 2 coaches
Oldest coach: Tom Coughlin, Giants, 63
Youngest coach: Raheem Morris, Buccaneers, 33 (1 month)
Second-youngest coach: Josh McDaniels, Broncos, 33 (5 months)
- Top Speed: San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore, who blew through the Seattle Seahawks defense for TD runs of 79 and 80 yards in Week 2, and joined Barry Sanders as the only two players with two scoring runs of 79 yards or more in a game.
- Near Perfection: Kurt Warner went 24 of 26 for 243 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s win over Jacksonville in Week 2, and set the single-game mark for completion percentage at 92.30. He topped Vinny Testaverde’s record of 91.30 (21 of 23) set with Cleveland in a 1993 game against the Los Angeles Rams.
- End of Home Skid: The Jets win over New England was their first over the Patriots at home since 2000, snapping a losing streak of eight games.
- Largest Crowd: Dallas had the largest regular-season crowd in NFL history in its home opener against the Giants, with 105, 121 in attendance.
- Eating Up the Clock and Losing: The Miami Dolphins dominated time of possession in their Week 2 game against the Colts, holding the ball for 45:03 to 14:57. But, despite holding the ball and four leads, the Dolphins lost 27-23.
Did You Know?
The San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots are tied for the longest active streak of consecutive games won over a single opponent. The Chargers have beaten the Oakland Raiders 12 straight times, and the Patriots have won 12 in a row over the Buffalo Bills.
Copyright © 2009 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.