Sean Payton: 'A Lot of Mistakes Made' in HC Hiring Process; Coaches Pigeonholed

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 29, 2019

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks to reporters after practice at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. The Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC Championship on Sunday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

In an interview with NFL Network's Steve Wyche, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton explained how teams are so focused on finding the "next Sean McVay" that other qualified coaches get "pigeonholed" before getting an opportunity to prove themselves.

He added: "Ultimately you would say if we did a little history, successful head coaches probably come from the East and the West and North and South. They probably come of both color, and they probably come on defense and on offense. And they're good leaders."

The lack of diversity has also led to some calls for action.

Of the eight teams that changed head coaches following the 2018 season, Brian Flores with the Miami Dolphins was the only non-white coach hired. Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers), Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers) and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) are the other minority head coaches in the NFL.

According to an Associated Press study conducted last season, only four minorities worked on the 32 coaching staffs as an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported in January the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group that works to promote diversity and job opportunities in the NFL, planned to ask the league to create two entry-level positions in an attempt to increase the number of minority coaches.

There has also been a growing divide in the hiring process between offensive and defensive coaches. High-powered offenses have taken over the NFL, as teams averaged 23.3 points per game in 2018, the third-highest total in league history.

Six of the eight new head coaches hired this offseason came from an offensive background. Zac Taylor and Matt LaFleur were offensive coordinators last season. Freddie Kitchens started 2018 as the Cleveland Browns running backs coach, then was named offensive coordinator after Hue Jackson was fired before eventually being hired as head coach in January.

Over the past two seasons, 14 of 32 teams have made a change at head coach. Only Flores, Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos), Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions) and Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans) were hired as head coaches after being defensive coordinators.

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