Assistant Coach

Football Terms – Position Coaches and Coordinators

Assistant coaches in the NFL are responsible for preparing the players for each game and enabling the team to function as a unit. Since the head coach cannot do everything himself, he surrounds himself with skilled assistants. In many cases, the most successful assistant coaches will go on to become head coaches themselves.

The following are some of the most common assistant coaching positions in the National Football League:

Examples of assistant coaches becoming head coaches include:

As you see, the path to a head coaching job can be long and winding, or short and dramatic. Tom Landry had five losing seasons to start his career (something which would get him fired these days), but followed those five years with a record 20 straight winning seasons.

Bill Belichick was considered a disaster as a head coach with the Cleveland Browns, and many people shook their heads when the New England Patriots paid a 1st round draft pick to get Belichick from the New York Jets (for whom Belichick worked as head coach for a day), but he went on to post 3 Super Bowl wins in 4 years — a feat matched only one other time.

Offensive Coordinator – Defensive Coordinator

Typically, the offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator positions are the springboard for assistant coaches to become head coaches. There are few cases where a coach leaps from being a position coach to a head coach.

One case in the NFL was Mike Tice, who went from being Dennis Green’s offensive line coach with the Minnesota Vikings to being the team’s head coach — first on an interim basis (for one game in 2000) and then as the full time head coach in 2001.

A more recent example of the position coach-to-head coach transition is John Harbaugh, current head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Harbaugh was the defensive backs coach in 2007 for the Philadelphia Eagles, after nine years as the team’s special teams coach. After Dallas Cowboys OC Jason Garrett turned down the Ravens offer to become the head coach, the team offered the position to John Harbaugh, despite his lack of time as an NFL coordinator.

Football Terms Starting With "A"