NFL Teams Turn To Internal Candidates

Posted Feb 5, 2011

Bill Muir's promotion to offensive coordinator is one of many in-house hires across the league

Hiring season is upon us once again. Coaches move across the league, switching from one logo to another – some by choice and some by force.

But this offseason, it seems that more NFL coaches are keeping their same colors while upgrading their positions. Teams are turning to internal candidates not only in major coaching hires, but in filling high-profile football operations jobs as well.

Kansas City’s in-house promotion of offensive line coach Bill Muir to offensive coordinator is just the latest in a significant string of internal hires since the 2010 regular season came to a close.

Topping the list of in-house hires has been Philadelphia’s unorthodox move in the promotion of longtime offensive line coach Juan Castillo. He’ll run the Eagles defense next season. Yes, the defense.

If anyone can switch sides effectively, apparently it’s an offensive line coach. Muir actually set a precedent for the move when the Indianapolis Colts hired him as defensive coordinator in 1989. Prior to running Indianapolis’ defense, Muir had served the previous eight seasons as an offensive line coach with New England and Detroit.

AFC or NFC, it doesn’t seem to matter. Internal candidates are getting their shot.

Over in San Francisco, the 49ers went external in the hiring of head coach Jim Harbaugh, but chose to stay within the office walls when it came to finding a new general manager. Vice President of Player Personnel Trent Baalke ended up getting the call-up after beginning his tenure with the 49ers as a regional scout in 2005.

In Dallas, former offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Jason Garrett was granted a tryout from owner Jerry Jones after Wade Phillips’ firing in early November. He made the cut and the interim label has since been lifted from Garrett’s job title.

A similar situation occurred in Minnesota with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier replacing Brad Childress after an in-season firing. Frazier has since been handed the keys to the Vikings’ on-field fortunes.

Everywhere you look, there’s an in-house promotion going on. Shortly following a playoff loss in Pittsburgh, Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison bolted for the same position in Ann Arbor under new University of Michigan head coach Brady Hoke.

Baltimore didn’t have to look far to find secondary coach Chuck Pagano as Mattison’s replacement.

Hue Jackson is now leading the charge in the Black Hole after Al Davis decided that the contract of Raiders head coach Tom Cable wasn’t worth renewal. Jackson had served as Oakland’s offensive coordinator prior to taking the upgrade.

The Titans, meanwhile, have interviewed a slew of in-house candidates in search of Jeff Fisher’s successor. Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and offensive line coach Mike Munchak both met with team officials earlier this week and linebackers coach David McGinnis is expected to get a crack at Tennessee’s head coaching gig as well.

Can the same thing be said in Mile High with Broncos and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy?

Although his title didn’t’ change, McCoy survived a head coaching change in the switch from Josh McDaniels to John Fox. Sure, McCoy and Fox own a previous working relationship, but odds for retention aren’t’ typically in a coordinators’ favor following a change at the top of the staff.

These are just a few of the internal hires generating headlines. There have been a number of internal promotions amongst position coaches throughout the league as well. The same can be said for personnel departments.

“I would say your goal is to develop your staff from within so when you do have changes or changes are necessary, when you can keep the continuity,” Head Coach Todd Haley said. “That is ideal.”

Have the amount of internal hires increased this offseason? It’s a trend that’s difficult to track, but in-house candidates sure seem to be getting a lot of offers.

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