To limit distractions, assistant coaches on teams still playing should be off limits until after AFC, NFC championships

NFL: AUG 25 Preseason - Chiefs at Bears
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The NFL’s current procedures for interviewing candidates from other teams is broken. The best solution isn’t practical. A simple compromise is hiding in plain sight.

The postseason, the most critical time of the year for teams still playing, becomes undermined every year when assistant coaches employed by teams preparing for games carve out time to interview for head-coaching jobs elsewhere. And it’s not just time spent interviewing. The assistant coach must prepare for the interview. The assistant coach, to be best prepared for the portion of the interview regarding the potential members of his staff, must spend time contacting those coaches to secure a loose, general understanding of interest.

Every minute spent doing those things becomes one less minute available for doing the best possible job to prepare for the task at hand — preparing to win a playoff game with the candidate’s current team.

To do it right, it’s an every-waking-moment proposition. We explained that earlier in the week. And we’ve heard from coaches who agree wholeheartedly.

That’s how it works with the season on the line. (For plenty of coaches, it’s also how it works throughout the regular season.) Wake up, have a little breakfast, perform the four-S’s, get to work, grind all morning, afternoon, and night, go home late, collapse from exhaustion, sleep four or five hours, and do it again. (Some coaches just sleep at the facility, saving the time spent traveling to and from home.)

So what are they doing? Anything and everything to prepare to win. Reviewing film from the games they’ve already played, in an effort to self-scout and eliminate tendencies and tells. Reviewing film from the games played by the opponent, in an effort to spot and exploit that team’s tendencies and tells. Reviewing relevant clips from other games involving other teams, in search of anything that will give them ideas or clues or lessons or whatever regarding how best to prepare their own teams to win. Brainstorming plays and other strategies that could work against the upcoming opponent. Culling a game plan from the broader collection of plays. Talking to other coaches and players and whoever about the ideas for trying to win the game.

If you’re truly all-in with the effort to get ready for a single-elimination playoff game, there’s always something to do to help the cause. Interviewing for your next job, preparing for that interview, and taking time to line up a potential collection of employees does not help the cause.

Then there’s the dynamic we’ve mentioned a few times over the past year. The spouse or significant other of the assistant coach/head-coaching candidate, during those fleeting moments of interaction throughout the week, won’t be asking about the game-planning process for the impending playoff game. The curiosity will center on the status of the life-changing job with life-changing money and potential address-changing reality.

Some have argued that, to avoid these issues, the entire interview process should be delayed until after the Super Bowl. With five weeks from the end of the regular season until the end of the postseason, however, it doesn’t seem practical to wait so long.

Here’ an easy compromise. There should be no interviews of assistant coaches from teams still playing until after the conference championship games.

At the end of the regular season, assistant coaches from 17 other teams instantly become fair game. After the wild-card round, six more teams’ coaches are available. After the divisional round, coaches from all but four teams are in play. One week later, everyone can be interviewed.

Yes, this procedure still affects the two teams that qualify for the Super Bowl. But with two weeks to get ready, it’s far less of a problem — as long as the interviews happen in the first week.

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady recently said that the week before the divisional round game should be all football, all the time. Meanwhile, his team’s offensive and defensive coordinators spent some of their all-football time interviewing to become football coaches with other teams. Their opponents, the Rams, had a similar distraction, with both coordinators interviewing for head-coaching jobs.

Other teams playing today and tomorrow endured the same distraction. It shouldn’t be that way. And there’s an easy way to fix it, without forcing teams to otherwise slam the brakes on their searches for new head coaches.

32 responses to “To limit distractions, assistant coaches on teams still playing should be off limits until after AFC, NFC championships

  1. Agree completely.
    I think they should just make a rule that no coaching staff apart from internal candidates can be contacted until after the super bowl.

  2. Players cannot speak with other Teams and neither should Coaches and Assistants.
    They are under contract with one team for one purpose and must see to that Purpose.
    Every Game builds upon the previous wins to reach the Goal of SuperBowl.

    Distractions by other Teams should be off-limits until after the SuperBowl for those Teams that are in the Playoffs.

  3. I think the coaches should just make themselves unavailable for interviews until their season ends. The NFL doesn’t need a rule for that.

  4. The NFL uses Random Chaos Theory as a purposeful strategy, to maintain and sustain a Circle of Parity. Distractions among coaching staffs of elite teams (and everybody wants them,) may cause better opportunities for an underdog to prevail in the postseason.

    Or, am I overthinking this.

  5. Problem is if you don’t let them talk, you’re inviting tampering. It’s a dicey question every year it seems

  6. youngstownbengal says:
    January 22, 2022 at 8:47 am
    Agree completely.
    I think they should just make a rule that no coaching staff apart from internal candidates can be contacted until after the super bowl.

    18 9 Rate This

    To be fair there shouldn’t be any external coaching interviews allowed until after the SB. I realize that puts the timing a bit closer to the offseason, but so be it. The distraction, and potential conflicts, outweigh anything else in this. IMO all coaching interviews should stop by week 15, unless it’s internal to the club

    They should be able to fill GM postions though

  7. I think the coaches should just make themselves unavailable for interviews until their season ends. Problem solved, no more distraction

  8. Interviews should not start until after the Super Bowl. It hurts the playoff teams. Panthers probably would have won that Super Bowl against the Broncos if both their coordinators were not interviewing for jobs leading up to the game.

  9. Well they are in demand because their teams are successful, why should they be penalized and lose out on opportunities?

    Deal with it….

  10. What if there was a way to make it more of a meritocracy. Reward the assistant coach whose team gets the furthest with the first chance to interview. That would motivate all assistants to focus on the games.

  11. Pretty sure these professional coaches/FO personnel have the abilities and acumen to work long weeks AND go home to have an interview without it being a distraction when they’ve put 10-15 years in their industry for these exact opportunities .. it’s only a ‘distraction’ to fanatics who only care about their own dopamine rush from the ‘wins’ these people are creating for them ..

  12. “At the end of the regular season, assistant coaches from 17 other teams instantly become fair game.”

    Don’t you mean 18?

    Or maybe the Jaguars aren’t allowed to interview anyone because they’re so bad. They can put names on a wall and get a monkey to throw darts at it, or something.

  13. Didn’t they recently change the rules within the last few years so coaches from playoff teams could be interviewed, thus keeping them from losing out on promotions?

  14. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country working at far more intellectually demanding jobs than coaching football, and they deal with family life, commuting, noisy coworkers, budget meetings, mowing the yard, etc., etc. This blabbering about “distractions” only serves to make the players and coaches out to be so unfocused and mentally fragile that they can’t do their best – or even good – work unless they are completely isolated from the world.

  15. I particularly enjoyed Bill Parcells and Mike Holmgren taking new jobs while they were HEAD coaches in the Super Bowl.

  16. There’s absolutely zero reason to for this. ZERO.

    Brian Flores, hired after SB LIII.
    Zac Taylor, hired after SB LIII.
    Matt Patricia, hired after SB LII.
    Josh McDaniels/Frank Reich hired after SB LII.
    Kyle Shanahan, hired after SB LI.
    Dan Quinn, hired after SB XLIX.

    If a team wants a certain coordinator, they’ll wait just fine. And half these guys won the SB before they left, so there’s NO “distraction” effect at all.

  17. Totally disagree, if not available they miss out on a job of a lifetime, just shows if there still playing they are worth interviewing

  18. Only distraction here is it’s divisional game weekend and all the headlines are about coaching interviews. A HC job interview can be done on zoom in less than an hour and then maybe a follow up in February.

  19. This situation is akin to allowing upcoming free agent players an opportunity to negotiate contracts for next season with other teams while they are still playing (under contract) for their current club. There is a disconnect that seemingly has a negative impact on those still trying to win a championship.

  20. I think “distraction” is the most overused word in sports. Interviewing for a job when you already have a job isn’t a distraction unless the coach is missing meetings, practice etc to interview. He can use his own time for the interview without “distracting” his current team.

  21. Either don’t allow anyone to interview with any team until after the Super Bowl or keep it as it is.
    Why should the coordinators of the best teams end up missing out on the chance at getting the HC gigs because their team is successful? You’re punishing success

  22. Any rule that gives any candidate a time advantage over any other candidate is inherently unfair. Period. Either all coaches are available or none are.

  23. I find it incredible that the NFL doesn’t see that, by allowing this B.S. to continue, all they’re doing is sabotaging the best chance some teams have ( and may have in years ) to win a Super Bowl.

  24. Do you have a single example of team that lost a game they should have won where one of both of their coordinators had an interview during the week before the game? Just one? No? Hmm.

  25. So you want to punish successful coordinators? Imagine being told if your 1 of the best coordinators and 1 of the lucky 16 coordinators to still be playing that you cant interview now until your eliminated/your team doesnt do its job 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ talk about halting career progressions. Teams are already loathe to wait til teams are eliminated so they dont miss out on their 2nd(or 3rd candidate) while waiting and now you dont want them to even talk to possibly hire these people? Again imagine being in a profession where there are only 32 jobs and only a handful open up each year but being told if your 1 of the best you actually have to wait til the jobs are likely full before interviewing and that’s not even to bring up the minority candidates as there are MULTIPLE still in it that now you would be denying a possibility. Another horrible idea here

  26. Fans of teams with important assistant coaches will agree, of course.

    Fans of teams who need good new coaches will not, of course.

  27. Funny all the blame for the distraction goes towards the NFL. But none for the coach who could feel interviewing for a better job is unfair to his current employer chasing the ultimate prize.
    An ultimate prize he also wants, even ‘only’ as an assistant.

    They are grown men, shouldn’t they be able to judge if interviewing us too much of a distraction?
    And…. If they can’t do both are they really head coach material?

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