Defensive coordinators Teryl Austin of Detroit and Steve Wilks of Carolina are among the NFL head coaching candidates recommended to the league and teams by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the diversity group that works closely with the league on its hiring practices.
Others on the list of minority candidates include offensive coordinators Harold Goodwin of Arizona and Terry Robiskie of Tennessee and defensive coordinators George Edwards of Minnesota and Kris Richard of Seattle.
The list was confirmed by John Wooten, the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. The group annually submits a list of its recommended head coaching candidates to the NFL, which forwards the recommendations to teams. Each team with a head coaching vacancy is required to interview at least one minority candidate.
Representatives of the Fritz Pollard Alliance met with NFL officials last week, Wooten said. NFL owners are scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas and the Fritz Pollard Alliance wanted to have its recommended candidates submitted to the league by then, Wooten said.
Austin has been considered a top head coaching candidate league-wide in recent years, and some within the NFL wonder if his time to become a head coach has arrived. The Lions are four games behind the first-place Vikings in the NFC North and are two games out of a wild-card spot. But being out of the playoffs can work in favor of a coach once the hiring cycle commences, enabling him to focus entirely on the interviewing process.
Wilks is regarded as a rising standout in the NFL coaching ranks. He succeeded Sean McDermott as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator when McDermott was hired this year as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Carolina has returned to prominence and is seeking its second Super Bowl appearance in the last three years after missing the playoffs last season.
Edwards has had a relatively low profile but oversees a strong defense in Minnesota that has the Vikings vying for the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Goodwin is well regarded within the league and is said to have impressed teams in head coaching interviews a year ago. Robiskie is a former interim head coach of the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns. Richard succeeded Dan Quinn, now Atlanta’s head coach, as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator and has helped to keep the team at top-contender status.
There are currently eight minority head coaches league-wide: Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, Cleveland’s Hue Jackson, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, the New York Jets’ Todd Bowles, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Anthony Lynn, Denver’s Vance Joseph, Detroit’s Jim Caldwell and Carolina’s Ron Rivera. Lynn and Joseph were hired a year ago from among the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s recommended candidates.
One NFL team has fired its head coach this season. The New York Giants dismissed Ben McAdoo this past week. But there is a lengthy list of teams with coaches facing uncertain futures, meaning that there could be a significant number of head coaching vacancies this coming offseason.