Rookie Head Coaches/Part #1 … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Todd Haley is one of six NFL head coaches who hold that top job for the first time. Over the next three days, we’ll look at the recent success rate of rookie head coaches in the league and what that evidence tells us about the kind of start-up season we may see from Haley.

The Chiefs have an interesting history with rookie head coaches.

The most successful head coach in league history was Hank Stram. Before he was hired to coach the Dallas Texans for the 1960 inaugural season of the American Football League, Stram had never before been a head coach. Although he wasn’t Lamar Hunt’s first choice to lead the team – the Chiefs founder initially offered the job to Bud Wilkinson and Tom Landry but they turned him down – Stram proved wildly successful with three AFL championships and a Super Bowl victory. In that first season under him the Texans had an 8-6 record.

Stram was the exception among the other first-time head coaches the Hunts have hired over the history of the franchise: Paul Wiggin, the late Frank Gansz and Gunther Cunningham. We excuse Tom Bettis from the proceedings because he served just a half-season as interim head coach in 1977.

In two and a half seasons, Wiggin was 11-24. He started 5-9. Gansz was 8-22-1 in his two seasons as head coach, with an opening 4-11. Cunningham’s two seasons leading the team produced a 16-16 record. Only Gunther had a winning record in his first season, at 9-7.

Marv Levy, John Mackovic, Marty Schottenheimer, Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards had all been head coaches before. All but Mackovic had been a head coach on the pro level.

Previous head coaching experience guarantees nothing when taking over an NFL team. But it’s sure helpful in making smooth transitions and getting teams up and running and winning more quickly. There’s not on the job learning of the basics and that allows the coach can take his role to the next level.

Over the next few days we will look at the results of first-time head coaches in the NFL over the first nine seasons of this decade. There were 29 in all and their stories run the spectrum from immediate disaster to appearing in a Super Bowl. Hopefully it will provide a road map to judge/predict the progress and performance of Todd Haley in this first season.

Again, these are first-time head coaches, who did not run a team on any level of the game before taking over their NFL club.



Dave Campo, Dallas – Promoted from defensive coordinator to replace Chan Gailey as the Cowboys head coach. Gailey went 18-16 over two seasons (1998-99) with a pair of appearances in the playoffs. Campo was 53 years old for his first regular-season game as head coach and was in his 30th year of coaching (18 on the college level and 12 in the NFL.) The Cowboys record the season before Campo took over: 8-8. Campo’s first-season record: 5-11. Campo’s record as Dallas head coach: three seasons (2000-02) at 15-33 with no post-season appearances. FIRED

Jim Haslett, New Orleans – Moved from defensive coordinator of Steelers to Saints head spot, replacing Mike Ditka who went 15-33 over three seasons (1997-99). Haslett was 44 years old for his first game as head coach and was in his 13th season of coaching (three on the college level and 10 in the World League and NFL.) Haslett had a nine-year playing career at linebacker for the Bills and Jets. Saints record the season before Haslett took over: 3-13. Haslett’s first-season record: 10-6, with division title and a victory in the first-round of the playoffs. Haslett’s record as New Orleans head coach: six seasons (2000-2005) at 46-52, with one visit to the post-season. FIRED

Mike Martz, St. Louis (right) – Promoted from offensive coordinator to replace Dick Vermeil as the Rams head coach. The team was coming off its victory in the Super Bowl over Tennessee when Vermeil retired for the second of three times. Martz was 49 years old and in his 27th season of coaching (one at the high school level, 17 in college football and nine in the NFL.) Rams record the season before Martz took over: 13-3 with a Super Bowl title. Martz’s first season record: 10-6, made the playoffs where the Rams lost in the first round. Martz’s record as St. Louis head coach: six seasons (2000-2005) at 56-36 with four seasons in the playoffs. RESIGNED

Mike Sherman, Green Bay – He was serving as offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks when he was named to replace Ray Rhodes as Packers head coach. Sherman was 45 years old when he opened his first season in charge and he was in his 20th season of coaching (16 in college football and four in the NFL.) The Packers record the season before Sherman took over: 8-8. Sherman’s first-season record: 9-7. Sherman’s record as Green Bay head coach: six seasons (2000-05) with a 59-43 record and four seasons in the playoffs. FIRED


Herm Edwards, New York Jets – He was the assistant head coach/secondary coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before he was hired to replace Al Groh as head coach of the Jets after the 2000 season. Edwards was 47 years old and in his 12th season of coaching (three in college football and nine in the pro game.) Edwards had a 10-year playing career in the NFL with the Eagles, Rams and Falcons. The Jets record the season before Edwards took over: 9-7. Edwards’s first-season record: 10-6 and a spot in the playoffs where they lost in the first round. Edwards record as the Jets head coach: five seasons (2001-05) with a 41-44 record and three seasons in the playoffs. RESIGNED

Marty Mornhinweg, Detroit – He was the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers when he was hired to replace interim Lions head coach Gary Moeller, who has stepped in for Bobby Ross. Mornhinweg was 39 years old in his first season and in his 17th season of coaching (10 in the colleges and seven in the NFL.) The Lions record the season before Mornhinweg took over: 9-7. Mornhinweg’s first-season record: 2-14. Mornhinweg’s record as the Lions head coach: two seasons (2001-02) with a 5-27 record. FIRED

Mike Tice, Minnesota (left) – He was promoted from offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings and replaced Dennis Green for the final game of the 2001 season. Tice was 42 years old when he was hired and in his sixth coaching season (all in the NFL). He had a 14-year career playing tight end in the NFL for the Seahawks, Redskins and Vikings. The Vikings record the season before Tice took over: 5-11. Tice’s first full-season record: 6-10. Tice’s record as the Vikings head coach: four seasons (2002-05), with a 33-34 record and one appearance in the post-season. FIRED

Greg Williams, Buffalo – He was the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans when hired to replace Wade Phillips as head coach of the Bills after the 2000 season. Williams was 43 years old and in his 22nd season of coaching (eight years in high school, two in the colleges and 12 in the NFL.) The Bills record the season before Williams took over: 8-8. Williams first-season record: 3-13. Williams record as Buffalo head coach: three seasons (2001-03), 17-3 with no appearances in the post-season. FIRED


Bill Callahan, Oakland – He was promoted from offensive coordinator/offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders and replaced Jon Gruden after the 2001 season. Callahan was 46 years old when he was hired as the Raiders head coach, in his 25th season of coaching. The Raiders record the season before Callahan took over: 10-6 and in the playoffs. Callahan’s first-season record: 11-5, with a 2-1 record in the post-season, the only loss coming in the Super Bowl. Callahan’s record as Oakland head coach: two seasons (2002-03), with a 17-18 record and one post-season visit. FIRED

John Fox, Carolina (right) – Served as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants when he was hired to replace George Seifert as head coach of the Panthers following the 2001 season. Fox was 47 years old and had been coaching for 25 seasons (10 as a college coach and 15 in pro football.) The Panthers record the season before Fox took over: 1-15. Fox’s first-season record: 7-9. Fox’s record as Carolina head coach: seven seasons (2002-08), with a 68-52 record and three seasons in the playoffs. STILL ON THE JOB.

2000-2002 recap: 10 first-time head coaches … only one remains on the job … seven were fired … two resigned their positions … with this group, the average first-year record was 7-9 … half of those 10 coaches finished that rookie season with a winning record … four of those teams made the playoffs.

TOMORROW: 2003-2005.


BENGALS – signed fourth-round draft choice C Jonathan Luigs; released CB Simeon Castille.

TITANS – signed fifth-round draft choice RB Javon Ringer.

ORLANDO/UFL – signed former Chiefs draft pick and OT Kevin Sampson.


Born on July 22, 1964 in Los Angeles was WR Kitrick Taylor (left). He was selected in the fifth-round of the 1987 NFL Draft out of Washington State. Taylor spent one seasons with the Chiefs (1988), appearing in 16 games. He caught nine passes for 105 yards, returned 29 punts for 187 yards and five kickoffs for 80 yards. Taylor played with five teams in six NFL seasons.

42 Responses to “Rookie Head Coaches/Part #1 … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    ‘check’ :roll: record in his 1st season, 2009 will range anywhere from 0-16 at worst to 4-12 at best.

    Merits & demerits considered, 2-14, no playoffs and one final chance and season in 2010 to turn things around – he will not and will as such join ‘search’ :shock: in the great NFL unemployment line…

    :cool: daddy-o, :shock: & :roll: affirming…

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    As in FIRED


  • July 22, 2009  - Scott says:

    Rin, I absolutely cannot wait to see you eat those words. I hope you choke on ‘em.

  • July 22, 2009  - Josh says:

    Oh, Scott, it won’t happen. Rin will take another “trip to Paris” when the heat gets turned up, just like he did when Herm lost his job and cried into his box of Fig Newtons.

    Herm’s the man….daddy-o…Clark has affirmed…search and check…it wasn’t like this back in the sixties…green eyes…i’m the pied piper…Fred Arbanas is better than Tony Gonazalez…blah blah blah. :)

  • July 22, 2009  - steve says:

    Hall of Fame or Hall of Shame the answers are on the way shortly. All we can do is hope for the best. I think we are overdue for a good one, cross your fingers we are about to find out.

  • July 22, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    So, if one looks back, looks at recent history to project the current future, rook head coaches have a 10% (Fox in Carolina) chance of realizing longterm success, or, in this case, keeping their job up to 7 years with the same team.

    An interesting stat to keep in mind as the Todd Haley era begins. Haley is bucking some long odds as are the other rook head coaches but if he can pull off a first season success on the order of a Mike Smith in ATL or Sparano in MIA, his odds improve.

    If he can’t, and the Chiefs go 4-12 or even 6-10 his first year, the short-lived bell is beginning to toll. Is it any small wonder that rook head coaches maintain their personal health? How many of them end up with ulcers, for example?

    By the way, another excellent installment from Bob on a topic seldom seen or reported on from any other source. Good job.

  • July 22, 2009  - Scott says:

    LMAO! That was funny, Josh. Thanks.

    You’re probably right. Rin obviously has no pride at all.

  • July 22, 2009  - Scott says:

    Thing is…every single Head Coach in history began their NFL careers 0-0.

    Also, most new Head Coaches (Rookie or not) are taking over crappy teams…otherwise the position would not be open in the first place.

    I think Haley will do fine. Or who knows…he may not. Only time will tell. But I’m certainly not going to bury the guy before his team plays a single game. At least he has the luxury of having the previous HC setting the “bar” pretty low.

  • July 22, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    Rip, you are probably correct but we desparately need some kind of success with the Chiefs. Yesterdays article one person said the Chiefs are saving money for the 2012 year (which I doubt). I do not think the fans can wait that long. The Hunts left Carl here to long and for all the good things he did, most fans look at him as a total failure. Now Clark has changed the direction but can we wait 2 or 3 years for something good. Because of the lack of players it has to come from Pioli/Haley. That is why we need them to show something positive.

  • July 22, 2009  - findthedr says:

    funny stuff Josh.

    The success (or lack thereof) of Haley will have more to do with the teams brutal schedule, IMO, than anything else.

    Trying to come to any type of conclusion based on this limited pool of coaches between 2000-2002 will only lead the reader down a false path. The success of a coach has alot to do with the talent of the team, the ability of the coaches to make changes (i.e. cap space etc),the stability of an orginization, and the teams they are playing against.

    I’m sure BOb will address this, but the benchmark is Mike Tomlin who is a first time coach of the steelers who has won 2 superbowls and has a 25-11 overall record.

    Owners are realizing that it might be worth a risk to hire a first time head coach over the stale retreads.

  • July 22, 2009  - anonymous says:

    To many variables for me to have a strong opinion on this subject. But I like what Haley has done so far, he has my support.

  • July 22, 2009  - Scott says:

    findthedr says:

    “I’m sure BOb will address this, but the benchmark is Mike Tomlin who is a first time coach of the steelers who has won 2 superbowls and has a 25-11 overall record.”

    Difference is, though…Tomlin took over a good team.

  • July 22, 2009  - ILChiefsFan says:

    If you step back one season you can include Andy Reid, who became Eagles HC in 1999. No previous experience as an HC or even a Coordinator; 107-69-1 record; still coaching the same team.

    I think you point to two things that have contributed greatly to his longetivity:
    #1 – He had 7 years previous experience with a quality organization (the Packers of the ’90′s)
    #2 – He got his franchise QB (McNabb) early in his tenure

    #1 is why I was hoping the Chiefs would hire Steve Spagnuolo.

    Do those 2 items apply to Haley? I’d say Yes on #1, we’ll see on #2.

  • July 22, 2009  - jimbo says:

    Haley has a daunting task to overcome. The Chiefs as we all know, from top to bottom are basically starting from scratch this year. With the exception of Chan Gailey.
    Scott is right the bar is set pretty low. I see Haley as a no nonsense kind of guy. I’m sure that the players already know what is expected of them & anything less will not be tolerated. They know where they stand. That is good.
    Many of those first year coaches got 3 years to turn the corner. Haley will be no exception. ( I do see some Bill Cowher in him) To get all 8 cylinders running unfortunately, takes time. His coaching staff has got to be on the same page. That is a challenge in itself. Most pro players don’t blossom till their third year. Patience is my pet peeve. I want to ignore the reality that faces the Chiefs this season. Their first 7 of 8 games are a coaches & fans nightmare.
    The only way I can bear the upcoming season is to be optimistic. Pure & simple I can’t get excited about the upcoming season without it. Thus the reality problem.

    Heres my fantasy season. Chiefs lose 2 of the first 3 games. We exposed some weak areas & were surprised by some of our strengths.
    Todd Haley holds a private meeting with all the players & coaching staff. The meeting lasts all day. In the meeting there is a major dressing down of their mistakes & weaknesses. They work it all out. Yelling turns to laughter & cheering. In the background you hear the “Rocky” theme song. You know the drill, like a Hollywood movie.
    Anyhow the season moves along & we win games that we should’nt have. (the opposite of last year).
    Opposing teams start to dread playing the Chiefs. We are rising in the rankings & getting respect from the media. Arrowhead tickets are hard to come by, we are second in our division. We start to have hope again. We are not embarrassed to wear Chiefs merchandise anymore. Red & Gold is everywhere. Are you starting to feel it?

    We make the playoffs… I can’t dream much farther than that. I’ll have to admit that I enjoyed writing & sharing my thoughts… Go Chiefs.

  • July 22, 2009  - Scott says:


    That was fantastic!!! I definitely like the way you think.

    And now I have that Rocky theme playing in my head…

  • July 22, 2009  - Josh says:

    I’m all for jimbo’s dream being reality!

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Scott said


    - yes, what is it now?

    “I absolutely cannot wait to see you eat those words.”

    - so you’re cheiloproclitic… Rin’s ‘are’ quite amorous.

    “I hope you choke on ‘em.”

    - oh, you’re also an aeolist… hope riding hand in hand your pretense.

    :cool: daddy-o…

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    More ‘amore’ for Rin – this time fromst His most faithful of all blog subscribers, this dog’s best friend, that fire hydrant mine known as…Josh.


    :cool: daddy-o

  • July 22, 2009  - Josh says:

    Gotta give you something to ramble off-topic about, Rin! :)

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Caption for a clueless coach, picture at the top this blog:

    :roll: “Did I really say I could take ‘any 22 guys from off the street’ and do better? Man, I’m such a poseur!”


    :cool: daddy-o

  • July 22, 2009  - Scott says:

    Hey Rin…

    Your Proctologist called…he found your head.

  • July 22, 2009  - Josh says:

    Haha, Scott!

  • July 22, 2009  - Ratso says:

    I think that Don Pioli should be added to the equation when looking at the probability that Coach Haley will be successful. His experience in running the Pats should be a big plus for Coach and the 2009 version of the Chiefs. A winning Team won’t be built in 1 yr. Give them a couple of years and I think things around Arrowhead will improve and we’ll be in the mix for a division title.

  • July 22, 2009  - SG says:

    “We make the playoffs… I can’t dream much farther than that. I’ll have to admit that I enjoyed writing & sharing my thoughts… Go Chiefs.”

    Let this be the opening of the official “BRING JORGE BACK” petition drive.

  • July 22, 2009  - jimbo says:

    Don’t go busting my balls. Dreams & fantasies have been known to come true.
    I know you are a Chiefs fan & a realist. I made it perfectly clear that optimism (especially concerning the Chiefs) keeps me looking forward to the next season. This year especially, has an awful lot of tangibles & possibilities.
    I thought I might get some responses on the Bill Cowher & Haley resemblence. Inparticularly the(intensity & tenacity traits) Does Haley remind anyone of any coach past or present?

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    I agree Pioli is the wild card factor here, he wont let Haley make rookie mistakes, if Herm wasn’t the head coach last year we would have won more games than we did. so an 8-8 record or better is very possible

  • July 22, 2009  - ILChiefsFan says:

    Can a day go by on this site without someone’s username being hijacked?

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:


  • July 22, 2009  - ILChiefsFan says:

    Stupid question; forget I asked.

  • July 22, 2009  - jimbo says:

    Good one.

    Rin Tin Tin will not be happy with the above posting.

  • July 22, 2009  - gochiefsxxx says:

    It’s just a shame Gretz has some of the best articles about the Chiefs and people like Rin Tin Tin ruin it for everyone, instead of talking about the Chiefs you have to deal with his nonsense. Gretz get a monitor and start banning.

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin's Mama says:

    I come to apologize to you all. When my Rin was just a small puppy I dropped him on his head. The end result is what you see here every day. On a positive note we did have him neutered so at least he won’t be able to reproduce. Although he will still hump your leg if you let him get too close.

  • July 22, 2009  - SG says:

    “Don’t go busting…”

    Agreed – I’m thinking that the burst of optimism should be the first step in bringing back Jorge and any others who have been irritated by numerous frustrating things including the people cloning others, etc.

  • July 22, 2009  - alex says:

    The Biggest issue I see is a fan base with ZERO patience in a year where the team will need support during a tough schedule and a 6 win season.

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Real Rin :cool: daddy-o remains amused as always how others make Him the story … one cannot but note Rin talks about the Chiefs be it a coach or player or issue thence or now – only to find the aforementioned ‘others’ be the ones who turn the topic to me. What power be in that name ‘Rin Tin Tin’, what undeniable attraction!

    You’ll note that Rin never tries to deny others their vented blog spleen; I always tolerate the little people.

    Disagree? Often, to be sure.

    Request they be banned since their allegiance or style or content (all) be not same as is Rin’s?

    Never. Censorship as mob rule be not charitable or embraceable, whereas Rin always be so; He is well aware – “I write the blogs that make Bob’s website sing!” – never blogs about Himself – no need – ‘others’ do so for & about He nee me.

    Thank you.

    X’s and O’s to you…

    Real Rin :cool: daddy-o, ‘search’ :shock: & check’ :roll: affirming…


  • July 22, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    alex I think you hit on it. It always seems that when things go bad, realy bad the next replacement get fed to the lions. It is one thing to be the head coach with some players already on the team, just coaching them up. But Pioli/Haley apparently think most of the team and recent draft picks are so much garbage.

    Some posters have said they expect a 10 win season. I do not believe this is possible. So “0″ patience may be an understatement. I am not sure there will be much improvement in 2010, to many guys do not fit the new plan.

  • July 22, 2009  - Scott says:

    Rin Tin Tin says:

    “I always tolerate the little people.”

    How very BIG of you…your highness. We all fall to our knees in worship, as surely…none of us is worthy of your greatness. As you are the teacher…we are merely students at the School of Rin. We can only hope that someday, we too will be all-knowing and all-seeing…as the Almighty Rin is.*

    *Yes folks, that was 100% sarcasm. As was pointed out to me a couple of days ago, my sarcasm is difficult to detect on the internet. I didn’t want to leave any doubts.

  • July 22, 2009  - ED says:

    findthedr great points about what it takes to have an successfull coach in any situation whether it be first time or a retread. Bottom line is this Haley is surrounded by a good owner and GM. He’ll be successfull. To follow up on what findthedr said the success of any head coach depends on how strong of a GM he has and how stable is the owner as far as giving both GM and coach the resources they need to succeed.

    Haley has both of those here in KC. If I would compare his situation to someone it would be that of Mike Smith in Atlanta. One he has the old boss of Tom Dimitroff here in KC Scott Pioli. Two like Authur Blank I think Clark Hunt is a first class owner willing to do what it takes to get this organization back to winning. Now with Dimitroff being the understudy of Pioli. having the success he’s had in ATl. To think that Pioli want have the same success in KC is foolish. I mean before last year some people doubted Dimitroff lacked the experience for the job.

    Haley has those two great factors going for him and that will lead to his success here in KC. Unlike most people on here I actually do believe that the Chiefs will have a winning season this year and win the division. If you look at last year we lost alot of games in the 4 quarter. Was it because of lack of experience or fatigue. Probably both. Either way the Chiefs haved sured up both of those things in the offseason with the acquisition of veteran players like Thomas, Brown, and Vrabel. Also with the 385 pounds this team has sheaded during OTA’s. So bottom line look for the Chiefs to have a solid season this year somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 and 7 or 10 and 6.

    I keep telling people the NFC East want be as good as it was last year. Look for all those teams to see some drop because of guys like Plaxico, TO, and Dawkins are missing off those teams.

  • July 22, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Comes now more evidentiary kudos…

    Once more He that is me Rin is placed ‘pon e’en greater a pedestal than be the Chiefs, courtesy lead cheerleader & ‘head’ trumpeter mine Scott – such devotion – and ‘technique’!

    :cool: daddy-o, ‘search’ :shock: & ‘check’ :roll: affirming…


  • July 22, 2009  - Scott says:


    LMAO! You sure are a piece of work…I have to give you THAT much.

    I’m curious, though. Are you NATURALLY a Prick…or do you have to work at it?

  • July 23, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    You ought to know by now ‘Gabriel’ – now back to work/don’t talk with your mouth full…

    :cool: daddy-o

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