I must apologize to Miami Dolphins assistant coach Eric Studesville.
The “Rooney Rule” just isn’t a meaningful way to help black coaches like him. It’s an empty promise that things will change and that upper-level NFL management, including owners, presidents and general managers, will actually do something about talent development.
I’ve known Studesville (above) for more than a dozen years, dating to when he was a running backs coach in Buffalo and tutoring the likes of Willis McGahee, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. He’s a likeable man, engaging and energetic. When he talks about his craft and the men he coaches, he is passionate and smart. Players who have worked with him trust him and play hard for him.
The fact he has been a coach in the NFL for 23 consecutive years, including a four-game stint as an interim head coach in Denver in 2010, indicates that he brings something to the table in terms of quality.
Studesville is also a bit stubborn and prideful.
On the many occasions I told him he needed to make the progression to quarterback coach or offensive coordinator so he could get on the head coaching track, he looked at me and said: “Why? Why can’t people see my ability as a running backs coach?”
I’d smile and say: “Dude, it doesn’t work that way. You have to call plays, design the game plan and show you can work with the quarterbacks.”
Then, Joe Judge happened, and my argument evaporated.
Judge, who gave his dramatic, tough-guy monologue on Thursday as the new head coach of the New York Giants, rose to that post by age 38 after only eight seasons in the NFL. With the exception of this season, all of them were spent coaching special teams for Bill Belichick in New England. This year, Judge added wide receiver to his responsibilities.
Now, there’s no question that the Patriots special teams play was excellent this year. The Patriots blocked four punts and returned them for scores, helping cover for an offense that proved to be substandard. At the same time, the results at wide receiver were terrible. The Patriots failed to develop anybody to help quarterback Tom Brady and No. 1 receiver Julian Edelman.
N’Keal Harry, who was a first-round pick this year and was an excellent player in college, did nothing. Josh Gordon was cut. Demaryius Thomas was let go, too. Antonio Brown lasted one game. Jacoby Meyers was just a guy.
Some of that is on Judge, such as the lack of development by Harry. Some isn’t, such as Gordon’s failure to live up to his glorious talent and Brown inglorious exit from the league.
Still, when it’s all said and done, you look at Judge’s resume and say, “OK, this is interesting, I’d like to see more of him.” Two years ago, people around the NFL were talking about how Judge had a bright future. That’s great, but to look at him and say, “OK, let’s make him a head coach right now” is a leap of faith.
Hopefully, Judge is great. I don’t wish him any ill-will.
That said, no one really knows how Judge is going to do? Just like no one knows if Studesville, or Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, or Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will ever be good head coaches?
There’s a lot that goes into being a head coach, including the most basic issue about whether you have a decent quarterback.
But, Judge getting the first chance out of those four is a slap in the face to the other guys and a ridiculous undercutting of the advice they have been given. Judge leapfrogging the field when men like Studesville can’t even get into the development process is shameful.
For the past five years, people around the NFL have talked about getting more black coaches “in the pipeline” by being quarterback coaches, offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators. I’ve even bought into it with my silly advice to Studesville.
Then a guy like Judge comes along and destroys the notion of a pipeline. Why? I’m sure Judge was terrific in the interview process. Just like his speech on Thursday, I’m sure it sounded good. But you can’t help but think that some of it is also because Judge looks the part of the leaders this country has projected for years. You know, men like Patton or Schwarzkopf or Lombardi or Shula.
A lot of white dudes.
I know that a lot of people out there are screaming, “Stop talking about race and just hire the best guy for the job.” Those people aren’t necessarily wrong. It would be nice if we lived in a world where the NFL didn’t need a Rooney Rule, which requires that teams interview at least one minority candidate for the head coach or general manager jobs.
But, it does. In a game where black men are the majority of players and a growing number of them are quarterbacks (10 of the 32 starters at the beginning of the season were black and that doesn’t count some fine work by Teddy Bridgewater when Drew Brees was hurt), the head coach position still lags.
Currently, there are only three black head coaches: Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores and Anthony Lynn.
That’s not because black coaches are incapable. There are plenty of black assistant coaches. In fact, there are 62 black assistant coaches currently working as running back, wide receiver or some derivation of secondary coach (defensive backs, cornerbacks and/or safeties).
That’s out of 93 total assistant coaches at those spots.
In other words, black coaches are good enough to occupy two-thirds of those position-coach jobs (which is, of course, stereotyping of black coaches). Yet, when it comes to head coach, less than 10 percent of those qualified to get a chance are black.
Again, teams should hire the best guys. I’m just not sure anymore what “best guy” means. This is a league where Dave Wannstedt was allowed to be a coach for 11 years of stunning underachievement. Jason Garrett was given 10 by Dallas.
Rich Kotitle, Jim Tomsula, Wayne Fontes, Charlie Winner, Chip Kelly, Joe Philbin, Tom Cable, Dave Campo, Ray Handley, Ben McAdoo, Steve Spurrier, Freddie Kitchens, Dick Jauron and Lindy Infante are among a parade of white men, who were either in over their heads from the start or, worse, complete morons who fooled some owner into hiring them.
Meanwhile, the likes of Studesville sit around, grinding away at their jobs, not getting developed, going unnoticed and being told by people like me that they “just need to get into the pipeline.”
Sorry Eric, my advice was empty.
Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:
Tua Tagovailoa measured at 6-0, 217 pounds at the NFL combine today. Left throwing hand at 10”
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 24, 2020
In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.
However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.
As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan
He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.
In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.
As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.
Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.
It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.
Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday
Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.
The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:
We'd like to officially introduce you to our new HC, Karl Dorrell.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) February 23, 2020
The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.
Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.
Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.
“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”
The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.
Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.
Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.
Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.
Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.