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Updated: January 15th, 2014 3:31pm
Past 15 Defensive Coordinators hired as head coaches offer mixed bag

Past 15 Defensive Coordinators hired as head coaches offer mixed bag

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by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com

How good of a head coach will Mike Zimmer be?

We don't know. Nobody knows, actually.

We can make educated guesses based on his résumé, his history of handling people, the word-of-mouth approval of the players that have worked with him, and other indicators. But without being in the interview rooms as he auditioned for the Vikings' head coaching job, it's near impossible to say how his credentials will translate to running the show.

With that being said, here's a fun exercise to look at the range of success defensive coordinators have had after becoming head coaches. For this piece, I looked exclusively at head coaches who earned that title immediately after holding defensive coordinator position.

The previous 15 defensive coordinators turned head coaches:

Year

Hiring Team

Coach

Defensive Coordinator for...

2013

Jacksonville

Gus Bradley

Seattle

2012

Kansas City

Romeo Crennel

Kansas City

Oakland

Dennis Allen

Denver

Indianapolis

Chuck Pagano

Baltimore

2011

Carolina

Ron Rivera

San Diego

Minnesota

Leslie Frazier

Minnesota

2010

N/A

N/A

N/A

2009

NY Jets

Rex Ryan

Baltimore

St. Louis

Steve Spagnuolo

NY Giants

Tampa Bay

Raheem Morris*

Tampa Bay

Detroit

Jim Schwartz

Tennessee

2008

Atlanta

Mike Smith

Jacksonville

2007

Dallas

Wade Phillips

San Diego

Pittsburgh

Mike Tomlin

Minnesota

2006

NY Jets

Eric Mangini

New England

Buffalo

Dick Jauron**

Detroit

*Morris was promoted to coordinator in December 2008. One month later, Jon Gruden was fired and Morris was named the head coach. Morris had previously been the team's defensive backs coach under Gruden.

**Jauron was Detroit's defensive coordinator before a brief promotion to interim head coach. He went 1-4 in place of ousted Lions head coach Steve Mariucci.

--

Notable successes, I'd contend, include Ron Rivera, Rex Ryan, Mike Smith and Mike Tomlin. The jury may still be out on Chuck Pagano and perhaps Gus Bradley. The point here is that good defensive coordinators are capable of becoming good head coaches. Historically speaking, though, that's far from a sure thing.

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
In this story: Leslie Frazier
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