Ron Rivera, head coach of the Carolina Panthers, has reportedly called the fact that none of the eight teams who hired head coaches or seven who chose new general managers this off-season chose a minority candidate "disheartening."
Rivera cited New York Giants' defensive coordinator Perry Fewell as an "overlooked" candidate. Fewell, who had four head-coaching interviews two seasons ago, had none this time around.
"I’ll give you a name, Perry Fewell," Rivera said, referring to the Giants defensive coordinator. "He’s a great coach and I really think he should have been in the cycle."
"This guy went to the Super Bowl last year and helped design a [heck of a] defense," Rivera said. "Sometimes you do sit there and go, ‘Wow, some guys do get overlooked,’ and it’s happened to me, too. Hopefully Perry will have a great opportunity next year."
Fewell had interviews in Cleveland, Denver, Tennessee and Carolina (the job Rivera got) in 2011. He hasn't had an interview since.
The fact that there were 15 openings for top NFL jobs and not one went to a minority candidate obviously does not look good for the league. Is this really about race, though? I personally don't think so. I think the league is beyond that -- we have seen plenty of African-American men succeed as head coaches and GMs. I think it's a weird, unfortunate year but I find it hard to accept the notion that any candidate did not get a job because of his skin color.
Is that why Giants' College Scouting Director Marc Ross didn't get a GM job? Or why Fewell isn't a head coach? I can't believe that. I do believe it just wasn't their time.
I am surprised -- stunned in fact -- that Fewell did not get a single interview for any of the eight coaching vacancies. He is well-regarded around the league from all accounts and his time should be coming.
I think Fewell was a victim of a couple of things, neither of them race-related.
I think he was a victim of the fact that this year's trend was to hire offensive-minded coaches. Six of the eight hires went to offensive coordinators or, in the case of Chip Kelly, a college coach who made his name with a high-powered offense. One went to a defensive coordinator (Gus Bradley in Jacksonville). One (Kansas City) went to former Eagles head coach Andy Reid.
There is also this. The Giants did win that Super Bowl in 2012 and the defense was an important part of it. The blunt reality, however, is that Fewell's defenses have under-achieved more often than not for the past two seasons. The defense did not play to the level the names on the backs of the jerseys tell you it should have.
Fewell might be well-regarded around the league. He might possess a lot of the attributes that would make a good head coach. He might have done a great job in those interviews two years ago, although we have no way of knowing that for sure.
For me, it comes to this. When Fewell gets the Giants' defense playing like a top-tier unit in the NFL he will start getting head-coaching interviews again. That's about performance, not race.