Best Assistant Coaching Hires In the NFL


Head coaches get all the glory (and the blame), but the assistant coaches have a comparable effect on how each team performs on Sundays. These coaches are the ones who are directly responsible for teaching and implementing technique and schemes to varying degrees.

Coordinators are usually responsible for implementing the playbook for their side of the football, along with coming up with a gameplan under the watchful eye of the head coach. The position coaches are responsible for implementing the playbook and teaching each player the technique required for carrying out their assignments.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the best assistant coaching hires during this offseason.

Jim Schwartz, Defensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles look to be a team rebuilding after former head coach Chip Kelly ruined the personnel throughout the team; however, new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz should help the Eagles defense rebuild extremely quickly.

Schwartz is heralded as one of the best defensive minds in all of football. A 4-3 defense guru, Schwartz is known for his ability to generate a pass-rush using his four-down linemen with their wide alignments. Not only is the hire great because Schwartz is a great defensive mind, but also because the Eagles personnel appears to fit his scheme extremely well.

Fletcher Cox was born to play as a three-technique defensive tackle, Brandon Graham will maximize his abilities as a wide-nine defensive end and the Eagles secondary will benefit from the pressure the defensive line will cause.

Overall, this hire was a home run for the Eagles and it will make life much easier for head coach Doug Pederson.

Ray Horton, Defensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns

One of the most underrated defensive coaches in the NFL, Ray Horton was a great hire by Cleveland Browns new head coach Hue Jackson.

You may remember that Horton was the defensive coordinator for the Browns a couple years ago where he led the Browns to a top-ten defense. Nevertheless, after head coach Rob Chudzinksi was fired, Horton was allowed to move elsewhere, which he did by going to Tennessee. After his head coach was fired again, Horton was allowed to seek employment elsewhere, which led him back to Cleveland.

Horton is known for his potent zone-blitz package and exotic looks that make life extremely difficult for opposing offenses. He is loved by his former players for his ability to relate to his players and utilize their strengths on the field.

Horton should be able to get the most out of the Browns’ defense that is devoid of top-tier talent, which is exactly what the Browns need.

Vance Joseph, Defensive Coordinator, Miami Dolphins

Many don’t know who Vance Joseph is, but you can bet they will in a couple of years when he becomes one of the top names on potential head coaching lists throughout the NFL. Joseph is the former defensive backs coach for the Cincinnati Bengals (2013-2014) and the Houston Texans (2011-2013), and he should be credited to their great secondary during his time.

Joseph was able to resurrect the careers of Adam “Pacman” Jones, and he consistently got the most out of each of his players. The only way Joseph would be able to do that is if he has a great ability to relate and teach technique to his players.

This will be the first time he dictates the whole defense, but if he is even close to as good of a defensive coordinator as he was a defensive backs coach then he will improve the Dolphins defense tenfold in 2016 and beyond. It took a leap of faith for new head coach Adam Gase to bring in someone as defensive coordinator who’s never called plays before, but it has the potential to pay huge dividends.

About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and