Zac Taylor, Freddie Kitchens get head coach jobs with less than a year as coordinators

Michael David Smith
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

The coaching turnover in the NFL this year has shown that teams are putting less emphasis on experience than they have in the past.

In the cases of Zac Taylor, who is expected to be named head coach of the Bengals, and Freddie Kitchens, who has been hired as head coach of the Browns, two coaches have become head coaches without ever being a head coach at any level before, and with less than one year as an NFL coordinator.

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Taylor’s only coordinator experience was as an interim offensive coordinator in Miami during the 2015 season, after Joe Philbin was fired as head coach and Dan Campbell became interim head coach. The 35-year-old Taylor also has one year as offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati. A year ago he was promoted from assistant wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach of the Rams. That’s a thin résumé by NFL head coach standards.

But it’s a comparable résumé to that of the 44-year-old Kitchens, whose only experience as a coordinator is the second half of last season with the Browns, after head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired. Kitchens was in his first year as the Browns’ running backs coach when he was promoted, and he’d never been more than a position coach before, at any level.

New Packers head coach Matt LaFleur also has a résumé that looks light by NFL standards. He has been an offensive coordinator for one season for both the Rams and Titans, but only called the offensive plays once, in 2018. The 39-year-old LaFleur has never been a head coach.

And new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury does have six years of head coaching experience at Texas Tech, but he’s never coached in the NFL at all. At age 39, he also has a résumé that doesn’t look much like the typical career path for an NFL head coach.

What all four of those coaches have in common is that they’re young and they’re regarded as having a good understanding of the quarterback position. That’s what NFL owners increasingly want.

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