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With Eagles set to face Kevin Stefanski and Browns, here’s some trivia on NFL head coaches

How many coaches have offensive backgrounds? Where were these guys born? And who gave Bill Belichick his first break?

Yo, ref, you wit' me? First-year head coach Kevin Stefanski and the 6-3 Browns have won as many games this season as they did in all of 2019.
Yo, ref, you wit' me? First-year head coach Kevin Stefanski and the 6-3 Browns have won as many games this season as they did in all of 2019.Read moreTerrance Williams / AP

Don’t want to make too much out of one half of one season, but it looks like the Cleveland Browns made the right decision to hire Kevin Stefanski over Jim Schwartz and Josh McDaniels.

It’s been 18 years since the Browns made the playoffs. Tim Couch was the quarterback, Stefanski was a junior safety at Penn. After a tumultuous 2019 season in which the Browns underachieved (again), owner Jim Haslem fired Freddie Kitchens and turned to Stefanski, whose first NFL coaching experience was working as a summer intern for the Eagles in 2005. Stefanski had been Minnesota’s offensive coordinator.

Cleveland was 6-10 last season under Kitchens. The Browns are 6-3 this year. Despite having twice as many wins as the NFC-East leading Eagles, however, they are on the wrong end of the AFC playoff bubble. But progress is being made.

» FROM THE ARCHIVES: Kevin Stefanski was a star athlete 'round here

This will be the second week in a row the Eagles play against a team coached by a Philly-area native. Last week, they lost to the Giants’ Joe Judge (Lansdale Catholic). This week they get Stefanski, a Wayne native who attended St. Joseph’s Prep before helping Penn win three Ivy League titles.

So let’s take a deeper dive into where the NFL’s 32 head coaches have come from.

What position did they play in college?

Listed with last school attended

Quarterback (9): Bruce Arians (Virginia Tech), Jon Gruden (Dayton), Joe Judge (Mississippi State), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Matt Nagy (Delaware), Sean Payton (East Illinois), Doug Pederson (Northeast Louisiana), Frank Reich (Maryland), Zac Taylor (Nebraska).

Running back (1): Anthony Lynn (Texas Tech).

Wide receiver (4): Matt LaFleur (Western Michigan), Sean McVay (Miami-Ohio), Kyle Shanahan (Texas), Mike Tomlin (William and Mary).

Tight end (1): Mike McCarthy (Baker U.).

Offensive lineman (4): Bill Belichick (Wesleyan), Doug Marrone (Syracuse), Matt Patricia (RPI), Andy Reid (BYU).

Defensive lineman (1): Romeo Crennel (Western Kentucky).

Linebacker (5): Brian Flores (Boston College), Matt Rhule (Penn State), Ron Rivera (California), Mike Vrabel (Ohio State), Mike Zimmer (Illinois State).

Defensive back (5): Pete Carroll (Pacific), John Harbaugh (Miami-Ohio), Sean McDermott (William and Mary), Raheem Morris (Hofstra), Kevin Stefanski (Penn).

Did not play in college (2) (H.S. position): Vic Fangio (defensive back), Adam Gase (tight end).


Offensive side of ball: 20.

Defensive side of ball: 12.

Gotta do better

Black head coaches (5): Romeo Crennel (interim, Houston), Brian Flores (Miami), Anthony Lynn (L.A. Chargers), Raheem Morris (interim, Atlanta), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh).

Latino head coach (1): Ron Rivera (Washington).

White head coaches (26): Everyone else.

» FROM THE ARCHIVES: Now here’s a novel way to expand diversity in NFL coaching | Marcus Hayes

Where they from?

Where the 32 NFL head coaches were born.

California (4): Pete Carroll, San Francisco; Sean Payton, San Mateo; Andy Reid, Los Angeles; Ron Rivera, Fort Ord.

Illinois (1): Mike Zimmer, Peoria.

Michigan (2): Adam Gase, Ypsilanti; Matt LaFleur, Mount Pleasant.

Minnesota (1): Kyle Shanahan, Minneapolis.

Nebraska (1): Sean McDermott, Omaha.

New Jersey (3): Bruce Arians, Paterson; Raheem Morris, Newark; Matt Nagy, Dunellen.

New York (5): Brian Flores, Brooklyn; Doug Marrone, Bronx; Matt Patricia, Sherrill; Frank Reich, Freeport; Matt Rhule, New York.

Ohio (4): Jon Gruden, Sandusky; John Harbaugh, Perrysville; Sean McVay, Dayton; Mike Vrabel, Akron.

Oklahoma (1): Zac Taylor, Norman.

Pennsylvania (4): Vic Fangio, Dunmore; Joe Judge, Philadelphia; Mike McCarthy, Pittsburgh; Kevin Stefanski, Wayne.

Tennessee (1): Bill Belichick, Nashville.

Texas (2): Kliff Kingsbury, San Antonio; Anthony Lynn, McKinney.

Virginia (2): Romeo Crennel, Lynchburg; Mike Tomlin, Hampton.

Washington (1): Doug Pederson, Bellingham.

Played in the NFL

(Career games in parentheses)

Mike Vrabel, LB (206), Ron Rivera, LB (137), Frank Reich, QB (118), Doug Pederson, QB (100), Anthony Lynn, RB (83), Doug Marrone, OL (5), *Sean Payton, QB (3), Kliff Kingsbury, QB (1).

*Payton’s appearances were as a strike-replacement player in 1987.

Fun facts

  1. Matt Rhule was a real-life “Rudy” when he walked on at Penn State in 1994 and was told he’d be the scouting team’s center. “I got the living crap knocked out of me,” Rhule told colleague Mike Jensen several years ago. “[But] we went to the Rose Bowl.” Rhule eventually earned his letter as a senior in 1997, when he played linebacker.

  2. One of Sean Payton’s first jobs was running backs coach at San Diego State when Marshall Faulk was a star there in the early 1990s.

  3. Bruce Arians coached Alabama’s running backs during Bear Bryant’s final two years. He was 30 when Temple brought him to North Broad Street to be its head coach in 1983.

  4. Andy Reid was a guest columnist for the (Provo) Daily Herald while he was a student at BYU. Once wrote in defense of the team’s occasionally rebellious star quarterback, “Jim McMahon is not against religion. Jim is Catholic, not Mormon. His beliefs are a little different, but surely not satanized. His upbringing is not the same that fits smoothly into the BYU mold, but like gifted people, he makes it fit. Jim McMahon does not rebel against the Mormon religion and never will.”

  5. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota) started his career at Illinois State as a quarterback, but he injured his thumb so severely that he switched to linebacker.

  6. Chester Caddas gave Pete Carroll his first job in coaching, hiring his former player as a graduate assistant at the University of Pacific in 1974.

  1. Sean McDermott and Mike Tomlin were teammates at William and Mary.

  2. Tomlin was a three-year starter at wide receiver who set a school record by averaging 20.2 yards per catch in 1994. Maybe that’s why the Steelers always seem to find a way to develop wide receivers.

  3. Bill Belichick was captain of the lacrosse team at Wesleyan, and a backup defensive end. His father, Steve, was an assistant at Navy for 33 years, which led to Bill’s first NFL job. “It was pretty much 17, 18 hours of football on a daily basis,” Belichick said in 2004. “From the time we got up in the hotel until the time we drove into the parking lot and went to bed, it was solid football. I worked on defense. I worked on special teams. I spent probably two hours a day with the head coach [Ted Marchibroda]. It was awesome.”

  4. John Harbaugh coached at the college level for 14 years before Ray Rhodes (not Andy Reid) gave him his first NFL job, Eagles special-teams coordinator in 1998.

  5. Romeo Crennel’s big coaching break came in 1975, when he was hired by Texas Tech as an assistant under defensive coordinator Bill Parcells.

  6. Frank Reich spent eight years in religious ministry after his playing career, eventually becoming a pastor. He was 45 years old when the Colts made him a coaching intern in 2006.

  7. Vic Fangio didn’t play college football, but he quite literally studied it as East Stroudsburg coach Denny Douds taught a class on the subject in the 1970s.

  8. Adam Gase also didn’t play in college.

  9. Matt Patricia graduated from RPI with a degree in aeronautical engineering. So, yeah, in a way, he’s a rocket scientist. He also waited until Week 10 to name D’Andre Swift the starting running back. In other ways, he is not.