Football Assistant Coach
What is an Assistant Coach in Football?
An assistant coach is any staff member who helps to prepare the players for a football game and instructs them mid-game under the supervision of the head coach. In the NFL, there is an assistant for every aspect of the game, with the average staff consisting of 15 coaches.
The two most common types of assistant coaches are the offensive and defensive coordinators. These are the first people looked at when teams are planning on hiring a new head coach, as it is the most similar role.
Coordinator Roles and Responsibilities
Offensive coordinators can have many different roles. In some cases, they are completely in charge of the offensive game plan and script a playbook for each game that they believe will be the most effective against an opposing defense. In other situations, the head coach might be in charge of calling the plays, in which case the coordinator plays more of an advisory role.
The defensive coordinator is in charge of choosing which scheme of play to run, whether it be man, zone, etc. Defensive coordinators study the opposing offense’s tendencies so that they can prepare their players for certain formations and snap counts.
Each team has a special teams coach in charge of the kicking, punting, and returning aspects of the game. While not every special teams play appears to be significant, the teams with the best special teams units are almost always more successful.
Position Coach Roles and Responsibilities
On NFL and many collegiate teams, there is typically an assistant coach for each positional group: one for quarterbacks, receivers and halfbacks, offensive and defensive line, linebacker, and secondary. These positional coaches are more specialized and focus on fundamentals rather than the big picture of a game that offensive and defensive coordinators handle.
Teams also often have strength and conditioning coaches who help them to improve in the weight room, providing motivation while creating a workout plan in order to maximize muscular output. The higher level a team plays, the more complicated their strength coaching system will be to meet the needs of professional play.
Assistant Coach Salary
The average salary for an assistant coach in the NFL is $400,000. This is fairly generous compensation, but the position of an assistant coach requires tons of work and dedication, especially during the season. At lower levels of football, assistant coach salaries are lower, with the average college coach making around $50,000 per year.
Notable NFL Assistant Coaches
- Bill Belichick (Detroit Lions 1976-1977, Denver Broncos 1978, New York Giants 1979-1990)
- Bill Parcells (New York Giants 1979, 1981-1982)
- Brian Billick (Minnesota Vikings 1992-1998)
- Mike Ditka (Dallas Cowboys 1973-1981)
- Norv Turner (Los Angeles Rams 1985-1990, Dallas Cowboys 1991-1993, Miami Dolphins 2002-2003, San Francisco 49ers 2006, Cleveland Browns 2013, Minnesota Vikings 2014-2016, Carolina Panthers 2018-2019)
- Nathaniel Hackett (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2006-2007, Buffalo Bills 2008-2009 and 2013-2014, Jacksonville Jaguars 2016-2018, Green Bay Packers 2019-2021)
- Joe Brady (New Orleans Saints 2017-2018, Carolina Panthers 2020-2021, Buffalo Bills 2022-present)
- Matt Eberflus (Cleveland Browns 2009-2010, Dallas Cowboys 2011-2017, Indianapolis Colts 2018-2021)
- Eric Bieniemy (Minnesota Vikings 2006-2010, Kansas City Chiefs 2013-present)
- Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2002-2005 and 2007-2011, Washington Redskins 2012-2014, Atlanta Falcons 2015-2020, Los Angeles Rams 2021-present)