The Jacksonville Jaguars have become the 10th NFL franchise in this century to promote an interim head coach to the permanent job, a recent history that doesn't bode well for Doug Marrone's upcoming tenure.
As the chart shows, six of the previous nine instances since 2000 have produced losing records. Four of the coaches were fired within two years, and only one -- the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Garrett -- has had a winning record in a tenure that lasted more than a season.
More exhaustive research by Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders shows that a coach promoted from interim status has never won a Super Bowl, although Garrett is hoping to change that this season. Two of the 43 coaches Kacsmar identified in his study have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame: Sid Gillman and Marv Levy.
The majority of NFL coaches meet their end via firing, of course. But as the Buffalo Bills strongly consider promoting interim head coach Anthony Lynn, it's worth asking: What's different about those who were promoted from interim status?
Generally speaking, their tenures have played out worse than those of coaches who had fresh starts. These moves are thorny to begin with, bringing with them asterisks and assumptions. It's never clear whether the franchise conducted a genuine search, one that organically led to the person already occupying the office, or if minds were made up before the process began. Was the coach the heir apparent all along, even before his predecessor was fired? Or was the franchise simply unable to attract any intriguing candidates?
At worst, promoting an interim coach is a lazy hire. At best, it preserves continuity for a franchise that had given up on its head coach, doesn't want a total rebuild of his program, and has an inspiring candidate on staff. Marrone was hired in 2015 as the Jaguars' assistant head coach/offensive line, after two seasons as the Buffalo Bills' head coach, and was named to replace Gus Bradley on an interim basis last month.
Marrone was 15-17 in two seasons with the Bills, leaving amid controversy when he triggered an out clause in his contract, and hasn't gotten close to another head-coaching job since. The Jaguars selected him over former Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith, now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive coordinator, and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, whom the Jags interviewed last weekend.
If the Jaguars are hoping for a quicker turnaround under Marrone than they would have gotten with an entirely new staff, they should consider the recent history we noted above. The only coach on that list to produce a winning record in his first season was Mike Mularkey, who was 9-7 with the Tennessee Titans this season.
This isn't to crush any hope Jaguars fans might have for success in the coming years. And the relative complacency that an interim promotion might otherwise imply seems less relevant given the Jaguars' decision to hire Tom Coughlin as their executive vice president of football operations. There is little doubt that their franchise will have a different feel in 2017 than it had in 2016.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course. But recent history connotes a clear struggle for franchises that try to improve by promoting coaches who were already on staff. So it goes.