Minority candidate pool runs deep

Marvin Lewis. Lovie Smith. Romeo Crennel. All NFL head coaches. All minorities. Each spent more than a handful of offseasons interviewing for head coaching jobs before getting his first opportunity to run a team.

So who's next? One of the goals of the Rooney Rule is to identify qualified minority coaches and ensure that they receive appropriate opportunities to interview for head coaching opportunities. This offseason, the pool of minority candidates was larger than ever. These nine current NFL assistant coaches were in that interview loop:

Jim Caldwell

Jim Caldwell Caldwell
Age: 51 | Coaching experience: 28 years | NFL experience: 13 years
2005 position: Assistant head coach/quarterbacks, Indianapolis Colts
Key positions held
• Assistant head coach/quarterbacks, Indianapolis Colts (2002-05)
• Quarterbacks coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2001)
• Head coach, Wake Forest (1993-2000)
• Assistant coach, Penn State (1986-92)
Career highlights
• Assists in one of the most successful passing offenses in recent league history.
• Wake Forest ranked among the nation's top 25 passing teams four times in Caldwell's tenure.
• At Penn State, tutored QB Kerry Collins, who went on to win the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell awards.
• Hired by Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay in 2001
• Followed Dungy to Indianapolis in 2002
• Coached under Joe Paterno at Penn State, where he was receivers coach and passing-game coordinator.
Scouts take: Former college head coach ... ran Colts in Dungy's absence in December ... very detailed, veteran coach ... very organized ... good person; calm demeanor; personality is a lot like Dungy's ... excellent relationship with QB Peyton Manning ... a teaching coach ... very good in head coach interviews.

Maurice Carthon

Maurice Carthon Carthon
Age: 45 | Coaching experience: 12 years | NFL experience: 12 years
2005 position: Offensive coordinator, Cleveland Browns
Key positions held
• Offensive coordinator, Cleveland Browns (2005)
• Offensive coordinator/running backs coach, Dallas Cowboys (2003-04)
• Offensive coordinator, Detroit Lions (2002)
• Running backs coach, Detroit Lions (2001)
• Assistant head coach/running backs coach, New York Jets (2000)
• Running backs coach, New York Jets (1997-99)
Career highlights
• 2004 Cowboys, featuring TE Jason Witten, rookie RB Julius Jones and QB Vinny Testaverde ranked 14th in total offense in NFL.
• Under Carthon's direction, Jets running game produced four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
• With the Patriots during 1994-96, helped RB Curtis Martin develop from third-round pick into perennial 1,000-yard back.
• Began coaching career under Bill Parcells in New England (1994).
• Coached under Parcells for three years (1997-99) with the Jets.
• Coached alongside current Browns head coach Romeo Crennel with both the Patriots and Jets.
• Coached under Marty Mornhinweg with the Detroit Lions (2001-02).
Scouts take: Comes from the Bill Parcells system ... a fiery guy ... coaches with a lot of emotion ... last season was his first running an offense and calling plays, although he did some of it in Dallas ... tough guy ... very strong opinions on personnel decisions ... not afraid to stand up and fight for what he wants ... demanding.

Ted Cottrell

Ted Cottrell Cottrell
Age: 58 | Coaching experience: 33 years | NFL experience: 22 years
2005 position: Defensive coordinator, Minnesota Vikings
Key positions held
• Defensive coordinator, Minnesota Vikings (2004-05)
• Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, New York Jets (2001-03)
• Defensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills (1998-2000)
• Linebackers coach, Buffalo Bills (1995-97)
Career highlights
• Seven of the last 11 teams Cottrell has coached have made the playoffs.
• 2001 Jets tied for second in the NFL with 39 takeaways.
• 1999 Bills ranked first in total defense, setting team records for fewest points allowed (229), fewest TDs allowed (23), fewest total yards (4,045) and total first downs allowed (244) in a 16-game season.
• Buffalo ranked third in the league in total defense in 1998 and sixth in 2000.
• Worked under Marv Levy in both Kansas City and Buffalo.
• Coached under Joe Bugel and Buddy Ryan while with the Arizona Cardinals.
• Coached under Wade Phillips in Buffalo.
• Coached under Herman Edwards in New York.
Scouts take: He has an extensive coaching résumé and has run defenses with the Bills, Jets and Vikings ... makes adjustments in his schemes to fit his personnel ... can coach 3-4 defenses and also 4-3 schemes ... can play man-to-man or zone coverage ... excellent teacher, gets players to buy into system ... ultimate wise guy ... very loyal ... veteran assistant.

Jerry Gray

Jerry Gray Gray
Age: 43 | Coaching experience: 11 years | NFL experience: 9 years
2005 position: Defensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills
Key positions held
• Defensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills (2001-05)
• Defensive backs coach, Tennessee Titans (1999-2000)
• Defensive assistant, Tennessee Titans (1997-98)
• Defensive backs coach, SMU (1995-96)
Career highlights
• 2004 Bills ranked second in total defense and first in turnovers forced (39). Finished in top five in TDs allowed (29), passing yards per game (164.0) and sacks (45).
• 2003 Bills ranked second in total defense (second vs. pass, eighth vs. run) and fifth in points allowed.
• 2000 Titans ranked first in league in pass defense and total defense.
• Brought to Buffalo by then-coach Gregg Williams, now defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins.
• Worked under Williams and head coach Jeff Fisher with the Titans.
Scouts takes: Runs a pressure defense that thrives on blitzes from all over the field ... loves the element of surprise ... knows how to identify personnel to run his schemes ... a very creative guy ... utilizes 4-3 defense but can use 3-4 scheme ... doesn't get as much credit as he should.

Donnie Henderson

Donnie Henderson Henderson
Age: 48 | Coaching experience: 23 years | NFL experience: 7 years
2005 position: Defensive coordinator, New York Jets
Key positions held
• Defensive coordinator, New York Jets (2004-05)
• Defensive backs coach, Baltimore Ravens (2000-03)
• Assistant defensive backs coach, Baltimore Ravens (1999)
• Defensive backs coach, University of Houston (1998)
• Defensive backs coach, Arizona State (1992-97)
Career highlights
• 2005 Jets ranked second in the league vs. pass and fifth in league in interceptions (21).
• 2004 Jets ranked fourth in league in points allowed (261), third-fewest points allowed in team history.
• Ravens finished in top 10 vs. pass in three of his four seasons as defensive backs coach.
• 2000 Ravens set a team record with 23 INT and allowed only 11 TD passes in 20 games (tops in the NFL).
• Hired as Jets defensive coordinator by former Jets head coach Herman Edwards.
• Worked under current Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis in Baltimore during 1999-2001.
Scouts take: Fiery guy with a lot of intensity and a demand for excellence from his players ... runs an aggressive defense with a lot of exotic blitzes and man-to-man coverages ... loves to gamble and attack ... gets in players' faces and will challenge them ... a little bit of a yeller and screamer, but also organized.

Tim Lewis

Tim Lewis Lewis
Age: 44 | Coaching experience: 19 years | NFL experience: 11 years
2005 position: Defensive coordinator, New York Giants (2004-05)
Key positions held
• Defensive coordinator, New York Giants (2004-05)
• Defensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers (2000-03)
• Secondary coach, Pittsburgh Steelers (1995-99)
• Secondary coach, University of Pittsburgh (1993-94)
Career highlights
• 2005 Giants finished tied for eighth in the league in sacks.
• 2004 Giants' defense ranked 13th overall and eighth vs. pass after ranking 22nd overall and 25th vs. pass in 2003.
• 2002 Steelers' defense ranked seventh overall and first vs. run. First time team had led league in rush defense in consecutive seasons.
• 2001 Steelers' defense ranked first in NFL overall and vs. run and ranked fourth vs. pass.
• Began coaching career in 1987 at Texas A&M under Jackie Sherrill, his coach at the University of Pittsburgh.
• Served under Bill Cowher with Pittsburgh Steelers.
• Was first assistant hired by Tom Coughlin upon taking over as New York Giants head coach.
Scouts take: Runs a 4-3 defense but has experience in the 3-4 scheme from his days as a Pittsburgh assistant ... well thought of by the Giants' top brass ... has a lot of experience ... demanding ... doesn't like soft guys ... will be disciplinarian.

James Lofton

James Lofton Lofton
Age: 49 | Coaching experience: 4 years | NFL experience: 4 years
2005 position: Receivers coach, San Diego Chargers
Key positions held
• Receivers coach, San Diego Chargers (2002-05)
Career highlights
• Played 233 games in Hall of Fame career.
• Third on all-time list in receiving yards (14,004).
• Coaching under head coach Marty Schottenheimer and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron with Chargers.
• Joined Chargers' coaching staff after spending eight years in broadcasting.
• Played for head coaches Bart Starr and Forrest Gregg in Green Bay; Tom Flores and Mike Shanahan in Oakland; and Marv Levy in Buffalo.
Scouts take: Most of his experience comes from his playing days ... has only been a position coach on NFL level ... bright guy ... has charisma ... good people skills, but needs coordinator experience.

Ron Rivera

Ron Rivera Rivera
Age: 44 | Coaching experience: 9 years | NFL experience: 9 years
2005 position: Defensive coordinator, Chicago Bears
Key positions held
• Defensive coordinator, Chicago Bears (2004-05)
• Linebackers coach, Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2003)
• Defensive quality control, Chicago Bears (1997-98)
Career highlights
• 2005 Bears ranked second in total defense (fifth vs. pass, 11th vs. run). Also ranked first in points allowed per game (12.6) and TDs allowed (19).
• 2004 Bears led league in third-down efficiency (30.5 percent) and finished fourth in red-zone defense (42.6 percent).
• Helped develop LB Jeremiah Trotter into a two-time Pro Bowl performer with the Eagles.
• Coached under Andy Reid and Jim Johnson in Philadelphia and has coached the last two seasons under Lovie Smith.
• Was given his first coaching opportunity by Dave Wannstedt.
• Played for nine seasons (1984-1992) in Chicago under Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan.
Scouts take: Bright young guy who has flourished in running Lovie Smith's Cover 2 defense ... also played in Bears' great 46 defense ... tough guy; has respect because of how he played ... media friendly and savvy ... has really worked to become a good coach.

Mike Singletary

Mike Singletary Singletary
Age: 47 | Coaching experience: 3 years | NFL experience: 3 years
2005 position: Assistant head coach/linebackers, San Francisco 49ers
Key positions held
• Assistant head coach/linebackers, San Francisco 49ers (2005)
• Linebackers coach, Baltimore Ravens (2003-04)
Career highlights
• Under Singletary's tutelage, Ravens LB Ray Lewis was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2003.
• Part of Ravens staff that guided defense to a No. 3 overall ranking in 2003.
• Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
• Played for head coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan with Chicago Bears.
• Coached under current 49ers head coach Mike Nolan in Baltimore; followed Nolan to San Francisco.
Scouts take: No coordinator experience but great résumé as a player ... intense, intelligent, great character ... played in Buddy Ryan's 46 defense ... has a lot of experience in 3-4 schemes from Baltimore and now San Francisco ... needs coaching experience but has rare leadership qualities.