Considering the various challenges that have characterized the year 2020, several NFL personnel have put the game on hold. While the global pandemic is the primary reason for most players, the opting out of Kris Richard from the beautiful game has nothing to do with the novel virus.
Richard taking a pass based on self-belief
After being jettisoned in a sweep that involved the dismissal of Coach Jason Garrett, the 41-year-old former Dallas Cowboys defensive play-caller, Kris Richard has applied for multiple positions in the current year. This includes two head coach positions. However, he wasn’t offered any position higher than a defensive back coach.
Richard explained to CBC News, Sports that all his decisions had been based on “knowing your worth, knowing your value.” He added that “What’s the difference between the two” – referring to his previous position – before stating that the switch doesn’t mean more than interchanging positions. The former defensive play-caller emphasized that he’s not ready to “take anything less than” he is currently, expressing that Kris Richard is fully aware of what he is capable of.
Kris – the struggles; the barriers
For some time now, the former NFL cornerback has been an upcoming star in the coaching ranks. Besides having excellent communication skills, Kris Richard is a solid strategist who knows how to relate with players. After joining the Cowboys about two years ago as a secondary coach and passing game coordinator, he took up play-calling roles under Rod Marinelli. Within two hiring seasons, Richard attended five head coaching job interviews. Among the five is a three-in-one-day hot seat that precedes the 2018 season. Also, he was among the applicants for the Giants job in which Joe Judge emerged.
Kris Richard’ bold stance doesn’t come without risk, despite his efforts. After the scenery of the historical barriers against minority coaches – for instance, only three minors were hired out of the twenty available head coach positions in the previous three cycles – and considering the erratic nature of who is the most successful or not among the applicants, the former Dallas Cowboy play-caller tries to progress after a period of hiatus.
According to the executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, Rod Graves, in an interview with CBC news, Kris Richard should be able to return and secure “top consideration.” He emphasized that Richard deserves consideration, especially for the position of a coordinator. However, the executive director mentioned that although the one-year hiatus shouldn’t affect Richard’s chances considerably; however, the standards of their evaluations for minorities may differ in some cases.
In the current year, Kris Richard tried applying for the coordinator job without any success so far. The Cowboys have retained Kellen Moore as the coordinator of the offense, which ranked first in previous NFL season – including this year until Dak Prescott had a season-ending injury that dislocated his ankle in week. On the other end, Mike McCarthy, the new coach, hired Mike Nolan to coordinate the defense.
Kris Richard is not ready for settling less…
While Marinelli was employed as the Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive line coach, Garrett emerged as the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants. Kris Richard claimed to have attracted interest from six or seven teams to control their secondary. While some might recommend accepting the offer to stay active in a group, Richard believed that it would be an injustice to himself as he thought that he is overqualified.
Kris Richard revealed how many teams agreed to use “all of my stuff” without making him a coordinator. According to him, “a lot of the reasoning behind it was that people wanted to be loyal to people they already had in the building.” Richard claimed to respect such disposition. However, he added that he doesn’t see any sense if it’s not a position he deserves. The former play-caller explained that most minority coaches have always settled for “just have a job” position, before adding that “at what point do you draw the line?”
The frustration of the “minors”
This is just a typical case of frustration that several minority coaches have to contend with, especially in an ultra-competitive landscape with many head coach and coordinator positions in the 32 teams. Indeed, when the Cowboys miss the playoffs with an 8-8 finish that ended Garrett’s reign in the previous season, there was no chance for Richard to win. Nevertheless, hiring decisions is not always determined by win-loss records. For instance, Coach Adam Gase of New York was hired a few days after getting dismissed by the Miami Dolphins.
The coordinator roles are just as elusive as head coaching positions for the minority coaches – a situation facilitated by old-boy network and nepotism barriers. Richard explained that he realized that you need to be ten times better to move up the ranks a long time ago. He further explained that although such realization doesn’t encourage him, he does not lack motivation, claiming that he simply wants “to be the best who’s ever done it.”
Prior to working with Dallas, he moved through the rank of Pete Caroll’s staff for the Seahawks. He got promoted as a defensive coordinator in 2015 after revitalizing the Legion of Boom secondary – it was when Dan Quinn quit to take up a coaching position with the Falcons.
During the Yogi Berra-esque fashion, Richard explained that he’s indifferent to the title, yet he considers it as “important.” In other words, the decision-makers may consider the titles as an essential element in choosing their candidates and giving responsibilities.
However, Kris Richard teams coached in the previous season are struggling with historic lows under Nolan’s watch. The 24th-ranked unit of the Cowboys had allowed an NFL-high 266 points, which is about to surpass the franchise’s record for the number of points allowed (436) in 2010 when the team struggled (2-6) in the NFC East – the worst division for NFC.
Time to reflect and re-strategize for the future
As the new defensive coordinator, Kris Richard Cowboys didn’t take any aim at the opponent. Likewise, he didn’t blast the Seahawks (6-1) for its last-ranked lapses in defense, which have placed considerable pressure on the offense set up by Russell Wilson. However, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by Richard.
Although the free period has enabled Richard to spend quality time with family, he has developed a big-picture mindset and critical eye.
While alluding to the time spent watching games on “Sunday Ticket,” which provides mental reps for defensive strategies, he claimed to have been “on the verge of burnout on game day.” Richard claimed to have always watched football “critically,” focusing on what he would do – and not what everyone else is doing.
Kris Richard also spent his time reflecting on his past and future interviews. He claimed to always replay the questions and his responses to find clues. Multiple head coach positions are expected to be available during the upcoming cycle. This may include Houston and Atlanta that are currently using interim coaches. Also, several coordinator jobs are likely to be up for grab.
Richard clarified that he could work with virtually anyone. However, he is now more prepared for the next hiring cycle based on his previous interview experiences. In the next few months, we will find out whether Richard will finally get his dream position or not.