Fixing NFL Coaching Process: Ex-CB Jets Chiefs James Hasty Aim To Turn Flawed System Into Meritocracy


James Hasty has a vision for the future of the NFL. He can imagine a league in which there is real meritocracy, and the men who coach the teams and oversee the rosters are more like the men who play the game every Sunday.

Hasty, a former outstanding NFL defensive back, can see a path forward where NFL hiring cycles produce more diverse and representative results – where all of his work and character traits can be quantified by an algorithm designed to bring the best candidate to the job he or she is most qualified for. It’s a future where nepotism and cronyism – often the rule in these efforts – gives way to a fair process to anoint the best and the brightest, and a light shines on all who are worthy through data and data. new age analyzes.

Hasty has devoted the last years of his life to this passionate project, founding Eneje Consulting ( with the goal of improving the way hires are made in all college and professional sports. He worked closely with Dr. Steven Cureton, professor of sociology, to develop a model to measure the characteristics required of great coaches and leaders, and also brought in mathematical experts to produce a massive database and a formula for quantifying the strengths and weaknesses of a coach. in order to produce a note to classify them; potentially both overall and in their particular appeal to a given coach or general manager.

Perhaps Eneje’s research and model have the potential to revolutionize this so often ineffective process – which produces many of the same quick failures and doomed hires over and over again. In a sport defined in many ways by parity, but with so many identical owners unable to identify worthy people for the jobs they repeatedly have to do, it’s clear that many of these billionaires need all the money. help they can get to be saved on their own. .

Eneje has produced reports for the league and the Fritz Pollard Alliance, and has met with league officials at NFL meetings, but at this point he remains outside watching as the men begin to be interviewed. for this 2022 hiring cycle. Their work has generated a lot of chatter, and Hasty’s belief in his project is singular and relentless, as he continues to network with coaches, agents and team makers to trying to have a positive impact on this inaccurate science.

“It was just something I felt motivated to get involved in,” Hasty told me. “Like so many people, I got fed up with guys not having opportunities to measure up. I got to be coached by Willie Shaw my last year in the league with Kansas City, and he was a source. incredible knowledge, I learned so much from him at the end of my career, and Willie never had a head coach opportunity.

“And anyone who knew Willie Shaw knew he was a great footballing spirit and a great leader and he had everything you could look for in a head coach. That was the kind of thing I would think back to, and to through the pandemic we are all sitting and frustrated with the murder of George Floyd and wanted to see if there was a way to find a system that would be fair to everyone – not just to minority candidates but to anyone who deserves it – and that’s the result of that. “

Hasty is his own salesperson, and very efficient at that, and his work at this point – both quantifiable metrics and in terms of trying to define and exploit how best to evaluate coaches – is quite intriguing. Dr. Cureton’s 40-page report, titled “Minority Outsiders: An Examination of the NFL’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Habits in Hiring Head Coaches”, should be required reading for every owner, team president and senior office official. of the league.

Lay the foundation

Hasty, 56, was drafted by the Jets in the third round in 1988 and was a notable cornerback until his retirement in 2001, going twice to the Pro Bowl, winning an All Pro nod and leading the NFL in interceptions in 1999. His Aggressive Bump Running-and-running technique became ubiquitous and he and teammate Dale Carter were arguably the best tandem in the NFL at the peak of their prowess in Kansas City. Hasty was also an assistant head coach at Bellevue High School when the team won four straight titles in Washington State, and has been a student of the game his entire life.

He found one of the early champions of Eneje’s efforts in NFL diversity pioneer John Wooten, the longtime former leader of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, and Wooten campaigned among his peers to try obtain a more formal hearing with the owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell. Wooten believes that Eneje’s metrics – a proprietary Coaching Performance Assessment System (CPAS) that offers a cumulative ranking of the 2,300 college and professional coaches currently in the company’s system – could be transformational in making the more egalitarian NFL hiring.

“It can be something that can open doors we’ve never opened before,” said Wooten, a former NFL player and longtime executive who became president of the Fritz Pollard Alliance in 2003 until retired a few years ago. “Because they’re talking about something that gives you the real basis for trying to assess a coach.

“A lot of times we’ve heard, ‘Well, he doesn’t have this or hasn’t staffed, or he doesn’t quite understand this or that, or he doesn’t call the parts. “We’ve been touched by all kinds of things, but it’s not all about the ability to run your ball club, and this program that Hasty and Dr Cureton have put in place could help make that better and the hiring process more open.

Hasty explains the CPAS in terms that many football fans might understand:

“We have developed a formula that we can apply to everyone and remove the biases from everyone,” Hasty said. “Like the way we believe in QBR or other measures and formulas that were created and we all accept it, well, that’s what we wanted to be judged on. That’s what we created. for the evaluation of coaches. We have created a formula to ultimately identify who the best candidates are, and we can go back to the 1920s and 1930s on coaches from that time to today and score them. “

How it all works

Hasty and his team are adding coaches at all levels to the database and will be able to continue to monitor and evaluate them as they move up through the ranks. They take into account known beliefs and behavioral characteristics of individuals as well as personality traits. “We marry the human element and the digital aspects of what a coach has accomplished and combine the two and give you a score or a grade,” he said.

For each season, Eneje combines various factors that best summarize all of a team’s relevant training performance and calculate a final score (0-100) for each coach. A passing score of 70 is roughly a winning season, 80 is a playoff appearance, and 90+ is a playoff success. For the 2022 hiring cycle, Hasty’s model identified the following men as the most qualified head coach candidates in the NFL based on their overall scores:

Eric Bieniémy

Chiefs offensive coordinator

Todd bowles

Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator

Joe barry

Packers Defensive Coordinator

Brian daboll

Offensive invoice coordinator

Dave toub

Chiefs Special Team Coordinator

Teryl Austin

Steelers Senior Defensive Assistant

Leslie Frazier

Defensive Invoice Coordinator

Harold goodwin

Assistant head coach of the Boucaniers

Josh mcdaniels

Patriots Offensive Coordinator

Joe woods

Browns Defensive Coordinator

Matt Eberflus

Colts defensive coordinator

The roster is divided almost evenly in terms of minority candidates, and that assessment does not include men like former NFL head coaches Jim Caldwell and Doug Pederson, who are currently out of the league but are already candidates in Jacksonville.

“They were clear and obvious candidates,” Hasty said, “and I challenge anyone to read their bio and do their research on them. All of these guys are winners and they are great minds.”

To advance

At this point, Hasty’s gospel is spreading by word of mouth, with the NFL and Fritz Pollard Alliance yet to choose to officially endorse him as the project is still relatively new and, as with anything new. and innovative, it takes some time for curry acceptance. Rod Graves, Head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said: “We are aware of Eneje’s efforts and are fully interested in what the company is claiming in terms of predictive analytics, and we are closely monitoring their progress.”

Troy Vincent, chief of NFL football operations and a point of contact for the league’s efforts to diversify its ranks as head coach, general manager and team chairman, is also well aware of what the league is doing. ‘company: “We do not intend to implement James and John’s ideas into our current plans. We are very comfortable with our data and statistical models as we use to aggregate potential candidates who should receive a great consideration. “

Eneje continues to prepare reports and briefs – Dr Cureton recently sent another document to the FPA – and is making inroads through Hasty’s connections in the game.

I can’t help but wonder if his work gets more attention – and gets directly involved in at least some of these hiring processes – over time, as he aims to talk to owners, to discover the specific characteristics they look for most in a coach, and then generate recommendations from the specific coach and CEOs that they think would work together.

“In a perfect world we would work with the NFL on the process, identifying candidates and getting a final score and it’s all based on numerical conclusions,” Hasty said. “It’s not based on our opinion. Our database is one-tenth of a percent and if two guys are really close, we can always dig deeper and look at the strength of the calendar or some other variable; It’s never going to be a tie. It’s not. It’s about identifying the best black candidates. It’s about identifying the best candidates and giving everyone an equal chance. “

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