2022 NFL Head Coach Candidates
The 2022 NFL offseason has begun for non-playoff teams, and there are eight head coaching vacancies throughout the league. Here are some candidates who could land the jobs:
Josh McDaniels, Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots
McDaniels has had turbulent experiences on the head coaching circuit but will always be on this list because of 1) his accomplishments as an offensive coordinator and 2) his previous experience as an NFL head coach (no matter how negative it may have been). McDaniels was a well-documented disaster in Denver but earned the Indianapolis Colts job back in 2018 before changing his mind. After the remarkable job the Patriots did turning around their offense this year with a rookie quarterback, McDaniels should get consideration for open jobs.
Jerod Mayo, Inside Linebackers Coach, New England Patriots
While Mayo does not have an official coordinator designation in his title, he is, for all intents and purposes, the Patriots' defensive coordinator. The situation is identical to what it was when Brian Flores was in New England. I was not going to put him on this list because I think it's unlikely he gets a head coaching job this time around, but he is certainly a legitimate candidate for years to come. His defense has been one of the tops in the league since he took over, and his playing career just adds to his merit. Mayo is expected to interview with the Broncos, the Raiders, and the Texans.
Todd Bowles, Defensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another former head coach on this list. Bowles's work as defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals earned him the New York Jets head coaching job in 2015. After a 10-win season in his first year with the team, the Jets finished his tenure with three straight losing seasons. By most accounts, Bowles was a pretty good head coach and his firing was not just a result of his abilities but rather a combination of things affecting the franchise. Since then, he's led a remarkable reclamation of the Tampa Bay defense and was also a head coaching candidate a year ago. This year could be the year he returns to those ranks.
Byron Leftwich, Offensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The former Jaguars' quarterback has been a hot name for head coach openings for a few years, and he may even be a fit for his former team. It has to be tantalizing for Jacksonville to have a player that knows its desired culture and was a successful NFL quarterback himself coaching a team led by the young prodigy Trevor Lawrence. The people around Leftwich's coaching career have raved about how he connects with players, makes adjustments, and sees the game--all great attributes for a head coach. Plus, a former player can help attract free agents and he's young enough to still be connected to players throughout the league.
Raheem Morris, Defensive Coordinator, Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams defense has not been as good under Morris as it was under Brandon Staley, but Morris may get consideration because of his lengthy NFL background. He has been a defensive coach for several teams, including defensive coordinator for both the Buccaneers and the Falcons. He was Tampa's head coach from 2009 to 2011 and replaced Dan Quinn in Atlanta as the interim head coach just last season. Although there are a few more experienced candidates on the market, Morris could be a good option.
Eric Bienemy, Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
Here we go again. Eric Bienemy has been a top head coach candidate for years yet has not landed a gig. It's been a surprise to many in NFL media circles, and coaches vouch for him despite the struggles. There have been many rumors as to why he has not been hired by an NFL team, but that hasn't stopped teams from bringing him in for interviews. He was also rumored as a candidate for a few top college jobs this year. The Chiefs offense has struggled more than most years, which may hurt his chances, but this could be the time someone hires Eric Bienemy.
Luke Getsy, Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach, Green Bay Packers
This was another shocking candidate to me, not because of who Getsy is, but his experience. He was definitely a good candidate to get consideration down the line, but I would think there would be at least a promotion to OC before leaping to head coach. Getsy has a good offensive track record, which is appealing in the current era of the NFL, and should get some help just by the fact that he works with Aaron Rodgers and elite offensive players on a daily basis. Getsy is currently scheduled for just one interview with the Broncos.
Nathaniel Hackett, Offensive Coordinator, Green Bay Packers
Hackett does not have experience as an NFL head coach but has been a very successful offensive coordinator. His most successful run is undoubtedly his current tenure in Green Bay. While Matt LaFleur may be heavily involved in the offense, Hackett clearly has a crucial role as the official offensive coordinator. With his coordinator experience in the league and the connections to a successful coach like LaFleur, Hackett has drawn interest from Chicago, Denver, Jacksonville, and Minnesota.
Brian Flores, Former Head Coach, Miami Dolphins
I honestly side with the people that think Flores should have stayed in Miami. Yes, the Dolphins got off to a slow start, but the reality is that the team won eight of its last nine games and finished with a winning record for the second straight season. I know the end goal at this point is playoffs, but Flores did as well as anyone could with the team he was given. Brian Flores immediately became a top candidate for open jobs and has interviews with at least Chicago and Houston. It would be a complete surprise if he isn't hired somewhere.
Matt Eberflus, Defensive Coordinator, Indianapolis Colts
It is no secret that the Colts have developed into one of the best defensive units in the league, and it is no coincidence that the turnaround started when the team brought in Eberflus. Eberflus is known for developing linebackers. His work in Dallas led to the best years of Jaylon Smith's and Leighton Vander Esch's careers so far, and he has been just as good developing guys like Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, and even former Colt Anthony Walker in Indy. Eberflus is the first publicly-known finalist for the job in Jacksonville.
Aaron Glenn, Defensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions
This does not seem like the year Glenn gets a head coaching job, but he clearly belongs on this list. Although the Detroit defense has not been great overall, there is an astronomical difference in the level of play between the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Glenn has made significant progress with these players and even had outstanding performances while playing backups and undrafted players. He has the desired leadership traits of a future NFL head coach and should get there soon.
Darrell Bevell, Offensive Coordinator/Interim Head Coach, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yes, Bevell was fired as offensive coordinator in Seattle, but his return to the league after a year off showed he can still coach. Plus, this is the second time in two years he has been named the interim head coach for a team. Last year's run with the Lions was much better than this year's with Jacksonville, but clearly players like Bevell and respond to his coaching. He was on the shortlist for the Lions last offseason, so it would make sense that he would receive some interest this year as well.
Brian Daboll, Offensive Coordinator, Buffalo Bills
Daboll may be an under-the-radar guy on this list, but his work with Josh Allen and the Bills' offense has been incredible. It wasn't long ago that Buffalo had bad offenses, and Daboll's role with this young team has been an impactful one. He has a deep coaching background in both college and the NFL and was the NFL's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2020. Brian Daboll has been a firm NFL head coaching candidate since he's been in Buffalo and may end up being hired wherever assistant GM Joe Schoen goes.
Leslie Frazier, Defensive Coordinator, Buffalo Bills
Frazier was the Minnesota Vikings' head coach from 2011 to 2013 and leads one of the top defenses in the NFL. The Bills' defense is not without its holes, but Frazier has been an excellent addition to the staff. In his career, he has also been the defensive coordinator for the Bengals, Vikings, and Buccaneers. This year may be the year Frazier gets a chance to return to being a head coach as the Bills are the NFL's No. 1 defense. He will interview with the Dolphins and Bears.
Brian Callahan, Offensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals
Callahan may be a long shot during this cycle, but at least the Denver Broncos have requested to interview him. The 37-year-old began his coaching career with Denver in 2010 and worked his way up to quarterbacks coach in both Oakland and Detroit and became offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals when Zac Taylor was hired in 2019. A big link between Callahan and the Broncos may be the future of the quarterback position. Denver clearly does not have a franchise guy on its current roster, while Callahan has worked with guys like Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, and Joe Burrow. The offense Callahan built around Burrow and the Cincinnati receiving corps could work well in Denver, and NFL coaching is in his blood. (His father is former head coach Bill Callahan.)
Kellen Moore, Offensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
Kellen Moore is a sort of "boy wonder" in the coaching ranks. After spending a few years as a backup quarterback with the Lions and Cowboys, Dallas hired Moore as its new quarterbacks coach in 2018. He was promoted to his current role less than a year later, and, at just 33 years old, he has the potential to lead a team for a long time. Moore's interviews this offseason will include the Vikings, Broncos, Jaguars, and Dolphins.
Dan Quinn, Defensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
Quinn is best known for his time as head coach in Atlanta and as defensive coordinator during the "Legion of Boom" days in Seattle. He was fired from Atlanta a year ago and has done a good job re-shaping the Cowboys' defense. There are still some weaknesses on that particular unit, but his track record and prior head coaching experiences make him a desired candidate throughout the league. He is expected to interview with Chicago, Minnesota, Miami, Denver, and the New York Giants.
Mike McDaniel, Offensive Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers
Mike McDaniel is one of the up-and-comers of the Shanahan coaching tree. He received a promotion to offensive coordinator last offseason when Mike LaFleur left to join Robert Saleh's staff with the Jets. In his first year as coordinator, San Francisco made the playoffs and had the seventh-best offense (by yardage) in the NFL. There was much more to be desired in the passing game, and they could have scored more points, but that's a pretty good year from a first-time play-caller. Teams clearly see high potential in McDaniel and he will interview with Miami.
DeMeco Ryans, Defensive Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers
Ryans was an All-Pro NFL linebacker and spent his 10-year career with the Texans and the Eagles. He joined San Francisco as a quality control coach in 2017 and was named defensive coordinator prior to this season--replacing Jets' head coach Robert Saleh. The Niners' defense didn't miss a beat in 2021, allowing just 21.5 points per game and finishing third in the entire league. That quick success has earned Ryans an interview with the Vikings.
Rich Bisaccia, Interim Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator, Las Vegas Raiders
He hasn't been on anyone's public list but, as I said on the last podcast episode, and many others have said in the media, Rich Bisaccia deserves praise for the job he has done as the interim coach in Vegas and should be considered for the full-time job. It is unlikely he will actually get it since the team likely wants an experienced head coach, but Bisaccia inherited a nearly impossible situation given all the Raiders dealt with off the field and got his team to the playoffs. To me, that sounds like a legitimate candidate.
Kevin O'Connell, Offensive Coordinator, Los Angeles Rams
At 36 years of age, O'Connell continues the trend of young coaching candidates who also spent time as players in the league. He was a third-round pick in 2008 and spent time with New England, Detroit, Miami, San Diego, and the Jets. After serving as an offensive assistant for years, O'Connell was promoted to offensive coordinator for Washington in 2019. The next coaching staff did not keep him and the Rams swooped in. In his time in LA, the Rams have built a potent offense that has led them into the Divisional Round of this year's playoffs. In an offensively-driven league, O'Connell is going to continue to get looks and may snag a job eventually.
Jonathan Gannon, Defensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles
This is a candidate I have real questions about. The Eagles' defense has been average at best in recent years and didn't really come to play in the biggest games this year. In fact, I think many Philly fans would be thrilled if someone else took him off their hands. He did work with some pretty good players in Minnesota, but his next stop in Indy wasn't as successful, and he only has one year under his belt as a coordinator. Yet, he somehow made the interview lists for Denver, Houston, and Minnesota.
Hines Ward, Wide Receivers Coach, Florida Atlantic University
Ward was a phenomenal NFL wide receiver and has been praised as a successful future coach or executive in the league. I have no issues with a team kicking the tires on an interview with him; I just wonder if he's ready yet. He is still relatively new to the coaching ranks, so it may take him a few tries. He reportedly has an interview with Houston this year.
Joe Lombardi, Offensive Coordinator, Los Angeles Chargers
If you were not aware, Lombardi is the grandson of NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi. The younger Lombardi broke into the NFL as a defensive assistant with the Falcons in 2006 and has spent the majority of his career with the New Orleans Saints. He was twice picked as the offensive coordinator for other teams (Lions in 2014, Chargers in 2021). His Detroit offense left too much to be desired and he was let go halfway through his second season. He returned to New Orleans for another five seasons. which clearly helped him re-examine his approach as a coordinator. In his only season so far in LA, the offense was a big strength for the Chargers, scoring at the fifth-highest rate in the league. That has suddenly made him a viable candidate across the league. Lombardi has interviewed with Houston and may see more requests as the process continues.
Patrick Graham, Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants
The Giants may not have a tremendous defense, but Patrick Graham has been a big part of some of the best performances from the G-Men in recent years. Many times under this coaching staff, Graham's defense has been the best unit on the team and kept a lackluster offense in games in which it had no business competing. Graham is considered a top defensive coordinator in the league and should eventually get shot.
Joe Brady, Former Offensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers
It is far more likely that Brady gets a second chance at offensive coordinator than an opportunity at head coach, but he was considered a top candidate just last year. He was pretty clearly the scapegoat of a struggling Carolina team during a mid-season collapse and will at least get interest from teams as an OC. In an age where young offensive-minded coaches have begun to thrive, some team may give him a shot at head coach, especially given his meteoric rise. It just probably won't be this year.
Dennis Allen, Defensive Coordinator, New Orleans Saints
Dennis Allen is a candidate with head coaching experience and one of the "unsung heroes" of the coordinator ranks. Allen led a dominating defense in Denver for the AFC West champion Broncos in 2011 and was named head coach of the Oakland Raiders after the season. The situation in Oakland was not ideal, as there were limited resources and opportunities to improve the roster. Since then, Allen has become an elite defensive coordinator again, building the Saints' defense into a formidable unit with many unknown commodities throughout the league. He could get another shot to lead a team.
Vance Joseph, Defensive Coordinator, Arizona Cardinals
Joseph is yet another former NFL head coach available this year. His defenses under Adam Gase in Miami earned him the head coaching job in Denver following the 2016-17 season, but the Broncos went just 11-21 in two years under his leadership--the first back-to-back losing seasons in Denver since the 1970s. Since that time, Joseph has served as the defensive coordinator in Arizona. While the Cardinals did not have great defenses in 2019 or 2020, he deserves a ton of credit for turning the unit around in 2021. While things slowed down a bit late in the season, the strides that Arizona's defense made were a big reason the Cardinals jumped out to a 10-2 start. Don't be surprised if Joseph gets another shot soon.
Bill O'Brien, Offensive Coordinator, Alabama
Say what you want about BOB, but his downfall really came when he tried to juggle general manger and head coaching duties simultaneously. He was actually a solid head coach and has dealt with a lot of adversity in his various stops. If a team makes it clear that he answers to or at least works in tandem with its general manager, BOB may have a shot to return to the NFL. So far, he is only interviewing with Jacksonville.
Jim Caldwell, Former Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts/Detroit Lions
Caldwell appears to be the most experienced candidate on the market this year, and the chance to hire experienced candidates does not come around very often. Caldwell replaced Tony Dungy in Indy and went to a Super Bowl then replaced Jim Schwartz in Detroit and fixed the culture of a young, promising team. To this day he is the winningest Detroit coach in the modern era (by win %) and would be a terrific fit for a team looking to establish a culture. He has already reportedly had an interview with Jacksonville and is drawing interest from Chicago.
Doug Pederson, Former Head Coach, Philadelphia Eagles
The divorce between Pederson and the Eagles was ugly, but that does not mean he can't land another head coaching job in the NFL. Pederson has been considered one of the brilliant offensive minds in the game for a while, and teams could jump at the chance to hire a Super Bowl-winning head coach. Jacksonville is reportedly one team with interest.
Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, Michigan
Normally, I don't buy into the annual Jim Harbaugh rumors, but this year seems like a year he may want to make the jump back into the NFL. He finally led his alma mater to the Big Ten title and the College Football Playoff and was a successful head coach in San Francisco. There has reportedly been known interest from the Raiders and the Bears so far.
Honorable Mentions: Don "Wink" Martindale (DC, Baltimore), Keith Butler (DC, Pittsburgh), Greg Roman (OC, Baltimore). Dave Toub (Special Teams, Kansas City)- most of these guys have been candidates in recent years but have not been on any formal requests yet this cycle