The NFL regular season is officially complete, and that means a handful of teams are already thinking about their next head coach.
Franchises traditionally wait until the day after the season -- often dubbed “Black Monday” -- to fire their coaches. The ill-fated day didn’t lack for action this season, with three coaches and two general managers fired the day after the season ended.
So far, we’ve seen seven coaches fired: the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Urban Meyer, the Denver Broncos’ Vic Fangio, the Minnesota Vikings’ Mike Zimmer, the Chicago Bears’ Matt Nagy, the Miami Dolphins’ Brian Flores, the New York Giants' Joe Judge and the Houston Texans' David Culley. The Las Vegas Raiders could also be looking for a new coach after their playoff run, as Rich Bisaccia still only has an interim tag.
Here’s everything you need to know about the confirmed and potential NFL head coaching vacancies:
How many NFL teams are looking for a head coach?
There could still be more added to the list, with uncertainty surrounding teams like the Carolina Panthers. As we learned with the Dolphins’ situation, a surprise firing can pop up out of nowhere.
What NFL teams are expected to hire new coaches in 2022?
The aforementioned Raiders and Jaguars are likely to be in the market for a new coach after making coaching changes during the regular season.
After employing just nine head coaches in the first 35 years of franchise history, the Raiders have burned through 14 coaches in the last 27 years. No Raiders coach has lasted longer than four seasons since Art Shell in the early 1990s.
The Jaguars had only two head coaches in their first 16 years of existence (1995-2010). Bevell will be the seventh head coach in Jacksonville since 2011. Two of their permanent head coaches – Meyer (2021) and Mike Mularkey (2012) – lasted one season or less before being fired.
The Bears also have a vacancy, as Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace were fired on Black Monday. Nagy spent four seasons in Chicago, and he only finished with a losing record once. The Bears regressed each season, though, winning 12 games in 2018 before going 8-8 in 2019 and 2020. Chicago went 6-11 in 2021, giving Nagy a 34-31 regular season record and 0-2 postseason record with the Bears.
Fangio, 63, failed to record a winning season in three years with the Broncos. Denver’s roster is strong at most positions outside of quarterback, and it’s nearly impossible to win in the NFL without a good signal caller. General manager George Paton, who inherited Fangio as his coach when he took over for John Elway, will now hire his own coach.
Zimmer was steady throughout his eight seasons with the Vikings, leading them to the playoffs three times and never finishing with fewer than seven wins in a season. Minnesota has been mired in mediocrity recently, though, finishing 7-9 and 8-9 over the last two seasons. The 65-year-old Zimmer finished his tenure with a 72-56-1 regular season record and a 2-3 playoff record.
The biggest shock of Black Monday was the Dolphins’ decision to fire Flores. In three seasons with Miami, Flores had a 24-25 record with consecutive winning seasons to close his tenure. The Dolphins faced uncertainty at quarterback throughout the past three seasons after drafting Tua Tagovailoa over Justin Herbert in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Another firing came the day following Black Monday, as the Giants cut ties with Judge after two losing seasons at the helm. The Giants reportedly were planning to bring back Judge as of late December. But then New York suffered two ugly losses to end a disappointing 4-13 season and Judge was at the center of a few infamous moments, from his 11-minute rant defending the Giants' culture to running a QB sneak on a third-and-9 against the Washington Football Team.
One more firing took place on Thursday afternoon when the Houston Texans’ head coach David Culley was released after just one season. The 66 year old was brought in as a first-year head coach for the 2021 season and finished with a 4-13 record. He was brought in during one of the most tumultuous times in the franchise’s history.
There are several other teams that could shock the NFL landscape with a head coaching change in 2022. Will the Seattle Seahawks move on from Pete Carroll to appease Russell Wilson? Could the Panthers start fresh by firing Matt Rhule? Is Mike McCarthy’s job safe with the Dallas Cowboys if they don’t make the Super Bowl?
Who are the best offensive coordinators in the NFL?
In recent years, the trend across the NFL has been to hire top offensive coordinators as head coaches. Arthur Smith (Falcons), Nick Sirianni (Eagles) and Kevin Stefanski (Browns) are all recent examples of that. So, which offensive coordinators could be head coaching candidates in 2022? Let’s take a look.
Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots: McDaniels has been a head coach before and is a perennial candidate. His work with rookie QB Mac Jones this year is proving that he wasn’t just a product of Tom Brady.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs: Every year people wonder how Bieniemy isn’t hired as a head coach, so maybe this will finally be his chance. He’s been the Chiefs’ OC since Patrick Mahomes took over in 2018, and we all know how that’s gone.
Nathaniel Hackett, Green Bay Packers: As the Jaguars’ OC from 2016 to 2018, Hackett got a Blake Bortles-led team within a few plays of making the Super Bowl. Then, he helped get Aaron Rodgers another MVP. The 41-year-old Hackett has a bright future.
Joe Brady: Brady was one of the league's top coordinators, that is until he was fired by the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 5. Brady interviewed for several head coaching jobs last offseason and, despite his midseason firing, it'd be surprising if he wasn't a popular candidate again in the next hiring cycle. The real question is whether he will still be available by then because a move back to the college ranks for Brady, a former LSU passing game coordinator, would make sense.
Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills: Daboll has already coached under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban in his career. Since joining Buffalo in 2018, he’s helped Josh Allen transform from a turnover-prone rookie to a potential MVP candidate.
Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones’ only way to keep Moore this offseason might be to promote him to head coach. The 33-year-old Moore retired from the NFL in 2017 and has quickly become a hot head coaching candidate after three seasons as the Cowboys’ OC.
Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Serving as the Bucs’ OC since 2019, Leftwich has seen the highest of highs (Super Bowl in 2020) and lowest of lows (Jameis Winston led the league in INTs in 2019). He could get his shot after another impressive season.
Kevin O’Connell, Los Angeles Rams: It’s almost a rite of passage -- to become an NFL head coach, you must be a former Sean McVay assistant. O’Connell could be the latest in a long line of coaches despite this only being his second season as the Rams’ OC.
Which NFL defensive coach will be a head coaching candidate in 2022?
The practice of hiring offensive minds wasn’t utilized throughout the league in 2021, as the New York Jets (Robert Saleh) and Los Angeles Chargers (Brandon Staley) hired top defensive coordinators. Will there be any more defensive coaches hired this season? Here’s a look at some candidates.
Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bowles struggled in four seasons as Jets HC, but he’s completely turned around Tampa’s defense since arriving in 2019. His gameplan in Super Bowl LV against Mahomes will go down in history as an all-time great showing.
Leslie Frazier, Buffalo Bills: Frazier was nearly hired by the Houston Texans last year, and his second chance at being a HC could be coming in 2022. He hasn’t led a team since 2013 with the Vikings, but his current Bills defense is among the best in the NFL.
Matt Eberflus, Indianapolis Colts: After interviewing for head coaching vacancies over the last two years, Eberflus figured to be a hot candidate this winter. The 51-year-old Eberflus has been the Colts’ DC since 2018 after years with the Browns and Cowboys.
Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys: No one has rebuilt their reputation faster than Quinn. The Falcons fired him in the middle of 2020 after an 0-5 start to his sixth season as head coach. He’s transformed a Cowboys defense that was a weakness in 2020 into a strength in 2021.
Vance Joseph, Arizona Cardinals: After winning just 11 combined games in two seasons as Broncos head coach, Joseph joined the Cardinals’ staff. In three seasons with Arizona, Joseph has steadily improved the unit, and it is now a potentially Super Bowl-caliber group.
Patrick Graham, New York Giants: Graham has spent years bouncing around with the Giants, Patriots, Packers and Dolphins. Even though the Giants have underwhelmed since he took over as DC in 2020, he is well-respected across the league.
Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots: Mayo, 35, has been the Pats’ inside linebackers coach since 2019. He doesn’t have play-calling duties, but working under Belichick always helps your case. The former Pro Bowl linebacker interviewed for the Eagles’ job last year.