There is only one game left to be played this NFL season, and a handful of teams are thinking about their next head coach.
Franchises traditionally wait until the day after the regular 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 also began a head coaching search as Rich Bisaccia finished the season with the interim tag. A ninth team was added to the mix, as New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton stepped down.
Two of those vacancies were filled on Thursday. The Bears hired former Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, while the Broncos hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. On Friday, the Giants announced Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their next head coach. On Monday, the Raiders announced the hiring of former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as their new head coach.
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?
Five – the Jaguars, Vikings, Dolphins, Texans, and Saints. For now.
There could always be more added to the list, as we saw when Payton left the Saints over two weeks after the regular season ended. There could also be fewer in the coming days, as the Eberflus, Hackett and Daboll moves were the first dominoes to fall during the coaching carousel.
What NFL teams are hiring new coaches for 2022?
The aforementioned Jaguars are in the market for a new coach after making coaching changes during the regular season.
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.
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.
One more firing took place when the Texans’ 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.
The Saints are also in the market for a new coach for the first time since 2006. Payton has been a mainstay in New Orleans, compiling a 152-89 record with one Super Bowl in 15 seasons. The Saints went 9-8 in 2021, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016 in their first year without Drew Brees. Now, they’ll enter 2022 without their longtime leader.
Several other teams 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 Carolina Panthers start fresh by firing Matt Rhule? Is Mike McCarthy’s job safe with the Dallas Cowboys after an ugly playoff loss?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.