Sports

As NFL Black Monday 2023 nears, here are the names to know on the head coaching market

One week left, folks. That means we’re one week away from the dreaded (for coaches at least) Black Monday that ends every NFL regular season.

A slew of teams will decide that their head coaching situation isn’t working for them. A few already have. The Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos are all on the interim coach program and getting ready to interview their list of preferred candidates. Undoubtedly, there will be a few more coaches that get the ax after the final game of the regular season.

Don’t know who to keep an eye on? Don’t worry, just bookmark this page. Here are 17 coaching candidates in alphabetical order by last name to know for the upcoming month of NFL news.

Lou Anarumo, defensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

Prior NFL experience: Defensive backs coach, New York Giants (2018); Defensive backs coach, Miami Dolphins (2012-17)

Bengals defense (2019-2022)
– 24th in expected points allowed per play (0.040)
– 15th in success rate (44.2%)
– 23rd in expected points allowed per dropback (0.094)
– 12th in dropback success rate (46.1%)
– 24th in expected points allowed per rush (-0.043)
– 23rd in rushing success rate (41.3%)
Notable defensive players coached: Jessie Bates, Trey Hendrickson, D.J. Reader, Carl Lawson, Vonn Bell

Funny how things work out. Lou Anarumo wasn’t even the first or second choice to be Zac Taylor’s defensive coordinator in Cincinnati. After four years of sticking with the Bengals’ rebuild and building a defense that meshes with the talent the Bengals have, Anarumo is a hot coaching candidate for the next month. On the whole, his numbers with the Bengals don’t look great, but this team was totally lost and needed a makeover when Anarumo joined in 2019. Anarumo has built the Bengals defense over a four-year stretch and someone might ask him to do that with an entire NFL team in the near future.

Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs

Prior NFL experience: Running backs coach, Kansas City Chiefs (2013-2017)

Chiefs offense (2018-2022)
– 1st in expected points added per play (0.171)
– 1st in success rate (49.8%)
– 1st in expected points added per dropback (0.274)
– 1st in dropback success rate (53.0%)
– 7th in expected points added per rush (-0.041)
– 4th in rushing success rate (43.0%)
Notable offensive players: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Mecole Hardman, Orlando Brown, Mitchell Schwartz, Eric Fisher, Kareem Hunt, Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Eric Bieniemy hasn’t gotten hired as a head coach yet and at this point, it’s starting to feel like he won’t ever be. Still, it would be malpractice to not put him on this list. Bienemy has helped oversee the best offense in football with the best quarterback in football over the past five seasons. His resume is about as good as it possibly can get. There hasn’t been much buzz about him finally getting that head coaching job he’s always wanted, but he should still be on candidate lists.

Ahead of NFL Black Monday, Eric Bieniemy once again finds himself in the pool of head coaching candidates. Will he actually land a top job this time? (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Ahead of NFL Black Monday, Eric Bieniemy once again finds himself in the pool of head coaching candidates. Will he actually land a top job this time? (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Ken Dorsey, offensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills

Prior NFL experience: Passing game coordinator/Quarterbacks coach, Buffalo Bills (2019-2021)

Bills offense (2022)
– 2nd in expected points added per play (0.113)
– 2nd in success rate (49.0%)
– 2nd in expected points added per dropback (0.202)
– 2nd in dropback success rate (52.2%)
– 15th in expected points added per rush (-0.058)
– 8th in rushing success rate (43.0%)
Notable offensive players coached: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Dawson Knox, Dion Dawkins, Mitch Morse, Cole Beasley

Being the offensive coordinator of the Bills is, maybe, the third-most notable thing about Ken Dorsey’s football career. First, he was the quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes in the early 2000s when their roster was basically a borderline Pro Bowl roster. Second, he had an all-time meltdown that was caught on camera during an early season loss to the Dolphins. That’s a strong resume to start off with. In seriousness, Dorsey has done well with the Bills this year even through some chaotic regression on the part of Josh Allen at times. Dorsey getting a real shot to be a head coach this year is slim, but he should get some interest from teams.

Ejiro Evero, defensive coordinator, Denver Broncos

Prior NFL experience: Passing game coordinator, Los Angeles Rams (2021)

Broncos defense (2022)
– 5th in expected points allowed per play (-0.047)
– 7th in success rate (42.2%)
– 5th in expected points allowed per dropback (-0.051)
– 4th in dropback success rate (43.2%)
– 22nd in expected points allowed per rush (-0.041)
– 14th in rushing success rate (40.6%)
Notable defensive players coached: Patrick Surtain II, Justin Simmons, Dre’Mont Jones, Randy Gregory, D.J. Jones

First-time defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero has been incredible for the Broncos this season, leading them to be one of the top defenses in the league (and the main reason why the Broncos have been competitive all season). With Denver searching for a new head coach, and Evero turning down an opportunity to become the interim coach, Evero is floating in the best kind of limbo: the kind that leads to suitors and paychecks. Evero doesn’t have a long history of coaching in the NFL, but he got results immediately. That will have teams calling his phone for a litany of openings over the next few weeks.

Leslie Frazier, assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, Buffalo Bills

Prior NFL experience: Head coach, Minnesota Vikings (2011-2013)

Career record: 21-33-1 regular season, 0-1 postseason

Bills defense (2017-2022)
– 3rd in expected points allowed per play (-0.045)
– 12th in success rate (43.3%)
– 2nd in expected points allowed per dropback (-0.031)
– 6th in dropback success rate (45.1%)
– 20th in expected points allowed per rush (-0.067)
– 23rd in rushing success rate (40.4%)
Notable defensive players coached: Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, Matt Milano, Ed Oliver, Tre’Davious White, Tremaine Edwards, Jerry Hughes

Leslie Frazier is back in the head coaching ring after a few excellent seasons running the Bills defense under head coach Sean McDermott. Not many, if any, teams have been as good at developing defensive back talent as the Bills over the past few years, which should give Frazier some opportunities to get back to being a head coach somewhere.

Jonathan Gannon, defensive coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles

Prior NFL experience: Defensive backs coach, Indianapolis Colts (2018-2020)

Eagles defense (2021-2022)
– 7th in expected points allowed per play (-0.028)
– 18th in success rate (45.0%)
– 6th in expected points allowed per dropback (-0.010)
– 19th in dropback success rate (46.4%)
– 19th in expected points allowed per rush (-0.058)
– 24th in rushing success rate (42.8%)
Notable defensive players coached: Darius Slay, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, James Bradberry, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, Jordan Davis, Brandon Graham, C.J. Gardner-Johnson

There might not be any coach who improved his stock like Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. The Eagles defense was shaky in his first year with the team, but they have been a borderline dominant defense throughout this season. Of course, getting an influx of talented players helps. James Bradberry and Haason Reddick are two new Eagles that have had elite seasons. Still, Gannon has been able to adapt his approach and figure out how to maximize the talent he’s been afforded — that’s an area of growth from last season. He’s going to be a hot name in January.

Jim Harbaugh, head coach, University of Michigan

Prior NFL experience: Head coach, San Francisco 49ers (2011-2014)

Career record: 44-19-1 regular season, 5-3 postseason

49ers offense (2011-2014)
– 11th in expected points add per play (0.024)
– 13th in success rate (43.2%)
– 11th in expected points added per dropback (0.108)
– 17th in dropback success rate (45.6%)
– 13th in expected points added per rush (-0.083)
– 7th in rushing success rate (40.2%)
Notable offensive players coached: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Joe Staley, Anquan Boldin, Mike Iupati

Jim Harbaugh is once again back in the NFL head coaching searches after another successful season at Michigan, even with Michigan’s loss to TCU in the College Football Playoff. Harbaugh hasn’t been in the NFL since 2014, but his success in the NFL was such that teams still call him to gauge his interest almost 10 years later. Harbaugh is known for being a coach that loves physicality while attempting to get the most out of his quarterback talent. That last part hasn’t always been easy for him at Michigan, but this is the same guy that resurrected Alex Smith’s career, helped develop Andrew Luck at Stanford and gave Colin Kaepernick the reins to an offense that quickly became overwhelming. He’s still as qualified as any coach out there to come in and lead a team.

Will Jim Harbaugh leave Michigan to return to the NFL? (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Will Jim Harbaugh leave Michigan to return to the NFL? (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Ben Johnson, offensive coordinator, Detroit Lions

Prior NFL experience: Tight ends coach, Detroit Lions (2020-2021)

Lions offense (2022)
– 6th in expected points added per play (0.113)
– 12th in success rate (45.5%)
– 3rd in expected points added per dropback (0.179)
– 7th in dropback success rate (48.9%)
– 19th in expected points added per rush (-0.074)
– 18th in rushing success rate (40.6%)
Notable offensive players coached: Frank Ragnow, Penei Sewell, Taylor Decker, D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, Jared Goff

Another first-time coordinator on this list, Ben Johnson has the Lions offense cooking right now. Johnson has found an amazing balance for what works and doesn’t work and they have one of the best units in the league this year, especially when it comes to generating big plays. Johnson, who turns 37 in May, appears to be a high-upside prospect, but teams might want to see him do it again next year before giving him the full responsibilities of a head coach.

Jerod Mayo, linebackers coach/defensive play-caller, New England Patriots

Prior NFL experience: Been with Patriots coaching staff since 2019

Patriots defense (2019-2022)
– 1st in expected points allowed per play (-0.074)
– 5th in success rate (42.6%)
– 1st in expected points allowed per dropback (-0.074)
– 2nd in dropback success rate (44.1%)
– 16th in expected points allowed per rush (-0.075)
– 17th in rushing success rate (40.3%)
Notable defensive players coached: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Dugger, Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jamie Collins, Matt Judon, Jalen Mills

Jerod Mayo took interviews last year for head coaching spots and he’ll likely do the same this year. Mayo shares play-calling responsibilities on the Patriots’ defense, which has been an elite unit under his tutelage. Even with the losses of Dont’a Hightower, J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore over the past two seasons, that Patriots defense is still humming. Mayo has a chance to be a candidate again for the second year in a row.

Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys

Prior NFL experience: Quarterbacks coach, Dallas Cowboys (2018)

Cowboys offense (2019-2022)
– 7th in expected points added per play (0.057)
– 4th in success rate (47.0%)
– 8th in expected points added per dropback (0.118)
– 3rd in dropback success rate (50.3%)
– 9th in expected points added per rush (-0.037)
– 6th in rushing success rate (41.9%)
Notable offensive players coached: Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, La’el Collins, Tyler Smith, Ezekiel Elliot, Tony Pollard, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup

Kellen Moore, in conjunction with Dak Prescott, has been the steady hand of the Cowboys offense since 2019. Moore went straight from playing for the Cowboys to being a coach for the Cowboys and he’s got the track record at this point to get his name back in the head coaching cycle. Moore has a lot more experience during this carousel than previous years, so maybe this is the year a team pulls the trigger and makes him the face of a franchise.

Sean Payton, retired

Prior NFL experience: Head coach, New Orleans Saints (2006-2021)

Career record: 152-89 regular season, 9-8 postseason

Saints offense (2010-2021)
– 3rd in expected points added per play (0.088)
– 2nd in success rate (47.0%)
– 3rd in expected points added per dropback (0.166)
– 1st in dropback success rate (50.6%)
– 2nd in expected points added per rush (-0.041)
– 4th in rushing success rate (41.0%)
Notable offensive players coached: Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Michael Thomas, Jahri Evans, Ryan Ramcyzk, Alvin Kamara, Terron Armstead, Mark Ingram, Marques Colston, Carl Nicks

Sean Payton retired last season after 15 years with the New Orleans Saints, but it appears he already wants to be back as an NFL head coach. Payton had an incredible amount of success during his tenure with the Saints, winning a Super Bowl and developing countless offensive talents along the way. Payton will likely be on the top of many wish lists due to his track record of being able to put up points, but there is a bit of a caveat here. The Saints still own the rights to his contract, so any team that wants to get ahold of him will have to do so via trade. Still, Payton might be worth it for a team that’s looking for an immediate explosive passing offense in 2023.

Sean Payton is arguably the biggest name on the NFL head coaching market this cycle. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Sean Payton is arguably the biggest name on the NFL head coaching market this cycle. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys

Prior NFL experience: Head coach, Atlanta Falcons (2015-2020); Defensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks (2013-2014)

Career record: 43-42 regular season, 3-2 postseason

Cowboys defense (2021-2022)
– 1st in expected points allowed per play (-0.086)
– 3rd in success rate (41.4%)
– 1st in expected points allowed per dropback (-0.088)
– 2nd in dropback success rate (43.1%)
– 14th in expected points allowed per rush (-0.084)
– 6th in rushing success rate (38.5%)
Notable defensive players coached: Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Leighton Vander Esch

Dan Quinn is back in the head coaching game after another great season running the Cowboys defense. Quinn, along with the help of Micah Parsons, have given the Cowboys arguably the best defense in the league over the past two years combined. He has evolved his scheme since his days in Seattle and Atlanta and has certainly performed well enough to get interest from a number of teams this year. Quinn had some success as the head coach in Atlanta, but the defenses were always pretty shaky. From 2015-2020, the Falcons ranked 28th in expected points allowed per play on defense (0.043). That may be a bit concerning for teams in the hiring business, but Quinn has shown that if he has the pieces on defense, they’ll perform.

Frank Reich, free agent

Prior NFL experience: Head coach, Indianapolis Colts (2018-2022); Offensive coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles (2016-2017)

Career record: 40-33-1 regular season, 1-2 postseason

Colts offense (2018-2021)
– 10th in expected points added per play (0.053)
– 11th in success rate (46.0%)
– 16th in expected points added per dropback (0.096)
– 16th in dropback success rate (48.1%)
– 2nd in expected points added per rush (-0.010)
– 7th in rushing success rate (42.9%)
Notable offensive players coached: Jonathan Taylor, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, T.Y. Hilton, Philip Rivers, Michael Pittman, Carson Wentz, Jacoby Brissett, Matt Ryan

Frank Reich is on the hunt for a new team after getting fired by the Colts earlier this year. The one benefit of everything going south this year in Indianapolis is that it’s clear the engine of the dysfunction came from an office higher than Reich’s. Reich certainly wasn’t blameless in the Colts’ struggles, but so much craziness has happened since he was let go that it’s easier to focus on the good things that Reich brought to the table. Reich would be a smart pick for any team looking to turn their offense around with a quarterback who still has room to grow.

DeMeco Ryans, defensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

Prior NFL experience: Inside linebackers coach, San Francisco 49ers (2018-2020)

49ers defense (2021-2022)
– 6th in expected points allowed per play (-0.044)
– 2nd in success rate (41.3%)
– 11th in expected points allowed per dropback (0.020)
– 9th in dropback success rate (45.2%)
– 1st in expected points allowed per rush (-0.160)
– 1st in rushing success rate (34.5%)
Notable defensive players coached: Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward, Dre Greenlaw, D.J. Jones

The 49ers have churned out head coaches over the past couple of offseasons and DeMeco Ryans is next up on the list. The former Texans linebacker has been calling plays for the 49ers’ defense over the past two years and they have been unbelievable. Just go back and watch how Ryans was able to dismantle some of the pass protections that the Rams were attempting to execute in the NFC Championship game. He’s got a great feel on how modern defense is supposed to be played and his players really seem to respond well to him. Defensive coaches aren’t as popular nowadays as offensive guys when it comes to hiring head coaches, but Ryans has been too good at this for too long now.

Jeff Saturday, interim head coach, Indianapolis Colts

Prior coaching experience: Head coach, Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, Georgia, (2017-2020)

Career record: 1-6 regular season

Colts offense (Weeks 10-17, 2022)
– 32nd in expected points added per play (-0.216)
– 29th in success rate (39.1%)
– 32nd in expected points added per dropback (-0.232)
– 30th in dropback success rate (39.6%)
– 30th in expected points added per rush (-0.192)
– 23rd in rushing success rate (38.4%)
Notable offensive players coached: Sam Ehlinger, Matt Ryan

Well, Jeff Saturday makes this list with the help of Jim Irsay still having some interest in him as the long-term head coach of the Colts. It makes no sense, just like it made no sense to hire him in the first place. The only upside here is it would be hard for Saturday to be worse in his second year with the team because he was wholly unqualified to run the team during his first year. Half a year of NFL coaching experience is technically more than none.

Shane Steichen, offensive coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles

Prior NFL experience: Offensive coordinator, Los Angeles Chargers (2019-2020)

Eagles offense (2021-2022)
– 4th in expected points added per play (0.084)
– 4th in success rate (47.4%)
– 8th in expected points added per dropback (0.131)
– 21nd in dropback success rate (45.8%)
– 1st in expected points added per rush (0.046)
– 1st in rushing success rate (49.4%)
Notable offensive players coached: Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Miles Sanders, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata, Dallas Goedert

The Eagles have one of the more unique offenses you’ll come across and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen has done a fantastic job fitting the Eagles’ pieces together. They’ve figured out what works for Jalen Hurts and have absolutely razed teams when he’s healthy. The Eagles have an overwhelming amount of talent, but it still takes a coaching staff to help get across the finish line and produce on Sundays. Steichen is one of a couple young coordinators that have a real chance to become head coaches next season.

Steve Wilks, interim head coach, Carolina Panthers

Prior NFL experience: Defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach, Carolina Panthers (2022); Defensive coordinator, Cleveland Browns (2019); Head coach, Arizona Cardinals (2018)

Career record: 8-18 regular season

Panthers pass defense (2022)
– 24th in expected points allowed per dropback (0.084)
– 20th in dropback success rate (46.3%)
Browns defense (2019)
– 22nd in expected points allowed per play (0.049)
– 25th in success rate (45.0%)
– 20th in expected points allowed per dropback (0.096)
– 17th in dropback success rate (46.8%)
– 29th in expected points allowed per rush (-0.019)
– 30th in rushing success rate (42.5%)
Notable defensive players coached: Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Shaq Thompson, Jaycee Horn

Not many people thought Steve Wilks or the Panthers would be here after how their season started, but Wilks absolutely deserves consideration to be the Panthers’ head coach after how they’ve played with him as the interim. A team that seemed destined for the first overall pick had a chance to make the playoffs by the end of the year. Losing a close one to Tampa Bay on Sunday to end the postseason hopes was tough, but this team accomplished a lot over the second half of the season. A lot of that credit belongs to Wilks. This team was lost with Matt Rhule as the head coach and Wilks provided stability. That should get him into a couple head coaching interviews this January.

Related Articles

Back to top button