JANUARY 13: The Panthers will not, at least for now, be meeting with Ryans. Schefter’s colleague David Newton reports that (for logistical reasons) an interview between Carolina’s front office and the highly sought-after DC could not be scheduled (Twitter link). As a result, the Panthers’ list of candidates now essentially sits at nine, though, as Newton notes, a future interview is not out of the question.
JANUARY 12, 12:41pm: DeMeco Ryans is also on the Panthers’ radar, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. This expands Carolina’s search to nine names, which blows away the volume from their 2020 interview process. Ryans’ inclusion is not surprising, given what San Francisco’s defense accomplished this season.
Ranking first in total defense, points allowed and DVOA, the 49ers have ridden Ryans’ unit to a 10-game win streak. In his second year as San Francisco’s DC, Ryans has been on Kyle Shanahan‘s staff throughout the latter’s time in the Bay Area. Long viewed as a future HC, Ryans, 38, has received multiple promotions with the 49ers. The former Texans and Eagles linebacker — who also received requests from the Broncos and Texans — has been ticketed for a 2023 HC job, and although there are fewer openings compared to 2022, Ryans may have multiple options. Candidates on teams playing this weekend must wait until midway through next week to interview for HC jobs.
JANUARY 12, 12:24pm: Panthers GM Scott Fitterer said the team was not planning an expansive HC search, but eight coaches are now part of this search. The Panthers added to the list by requesting a Jerod Mayo interview Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
A former Patriots linebacker, Mayo has been on the HC radar for a bit now. He interviewed with the Broncos and Raiders last year, impressing in those settings. Mayo also interviewed for the Eagles job in 2021; he is the latest in a long line of Bill Belichick assistants to land on the HC carousel.
Mayo, 36, has been on Belichick’s staff since 2019. The former first-round pick currently serves as New England’s inside linebackers coach, but he has been a key defensive staffer for a bit now. Brian Flores following Matt Patricia out the door in 2019, after the latter’s 2018 Detroit hire, left the Pats thin on proven defensive staffers. Mayo has helped fill the void, as Patricia’s return has not been as a primary defensive staffer. He worked as the team’s main offensive play-caller this season, leaving Mayo and others as Belichick lieutenants on defense.
The Browns requested a defensive coordinator interview with Mayo as well, but this Panthers summons may take precedence. Four Belichick DCs or DC equivalents — Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Patricia, Flores — have gone on to earn HC opportunities. While Mayo does not have the title that traditionally leads to HC chances, the Patriots showed this year coordinator titles matter little in their grand scheme. The Pats have not had an official DC since Patricia in 2017.
Only four coaches interviewed for the Panthers’ position in 2020, a search that ended with Matt Rhule’s seven-year contract. Mayo is only the second defensive staffer, joining interim HC Steve Wilks, to land on the radar in this Carolina search. Here is how Carolina’s HC search looks as of Thursday, via PFR’s HC search tracker:
- Jim Caldwell, former head coach (Lions): Interviewed
- Ken Dorsey, offensive coordinator (Bills): Interview requested
- Jim Harbaugh, head coach (Michigan): No longer on radar
- Ben Johnson, offensive coordinator (Lions): Interview requested
- Mike Kafka, offensive coordinator (Giants): Interview requested
- Jerod Mayo, inside linebackers coach (Patriots): Interview requested
- Frank Reich, former head coach (Colts): Interview expected
- DeMeco Ryans, defensive coordinator (49ers): Interview requested
- Shane Steichen, offensive coordinator (Eagles): Interview requested
- Steve Wilks, interim head coach (Panthers): To interview 1/10